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Andrew's S54 Swap

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    Andrew's S54 Swap

    Hey everyone,

    I am going to tell you about my engine swap. :)

    I decided to put an S54 in my 1988 325is. I found one with low miles on the forum here for a good price so I snatched it up. The previous owner had prepped it for an E30 M3 race car so it had a dry sump oil pan on it. I decided not to go the dry sump route as I was building a car for the street so I used an E34 M50 oil pan and a Euro S50b30 oil pump, which is just an M50 pump with a S54 sprocket. I had to install a new oil pump chain and oil pump chain tensioner since those had been removed. Installing the tensioner was quite a bit of work. To get the chain on I replaced one of the links in the new S54 chain with a removable link from a new M50 chain.

    Here's a photo of the oil pump installed.

    I decided to use a ZF 5-speed transmission from a 95 M3. I've heard the 6-speeds can be problematic and many E46 M3 racers switch to the 5-speed because it’s stronger and more reliable.

    I used a clutch and flywheel from a 2001 M Roadster which matches the S54 starter and 5-speed transmission.

    Installing the flywheel with new flywheel bolts.

    Clutch installed.

    I replaced the plastic pivot pin on the transmission with the metal version (part # 21511223281). Here they are compared.

    Transmission installed.

    Now the fun begins :)

    Unhooking everything:

    Getting closer. :)

    The old M20 with 281,500 miles on it comes out!

    I used a new E46 M3 radiator. Bigger the better if you ask me. I don't need overheating issues.

    I cleaned up and reused the E30's stock oil cooler, which isn't actually much smaller than the stock E46 M3 oil cooler. The E30 oil cooler is actually the same one BMW put in the E24 M6. I used M22 Female to AN -10 male adapters screwed onto a 45 degree AN -10 hose fitting on the driver's side and a 180 degree AN -10 hose fitting on the passenger side. I used Areoquip Startlite Racing hose with 2 45 degree fittings screwed onto Turner Motorsport's S54 oil filter housing adapter kit. (This is the part # for the M22 Female to AN -10 adapters as per a thread on is 7007-10-M22. I looked through Brennan's catalog and it looks like this is it here: 7007-10-L15-22 ( They're available from multiple vendors.)

    New engine and old engine.

    S54 in the E30 :)

    The E46 M3 radiator went in pretty easily. The lower metal tabs on the E30 had to be cut and bent of the way and we made some new lower mounts. The E30 top mount fit fine with a couple little pieces of wood.

    I used stock E46 M3 coolant hoses, including the heater core hoses. I decided I could have used 2 of one of the heater core hoses but I can’t remember which. The top radiator hose needed to be modified since the engine sits closer to the radiator in the E30. I installed the E30 coolant temperature sensor for the instrument cluster gauge in the top of the S54’s thermostat housing. We tapped it with a 14 mm x 1.5 mm tap I got from Snap-On after we drilled a 12.7 mm (1/2 inch) hole for it.

    I used an electric 16" SPAL push fan in front of the radiator. I removed all of the A/C stuff for maximum cooling and to decrease weight. I also figured I didn’t really need A/C in Oregon.

    At first I tried using the E46 M3 motor mount arms that came with the S54 but they positioned the engine too far forward for the shift linkages and the driveshaft, so I used motor mount arms from an M50. A friend made a nice bracket to support the air box for me. You can use the left Z3 S54 motor mount arm if you don't want to make a bracket for the air box (part # 11812229779). I used 96-99 E36 M3 shift linkages and a new E60 550i shifter, which is very nice. It’s short but it’s not too short.

    For the brakes I used the H31 Hydro boost system from an E23 733i. The servo fits with good clearance for the S54 airbox. I used the remote brake fluid reservoir for a V8 E34/E32. I had to get the high pressure hose to the booster lengthened so I took it to Oil Filter Service in SE Portland. We had to make custom brackets for the E23 power steering reservoir and nitrogen filled bomb. The hard brake lines matched up great so there was no need to modify them.

    This picture shows the E34/E32 V8 brake fluid reservoir, which needed to be trimmed a bit on the bottom to fit under the hood. It also shows the clutch fluid reservoir we needed to install since the brake fluid reservoir doesn't have the 3rd nipple. We mounted it to the side of the strut tower. The clutch fluid reservoir and it's bracket are also OEM BMW that were installed on E30's and other models in certain markets.

    I reused the E30's charcoal canister which I mounted on the side of the brake booster. The original hose plugged right into the S54's evaporative emission valve.

