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318i Sedans - S52 swap

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    318i Sedans - S52 swap

    After selling my E36 M3 and truck to consolidate vehicles to an E91, I found myself really missing the spirit and drivability of older bimmers and finally got an E30.
    I’ll be honest, I never once considered a 3 series that didn’t have a straight 6, but after finding a rust free 1991 318I from NV I just made it happen, and despite it’s leaks, loving the little 4 banger.
    The car:
    Nevada car, PO purchased and shipped to east coast last year. Before him the owner clearly neglected it. I am not sure if I got a good deal, but rust free in my neck of the woods combined with a decent amount of work by PO on things I would want done got me to part with 4k...

    PO had the following work:
    • New control arms and M3 CABS
    • E46 rear shock mounts
    • 4.10 LSD
    • Replaced window and defrost switches
    • New rear axles
    • Bilstein sport suspension
    • H&R springs
    • Basketweaves
    • Antenna
    • Radio replacement
    • Mtech1 Steering wheel
    • Crack free dash install
    • Blower motor
    • Driveshaft center bearing
    • Poly subframe bushings
    • Trans mounts
    • Poly diff bushings
    • Tire rod assembly
    • Tie rod lock plate
    • Glove box replacement
    • Shift boot
    • New comfort seats

    What it needs:
    • Paint
    • ODO gears
    • Headliner (or finish tearing out the headliner the PO tore out half-assedly and paint it)
    • Figure out why the radio is dead and no lights on blower controls
    • Replace seals on leaky M42
    • Fix lock on driver door
    • Small trim piece on bumper
    • Fix leaky exhaust and rattling heat shield
    • Shifter rebuild
    • Steering rack replacement (had no PS, found empty reservoir, I foolishly poured some lucas PS stop leak in it before assessing, came out an hour later to a huge puddle on the ground)

    And while I always wanted an S50 swap E30, I had begun looking into whether or not I could tighten the M42 up enough to boost, then I found a local craigslist ad for a disassembled S50 with extra parts.

    So now I have a **** ton of parts I need to assess (and do a lot more reading on). I haven't had the time to go through the parts, seller said he confirmed it's an S50 despite M50 cover, I had a friend pick it all up and plan on assessing myself once I get my garage cleared out and prepped.


    Last edited by eternal24k; 04-28-2019, 07:10 AM.

    What I've done or plan on doing
    • replace gaskets (ordered full set)
    • tune up, fuel/air filter, spark plugs (purchased)
    • fix exhaust
    • swap comfort seats for sport seats (purchased, just need to get from MI)
    • Z3 rack install (purchased rack, working on parts)
    • MtechII wheel
    • Paint (some day)
    • Z3 shifter & rebuild
    • Euro lights and grill
    • stainless brake lines
    • figure out if I can bring this S50 pile to life..........

    What am I missing? What should I be doing
    Open to thoughts and suggestions. And if anyone in VT wants to tackle this motor with me ;D


      Got some parts, going to be doing a full tune up and gaskets soon as well as shifter rebuild with Z3 shifter and a Z3 steering rack swap.


      Untitled by M K, on Flickr

      I also picked up some sports seats for $450, but they need a little TLC, shocks are spanked and a little rusty. Best source for reasonably priced shock sets?


        Looking good and you're getting the right things sorted first. A member on here was selling seat shocks recently.


          ^+1 great seller and great product. Buy from Jeff and support the e30 community, it's also a really good price.


            Thanks! I actually did see that sale and placed an order, I think they arrive today. I've been gone hiking for the past few weeks but was fortunate enough to leave the car with Zach at Centerbar Motorsports, active member here with some side business working on E30s. He swapped the rack as well as PS Pump and Odo gears (oddly enough my VDO cluster had motronic gears?). I will be servicing the motor and swapping seats this week


              Well, I have been pretty busy but did get some work done.
              zcenterb was able to do the Z3 rack swap (as well as ps pump, ODO gears, and some other bits) while i was gone for a few weeks.

              After that, I pulled what I was willing to do on the M42 with the goal of getting it running better (but realizing that the end goal is a S50/2 swap which may take some time).
              So I pretty much did everything shy of head gasket to get it running better and leaking less (lower timing case still leaks)
              In the process, i found several stripped threads packed with silicone, which I had to helicoil, and some other stuff such as no thermostat in the housing....

