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M50/S50/S52 E30 Conversion

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

    • Member

    az3579

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    So, the offer for a low-mileage S50 is on the table at the moment. Once again, my heart says yes, my brain says no. There is someone lined up to do the conversion and I expect a total cost of about $4000 after parts (including engine) and labor, but this is estimated.
    I called Chris and he was less than ecstatic, and he tried to talk some sense into me, but I'm just torn once again.

    Pros:
    * "Easy" swap - it's very common and is probably the easiest engine to swap into an E30 other than an M20B25
    * Engine is "low mileage" (~113k) and sounds b-e-a-utiful. Got to rev it up and is as smooth as silk
    * Engine is located locally (about a half an hour drive), and comes with the entire wiring harness, ECU, and engine, and any other stuff that can be used from the 95 M3 it came from
    * The car has sentimental value and should be kept - my niece was transported in my car from the hospital to our house over 70 miles away and arrived with the fuel pump wheezing for fuel (and it was still running!) - it's my first car and what a catch it was when I bought it! $400 needing nothing but a welding job on the shift linkage - E30's are getting rare, especially in the condition mine is in - I've put sooooo much work into making it an 'es' (now I want to make it a 330is!)
    * I almost have enough money to pay for the engine in full. Guy who I would be purchasing from can store the engine for a couple of months while I collect for labor costs
    * Tax return will be coming soon and I expect a whopper!
    * 240hp is pleeeeeeeeeeenty for an E30, and will solve my "sticking on ya in the corners and getting left behind on the straights" problem
    * I can get this done before I have some serious expenses to think about, such as getting my own apartment. Can't do it if I have those kinds of expenses
    * I'm pretty much guaranteed work throughout the summer

    Cons:
    * Engine and electronics cost $2600, not including labor
    * Additional components required, such as E34 oil pan and some other stuff driving up cost
    * Mechanic needs a place to work and my garage is so full of sh*t I don't know what to do with it
    * Did I mention this is an expensive swap?
    * Current engine has 320k miles and is still going strong. Needs a tuneup
    * What to do with current engine if I swap an S50? Who's going to buy it? Don't have space to store
    * The usual "are you out of your mind?" conversations with family members (except brother who is screaming "S50!" from the top of his lungs)

    Things to consider:
    * 2.7i swap
    -- Sure, this is possible and is a "smarter" alternative, but it would require reusing parts of mine. Too much mileage, don't want to deal with it because then I'd need a rebuild knowing my OCD self, and then I'd still "only" have an amount of power that I can't even determine yet but would still be leagues less than an S50
    * I just dumped a bunch of money into a cooling system overhaul on my current M20: radiator, expansion tank/cap, thermostat and housing, all hoses vacuum and cooling, and some other misc stuff amounting almost a grand
    * Current engine needs a tuneup. A cost to consider when on the verge of buying an S50... which engine to support? Better/more powerful, or older/extremely reliable and pretty much all-set with every other component in the engine bay?
    * Will the current tranny handle it? Getrag 260
    * Will the current diff and driveshaft handle it?
    * Will everything else handle it?
    * Are bigger brakes necessary or can I go with current brakes and just take a longer braking approach?
    * Bigger tires? 5-lug to accommodate larger tires and possibly brakes if needed?
    * Should I just ditch the idea of renovating a 23-year-old car and just buy a newer one with less enthusiasm than my old fart?



    Believe it or not, I'm still on the fence about this! Any CCA members done this swap? Anyone regret not keeping their perfectly working engine? I'm not looking for answers to the 'things to consider" questions, I'm just trying to sort through what's in my head and see what anyone else thinks. It may seem like I'm asking things twice or thrice even, but sometimes it just requires a lot of thought and consideration to finally make a decision...

    Once again, it all comes down to my heart saying yes, and my brain saying no... :(




    Though I have to admit, if this gets done, my creative juices will probably come up with a Roundel article...............
    • Member

    Brian A

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    I'll respond to the "emotional" side of your post and let others respond to the "technical"
    practicality.


