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M50/S50/S52 E30 Conversion

Discussion in 'E30 (1984-1993)' started by MGarrison, Jan 14, 2009.

    • Member

    MGarrison

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    Botond was looking for someplace that offers a comprehensive conversion -

    http://www.zionsvilleautosport.com/store/shop.mv?Screen=CTGY&Store_Code=6134&Category_Code=CKE

    • $2395.00+
    • $929.00+
    • $689.00+
    • $195.00+
    • $495.00+
    • $1495.00+
    • $889.00+
    • $395.00+
    • $249.00+
    • $249.00+
    • $149.95+
    • $1495.00+
    • $49.00+
    • ------------------
    • $9673.95 for an M50 which needs to be converted to OBDI
    • + $1995.00 for S50 upgrade ($11,668.95)
    • or + $2995.00 for S52 upgrade ($12,668.95)

    Even if you can find any of that stuff for less, I would have to imagine that you still need all of it to accomplish the conversion, plus some serious fabrication skills to solve the various fitment problems that would almost inevitably arise.

    None of that includes any brake upgrades - you throw over 200hp into a non-M3 E30, and I think anyone would want some bigger brakes, plus probably some brake ducting and stainless lines. I think a 15" E30 brake kit is $1k-$1.5k, and 16" is more $$.

    It might be possible to pull it off for half of what they're selling, but I'd guess it'd take some serious bargain hunting to gather most of what you need. At a minimum, buy their Orca/OBDI conversion cd-rom, and you'll be able to see everything you're in for. Their cd's are copy protected and can only be installed once, on one internet-connected pc - if you need to refer to it in the middle of the project and don't want to have to keep running back to a desktop pc, install it on a laptop.

    z31maniac guest

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    If you are willing to do some legwork and research, spending $100 on that CD is a waste IMHO. All the info you need is on the internet. You won't get alot of help from the guys who have done 1 or more of these swaps if you don't put forth the initiative to find the info on your own.

    If already have an OBD-I 24v motor and the round style firewall connector (C101) you need to:
    1. Create a harness for the engine harness to the firewall (again numerous diagrams out there so you can connect the right pins together) or buy TreeHouse racings adapter ($400)
    2. Modified brake booster, again available from THR ($200) or you can make one out of any numberous boosters, E30 ix, E21, Porsche and a few others.
    3. E36 motor arms and E28 M5 mounts
    4. With Getrag 260, modified trans brace and shifter components (couple of different guys on R3Vlimited.com offer this for around $150 or so) or ZF trans with stock E30 crossmember, but with a different driveshaft and diff since the 5th gear is 1:1 not overdriven like with the Getrag.
    5. Flywheel, clutch, pressure plate, starter from the M20 bolted onto the M50.
    6. Custom exhaust. Single 2.5" should be plenty for a relatively stock M50, and will weigh less than a dual, under $500 to get that done for a muffler, resonator and shop to build it.
    7. Custom bent power steering pump lines, custom AC lines, or buy from Zionsville.
    8. Red label 413 DME
    9. 88+ radiator and expansion tank, E36 radiator hoses, or an E36 radiator
    10. All the parts to reseal/freshen up the motor.

    There is absolutely no reason an M50 swap should take even HALF of that $10k number, if you are willing to research, do some work yourself and be patient for deals.

    Brakes. www.massivebrakes.com "Massive Lee" on R3V, just released a really nice "Street kit", Wilwood Dynapro Billet 4 piston calipers, mounting brackets and connections/hardware, pads and 280mm x 22mm Corrado rotors (Stock is 256 x 20) for $660 with blanks and $720 for slotted racing brake rotors (OK doesn't look like this kit is up on his site yet, but you can PM him on R3V to order one). $1100 will buy you Wilwood Superlite Calipers, 300mm 2 piece rotors, and all the necessary mounting hardware.

    Unless you are a hardcore FAST trackday driver, I can't imagine fresh rotors, calipers, pads, lines and fluid would be overwhelmed. You can completely overhaul all those things for around $500. $100 for 4 Brembo blanks, $160 for 4 rebuilt calipers, $100 for lines, $25 for fluid, $130-250 for pads. Depending on if you do a street pad or track pad.
    • Member
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    mooseheadm5

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    $10k? That is absurd! You can buy a nice wrecked M3 along with any other parts you need and still have enough to pay a helper! Besides, you double counted some stuff (AC lines included in mounting kit, etc.)

