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1989 325i M54B25/320z swap

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    1989 325i M54B25/320z swap

    Hello everyone!

    I realize that this is my first post on these forums, but I've been reading them for quite a while now. I've done several engine/transmission/interior/steering/suspension swaps on e39/e38/e46s, but this is my first e30 build.

    My friend Jeff recently bought a 1989 325i saloon with about 187k miles and a 4 speed auto. The car was a 1-owner that lived its whole life in North Carolina. The interior was extremely nice and doesn't show a lot of wear, but the paint on the exterior has evidence that it sat outside in the southern heat for much of its life.

    Jeff bought the car with ideas to do a complete custom build over time, but for now, it will start with a M54b25/320z 5-speed swap, Zionsville Quick Ratio 2 steering rack conversion, and a bit of a suspension refresh. Eventually, it will get the S54 to match his other car, a 2006 e46 M3 ZCP. The goal is to do all the prep work with the M54 so that the S54 swap will be mostly plug and play in about 5 years or so. Things like the 5 lug conversion, brake upgrades, wheels, suspension, etc. will happen over time. He is a true E30 fan and plans to make this a stunning resto-mod.

    First of all, I would like to thank several people involved in just getting us some great parts packages, as well as some really great advice. Zionsville Autosport put together a package of parts for the engine and transmission conversion excluding the engine and transmission themselves, and also a quick ratio 2 steering rack conversion kit. All were spec'd for the M54 in an e30 chassis, which from what I've seen hasn't been done too often at the same time. I've seen many threads on the e36 steering rack swap and the M54 swap, but not typically together, meaning the power steering lines are different.

    Jordan (from here and bimmerforums) has been very helpful with his DIY thread and general help with all things BMW. I know he's not active with e30s anymore, but his build was an inspiration.

    Andrew325is supplied the plug and play wiring harness including the CAN bus controller and a few things to eventually convert it to a S54 harness when that happens. Thanks!

    Tuttle Motorsports has also been very helpful in getting parts for the swap and very good advice. They're also good friends of mine :).

    Our good friend Steve for lending his mechanical know-how and muscles :). You'll be seeing him in several of the pictures to come.

    And we can't thank Brian (Redshift) enough for letting us use his shop to do the swap over the next few weekends. He's a truly good friend of ours and such a great guy.

    So, this past weekend we started on the engine/transmission/steering swap.

    Here's the car that is going under the knife:




    Trust me, the inside more than makes up for the outside paint :). The body is in very good condition, other than the dings in the front right fender seen in the picture, so when it comes time for paint, it won't be a nightmare to take care of it.

    Steve beginning to drain the fluids:



    Driveshaft removed:



    Front Control Arm Bushings have had it. New ones, along with control arms, are on order and should be here by next weekend if they didn't already arrive.




    Diff is a 4.10 LSD that came with the car currently. We got a 3.25 LSD, but we may try out the 4.10 for now and see how it does. If it's keeping the revs too high on the Interstate, we'll swap it.



    Almost no corrosion on the car at all, but some of the wiring is showing its age and that has led to some corrosion on them:



    Here I am doing what I do best... reading the forums to see how to do stuff, LOL. We've done so many e39 S62 swaps now that we do them without looking anything up other than torque specs, but this one is all new.



    Riding a bit low I think :)



    We have separation:



    And there you have it. End of Day 1:





    Now the real fun begins. Day 2 was mostly separating the M20 from the subframe and getting the subframe cleaned and prepped for the new steering rack and eventually, the engine.




    Engine and ZF rebuilt transmission sitting in a corner waiting to be sold:




    Years of caked on oil had stripped the paint from the driver side of the subframe and when we removed it, we were left with bare metal.



    Steve and Jeff bolting on the new e36 tie rods to the e36 rack (don't worry, they aren't struggling as much as it looks like Steve is :)):



    Old engine on the right, new on the left. The M54b25 came out of my 2003 525it/5 that I swapped a M54b30/420g 6-speed into. It has 172k miles on it and has been maintained well before removal. It will need a couple of things before we install it in the car, but should last many years for Jeff if he wants it to.



