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Has anyone attempted to put a MODERN engine into a really old BMW

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by bcweir, Mar 19, 2011.

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    bcweir

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    I'm not talking about M52/S52 engines into E30's (been done hundreds of times) or even S14 into a 2002 (that's been done too).

    No, I'm talking about cars from MY car's era or older, receiving a drivetrain that features engine technology from the past five years or newer.

    I've been doing some research, and some of the newer engines that have come out in the last five years put out as much as 33 percent more power, along with a significant increase in fuel economy, not to mention lower emissions and a better tolerance for the more widespread use of ethanol. I should also point out that some of the engines I've looked at are made by companies other than BMW.

    I was inspired by this by a news article about a 55 Chevy that was retrofitted with a new LS3 engine that put out more power with reduced emissions than the conventional "crate" motors that usually go into these cars.
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    Deutsch Marques

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    I know this is a non-answer, but anything is possible with enough time and money thrown at it. The question is determining the cost/worth ratio. Or... how much you're willing to spend on something that means a lot to you.

    I recall a few years back one of the east coast tuners retrofitting an E46 M3 engine, drive-train and electronics into an E46 325i wagon. What seems like a simple swap wasn't. They spent months of time (time is money) trying to get it to work correctly. In the end, it was a one-off and determined to be far too costly to reproduce again. I can't imagine what would be involved in swapping a complex modern engine and electronics needed to run it into a car even less similar than the original donor.
    • Member

    bcweir

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    What we have here is a failure to communicate

    Please re-read the post.

    I wasn't talking about swapping a non-original, modern engine into a modern vehicle. I was talking about swapping a non-original modern engine into an OLD vehicle, presumably more than 15 years old. I don't doubt that there are challenges are complications in swapping an E46 M3 engine into an E46, as a lot of the functions that don't exist in an older vehicle are all tightly integrated into the body harness such as traction control, some entertainment and convenience features, etc.

    In that news article describing the 55 Chevy with the modern Corvette engine, it specifically says it's just an engine and transmission transplant. None of the myriad Corvette comfort or convenience functions made the transfer, as this would have greatly complicated the swap. The same applies to what I am proposing.

    cwbiii guest

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    Still a lot to do...

    The problem is really what is the minimum electronic package you need to shoehorn in and how and where will you put it. The modern power plant has a lot more sensors that need to be incorporated and made happy... not all of them directly on the engine.
    Especially the O2 sensors and related cats... but also subsystems like the mass flow sensor, coolant sensors and such. The related electrical system harness needs to be adjusted and tailored to this older vehicle... no small task. That high tech engine won't run without its related electronics... and it may not be able to be made happy without all of its functions some of which you won't probably want or need. How many of the dashboard functions will you need. Then there's the EGR system which it will probably require or you will need to somehow fake it out.

    It is a proverbial onion, each peeling reveals a new layer of issues.

    If you can identify an engine that is completely self contained with its own electronics
    in a turnkey package then it should be simpler, but otherwise it is beyond the capability of most backyard mechanics. There are probably some engines from the vehicle's era that may provide similar gains with a lot less work.

    Chuck
    • Member

    bcweir

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    At the risk of incurring the wrath of purists...

    Ford's new 5.0 Coyote V8 engine puts out 412 horsepower and gets 25 MPG highway, 19 city. They do offer it in a crate engine package for around $7,000. Presumably this comes with the harness, sensors and computers.

    BTW I compared BMW engines too. BMW's closest equivalent would be the S65 V8 engine. Puts out two horsepower more than the Ford motor, but despite one liter smaller displacement, gets 14 city, 20 hwy, numbers roughly 25 percent lower than Ford's. Those two extra horsepower come at a steep price at the gas pump. Worst of all, it's more than four times the cost of the Ford V8, for just the bare BMW shortblock engine.
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    Deutsch Marques

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    A crate motor designed to "run on its own" without the need to integrate fully into the car's electronics would simplify things greatly. My example above was that if taking a modern BMW engine out of one car and placing it into a model-mate was so difficult, then I couldn't imaging trying to put it in anything different. Because the M3's motor needed the M3's computer(s) and electronics, they had to swap all that along with the motor. Then they had to put the M3's instrument cluster into the 325. And then they had issues because the M3's computer didn't know what to do with the back doors. And then... and then... and new issues kept popping up until they had cobbled the whole thing beyond recognition.

    My first thought when I read your post was that the engine is just a small part of it. The mechanicals are fairly easy when compared to making the electronics run. Of course you could go the race car route, and go with an ECM designed for racing which runs the engine, gives you basic instruments, and ignores every other part of the car.
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    CSBM5

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    M3Driver guest

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    • Member

    CSBM5

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    Click the link for video.

    M3Driver guest

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    Awrighty now!