              Just got it back on the road after:
              • new spark plugs
              • fuel filter
              • thermostat and gasket
              • water pump with metal impeller
              • oil filter housing gasket and O ring
              • air filter
              • thorough degreasing of MAF, throttle body, etc
              • valve cover gasket
              • lower oil pan gasket
              • complete ECS upgrade shifter rebuild with Turner bracket (didn't drop drive shaft since Guibo looked new)
              • Z3 shifter
              • ZHP knob
              • Timing chain tensioner
              • upper timing case gsakets

              should i have any fuses in the small auxiliary box?

              Next is finish shock swap on sport seats and tackle the dead radio (not a fuse, but hoping it's the internal fuse in the radio....)
              Last edited by eternal24k; 10-09-2017, 12:10 PM.


                had a little setback with the sport seats, passenger side is done and looking good, refreshed with new shocks.
                Drivers side (the one that matters) has a broken frame I need to fix :(

                Hoping I can weld without completely tearing it apart


                  Looks good! Great progress
                  Random question: why do people blot out their license plates in online pics? Everyone can see your plate as you drive your car around town. I guess some crazy person could stalk you or run your plate number to find out where you live??
                  Anyway, it seems like a lot of trouble
                  carry on . . .


                    Excellent start!
                    My previous build (currently E30-less)

                    A 2016 Toyota Tacoma TRD 4x4 Offroad in Inferno is my newest obsession


                      Originally posted by jdt10768 View Post
                      Looks good! Great progress
                      Random question: why do people blot out their license plates in online pics? Everyone can see your plate as you drive your car around town. I guess some crazy person could stalk you or run your plate number to find out where you live??
                      Anyway, it seems like a lot of trouble
                      carry on . . .
                      Very little trouble to blot out, but I do a lot of other forum stuff (guns and such) which i do not openly solicit on a day to day basis, so will remove a step to link them, depending on my mood



                        Well, got the little wedge bulbs in so I can adjust temp at night...

                        Tried to get Radio going, it has power, but the fuse in the head was blown, i only had a 3.5 Amp fuse that fit, which blew as soon as the radio turned on and tried to use the tape adapter the PO put in it. I am hoping it will not blow with a 5 amp and let me get the tape out....

                        Any known issues with the defrost button? Looking at PO's service, he paid $40 for a new button, this one illuminated momentarily when I pulled it out, but havent gotten it to work again.


                          Well i have been slowly been trying to make progress lining things up for swap in the spring. I swapped the Mtech1 wheel for a Mtech2, picked up some Euro grills and Bosch smileys as well as a Clarion head (which i loved in my old E36 M3).

                          Now that I have cockpit sorted (minus radio install) I can prioritize motor swap. Body and paint will be last order of march


                            Ultimately i decided it would be easier to part out the S50 and picked up a S52 with trans on Craigslist. It had a UUC underdrive pulley set and reportedly recent head rebuild.

                            As soon as I got the motor I started going through things with some service while it is easy and checking things over.
                            Spark plugs look like the valve cover is leaking, so valve cover gasket is coming

                            After plugs I turned to cooling. I had hoped the PO upgraded the water pump since they spent the money on pulleys and was happy to find a Stewart pump

                            Then i noticed the trans already had E21 mounts and cups

                            Then oil filter housing gasket since i hated that job so much on my E91

                            prepped for SAP delete (OEM plates did not fit, waiting on Turner)

                            Next is drilling out the rivets and installing the E34 oil pan:


                              And while getting ready to install the new accessory belt (which I learned that OEM length will not work with the underdrive pulley set ) I happened to reach over and grab the crankshaft bolt, which turned by hand :shock: While i am really glad i noticed it before dropping into the car, I am now worried as to WHY this bolt is loose as the seller told me they pulled the motor from their friends car and drove it into the garage to do so....

                              so after panicking as to what this could mean and why it was loose, I pulled the harmonic dampener to look at things. Woodruff key is in tact, but there were small shavings on the back of the pulley and a channel in the aluminum.... Figured out the previous owner reinstalled everything without the AC pulley when they did the delete and the bolts dug into the case. I will be shortening the bolts and putting it back together without the AC pulley and replacing the seal while I am there.

                              And what would be best for reinstalling the bolt (already ordered new one since it is TTY), is the fly wheel pin or the crank hub tool preferred/best?

                              Last edited by eternal24k; 02-24-2018, 01:58 PM.