    A bit of paint to keep it from rusting:




    And installing it back into the car after bolting up the e36 rack





    We needed to move the car out of the shop during the week so Brian can use it for work, so we reinstalled the subframe and connected the steering linkage and rolled it to the driveway. She's riding a bit higher than I remember, LOL:




    So, that's it for now. I'll be updating the thread over the next few weekends as we progress along. I'm sure Jeff and possibly Steve will add some input as well.

    I hope you all enjoy!

    -Paul
    2003 530i->"M5" - S62/420g/diff/brake swap, Eibach Sway Bars, UUC Evo3/DSSR, BMW NBT Retrofit, M5 Gauge Cluster, Hella G4 Bi-Xenon Retrofit, M5 Extended Leather Interior Swap, APEX PS-7s, e60 Hubs, Koni Sports

    2003 530it6 - M54b30/S6S-420g swap, 3.15 540it diff, e60 SSK, VMR VB2 19" Wheels, M5 Gauge Cluster, Hella G4 Bi-xenon Retrofit, NBT Retrofit, Koni Sports, 540i Brakes

    #2
    I am the first person who installed one in E30. M54B25 with MS43, is a great engine for daily driver. Here is my video of it
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2rQ-ddrn3tQ

    Comment


      #3
      Originally posted by DesertBMW View Post
      I am the first person who installed one in E30. M54B25 with MS43, is a great engine for daily driver. Here is my video of it
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2rQ-ddrn3tQ
      Cool. I think your build thread was one of the ones that I used for research as well. You didn't use the heater hoses going to the cabin, right? Interesting method for the radiator/expansion tank. Do you notice any vibrations from cutting the cooling fan blades shorter? I would think if there was any variance in the blades, it might cause some.

      We're basically planning to do Jordan's method pretty much completely, but he left a couple things out, like the lower radiator hose and a couple of the heater hoses/expansion tank hoses and just said he kept trying different parts until he found something that worked. I'm hoping some people have some more defined suggestions.

      -Paul
      2003 530i->"M5" - S62/420g/diff/brake swap, Eibach Sway Bars, UUC Evo3/DSSR, BMW NBT Retrofit, M5 Gauge Cluster, Hella G4 Bi-Xenon Retrofit, M5 Extended Leather Interior Swap, APEX PS-7s, e60 Hubs, Koni Sports

      2003 530it6 - M54b30/S6S-420g swap, 3.15 540it diff, e60 SSK, VMR VB2 19" Wheels, M5 Gauge Cluster, Hella G4 Bi-xenon Retrofit, NBT Retrofit, Koni Sports, 540i Brakes

      Comment


        #4
        Thanks for setting this up, Paul. Also, thanks to you and Steve for all the help planning this out and, of course, the slave labor. :)

        I can't thank Brian (Redshift) enough either. He's a great friend and an even better person.

        Paul already hit the "thank you" list but I'd like to reiterate all of those that helped us get started:

        Dwight from Zionsville Autosport
        Will Tuttle of Tuttle Motorsports
        Andrew325is
        Castro Motorsports
        ...and of course, what would any of us do without the guys at FCP Euro and ECS Tuning.

        I'd also like to thank Jordan, as Paul has done. He was a big inspiration in making this happen.

        We'll have more over the coming weeks as we delve into the fun stuff...making this all work.

        I do plan to daily drive this e30 once we've completed this build. However, we'll make steps along the way (like, full suspension, brakes, wheels, and tires next) before reaching the end goal...a full resto-mod e30 S54B32.

        Comment


          #5
          Nice build, love the garage!

          [IMG]https://cimg4.ibsrv.net/gimg/my350z.com-vbulletin/550x225/80-parkerbsig_5096690e71d912ec1addc4a84e99c374685fc03 8.jpg[/IMG

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by parkerbink View Post
            Nice build, love the garage!
            Yeah, Brian's shop is pretty awesome. We've done multiple e39 6-speed swaps, a S62 swap, a full e46 M3 Touring build, and multiple other interesting projects in that shop over the last few years.