    Z31's list is pretty complete. I wouldn't pay Treehouse $400 to connect less than a couple dozen wires together in the correct orientation, considering that you can look at the wiring diagrams yourself and make it happen. Buying a parts car gets you pretty close, and being clever gets you within spitting distance (take a hammer to the brake booster, shave the plastic fins at the back of the intake, etc.)

    R3Vlimited and E30.de are the places to go and learn. It can be done cheap. Scrounge what you can, read all you can and you will save. I converted my 318ti from a 4 banger auto to a 6 cyl manual for under $1500. Including the cost of the 318ti itself, the trans, the lightweight flywheel, the JC chip with EWS delete, 3.25 diff, etc.
    • Member

    granthr

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    Is there an english version of www.e30.de? I love that site and have been going there for years, but I have yet to find the English version, yet I hear it exists. The photo gallery is fantastic! There are some really great and crazy e30s out there! I like the cabrio with the V12!!

    GR
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    mooseheadm5

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    I always go to babelfish.altavista.com and translate the whole site.
    • Member

    granthr

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    Thanks, I will try that. The Google translator doesn't always work so well.

    GR
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    mooseheadm5

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    Oh, it is not perfect, but it'll give you a pretty good idea of what they are talking about. If you have any questions, I can ask a German co-worker of mine.

    94is guest

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    I've done one of these swaps before. It didn't cost that much, and we did a tranny swap and installed coilovers at the same time.
    • Member

    az3579

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    Whoa Marshall - you went a bit premature posting this thread, but thanks for doing it anyway.

    My goals change almost daily based on what things life throws at me. A week ago I may have wanted to do a swap ASAP, but today I realize that I will have to save up a lot more than I thought. I am rather incompetent when it comes to modifying things, so when it comes to welding and fabrication, modification, etc., I am guaranteed to break it or make it not work again in some way. You guys overestimate my creative abilities.

    Case in point; tonight, I put in my sport seats. What should have taken me no more than 30 minutes ended up over 2 hours, and to top it all off, in the end, I put my old seats in the car (wasn't at home) and ended up scratching the hell out of my dashboard with the railings from one of the seats and poking a hole in my glovebox.

    And what about the time a simple 15-minute throttle cable swap took me well over 3 hours with Marshall as moral support?

    And what about the time I spent 2 hours replacing a hood release cable?

    And the time it took me 6 hours to do a full brake pad change on all four corners?



    Are these signs of competence? No.




    There is no way this swap will cost me 10k. I'm not an idiot; I will not buy everything from the Project Orca website, because I have looked over everything they have and the prices absolutely floor me. No thanks.


    I will be doing extensive research on this when the time comes, and the time will be when I have the money for everything, including possible labor, parts I overlooked, plus a grand to top it all off just in case I missed something twice. I'm looking to do this project for about $4-5k now that I see what's involved (my original plan was 3k), but I'm also considering running this engine till it hacks up its internals (not due to a moneyshift :p). I'm reeeeeally curious to see how long it'll last me without a rebuild and at the same time I want my custom E30 that I've always dreamed of. Who's advice do you follow, the little red guy on my left shoulder (M/S50 devil!) or the little white guy on my right (M20 angel!)?

    I've still got some thinking to do, but I completely agree with z31's advice; it's rather stupid to spend $100 on a CD for information that you can find online. Besides, you can't ask a CD something if you still have a question, but you can ask almost anyone online who has done it before. Besides, do you seriously think I'm going to spend that kind of cash on DRM'ed or similar software? Hell no. If I'm paying that much for anything, I OWN that sh*t, I can install it on any number of computers I want and do whatever the heck I want with it (other than selling it or modifying or anything illegal). They're milking people for what they're worth and I refuse to do business with anyone like that.