    The old steering rack needed to be replaced so I put in an E36 steering rack along with new E36 tie rods. I got the steering rack mounting kit from E30tech and a new rubber flex disk from BMW to rebuild the steering linkage. You can also see that I used the standard green E28 engine mounts.

    I used the Treehouse Racing lollipops for exhaust clearance which are a million times easier to install than new stock control arm bushings. For the headers to fit, I had an exhaust shop cut a notch out of the sub-frame and weld in a piece for reinforcement. In retrospect I could have tried using a spacer on the engine mount. I used “eBay headers” without the integrated cats. I replaced the studs in the cylinder head with the longer stud bolts that have a torx end on them that comes on the E90. I used a new E36 318i/325i clutch slave cylinder with a UUC clutch line.

    I used UUC's red E36 M3 transmission mounts with enforcer cups and a new M3/M5 flex disc.

    I used a driveshaft from a manual trans E36 328i with a new E30 CSB.

    I installed a 3.25 LSD out of an E24.

    For the fuel system I used the OEM E46 M3 fuel pressure regulator & filter which we custom mounted up in the engine bay and a new Deatschwerks 300lph fuel pump.

    Here’s the Deatschwerks pump compared with the stock E30 pump.

    I sent the stock MSS54 ECU to Germany to have it reprogrammed to disable DSC, CAN Bus, and EWS, etc.

    Installing the electronic gas pedal was pretty easy. I just removed the old gas pedal and installed the electronic gas pedal’s bracket in place, which mounts with an 8 mm bolt where the old pedal stop was screwed in and I used a high strength plastic epoxy to mount the lower portion where it sits flush with the base of the old pedal. Then I loosened the clamp on the base of the steering column so I could swing it out of the way and snapped the pedal in place.

    The OBD2 port installed:

    I used E30 rear window defrost buttons for sport mode and the SPAL fan override switch.

    Here’s a few photos of the car completed:

    Here are some of the fluids and chemicals I used:
    Engine oil: Castrol TWS 10W-60
    Transmission fluid: Pentosin MTF2
    Grease for clutch parts and transmission input shaft: Esso Unirex S2
    Differential fluid: Amsoil Severe Gear 75W-110
    Power steering & Hydroboost fluid: Amsoil Multi-Vehicle ATF
    Brake & Clutch fluid: ATE Super Blue
    Coolant: Pentosin Pentofrost NF
    Last edited by Andrew325is; 07-13-2014, 12:08 AM.
    Plug and Play Wiring Harness Adapters for S54, S50, M54 and more.

    good lord you bastard.
    vid of it running or gtfo
    Last edited by RUFFLZ; 02-11-2012, 06:56 PM.



      Starting a E30 swap soon, this has me rethinking engine options. Can I ask what do you estimate the total cost was?
      (2) E30 tourings - sold, E30 M3 - sold, 89 325ix sedan, 91 318is slicktop
      Wisconsin Members!- Join, Wisconsin's BMW community.


        2012, the year of the s54 swap.


          Nice job!

          Originally posted by Andrew325is View Post
          I am going to tell you about my S54 swap. I’d also like to thank Tino in Germany for getting my ECU reprogrammed.
          Nando, make it happen!


            Wow that's awesome.
            Zinno '89 <24v swap in progress>


              I love you.
              For all things 24v, check out Markert Motorworks!
              Originally posted by mbonanni
              I hate modded emtree, I hate modded cawrz, I hate jdm, I hate swag, I hate stanceyolokids, I hate bags (on cars), I hate stuff that is slowz, I hate tires.

              I am a pursit now.


                nice work! I just finished my s52 swap and thought i was the bees knees, now i'm just jealous.
                1989 E30 Zinnoberrot Vert 325i OBD1 S52 turbo;IP


                  i convinced myself that i would eventually do a M50 swap but now i have to think again...


                    fuck you and the horse you rode in on.

                    this is awesome




                        Made it seem as simple as I dream it could be, too.
                        For all things 24v, check out Markert Motorworks!
                        Originally posted by mbonanni
                        I hate modded emtree, I hate modded cawrz, I hate jdm, I hate swag, I hate stanceyolokids, I hate bags (on cars), I hate stuff that is slowz, I hate tires.

                        I am a pursit now.


                          oh my god.... great work


                            Nice job you did there.
                            Continuous For Sale Thread
                            323i s50


                              I just nutted