            This build is going to challenge us a bit as it's a good bit more "custom" than we're used to, but we'll figure it out. Typically, people in these forums are much better at the mechanical custom work and have trouble with the electrical, while I'm kind of the opposite. I'm hoping to get some help with some ideas on things like cooling lines and stuff.

            Oh, and on another note, we're doing a M50 oil pan and we were able to get an e38 728i oil pickup tube shipped over from our good friend Peter who recently moved to Munich, Germany. I think the total cost was like $35 including shipping or something ridiculous, but it means we don't have to custom fabricate one and that makes all the difference when you're doing a build over 3 weekends 2.5 hours away from home. I'm hoping Jeff sends him the link so he can see we're thanking him immensely. If anyone else needs one for a future build, I'm sure we could get him to help out. It's a part that you can't order in the US as it was a Euro only part.

            -Paul
            2003 530i->"M5" - S62/420g/diff/brake swap, Eibach Sway Bars, UUC Evo3/DSSR, BMW NBT Retrofit, M5 Gauge Cluster, Hella G4 Bi-Xenon Retrofit, M5 Extended Leather Interior Swap, APEX PS-7s, e60 Hubs, Koni Sports

            2003 530it6 - M54b30/S6S-420g swap, 3.15 540it diff, e60 SSK, VMR VB2 19" Wheels, M5 Gauge Cluster, Hella G4 Bi-xenon Retrofit, NBT Retrofit, Koni Sports, 540i Brakes

            Comment


              #7
              Hey, looks good so far. I just finished an m54b30 swap. Jordan and Hakkentt's guides were helpful to me too. I ended up going with the treehouse style control arm bushing, as the header doesn't have much room with the standard sized fcab. I had to fabricate a mount for the dipstick tube to engine mount, as I had to move it a bit to allow the steering shaft to clear. I went with the e46 6 speed, so I had some modifications there as well to make it fit, but the guides cover pretty much everything else. If you go to the MS43 wiki, they have all the info you need for setting up the ecu to work. Good luck!

              Comment


                #8
                You can use the gates hose that hakkentt mentioned for the upper and lower. Its one big hose you basically cut what you need to make up the upper and lower. You do need to re-use the plastic connector on the old hose though. Heating hose setup was covered in Jordans guide using the e30 expansion tank. It has worked well for me, and bleeding issues are non-existant with this setup.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by cwlo View Post
                  Hey, looks good so far. I just finished an m54b30 swap. Jordan and Hakkentt's guides were helpful to me too. I ended up going with the treehouse style control arm bushing, as the header doesn't have much room with the standard sized fcab. I had to fabricate a mount for the dipstick tube to engine mount, as I had to move it a bit to allow the steering shaft to clear. I went with the e46 6 speed, so I had some modifications there as well to make it fit, but the guides cover pretty much everything else. If you go to the MS43 wiki, they have all the info you need for setting up the ecu to work. Good luck!
                  Thanks! It's funny, I haven't yet posted the update from last weekend's fun, but we basically ran into those same issues with the headers and dipstick tube. We're using the Ebay headers and they have been nothing but problems. They don't even fit with the engine out of the car, but they really don't fit with the engine going into the car. The steering linkage we have I don't think has any issues with the dipstick tube, but we do need to figure out what dipstick tube we can use with the CCV drain line. We are not welders, so modifying the M50 tube might not work well for us. What does look like it could work is getting the same 728i dipstick from Europe through our friend Peter. I'm having trouble seeing if there would be any issues with mounting it, seeing how that was a M52 or M52TU engine with a front sump like the M50 and might have the CCV drain fitting.

                  As for the heater hoses, I've got the hoses that Jordan said to get and cut the rubber sections off as he said, but I'm a little bit confused how to tee the hose coming from the heater core to the hard connection at the middle of the block into the expansion tank. The hose he said to get doesn't exactly go directly into the tee from the other hose (the one I took the rubber bits off of), so I'm a bit confused. He never showed completed pictures of it, so I just don't have a clear idea of what happened. If you could take a picture, that would be great.

                  I'm not worried about the ECU stuff as I've been doing EWS deletes and such on several different DMEs before. I already have Daniel F's tune ready to go onto the junk yard DME we got last week and I'm familiar with loading a full file to a MS43.