    (Licensing and copy protection really boil my blood, being in the computer field it's like how us Bimmerheads feel about someone treating a BMW like trash and not taking care of it)
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    mooseheadm5

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    Wise decisions. Take care of that motor, and it can go a long time. I have seen 450k on an original motor! That should give you plenty of time to gather parts and skills. Seriously, though, start now. You never know where you will find deals, so squirrel some money away and be ready to throw down when the opportunity arrives. A motor mount here, a wiring harness there, and you will be ready sooner than you think. Hell, sometimes a wrecked E36 just shows up. Make friends with any shops around and ask them to let you know if any junkers pop up. I bought a knocking, titled E36 from a customer for $250. Traded it for an M50 with a freshly rebuilt head and some other parts (eventually I'll end up with a nice bumper cover for wifey's ti.) I am not cetain why you worry about the bottom end of your motor so much. That usually lives forever. Mostly, the head gaskets, valve guide seals, and cams/followers suffer the wear, and if yours is still ticking over, it'll be OK. Don't be scared off ifd you find an OBD2 motor, either. Nothing there that can't be changed.
    • Member

    az3579

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    Yeah, the stories of 450k is what scares me. I'll be with a car that is severely lacking in power for ages then! I'm tired of having to constantly give way because I can't accelerate fast enough up a hill to maintain speed, or constantly getting overtaken (and not overtaking anyone) on the straight at LRP, or having to downshift TWICE to keep up with Lance! (not that I follow him that much lol)


    My main gripe is that it's an eta and will always be looked down upon as such.
    "Cool, a beemer! What model?"
    "325e"
    "Oh."
    It's funny how most people don't know a damned thing about a BMW but when you say "325e" they know exactly what "that" is.

    I don't have too many cool things to say about it with regards to performance.
    "It handles like a dream" doesn't really inspire much nowadays, but I couldn't care less about bragging rights. What I want is the power to match that fantastic cornering this car comes with out of the box. Now with my stiffened suspension, I'm confident I'll be taking corners with a wee bit more speed on the track, but I'll still be dog slow on the straights, because whatever ground I gained in the corners (possibly) would be gone in the straights. This happened a while ago on the track - some new guy in a 335i was actually holding me up. I just wanted to pass him so he could learn at his own pace, and was on his arse the whole way, but when the straights came, he just disappeared. How is that fair to me?



    But, if I was smart, I'd wait it out until I've got a decent amount of money and THEN upgrade. Or, buying a rolling shell and put the engine in THAT and make it a track car. Too bad I don't space for a 2nd car and definitely can't afford to pay insurance on it; at least not at my age.



    MAN I'm curious to see how long this engine lasts though... I would feel a lot better if someone was willing to buy this engine from me if I was to upgrade. Nobody 'round here would because of the mileage, but perhaps a fellow enthusiast would...



    Paul, I swear-ta-God I'm actually seeing the light on the 327i conversion. How much power would that yield, and at what fraction of the cost and labor?
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    mooseheadm5

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    Get a 3.25LS or 3.45LS in the meantime. Better acceleration, sometimes better fuel economy (on the interstate, I found a 3.25 to be perfect,) cheap, and necessary for the M50 conversion anyway, especially if you use your trans. The M50 trans is a 1:1 5th, where yours is 1:1 4th, and the stock 325i M50 rear is 3.15. I have a 3.25 in the ti (the stock 4.44 was a little bit much) and it is great. Turns the tires in 1st (sometimes 2nd in anger) but still at a good cruising RPM. Make that your first purchase and give yourself a day for the swap. Another bonus is that it will help you wear your motor out faster :)
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    Brian A

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    Lust of power is the most flagrant of all the passions. -- Tacitus (56-117 AD)
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    az3579

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    I'm peeeeeeeerfectly happy with my 2.93 LSD for now. When I mod or change the engine, I'll consider another diff. Partially because I don't want to have to deal with having an extra diff lying around; shipping's a hassle and nobody around here will buy it, that's for sure.