    -More people say, "I never should have sold that car" than say, "I never should have kept it".
    -$8,000 is cheap for a car you love. Some people spend $60,000 extra (the Dinan upgrade) on their $100,000 M6s in hope they feel the same passion for it.
    -Pride of ownership is what makes a car personally valuable. You got it, man.
    -Someday too soon you will own a Hyundai commuter car or Honda Pilot soccer shuttle. You will tell yourself that they are "good drives," but will always take the 330i for the Sunday morning donut run.
    -Conversely, it's just a silly car. Keep your perspective.
    -It's good to read that other people torment themselves over these decisions the same way I do.
    • Member
    • Technical Service Advisor

    mooseheadm5

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    Cons:
    You will need an EWS delete chip or a different ECU if that M3 was 1/95 or later
    I seem to remember some issues with valve retainers or something on earlier M3 engine (I could be wrong, look it up.)
    You will need the radiator and hoses if you can get them from the M3.
    You will need special trans mounts if you want to use your current trans (and yes, it will bolt right up, but it will be at the wrong angle.) The driveline should take the power just fine. Same diff as a 535i (and an M coupe or roadster.)
    You may need a different brake booster.
    You will need different motor mounts.
    You will not "need" bigger brakes, but you should buy the best rotors and pads you can get. Wait, do the 5 lug and give me your wheels :)
    Your M20 will be worth the value of scrap iron.
    Unless your guy can do his own wiring harness mods CORRECTLY then you need the adapter harness that plugs into your round connector at the firewall.
    This will cost more money and take more time than you or your mechanic thinks it will.
    Do you have enough job security to throw several thousand dollars at your car? If your contract vaporizes, what would be the first thing you would have to sell to pay the rent? Don't mean to be a wet blanket, but you have to think of these things rationally.

    Pros:
    Duh, S50!
    • Member
    • Technical Service Advisor

    mooseheadm5

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    My final advice is to drive your car until the engine goes, then make a decision. You can always pick up an S50 and sit on it while you gather parts. Don't rush things so much. Hell I got an M50 for $175 with accessories (the one in the ti) and traded a junker I bought for $200 for another M50, a bumper cover for the ti, a 525i oil pan, and a bunch of other crap.
    • Member

    az3579

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    So it won't hurt the engine if it just sits? How long can it sit without harm?
    I should probably buy it and save up for labor and all the necessary parts, including new tune-up parts, water pump, etc., and pretty much do it right if I'm going to do it at all.

    Thanks Brian, that was a perspective I was looking for.
    Paul, I will try to get the VIN so I could find out the build date.
    • Member
    • Technical Service Advisor

    mooseheadm5

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    If stored properly, the engine can sit for decades. You will want to pull the plugs and spray a nice film of oil in the cylinders. If you have a place to stor it where it can be put on an engine stand, you could literally turn the motor over every few months to keep everything lubed. You will want to take absolutely everything that you can get for that price. It is up there for sure, but if you can get as much as possible, then take it. Is the car wrecked or is he doing a motor swap?
    • Member

    MGarrison

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    I echo Paul's sentiments - it will cost more and take longer than you think, and to really make it happen and get done right, you can't expect it to happen in a hurry. A month would be more appropriate than a weekend, and it's better to be flexible on timeframes in case everything takes longer. Same thing for the money, you'd probably want to make some highball estimates, and plan to have an extra $2k+ above your estimate to cover contingencies. That might sound high, my point is you're better off to make sure you're covered than to be freaking out and stressing over whether you have enough money to finish the project once it's started. And ya, keeping in mind it all depends on the stability of your current financial picture and that continuing.

    I give you credit for saving up for a project you want, instead of ohhh.... getting 38 credit cards with $500 credit limits and maxing them all out. :p Takes patience, yes, but you spare yourself the prospect of financial ruin or mechanic's liens from being over-extended.

    I've made stock brakes handle track duty and a nominal hp boost with ducting directly into the centers of the rotors (custom fabbed by Korman), ss brake lines, racing pads that aren't particularly rotor friendly (but they work) and Motul brake fluid (preferred over ATE Super-Blue for higher boiling point). The E30 M3 doesn't have much of a weight difference, but obviously BMW found slightly larger brakes to be appropriate when they boosted the performance window of the chassis; you may find yourself desirous of improved capability in that department, eventually.
    • Member
    • Technical Service Advisor

    mooseheadm5

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    Also, your suspension has been largely replaced, so skip the 5 lug conversion for now. I was trying to figure out if there was a VW rotor that was larger diameter that could be made to work, but I'll have to poke around the shop to see what we have. I think it was a Corrado or Scirocco rotor that I was eying, but that was a long time ago. If I find that is possible, I will let everyone know, of course.
    • Member

    granthr

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    That would be interesting to know! Did this setup use the E30 BMW Caliper?

    z31maniac guest

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    I hate to be a buzzkill, but you're budget is hopelessly optimistic, ESPECIALLY if you aren't going to handle the swap yourself.