                  I'll post a full update from this past weekend later, but I just don't have time this evening. Needless to say, the engine is not in the car yet and will likely need the headers removed just to get it installed and work on the rest, then have an exhaust shop finish them once we get the car back to Charlotte and don't tie up Brian's shop space anymore. We hope to have it towed back next weekend, but we need to have the engine and subframe installed by then so they can put it on the rollback. Free 200 mile tow with AAA Premier will be in use :).

                  I was looking at that Gates hose and think I might go with that based on your recommendation. I'll still be using the upper plastic quickconnect fitting as I modified it for the coolant temp sensor. We've got an ECS all aluminum radiator that will be going in.

                  That's it for now. Look for another update in the next day or so.

                  -Paul
                  2003 530i->"M5" - S62/420g/diff/brake swap, Eibach Sway Bars, UUC Evo3/DSSR, BMW NBT Retrofit, M5 Gauge Cluster, Hella G4 Bi-Xenon Retrofit, M5 Extended Leather Interior Swap, APEX PS-7s, e60 Hubs, Koni Sports

                  2003 530it6 - M54b30/S6S-420g swap, 3.15 540it diff, e60 SSK, VMR VB2 19" Wheels, M5 Gauge Cluster, Hella G4 Bi-xenon Retrofit, NBT Retrofit, Koni Sports, 540i Brakes

                  Comment


                    #10
                    The 728i dipstick won't work either. You need to modify the M50 one because the widths are different on em. You won't be able to physically fit the M52 dipstick in that oil pan.

                    Since you guys are planning on doing an s54 swap in the future... you might as well hit up Tyler at ArcAsylum:

                    http://www.thearcasylum.com/e30-s54-swap.html

                    That'll allow you to run the stock setup you guys have now and then when you're for the S54 get the pan modified so that you can keep the dual sump pick up.

                    Otherwise, you guys will need to chop the oil recirculation tube off of the m54's dipstick and get it welded on.
                    IG: deniso_nsi Leave me feedback here

                    Comment


                      #11
                      I'll try to get some pics of the heater hose setup.

                      Chris

                      Comment


                        #12
                        1989 325i M54B25/320z swap

                        Thank you, Paul.....we can't forget our friend Peter. We were lucky enough to have him here in our local BMW CCA chapter for a year or so and we quite enjoyed his presence.

                        I want to say with the Euro/USD conversion rate for the part and shipping I was in for $47 or so.

                        It was a lifesaver and bolted right on to the M50 oil pan. Hopefully Paul uses the dorky snapshot we took. :)

                        Anyway, a giant THANK YOU to our buddy in Europe, Peter K.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Hey guys, sorry for the long delay in getting an update. I have been absolutely slammed at work and haven't gotten home early enough on Sundays after working on the car to post the updates, so here is a long update covering two weekends on the build.

                          It all started with getting the new engine on the stand so we could do some oil pan swapping, coolant pipe replacing, etc.



                          Here's the new e38 728i oil pickup tube we got shipped from Germany to install in the new M50 oil pan. If you have the contact and time to wait, this makes the mod easier if you're not really a welder.



                          Got the M50 oil pan all cleaned up and ready to install:



                          Jeff got to work on doing the 944 brake booster swap:






                          The booster can actually be replaced without taking any of the lines or the reservoir loose, which is pretty cool. As many engine swaps as we've done, we've never needed to replace just the booster, so we weren't sure before this one. We did discover that the grommets that the reservoir sits in were totally shot and leaking bad, so we had to remove the reservoir anyways and order new grommets. If you keep noticing the brake fluid level dropping and can't find the leak, check the grommets. These had been leaking a long time as the subframe was completely stripped down to the metal on the driver side where the brake fluid had corroded the paint. If you ever doubted that brake fluid would strip paint, this is your proof :).

                          I got the intake manifold off so I could replace the hard plastic heater hoses. They were leaking when the engine was in my 525it and I had a terrible time changing the o-rings on them that I said we would just replace the whole hoses when we had the engine out. I'm glad we did them now as the pipes broke when removing them from the engine and they were extremely difficult to remove.



