700hp BMW 550i F10
The M5 might have been the pinnacle of F10 performance, but its more understated and affordable 550i cousin can serve up some epic power with the right mods, as this epic example proves so effortlessly.
Powerhaus Built with maximum performance in mind, this 700hp F10 550i is an absolute monster.
EPIC PERFORMANCE MONSTER
Is there such a thing as too much power? Perhaps when it’s causing absolute corruption – as the old saying goes – and, perhaps, when you’re attempting, and failing, to put a few hundred horses to the tarmac via the rear wheels and not ideal conditions, but otherwise, no. Power is fun (in general), it makes cars exciting, and it makes driving a real thrill, and these days, you need a lot of it because everyone else has lots of it too. These days no one gets out of bed for a hot hatch with less than 300hp, and if your performance saloon isn’t bringing north of 500hp to the party, there’s no point even turning up.
Nick Gonzalez III (@euro_connection_autoklasse) knows this all too well because, for the past two years, he’s been building his F10 550i up to be an absolute beast, and power is something it’s really not short on.
“I’ve been interested in BMWs for 20 years,” Nick tells us. “The experience and the heritage make them special to me, and the feeling of driving one puts you in a world where you become one with the machine,” he smiles, and if we weren’t already big BMW fans, we definitely would be after hearing that. Nick’s first foray into BMW ownership was with a 2007 E90 328i, and it became a full-on project for him. “I wanted to show everyone that even the underdog inline ’six could make power enough to enjoy, plus to prove the naysayers wrong. So it went from 230hp stock to 345hp all motor, with a three-stage intake manifold, headers, an 80mm big-bore throttle body, custom MILVS, and a custom Active Autowerke tune. I was the first to run E85 and methanol safely on a stock fuel system,” says Nick, and that impressive build shows that he’s no stranger to modding, and he knows how to get results.
If that 328i wasn’t proof enough of that, this F10 550i most definitely is, and in Nick’s hands, it’s been turned into an absolute performance monster. Before we get into any of that, however, we must first ask why an F10 550i, something that you are probably puzzling over. But the thing is that it’s very likely you’re looking at things from a UK perspective, not a stateside one. “I wanted an F10 M5 but didn’t have the M5 money. So I sought out the 550i, which had the same motor except for the forged internals and upgraded turbos and chargecoolers,” Nick explains, and that makes perfect sense when you look at US prices. Here in the UK, the F10 550i is a rare beast, and while we found one for £12,000, of the six we saw for sale while writing this feature, the next cheapest one was a whisker under £17,000 with the rest at a similar price, and that puts most F10 550s at exactly the same price as the cheapest F10 M5s. In the US, however, F10 550s are plentiful, and a budget of $12,000 puts a large selection of cars within your reach, where you’d need to spend over $20,000 to pick up an F10 M5. And, much like with his 328i, Nick had a plan in mind for his F10: “My goal was to be able to modify on a budget to have a car that could beat the new stock or Stage 1 M5,” he grins, and it’s fair to say that he’s made that happen. With power and performance being the ultimate goal, this is a build that’s dominated by its engine, and while Nick may say he was modding on a budget, that’s all relative, and he hasn’t cut corners where it counts.
Being a 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8, the N63 has plenty of modding potential, but while a remap alone will get it nudging high 400s, to hit the really big figures needs a little more commitment, and Nick has definitely committed to this 550i project.
“First were the PLM downpipes, which are cost-effective and gave the same power without the big price tag. Then I fitted Turbosmart diverter valves, I needed something reliable to hold the boost because the stock diverter valves are prone to leaking. Then I added ARM Motorsports intakes and charge pipes, which are cheaper to buy vs the much more expensive ones, and they still achieve the same horsepower gains,” Nick tells us. “Next came NPBoosted custom coil packs, which are cost-effective and held better charge than the expensive brands, and then F10 M5 3.5 bar TMAP sensors, which allowed me to run higher boost pressure. Finally, there came the custom tune by Heatsync Performance Euro, along with a JB4 for further tweaking,” he says.
Considering there are no upgraded turbos included in that selection of performance modifications, that makes the numbers this 550i is putting out even more impressive. It is now developing a hefty 670hp and a massive 720lb ft of torque, which are serious figures, and the eight-speed auto has been equipped with a custom XHP drag tune to allow it to better cope with all that power and torque. The numbers alone are impressive enough, but it’s always nice to have some kind of point of reference, and in this case, that means a quarter-mile time of just 11.4 seconds, which Nick tells us makes this the current non- TU N63-powered RWD world record holder, which certainly puts things into perspective.