    I'll take one. Where do I sign?
    • Member

    CRKrieger

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    How about a V-12 in an E28? :D

    [IMG]

    Builder previously put a 540i V8 into one.
    • Member

    109941

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    What, no money leftover for the hood airshocks?? That was poor planning.
    • Member

    bcweir

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    Pretty close in concept to what I am planning...

    ...except it's not worth the trouble if I can't do it with a significantly newer engine.
    • Member

    granthr

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    Or air filters apparently!!! Come on CR, if you car going to show engine swap photos, they have got to be completed! Anyone can through anything into an engine bay, but making it work is the difficult part!!! :D:D:D
    • Member

    CRKrieger

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    This was a test fit. He probably won't be done with it this month, but I suspect it might see the road in April. This guy doesn't mess around. I remember seeing (and HEARING!) his 540i-engined E28 at 5er Fest in South Bend. I included the link for you to read the thread to see how it's going with this one. The biggest thing looked like hogging out the transmission tunnel to fit the gearbox. The V-12 will live - soon.

    Oh - and for the hood shocks; they're there. It's well known in the E28 community that E23 hood shocks are much longer. The prop is probably to ensure there are no 'accidents' leading to bent sheetmetal.
    • Member

    bcweir

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    Sorry wasn't sure what fascinated me more about that E12...

    ... that the M70 actually fit, or those enormous "park bench" front bumpers.
    • Member

    granthr

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    Okay here are some ideas and what it will take to make it happen!! :D:D:D And yes that M V10 is in an E30!! :cool:
    • Member

    bcweir

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    When it comes to having a tolerant engine bay...

    ... is there an engine MADE that the E30 engine bay WON'T accept?

    The E30 is certainly well on its way to being the 55 Chevy of the 21st century when it comes to having a swap-friendly engine bay?
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    • Technical Service Advisor

    mooseheadm5

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    The V12 in the picture is in an E28, not an E12. Aaron will have that thing running in time for Vintage
    Crate motors do not usually come with any electronics. No wiring, no computers. You are lucky to get any sensors.
    The biggest challenge for getting any super modern motor into an old car is the electronics. They rely not only on engine sensors, but most of them require integration with other parts of the car in order to work properly, especially anything with electronic throttles. The modern BMW (and many other manufacturers') engines are integrated with the ABS, stability control, speed sensors, brake pressure sensors, etc. It can all be made to work, but it is less of a shade tree thing than it used to be.
    On the E28 board alone there is an S54 going into an E28, an M57 (V8 diesel) and various other modern motor swaps going on. There was also an article in the Roundel a couple years back of an S85 going into an E24.
    My brother is talking about putting an N52 or N54 into one of our E28s. It'll take some wiring and the use of a $10k computer (which his shop has) to modify some ECU settings, but it can be done.
    • Member

    bcweir

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    I stand corrected on a few things, but I have done some research otherwise.

    I stand corrected. It IS an E28.

    The Ford Mustang GT 5.0 Coyote V8 crate motor offered by vendors comes with both a manual transmission harness and ECU. The harness and ECU for the automatic transmission is an extra $1,500. It also uses a standard MAF sensor along with a conventional 80mm throttle body and can use either a standard throttle cable or drive by wire system. It also has bolt patterns identical to standard 4.6 transmissions and motor mounts.

    Because these engines are being sold to go into a variety of custom and hot rod vehicles, it stands to reason that Ford avoided integrating any functions that would complicate the engine's installation into vehicles even older than mine (classic street rods and 1st gen Mustangs, for example).

    Unlike BMW, Ford generally isolates body control functions from powertrain systems. Therefore, although the stock Mustang uses a choice of a manual or automatic six-speed transmissions, it is possible to mount any transmission compatible with the modular 4.6 V8. Basing the Coyote Engine off the 4.6 also means I can use 4.6 components such as alternators, power steering pumps, ABS, etc. as well. Starting with the 1990 Lincoln Town Car, Ford put some version of this motor into several product lines over the years.

    But the biggest reason for being so interested in this particular powertrain is cost and bang for the buck without compromising on either hp or fuel economy. It's a true 21st century powerplant available new for one fourth the cost of what a new, equivalent BMW powerplant would go for.

    As much as I would really like to keep it all BMW, spending $10,000 to $30,000 to do so while achieving only incremental increases in hp or fuel economy is simply not an acceptable bargain.

    412 hp while enjoying a 25 hwy/19 city MPG rating are pretty tough numbers to beat. So is the $6,500 - $7,000 price tag. All that while enjoying a modern car's ultra-low emissions to boot. Being environmentally conscious of my carbon footprint and enjoying a good powerful engine need not be mutually exclusive.

    The most tragic part of all is that as far as the prices are concerned, BMW seems to have largely ignored the aftermarket enthusiast market that has been the American aftermarket's bread and butter for more than 40 years now.

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