                          Got the holes cleaned out and new hoses installed.

                          Removed the center console to get the shifter out:




                          Brand new alternator and e36 engine mount brackets installed on the engine:



                          Intake manifold has already had all vacuum lines and the CCV replaced in the last several months with the cold weather type. The M54 oil dipstick tube will need the CCV drain barb cut off and transferred to the M50 tube:



                          Engine drained of oil and oil pan removed:



                          Installing the new pickup tube:





                          The bolt for the 728i pickup tube is larger than the 3 that held the old pickup tube on, so we went to the "bolt drawer" and found what appeared to be identical to another power steering pump pulley bolt, which works perfectly. Keep this in mind if you use this pickup tube. You also need to either bend or remove the old bracket for the pickup tube so that the new oil pan clears the windage tray, at least we did on this 2003 M54b25.



                          Installed a new oil pan gasket, even though the one on there wasn't that old. M50 oil pan installed:



                          Time for the intake manifold installation:




                          In the meantime, Steve and Jeff were removing the old M54 exhaust manifolds and installing the new M54 ebay headers (More on that in a bit):




                          Installed the rubber portion of the e90 heater hose suggested by Jordan on the back of the engine:



                          Modified the brand new coolant temp sensor with a hole in the side to attach a ground wire, per Jordan's DIY:



                          Drilled and tapped an e39 upper radiator hose bleed screw hole for the temp sensor. I'll use some teflon tape on the sensor in final installation:



                          Here's the new ECS M20 all aluminum radiator. I'm having a hard time finding anything that would make this a poor decision. It appears to be really well built and shouldn't suffer from leaking at the side tanks and it wasn't much more expensive than a new regular radiator for an e30 M20.



                          Time to marry the engine to the subframe in preparation of installing the transmission on the engine:



                          Zionsville sent us these mounts, but I'm not really sure what model vehicle they are from. They are supposed to be for this swap and appear to be working, but they do look different than the e28 ones that most people end up using:



                          New M54 5-speed LuK flywheel and Sachs clutch installed:




                          ZF 320z 5-speed transmission installed:



                          From the moment the headers were installed on the engine, I have not liked them and was worried they wouldn't fit. Well, The flanges push against each other so hard in normal position that you have to use a pry bar to separate them. I'm pretty sure this is not right (Again, more on this later):



                          Installing what I think is an e60 short shifter into the shifter arm that Zionsville sent in the kit:



                          Selector rod installed on transmission and the whole kit is ready to install into the car:



                          Shifter arm installed using the Zionsville mount:



                          Transmission crossmember test fit to make sure we had the studs in the right slots on the bottom of the car:



                          Well, we ran into our first real hurdle in the swap. We lowered the body down onto the subframe and kept fighting with the engine trying to move forward as we lowered the body. We eventually noticed that the rear o2 sensor was digging into the shielding on the passenger side firewall, but even after removing the o2 sensor, we still couldn't get it to line up.



                          We ended up leaving the engine out for the week and raised the body back up so Brian could use his shop for his other work. We were super tired, exhausted, and mentally drained, so we decided to do some research during the week to figure out what might fix this issue.

                          It turns out that when we raised the body back up, we noticed that the headers were rubbing quite a bit on the shielding in the transmission tunnel. During the week, I did some research on the M54 ebay headers and most people that had bought them ended up cutting and welding them to make them work, but we're not really welders, so we figured there had to be a better way. I ended up reading several different build threads in the M52TU swap threads here on r3v and found that the e36 M3/M52 headers are tubular without cats and fit the M54 perfectly. Then I read about some people using them on e30 M54 swaps (I think :)) and decided it was worth the risk. I found a set on Ebay for $210 shipped (only $110 more than the crappy ebay headers that require fabrication) and they had them to me by the end of the week and ready for the weekend.

                          Here they are installed on the engine:




                          Obviously, the flanges are 3 studs each instead of 2 like the M54 headers, but since we're doing a fully custom exhaust from the headers back, we're totally fine with that. The front flange seems like it is aimed very close to the subframe, so I'm hoping the exhaust shop can deal with it without too much fuss. It looks like a tight bend right out of the flange would allow it to clear the subframe, but if not, they might have to cut and reweld the flange to have a different angle.