    $2600 for motor and accessories, OK, let me give you an idea of the other stuff you will need and its cost. As I doubt you are going to make your own wiring harness or modified brake booster if you are going to pay someone to do the swap.

    $400 THR Wiring harness adapter
    $250-280 Zionsville or THR brake booster
    $90 E28 M5 Motor mounts
    $100 for a custom trans brace to make the 260 work
    $150-200 for the E34 pan/pickup/dipstick setup
    $150+ as you need to do something with your exhaust now, the stock "e" exhaust will be much to restrictive. To do it right with a new resonator/muffler/tubing, you are probably looking at $250-350. Mine will probably be closer to $550 as I'm also going to use Raceland's S52 headers on my swap, then Y'd into a single 2.5" or 3".

    We're at $3600-3700 so far and we haven't even resealed the motor or trans, or a new stock clutch kit or anything. Or paid your mechanic to put it in.

    Want AC? Bend the lines or pay Zionsville $250 for them.

    moose, yes the early S50s had valve train issues. An EWS chip is not necessary as the iginiton and body modules aren't there, or you can cut pin #66 (This from Matt at The Racer's Market).

    I would at a MINIMUM do a metal impeller water pump, metal thermostat housing and a new thermostat since you have the motor out. I would also do new accessory belts, add another $150 for all that was mentioned.

    Your going to minimum need a lower gasket set since you are changing the pan and pickup, and you might as well do the rear main seal. Another $70 in parts. For me, I'd go ahead and do all the gaskets/seals except the headgasket, another $200 in parts.

    See how quickly this all adds up? Not trying to be a downer, but it just doesn't seem like you have really done the necessary research for a swap like this.

    I'm going an OBD-I S52 with 540i MAF and TRM chip, 328 steering rack, as well as getting another Getrag 260 and a new radiator (those parts come to about $450 for me)

    What's my total projected swap cost (and remember some buddies and I are doing it so I'm not paying for labor other than some pizza and beer the day we do the swap)?

    Close to $6000.

    EDIT: $2600 sounds high for a complete S50 to me. I paid $1700 for a "complete" S52 from Vines Automotive, only didn't include the DME. And it has a 6 month warranty.
    • Member
    • Technical Service Advisor

    mooseheadm5

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    Never heard of cutting pin 66. I'll have to look into that. If that is true then there are no problems. If not, then you absolutely do need an EWS delete chip because the ECU will not let run without the EWS signal, which would be absent. Other than that, what he said. If you can get absolutely everything off the car you would need, then this is a good price, but that means anything he will let you have.

    z31maniac guest

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    And grab that rack and pinion!

    The '95 M3 rack is very desireable.
    • Member

    az3579

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    Holy crap dude, some of that stuff might not be necessary. I don't need the rack and pinion steering; I personally could care less about that right now. Brake booster? Why, because of fitment issues? I'm sure I could get one for much cheaper somewhere.

    The parts list that I'm aware of are the engine and all the electronics that the guy is giving me (ECU, wiring harness, etc.), motor mounts, and an E34 oil pan.

    I don't care if my 325e exhaust is restrictive, as long as it'll work.

    Water pump, thermostat and housing, and belts are a given.
    This guy's working on a fixed price, so whatever's necessary for the swap will be done within this price.

    At this point, I'm not replacing what doesn't have to be replaced, unless it's a maintenance item, so the above mentioned things are a given, and any new gaskets that can be put in. I'm not doing a clutch, I'm not doing a diff, I'm not doing anything that isn't absolutely necessary to make this work. I want this done ASAP so I could have a working car at the end of it, at which point I will start doing the things that "would be nice". I'm trying to get everything done before the fall so that I could finally get an apartment, because once I get one, mods to the car will have to be put on hold as almost half my salary will be going to an apartment. Right now, it's only essentials.

    Afterwards, I'll start from scratch; new spark plugs/igntion coilpacks (even if it doesn't need them), new hoses (currently hoses are in good condition), etc. I'm taking this one step at a time, and am prepared to be missing a few things when it comes time to install. I'm prepared to have the engine sit for a while until I get all the necessary parts, so please stop worrying about whether or not I underestimated the costs of this project.


    The guy is going to send me the VIN of the car later tonight so I could look up production date.
    • Member
    • Technical Service Advisor

    mooseheadm5

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    The intake manifold will hit your stock booster unless you do a few things and/or replace the booster with a different unit (like an ix booster.)

    I'm with Z31 then, that is a bit on the high side (but at least you have heard it run.)
    You need waaaay more than just that to do the swap. Have you been reading over at r3vlimited or not?

