A45 AMG Project Thread: One step at a time

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Active Member
Jan 26, 2015
Guys - this is going to take some reading (apologies). Grab yourself a coffee, a pack of biscuits and get comfortable.

I’m here to change the world!!!!!

“What the hell is this guy on!?” I hear you scream.

OK…. so that’s clearly not going to take place. Well not this week anyway, but what am I here for? Let me explain…..

Whilst my intention is not to send you to sleep, or waffle on about a load of irrelevant crap, I do think it will make sense for me to introduce myself. Hopefully this will add context to what all of this is really about.

I’m going to cut to the chase. I’m a petrolhead.

If you look on the net as to what this word means, it alludes to a person who is a car fanatic.

So am I really a petrolhead?

Ever since my late teens I’ve found that cars and motorbikes have drawn me in. Whilst being of a mature age can bring it’s downsides, for me, it means I have had many great years sampling the delights of all things petrol (oh… and diesel) powered.

Whilst I don’t want to go through my entire history of ownership, I’ve been and done the motorcycle “thing” and owned a number of (in my opinion) UK market iconic “everymans” performance cars. However, when I say “everymans” I really mean 2ltr turbo screamer, hooligan, boy-racer, chav [please insert your own valid description] cars. This has included the Ford RS Turbo, Escort Cosworth, Sierra RS500, Vauxhall Calibre 4x4 Turbo and Rover 220 Turbo Coupe. Recently, or at least since 2000, I have been into the Subaru scene (don’t hold that against me!), which has seen me own three JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) Subaru’s.

Now, during my “Ford” era I really started to venture into the tuning side of things. What with turbocharged cars just needing a couple of “tweaks” to realise huge BHP potential….. it was like a dream come true for us normal guys. The potential for supercar slaying performance, for a couple of taps on the keyboard, exhaust and air filter…… this is what dreams are made of surely!?

I didn’t really get off to a great experience with having cars tuned….. if I’m being honest. The first Escort Cosworth I owned, only a couple of months old, went in for a Stage 1 tune. You know the normal exhaust, filter and remap. 320bhp…… it was awesome. Well, I say awesome. What I meant was it was awesome, until I was being a bit of a hooligan and the engine decided to say “You’ve got to be kidding!!!”, and decided to munch it’s way through a couple of pistons!

Let’s put this into perspective:

I was 27yrs old and just bought my dream car. The car cost, at the time, around £18,000 - which effectively cleaned me out. After a couple of months I decided to get it tuned; resulting (soon after) in the engine grenading itself; resulting in costing me around £3k to get fixed. I was suddenly brought back down to the real world!

But I tell you something…… from that day on I vowed to myself to understand and learn about the combustion engine and more importantly the tuning side of things. I wanted to know what did what and why. Certainly as a paying customer I learnt not to take the “experts” word for it on face value, but to take time to understand it myself, and if I didn’t appreciate something…. do my research and ask if needed.

Suffice to say that when I had the next Escort Cosworth I owned and had tuned, I took a totally different approach. The previous “mishap” didn’t put me off the whole mod thing.

In respect of owning these 2ltr turbo nutter cars, I’ve taken (not me personally!) a few to some quite extreme levels. 500+bhp RWD RS500 and 600+bhp Subaru being two key ones to mention. You can’t beat a bit of pub talk “bragging rights”...... come on guys. I’m a 70’s kid.

Subaru - the way forward!
Please don’t switch off - this is where it get’s interesting.

During 2001 I became heavily involved in the up and coming Subaru community. It was a time that, what seemed like all IT geeks, had to own a Subaru. However, what really drew me into this scene was the absolute appetite for the “geeks” to be so enthusiastic about modding. I’m not on about individuals throwing their cash at tuners to tune….. I’m talking about the “geeks” taking things into their own hands, literally. Arming themselves with a laptop (our everyday weapon for work - yes, I’m an IT geek!) and a programmable ECU….. a new (to me) generation of enthusiasts were born. Forget the spanner and wrench…… it was all about the laptop!!!

In late 2001 I was so “involved” in the Subaru community that I was presented with an opportunity to play an intrinsic part…. at least as far as the technical side was concerned. I became co-owner and co-administrator of ScoobyNet.

One of the areas I was getting really interested in was the whole smoke and mirrors scene, that was the world of tuning.

In 2005 I bought a Subaru Impreza Spec C, which at the time was I suppose, classed as the daddy of modern day Impreza’s. Reportedly as quick (if not quicker) than a Porsche GT3….. on the black stuff. This is when I embarked on my first “Project”, getting together with Subaru specialists to take the best that Subaru had…… and aim to make it better. However.... I wanted to take a slightly different approach to how this was done….. or at least how it was documented and involved the community.