The thing is, Nick isn’t the sort of guy to rest on his laurels, and since this shoot, he’s been busy working away on his 550i, with some of the most significant changes happening under the bonnet. He’s now running dual oil catch cans, an E30 mix for the fuel and is pushing 20 psi of boost, but what’s really going to make the difference are the custom turbos that are coming from Heatsync Performance Euro, which will have been fitted by the time you read this. With those on board, Nick will have over 700hp and around 800lb ft to play with, which is going to take this F10 to the next level of performance.
Of course, the engine isn’t where things end with this build, and there is a selection of additional mods to enhance the car as a whole. The brakes have been uprated with the addition of a set of cross-drilled discs, and the car has been lowered subtly using a set of H&R springs that delete some of that arch gap and get it sitting just right. “The wheels were a no-brainer for me,” says Nick about his choice. “ESR wheels are affordable, and the designs are great. Plus, I like being different from everyone else, and price-wise it was also good for my budget-build mindset,” he smiles, and these 19s have been wrapped in grippy Firestone Firehawk Indy 500 tyres.
In terms of aesthetics, this F10 looks largely stock, but there are a few subtle changes that enhance the looks as well as aid performance. “The car stayed with the stock M Sport kit except for the front bumper. I chose the M5 front bumper due to BMW’s engineering design; the bumper is designed for cooling purposes with direct airflow to the intercooler heat exchangers since these engines are known for suffering from heat soak.
I also went wth KGSpiitters side skirt and rear bumper extensions for added visual flare.' he smiles, and these subtle additions just give this 550i a little more muscle. As for the inside, a pair of red paddle shifters and a red startstop button have been added, but otherwise, the Execut ve package and massage seats remain, meaning Nick can get to ano from the drag strip in absolute comfort.
As we said earlier, though. Nick has been continuously working on his 550i even since we shot it. and it’s now looking a liN e different. The graphics are gone, and so are the ESR wheels, having been replaced with a set of OEM Style 351 19s. along with a new rear diffuser, which combines to deliver a slightly more subt e but no less aggressive look. It clearly all means that Nick is very much enamoured with his F10. and with this much power to play with, we're not surprised. “The tune is my favourite mod on the car. It puts a smile on my face knowing that this custom tune is mine and mine only. To feel the response of this car is something you have to experience, to be able to pass up cars that come from the factory already fast and just blow by past them." he grins. Once the new turbos are fitted, that feeling of sheer power and performance is going to be even more immense. And if a 700hp+ BMW build wasn’t already appealing enough, having all that performance in this F10’s subtle new package makes this just about the perfect powerhouse if a sleeper.
TECHNICAL DATA BMW 550i F10
- ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION: 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 N63B44, PLM downpipes, Turbosmart diverter valves, ARM Motorsports intakes and charge pipes, NPBoosted custom coil packs, F10 M5 3.5 bar TMAP sensors, JB4, custom tune by Heatsync Performance Euro, Heatsync Performance Euro custom turbos fitted after shoot, E30 fuel mix
- POWER AND TORQUE: 670hp and 720lb ft (700hp+ with new turbos)
- TRANSMISSION: Eight-speed automatic gearbox, XHP custom drag tune
- CHASSIS: 9.5x19” (front) and 10.5x19” (rear) ESR CS12 wheels (now 19” Style 351) with 245/40 (front) and 285/35 (rear) Firestone Firehawk Indy 500 tyres, H&R lowering springs, cross-drilled discs
- EXTERIOR: M5 front bumper, KGSplitters side skirt and rear bumper extensions, rear diffuser fitted after shoot
- INTERIOR: Red shift paddles, red start-stop button
- THANKS Thanks to Heatsync Performance Euro, D3 Motorsports, Liqui Moly USA Canada, Wicked Piston Racing, graphiteRED Media Group, Racing Diffs
An extensive selection of mods means this N63 is making 670hp on stock turbos. Bonnet vents help to keep things cool; aggressive ESR 19s really suit the car. Aside from the addition of the red shift paddles, the comfy interior has been left alone.
It is now developing a hefty 670hp and a massive 720lb ft of torque… that means a quarter-mile time of just 11.4 seconds
I wanted an F10 M5 but didn’t have the M5 money. So I sought out the 550i, which had the same motor except for the forged internals and upgraded turbos and chargecoolers