                          We finally tried to install the engine again and this time, were successful :)



                          So much more clearance:



                          We're aware the M50 oil pan sits quite a bit lower than the old M54 or M20 oil pans, but with the splash shield installed, it comes right up to the M50 sump, so at least if the shield isn't scraping, the oil pan likely isn't either:



                          Unfortunately, Zionsville must have sent us a selector rod and shifter arm for an e30 5-speed with the 250g or whatever transmission is slightly shorter, because both were about 1" too long for the 320z. Looks like we'll have to send those back for the proper ones. I believe they arrived today, so we should see what they say soon we hope.



                          Steering linkage from them seems to work perfectly and is super easy to install if you unbolt the driver side of the rack and slide the rack back while sliding the linkage onto the rack. Nearly impossible to do without unbolting the rack.




                          My turn to start with the wiring :)





                          Zionsville sent the e36 328i driveshaft with its original CSB and told us to remove it and throw it away and install the new E30 CSB instead. After doing a bit of searching on the web, we found that a 7" piece of 1.25" ID PVC pipe is perfect for hammering the inner race of the bearing onto the splines.



                          I absolutely hate dealing with those clamps on the heater hoses in such tight quarters:



                          Driveshaft and heatshield installed:



                          At this point, there wasn't really anything we could get done without additional parts being delivered, so we decided to go out for a celebratory dinner with much beer to be drank. The picture shows a Bud Light dispenser, but I assure you, we had them fill it with Stella Artois, LOL.



                          128ozs gone :)



                          Sunday was spent cleaning Brian's shop and getting the car towed back to Charlotte so we can complete it. The difficult stuff that requires a lift is done, so we can do the rest in my air conditioned garage where we all live, instead of driving 3 hours each way to work on it and intruding on Brian's home for multiple weekends, LOL. The car is now back in Charlotte and after a couple weekends of taking care of some other stuff and waiting for parts to arrive, we'll get back to it.

                          -Paul
                          2003 530i->"M5" - S62/420g/diff/brake swap, Eibach Sway Bars, UUC Evo3/DSSR, BMW NBT Retrofit, M5 Gauge Cluster, Hella G4 Bi-Xenon Retrofit, M5 Extended Leather Interior Swap, APEX PS-7s, e60 Hubs, Koni Sports

                          2003 530it6 - M54b30/S6S-420g swap, 3.15 540it diff, e60 SSK, VMR VB2 19" Wheels, M5 Gauge Cluster, Hella G4 Bi-xenon Retrofit, NBT Retrofit, Koni Sports, 540i Brakes

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Nice Work Paul!
                            - Darrell

                            2001 BMW M5
                            1990 BMW 325is - Build Thread

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by Rontgen View Post
                              Nice Work Paul!
                              Thanks! This might be my last e30 engine swap (other than changing this one to a S54 later), but we're going to do it right if it's our only one. I'm not big on all this custom stuff, LOL. I like doing S62 swaps in E39 tourings and similar. Way simpler and we can knock them out in a few days. This thing is like when I did my S62 swap in the e38. Should have been a simple swap, but not enough people posted how to do it and more than a few custom made parts to get it to work.

                              I'm still planning on a S54 swap in an e39 though. That should be interesting and might make me not want to do that more than once, but from my research, it should be fairly simple.

                              -Paul
                              2003 530i->"M5" - S62/420g/diff/brake swap, Eibach Sway Bars, UUC Evo3/DSSR, BMW NBT Retrofit, M5 Gauge Cluster, Hella G4 Bi-Xenon Retrofit, M5 Extended Leather Interior Swap, APEX PS-7s, e60 Hubs, Koni Sports

                              2003 530it6 - M54b30/S6S-420g swap, 3.15 540it diff, e60 SSK, VMR VB2 19" Wheels, M5 Gauge Cluster, Hella G4 Bi-xenon Retrofit, NBT Retrofit, Koni Sports, 540i Brakes

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