You can probably tell I like to type (yes, there is a point in all of this….. I think)!!

It would have been easy (easier) for me to call company x, get my wallet out, get a load of mods done and post a few dyno graphs and say how awesome it is and how huge my penis feels. Whilst there is nothing wrong in that, I wanted to go deeper, learn myself and hopefully inform others of what has been done, why it has been done and what the “real” results are and what they really mean.

Magazine articles are great in some respects, but because they have limited space, they can only go into so much detail. The other side of the coin is that not all writers really understand what they are going on about. I wanted to take the time to understand and then document (step by step) in a fashion that could benefit others. Don’t get me wrong, I love some artistic license (you’d never know!), but I like to base my findings and decisions on evidence….. not just “because”.

Cutting to the chase we took the Spec C from a 320bhp “standard” weapon, to a 600+bhp nuclear reactor. Not only proving the few doubters wrong (we met/passed a number of fairly awesome performance goals at the time), but creating a car that went from road to track (taking part in Tuner GP, Ten of the Best & Time Attack to name a few) and back to road again….. only to prove what an awesome all round package had been developed. Winning competitive events….. beating “tuner” cars that were lighter, stripped out, higher powered and more track focussed (even when the car was in road spec!) along the way.

Whilst I ceased to be involved in the running of ScoobyNet from 2007, I was still “all over” the project stuff.

In 2010 I got shot of the Spec C and bought another standard JDM Impreza….. this time a “Hawkeye” STI (the 2ltr - not the UK 2.5). It wasn’t long before I started another “Project Thread” (click on the link if you have a spare year to read my escapades), but this time with the remit of “road only” and mods required that were only of benefit to road use (chassis , engine and drivetrain). That may sound quite boring, but this project was pretty awesome….. and it certainly received the biggest community interest and involvement, of my projects to date. This thread currently has over 133,000 views and climbing, documenting the journey from its baseline dyno run of 340bhp, to it’s ultimate achievement of a reliable (ran for over 2yrs at this level) 490bhp/475ftlb (running 2bar of boost) - on a standard un-touched Methanol powered 2ltr engine!

I know I’ve perhaps waffled a bit, but I hope this provides some context to my self proclamation of being a “petrolhead”.

Ok enough of that…. what’s this go to do with us then?
Hopefully everything!!

The Hawkeye STI has gone and I’ve now moved on to (just over three weeks ago) the awesome Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG. It’s no great surprise considering this is another turbocharged 2ltr performance car (aligning to my past ownership history)…… that whilst being pretty damn special, it would be rude not to give this the full on “Project” treatment.

Welcome to my crazy world.

I’m not going to sit here and tell you I aim to achieve the dizzy heights my previous projects have seen, but what I do want to do is replicate a similar type of approach (at least as far to content production) with the A45.

I appreciate I’m new to this community, but I really hope you find this journey entertaining, fun, informative and most important of all, you feel “involved”.

What I will promise you is that I will go into detail about what’s being done, why it’s being done and be utterly truthful about the results, supported by as much evidence as possible. I’m not going to state I’m looking to reinvent the wheel, but there is no harm in aiming to make a wheel better! I’m quite excited with the potential development areas that could be investigated.

A slightly different approach I’m taking with this project (compared to my previous projects) is to compliment the “black and white” content (and pictures), with a newly launched YouTube channel. I intend both mediums to compliment each other, in providing as much information as I possibly can.

I’m a “privateer” and enthusiast, so have nothing to gain from this…… other than I absolutely love doing this kind of thing, and love to learn and experience new things. If at least one other person finds this project interesting…… that’s a mega bonus!

Approach - Project Roadmap
Obviously I can’t do this on my own, as the amount of resources needed to do this kind of project approach justice, is more than my brain, skill and hands can cope with. So I’ll be working with a number of “professionals” along the way, but more on that once we get things underway.

Have I got any preconceived plans….. not in precise/absolute detail, but I can tell you I’m going to start with the basics and work my way up, step by step.

The areas I would like to cover/investigate are (we’ll have to see if all these come to fruition - although certain areas have already been discussed with the individuals I’ll be working with):

Engine & Drivetrain
Tuning boxes
Exhaust systems
Boost control
ECU reprogramming (straight to PCB and via OBD)
Turbo (hybrid Billet & Titanium cores)
Fuel system
Haldex (tuning)
Charge cooling
Gearbox modifications
Engine internals

Chassis & Brakes
Anti Roll Bars
Anti Lift Kits
Control Arms

What I aim to do as part of the project content delivery is to provide:
- Detailed product testing
- Documented product development (I’m very excited in this part)
- In-depth performance analysis
- “Real World” road/track feedback

So…. that’s enough of the introductory stuff.

