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My '90 325is LS3 Swap Build Thread

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    My '90 325is LS3 Swap Build Thread

    Hey guys,

    Figured I would start a thread as I just started collecting parts for my LS swap. The car is a 1990 325is, I am picking it up tomorrow and will probably put some pictures up when I do. Picked up an LS3 core block yesterday, will be building that with a callies crank, some callies rods, wiseco pistons, etc....

    I already got into the group buy for sikky's ls swap kit, so I will be using their mounts, oil pan, headers, driveshaft, etc...

    Things I will be picking up in the near future is the t56 tranny, probably some wilwood brakes (although I haven't done much research in this area yet), and probably some GC coilovers (again, not sure which). If anyone has opinions here on brands/setups to go with, I am all ears.

    Things I haven't found/researched yet would be the e36 steering rack conversion, built diff, brake booster setup, etc... Should be getting on this stuff in the next few weeks to come.

    Initially I will be focusing on all of the suspension/chassis work at least in the first few weeks I have the car. Im building a new/torquey engine inside of an old chassis, so I want to make sure it is not going to fall apart. I plan on replacing all the bushings, installing coilovers, essentially refreshing the suspension this weekend. What all can/should I be doing to strengthen the chassis? I am planning on a built rear diff, who would you guys suggest going to for this? I am assuming power level will be ~500rwhp. Traction is definitely going to be an a big issue, I am going to be needing some wide tires. But that will be addressed once I get to that point...

    I have no experience with the e30 platform, so there is still a lot of stuff I have to learn. I have been trying to do as much reading/researching in the past week as I can, but you can only learn so much so fast about a platform and which companies or brands are the best to deal with. Looking forward to figuring this whole swap out and can't wait for that first start up. Although this is probably going to be a relatively slow build, that first start probably won't happen for a full year. Let me know if you guys have any opinions on things I should be doing, things I have done, or where I should be getting certain parts.

    I am hoping to have some pictures up by this weekend of the car and a least a little bit of suspension progress.
    Last edited by CLM21; 01-26-2015, 12:31 PM.

    #2
    Sub'ed

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      #3
      Well, went to pick up the roller on Thursday and it didnt work out. Went to check out another one last night, and about to see another one this morning. Hopefully I can pick one up this weekend so I can actually get some progress started....

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        #4
        Whats the cost for a LS swap? Been wanting to do one.

        Or how much do you think you'll spend on it minus the upgrades to the motor.
        1990 325is
        m52b28
        3.73lsd
        g260 (1987 325is 5spd tranny)

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          #5
          Well, what are you looking for? Price of an LS3 swap or an LS1 swap? I am going all out on this build, all new parts and everything. Have no idea how much its gonna cost as I have just started picking up parts, but I will be well over 10k including just the roller, engine, and sikky swap kit. Then all of the random shit adds up after that: steering rack conversion, brake booster set up, radiator, efans, intake tubing, ecu, harness, etc.. you get the point. I assume I will be well over 20k in parts by the time this is over.

          If you want to do an ls swap on a budget and grab an ls1 or an ls2 out of a gto or some old corvette/camaro and a t56 to go along with it, I would say you could accomplish an entire swap for pretty cheap. Granted that you have a chassis already, swapping an ls1 that you find into an e30 could probably be done well under 10k. I believe that one of the guys who came out with a swap kit (garret I believe) said he did everything for about 6k in parts. This is not including labor obviously. I am doing all of the labor myself so I haven't taken that into account.

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            #6
            TeXJ, I don't think the words "LS1 swap" and "Budget" go along together very well lol

            I am currently in the middle of doing the swap, got my motor/tranny/harness from a wrecked 99 trans am, and using Garret's kit.

            As my project sits, I am looking at about 14-15k to complete it with what I want to do to it and have done to it, keeping the motor stock with the exception of the headers (and ripped every bit of emissions control off the motor).

            From what I have learned from projects like these, come up with a reasonable price you think, then double it. I was thinking about 7k in the beginning, and will be right around 14-15 when done.

            CLM, can't wait to see this swap progress, it will be a fun build man.

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              #7
              Wow, you're in 14k even with a junkyard ls1? This may turn out to be a little more expensive than I thought. I have yet to actually sit down and list every single piece I need and what the cost will be.

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                #8
                Probably over 20 here. And that doesn't include the labour. :o
                Just a little project im working on
                - http://www.lse30.com -

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                  #9
                  What was your build? Checked some posts, Im assuming a turbo build with a forged ls1?

                  Yeah, I can only assume labor on a build like this would probably be as expensive, if not more expensive than the parts themselves. No way I would be doing this build if I had someone else doing the labor.

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                    #10
                    I'm probably in the 15k range to complete my swap, including basically a full resto on the car as well. I anticipated it being about 10k total, so it was a bit more than I thought.

                    Looking forward to your build! An e30 with v8 power and torque is a blast to drive!

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                      #11
                      oh man, well my wife would never agree to this lol

                      I was going off of what Garret said he has in his ~$10k. Cant remember if that included the LS or not. He did mention using a 5.3 motor as a possible candidate as well.
                      1990 325is
                      m52b28
                      3.73lsd
                      g260 (1987 325is 5spd tranny)

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                        #12
                        She doesn't have to know :p

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                          #13
                          It's a do-able 10k swap depending on the condition of your car. My car was a complete basket case, so I had to replace basically everything. That 15k includes the 1k I paid for the car.

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                            #14
                            Originally posted by Gertech View Post
                            She doesn't have to know :p
                            HAHA

                            Originally posted by Gertech View Post
                            It's a do-able 10k swap depending on the condition of your car. My car was a complete basket case, so I had to replace basically everything. That 15k includes the 1k I paid for the car.

                            I was looking on ebay for a LS1/2 that alone is a ~$1500 difference between the two(T56 included).

                            I was wanting to start with a car that already has a good aftermarket suspension, e36 rack and pinion, to cut some of the cost but they way that is going I'm looking at $4-6k for those cars.
                            1990 325is
                            m52b28
                            3.73lsd
                            g260 (1987 325is 5spd tranny)

                            Comment


                              #15
                              I should be done my swap at around 14k, that will include a BBK as well. My point is every build is different and its not a cheap swap. I only paid $3800 for an LS1 w/t56, harness and driveshaft. All of you guys are lucky as well, I'm up in Canada so shipping for everything kills me, I'm at least another 1-2k in just for shipping that I didn't include in that price, when most of these parts are free shipping in the US.

                              My car body wise is in great shape and has zero rust on it, and am yet to break a single bolt on it, so no money has gone into that side of it.

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