    Buuuuuut, you didn't answer my question yet Paul. :)
    Is it worth doing the 2.7i conversion instead? If so, I don't want to wear out the motor faster. lol


    Thanks for the responses.
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    mooseheadm5

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    2.7i is a good, cheap swap and is a good intermediate step. Should be good for around 180 or more HP depending on port work, cam, compression, and software. Lots of the work is easy for a novice. Requires a head, gasket set, and (if you haven't changed it recently) a timing belt and tensioner, and super eta balancer. You can add a cam for maybe $400. Labor for R&R head should be in the 8-12 hour range (depending upon how much work you feel like doing.) Head can be milled up to 0.040" for compression. You need a wiring harness and computer from an 87 for ease of installation, but any year i harness and computer will do. If you are clever and find a rusted out 325i for about $400 or less (I pay $200 for titled 325i with snapped t-belts,) you just need to add labor and you have a 327i. In parts, you may have $500-$1000 depending on how much power you want. In labor including machine work you may have $1000. If your bottom end knocks or has significant blowby, it is not adviseable to do a 327i, but rings and bearings is (in parts) maybe $200 and can be done with with the block in the car. Buy a rusted or wrecked super eta and you are almost there apart from the intake (it is larger on the i than the super eta) and cam (ever so slightly more cam on the i.) Basically, it is much cheaper than an M50 conversion and easier for a novice to accomplish (since the Bentley manual is all you need to pull it off, it is straight swapping parts that are designed to fit.) Nobody wants your engine, but if the bottom end is not WTFO, then I'd use it. If you want to do this yourself, buy a POS car or motorcycle to run around while your car is apart for you do lots of the work yourself.

    If you brought me a prepped cylinder head (ready to bolt in, intake and exhaust manifolds installed) I would be able to swap them inside a work day. You could do almost all the work to the head yourself (machining aside.) Hell, I have one with some bent valves with intake and exhaust manifolds installed complete.

    I have no idea why you would say you are happy with the 2.93 diff while at the same time complaining about acceleration. You would be amazed at the difference it makes considering how cheap it is.

    z31maniac guest

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    I wouldn't bother with the 2.7i unless you plan on going turbo down the line.

    Here's a question, can the m50 flywheel be shaved down like the m20? And if so, how much? I was shocked to see what a lightweight flywheel and clutch kit costs.
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    mooseheadm5

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    Z31, have you ever driven a 2.7i?
    Yes, you can shave down an M50 flywheel. Many machine shops can do it pretty cheap.
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    az3579

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    As in ready to purchase?



    It's quite simple, really. I don't want to be revving 3000 rpm at 60 as opposed to the 2000 I do at 60 currently. This kills fuel economy when I'm not wringing its nuts off.

    But for when I do want to let it loose, not even downshifting twice will bring about decent acceleration because then I'd just be at the redline. I think my enemy here is a very restricted rev range. 5k (5.5k with my chip but it's just useless above 4.5k) is just too low of a rev limit and even if the rev limit were higher, it's not really producing much power around that range. I'm guessing this swap will provide more power up top, correct?

    I really don't mind downshifting to go faster. Having a 2.93 allows the revs to stay reasonable on the motorway, but if I had a high-revving engine, I could just downshift to get the same effect as having a 3.73 diff, for example, no? Or do I have it all wrong?
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    mooseheadm5

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    You need to work on your math. A 3.25 would only bump your revs 1.11 times your current revs. For instance, at 3000 rpm on your 2.93 (70mph), you would be turning 3328 rpm with a 3.25. In fact, I used to commute 77 miles each way on the interstate, and the change to the 3.25 actually saved me gas because the motor was running at a lower load (despite the higher rpm) because it was in a better part of the torque curve. I found no problems for over a year running a 3.25.
    Having a lower (numerically higher) diff is not simply like downshifting.
    The swap gives it the i redline.
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    mooseheadm5

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    Yes. I pulled it from one of my $200 snapped belt specials. The one that I have already ported and milled is no longer for sale, as it may find a new home on the LeMons car. Make me an offer. If I do what I think I want to do with that particular SBS, then the harness and brain are up for grabs as well. Think I have a spare super eta balancer as well. I'm not going to push you one way or the other, but this is an option for you. As Z31mentioned, forced induction would not be out of the question, but higher than 8psi (with no milling of the head at all) would probably be a limit on the eta cast crank. After that, you'd have to go 524td crank, which is not worth it. For 8psi max, you could do a small supercharger if you wanted, but that can come as you hone your skillz.

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