The next update will be coming your way soon - so let the fun begin guys.

I really hope (and encourage) for you all to get stuck in and feel free to contribute to this open discussion thread. :thumb::devil:
Speak with Acid at MSL.....He has done it, wrote the book, got the t-shirt and all that.
What he does not know about AMG's is not worth knowing.

He has built many a tuned car and nearly all UK firsts.
I am pretty sure his 45 is the most powerful one around....Just like his E55 was.....C63 still is (i will get there soon) and i am sure a 5.5 TT will be along soon.

He has just cracked the ECU on the 45 so the sky (or transmission) is the limit now.

Also a "linked" dyno at his place as your normal Dynos destroy the Haldex system on a 45
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Good post Shaunee. I can feel your enthusiasm:thumb:

As Lee above says, pay a visit to MSL and speak with Acid. Pick his brains and you'll see he is very clued up on the tuning of AMG's. With his help, you may very well achieve all your goals.
Thanks for taking the time to share your plans,. I wait further developments with interest.
Guys..... thank you so much for the warm welcome and interest. :)

The first part of this project will kick off next week, with some power baselining and initial "Tuning Box" testing.

I'm a bit of a "dyno queen" so you'll see plenty of comparison data from dyno work, as well as a lot of technical logging data (to actually unearth what is going on) - explaining what it all means -, together with real world performance comparisons and driveability feedback.

In short I've got a hell of a lot to go through, for each and every stage.

I'm one for delving into the detail, to fully understand and appreciate claims from others. Test different approaches and tell all what the results have been. Then to document that in a fashion that any "normal" human ( like myself :D ) can understand.

The easy thing for me would be to open my wallet and let a tuner get on with it...... unfortunately I'm not like that. I like to be slightly left field and play devils advocate. I don't believe much in this game unless I've tested, tested and tested again. :D

The main company I will be working with are really excited about this project, and are extremely enthusiastic about this cars tuning potential. With some of the areas they want to develop (based on their own experiences and substantial technical partners they have access to), and for me to test and provide feedback on.

I'm hoping this will all be positive for the community. :)
Look forward to it :) If you want a dump from the A45 AMG ecu let me know!
I don't suppose you know how many of the calibrations have been deciphered yet?
Good to see someone else pushing the boundary and seeing how far they can go (i did the same when i got my C63).
As mentioned previously make sure its a "linked dyno" or after a few runs you will be looking for a new transmission.....There is loads of threads on the A45 forums about transmissions being trashed on 45's using "non-linked dynos"

Anyway enjoy it and keep us posted
Hi Lee,
Sorry, I forgot to acknowledge your original comment about Haldex trannies. :)

The dyno make/model I'm going to be using throughout this project, is actually of the same type that MB use themselves. I was told the other day that MB have many of these dynos.

It goes without saying that the dyno is German! :D
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What tuner orientated ECU flashing is available?

Any datalogs floating about of cars running piggybacks?
Hi John,
I haven't really started investigating that side of things in detail..... this will come further down the line.

From the initial conversations I have had with the key company I'll be progressing with, the means to "access" the ECU is widely available. I'm not sure how far the "scene" has got with the calibrations to date.... again this will be looked at and developed if needed, as part of this project.

I'm also not fully up to speed on access methods. Whether re-programming is done via communication direct with the ECU PCB (ECU needs to be physically opened), or whether OBD access is commonly available (I don't think it is). Either way should not be an issue hopefully for me. Again, said company is already developing OBD access of their own.
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An exciting project. Which company are you collaborating with?
Shaunee said:
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xj_DDs12WWY">YouTube Link</a> :thumb:

Interesting not know for their Mercs why not a Merc tuner ?
Hi acej,
I do want to explain the reasoning behind this later on (as it will help set further context as where this project could end up going). However, from a personal perspective I absolutely trust them; they are extremely enthusiastic; they are committed and above all, they do whatever they need to do to get "it" right and don't just talk the talk. Working with people that have these qualities, just makes the whole process so much better and more enjoyable.:thumb:

I'm not suggesting that none of the "known" tuners within this community are not the same. But when its' right to do so, you tend to go on past experiences with people that you already know.

P.S. When I was over their last week, walking around the workshop, I was "introduced" to an awesome looking SLS Black Series in for some "mods", parked next to a Ferrari (I didn't take in which one - but it was new lol) in for a twin turbo modfest. Then over the other side of the workshop was a Veyron in for some modifications. :eek: Come on..... who "needs" to modify a Veyron! :D

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