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1987 325e sedan M30B35 swap

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    1987 325e sedan M30B35 swap

    It's had been about 6 months since I've been out of the E30 game,and was searching for a project. Then this turd came into my life.

    A relatively rust free 87 eta auto sedan for $600 with a rebuilt title.

    The previous owner told us the trans was slipping and from the puddle of trans oil under it I could believe it. To my amazement we drove it home without an issue, until we did brake stand burn outs till the trans failed for the last time. The car came with some goodies including raceland coilovers and a crack free dash.
    Needless to say it felt good to be back behind the wheel of an E30.
    I was planning on doing an engine swap for this project, my last E30 I swapped in a M60B40 with a ZF320 5 speed, which was a riot.I have always grown up with BMWs in my family, most powered by M30s. While I liked the more modern BMW engines, I longed for the loud valve tick and simple design of a M30 that I was so familiar with.
    A quick ISO post on R3vlimited on Facebook I had me a complete M30B35 swap for $700. The sale included a M30B35 from a 1988 735i with a Getrag 240 from a 1984 E30 and all associated hardware which I will post later.

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    Unfortunately other projects got in the way of this project and it was stored for around 8 months before I finally started working on it.
    First was to remove the M20B27 ,which ran excellent. I tried to sell the engine for awhile but ETAs are a hard sell, I ended up giving it away for free.

    I knew the car had some minor rust but after pulling the engine and removing the firewall insulation I was in for a bit of a surprise.

    This rust was about the worst I had ever seen on the firewall and led to more rust on the Passenger floorboard.

    Never planing on abandoning this car I simply fixed the rust. Cut, grind, cut some more, weld, and prime/paint.

    Pretty simple crude repair. Definitely will last another 20 years with the aircraft epoxy primer.

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      1987 325e sedan M30B35 swap

      The engine had been sitting for a long time. Like a really long time in a non air conditioned storage and another year on my friends porch. I was optimistic on the engines condition until I performed a leak down test.

      Every single valve leaked like crazy. I sprayed WD40 in the port to show the leakage in bubble form. So at a minimum a valve job was in order.
      After pulling the valve cover I had noticed some cylinder head repair and a few aftermarket rocker arms.

      Overall the cylinder head was pretty clean. On the inside. Someone had clearly rebuilt it at sometime.
      I then removed the cylinder head to find even more surprises.

      A total of 4 pistons had signs of valve contact.
      I sent the head to the machine shop and the report back was good. Valves were straight. Valve guides were new, no cracks, and true deck requiring minimal resurfacing. The only thing wrong was rust on the valve seats from the engine sitting so long. I could of lapped the valves myself but I do like getting a nice clean head from the machine shop with a clean bill of health.
      Someone had repaired the head after what I’m guessing a timing incident and just left the gouges on the pistons.

      Nothing a grinder with a roloc pad can’t fix.

      Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
      Last edited by st.petebiodiesel; 03-05-2018, 11:45 AM.


        Just got my cylinder head back from the machine shop.

        No parts required other than new valve stem seals. Like I had mentioned before there was corrosion on the valve seats causing the leaky valves. I ended up buying a new set of Ireland Engineering HD rocker arms from a fellow R3V member. I’m sure I could of gotten away with reusing the stock rockers, but I really don’t want to have to pull the head in the car. I was also thinking of sending my camshaft to IE to get a 284 or 292 regrind. For $190 it seems to be the best budget option available.
        In the meantime I cleaned and painted the block.

        We are expecting rain today and I don’t have a garage so I prepared the block to weather the storm with garbage bags and a tarp.

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          Cool stuff. The way you go about taking care of things, this should turn out to be a nice car.
          Originally posted by wholepailofwater

          WTB: Dove Grey e36 Front Door Panels (2 door)


            Yea great work saving that "turd"!

            Funny I've rocked the m30 swap for a while and have been tempted to go m60 but I just love God's old engine and can't let it go.


              1987 325e sedan M30B35 swap

              The engine survived the storms under the tarp! Finally I had all the parts to put the bottom end together.
              While I re assembled the bottom end my dog carefully inspects my rebuilt head.

              First I started with the rear main seal. My crankshaft had a pretty significant wear groove from the original crank seal which was flush with the housing.

              To prevent a potential leak I inserted the new rear main seal 1/8” deeper in the housing.