    Dude, really? It won't even remotely work. You must have custom stuff made/hacked in.

    If you want shoddy work or parts once the guy gets in over his head or gets sick of doing the work cheaply, then a fixed price should work just fine. :rolleyes:

    essentials? Chances are your stock clutch is due, and doing when the motor is apart is probably a good idea. Which flywheel are you planning to use? Do you get the M3 flywheel? You still need a mess of gaskets to do it right, and some things are silly not to do while the motor is out. Some things are much cheaper to do with engine out than in.
    You need a radiator and coolant tank to make this work, as well as all the associated hoses. THat motor will pull the rear gearing just fine, so no diff necessary just yet.

    Just want you to know how much money will need to be laid out for this to be done properly by someone else. Not trying to rain on your parade or anything. Hell, if I didn't think you were a nice guy, I'd tell you to go ahead do stuff you didn't need, then poach the car off ya once the price got to high to handle. I'm an ass like that :eek:

    Did I mention that I have less than $1500 in the 325ti including the price of the car? :D
    It's good to be the king.

    Report back on that.
    • Member
    • Technical Service Advisor

    mooseheadm5

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    I have found some conflicting info on the EWS delete stuff, but here is what I remember. Cutting the wire to pin 66 on the ECU does not disable EWS alone. You need an EWS delete chip for that to work (all this if you have an ECU that has EWS on it.) Now I remember that I had instructions that it might have been necessary to do this with my JimC chip on the ti, but I can't for the life of me remember if I ended up doing that. Bottom line is this is what I have found: if the ecu and harness were from a car made 1/95 or later, it will have EWS and will require an EWS delete chip if you want to use it in any car other than the original, and maybe you might have to cut pin 66 as well.
    • Member

    az3579

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    WBSBF9326SEH03919
    Production date 01/95.

    Exact mileage is 113,508.


    Just send me this info yesterday.

    z31maniac guest

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    Brake booster, yes necessary. THR and Zionsville are the cheapest routes (THR even gives you a warranty on the modded booster, can't beat that), the ix booster is horrendously expensive if I remember correctly or you can take an E21 booster and mod the shaft, again, if you aren't handling the swap I didn't figure you were going to be cutting/grinding/re-threading a brake booster.

    THR wiring harness adapter, well, I guess you don't need it if you don't want your cluster to work (or AC, etc). Or have the ECU get a speed sensor signal thus imposing a lower redline and less aggressive timing/fuel map for less power.

    Transmission brace for Getrag 260? Necessary. Clutch? Think of how aggravating IT WILL BE when the used clutch burns up in a few thousand miles and you have to pay to have the clutch replaced. Does your "e" have the dual mass flywhee? I don't even think that will clear the E34 pan. Guys have to use the "i" flywheel, then either shave down the back of the flywheel or shave the oil pan for clearance.


    Like moose said, it doesn't really matter to me if you get in over your head and then are out thousands of dollars as you try to get out from under it, but we are trying to prevent that from happening to you.

    I would STRONGLY suggest you spend the next week or two at www.r3vlimited.com reading the 24v section, www.e30tech.com "non-stock swaps" section is good as well.

    Lastly, do you have another car to drive? It doesn't matter how well planned something is, once you go to exceute it, you WILL run into problems and delays.

    Autohaus guest

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    I guess Botond spilled the beans on this S50 project to you guys. Botond, you are looking at A-Rod money to do this job :(. Z3, his other car is his two legs :D. Why not just buy the whole parts car? I am sure you will make room for it so you can have this project done correctly. We should make a poll on whether Botond should keep his 325es a 325es or make it into a 330is. Matter of fact, I'll do that right now.
    • Member
    • Technical Service Advisor

    mooseheadm5

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    Botond,
    You will need an EWS delete chip as far as I know. Add another $325 to the cost.
    I forgot about this bit. There is a distinct possibility that you will have a dual mass flywheel on your car. You may (hell probably) need to have a different flywheel and clutch for this to work. Add another $3-500 to the cost (the used flywheel will be cheap, but the clutch will need to be new.) In addition, you will need to make a custom pushrod for your slave cylinder or it will not work properly (that one I know from experience!)

    z31maniac guest

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    You can get an EWS delete chip from TRM (The Racer's Market) for $209, so there is some money saved.

    moose, maybe you can answer this for certain, I've been told that the S52 flywheel/clutch/pp/TO bearing/starter combo WILL work with Getrag 260 and E30 slave cylinder.

    Any thoughts?

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