              The only part I was waiting on was the oil pump chain tensioner. I test fitted the oil pan and discovered I could change the oil pump chain tensioner with the oil pan on. I ended up installing the oil pan.

              I had ordered a new camshaft chain tensioner guide and thought the quality of the part was pretty crappy. The plastic guide material felt super soft and not well bonded to the steel backing. I could peel it up fairly easily.

              I chose to use the stock OEM tensioner which showed very little wear.

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              Last edited by st.petebiodiesel; 10-25-2017, 09:53 AM.


                1987 325e sedan M30B35 swap

                Today I mounted the engine mounts. I bought these mounts off of R3Vlimited Facebook for $135. I think they are E30.DE mounts.

                These mounts looked super strong, however I found several welds cracked completely through. I took the mounts to work to tig weld them during my overnight shift.
                The previous owner of this swap tried to make mounts from the original M20 mounts.

                Pretty hideous mounts. I’m sure they would of broke on the first aggressive drive.
                Here are my mounts mounted.

                Hopefully I’ll have the Engine mounted in the next 2 weeks.

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                Last edited by st.petebiodiesel; 10-25-2017, 10:13 AM.


                  Things are progressing nicely.
                  I got a set of new HD rocker arms from a R3V member for half what they cost new.

                  I also ordered some cheap rocker shaft collars from eBay. Just a regular 5/8” collars P/N SC062D.

                  My clutch setup is a stock E30 318i M10 flywheel, with a cheap eBay 6 puck clutch.

                  I’ll be using a getrag 240, also from a M10 318i.

                  My brother just recently totaled his euro 635CSI. Sad I know, but I did get a deal on the getrag 265 from it.

                  He drove that car for 11 years before a careless driver in a Mitsubishi pulled out in front of him. Kinda makes you think about all the work we put into these old cars.
                  It would be another couple weeks before I could get the trans so I just decided to run the getrag 240 setup till it blows up. People have ran 240s behind a M30 for years without issue.

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                    1987 325e sedan M30B35 swap

                    Today was the day I mounted the bottom end in the car. I’m still waiting on a few things before I can reassemble my cylinder head, and I didn’t want to wait to put the engine in. Not only that but I don’t know if you can tell but I don’t have a garage. Keeping the Engine covered and the deck from rusting was becoming a chore.

                    Welded some 1/8” steel reinforcing plates on the Engine mount tabs. I know I’m doing it wrong, but I don’t care. It’s better than the stock subframe.

                    Engine/trans ready for install.

                    This thing is long. I had my load leveler maxed out and had to jack up the front end to get the angle right.

                    I wanted the Engine as far back as possible to fit an e36 radiator I already had. I won’t know if it fits till I get the head and distributor installed.

                    Which led to more firewall beating.

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                      dope. turbo?


                        Originally posted by LowR3V'in View Post
                        dope. turbo?

                        I do have this M106 manifold laying around collecting dust.

                        Finally I had all my parts to assemble my cylinder head! If you carefully inspect this photo of my head before rebuilding it, you can see most of the thrust rings on the rocker shaft are in the wrong spot. The snap ring was the only thing holding the rockers there. This confirms my theory the last person who worked on this engine was fairly incompetent.

                        Here is the head fully assembled. You can see how the thrust rings are against the rocker arms as designed.

                        I gapped my rocker arm locks with .012” clearance as specified by Ireland Engineering.

                        Ready for cylinder head installation!


                        Setting cam timing is ridiculously easy on these engines.

                        I just realized I forgot the cam oil tube supports under the head bolts. Good thing I only applied the initial 60nm of torque.

                        Plenty of room.

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                          Lookin good! Can’t wait to get my swap underway. This is keeping my stoke high

                          Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
                          1984 Delphin 318i 2 door


                            Today I installed my cylinder head timing cover, and mounted my distributor to check my radiator clearance.

                            The e36 radiator fits great.

                            I haven’t read too much on the forums about using e36 radiators on M30 swaps. I think most guys run e28 535is radiators.
                            I like the e36 radiators because they are larger, and you can buy aluminum ones for cheap.

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                              should have a pretty well balanced car with those mounts holding the engine so far back. Please give lots of details about early model wiring. Im about to undergo this and havent found a ton of info about wiring m30s into earl models.
                              1984 Delphin 318i 2 door