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Old 08-12-2017, 02:25 PM   #1
CMG
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Best Drivetrain Options E30 M3 Racecar- Cams, Oil Pan, Oil Cooler, etc.

I have an e30 m3 race car in need of a drivetrain. There is lots of clearance in the firewall and tranny tunnel and no FSB so engine placement will ideally be low and set back. The general theme of the car is vintage/gruppe A, and lightweight. Ideally I would prefer an FBO S50, so that it would at least keep with the M theme, but since the engine will be fully built it won't make as much difference. I already have some parts accumulated over the years that I had planned to use such as: Euro S50 baffled oil pan, euro s50 oil filter housing and oil cooler, Vac IP cams w/ solid lifters, etc. Has anyone used a euro S50 oil pan in an E30? What are some good options for m50/m52/s50/s52 based engines or Frankenstein combos that would work well for a lightweight all out fbo motor?
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Old 08-12-2017, 08:07 PM   #2
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I have an e30 m3 race car in need of a drivetrain. There ...The general theme of the car is vintage/gruppe A, and lightweight.
S14 is the only thing that checks all those boxes
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Old 08-13-2017, 11:57 AM   #3
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S14 is the only thing that checks all those boxes
Yeah I had the option to get a fully built high strung S14 with Motec, but the cost of completing and maintaining that set up was exorbitant. So basically I'm looking for second best, and much cheaper option.
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Old 08-13-2017, 08:20 PM   #4
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Not trying to start an argument or a philosophical discussion, but ,,, I'll offer my experience that there are valid reasons for people wanting S5X engines, but I'll say that in my experience the belief that S14s are (a) too high maintenance and (b) more expensive than S5X engines are not two of them.

I have been racing on a very reasonable cost, reasonably racey 2.3 Litre S14 for a very long time.
Currently on its 4th season since its last freshen, today it re-set a class / track record that it set last year, and the year before.

A few years ago, when E30 M3 S5X swap mania was at its peak (before the current market spike), I grew so tired of hearing people tell me how expensive the S14 was I did a spreadsheet of building an S5X and an S14. Took me forever to research and make.
a) All the management aspects will be the same (ECU, harness, sensors, etc).
b) Machine work should wash or even be a little less on an S14 than an S5X (less engine, less labor).
c) Parts - Overall, when I ran the numbers on 3 different levels of builds the S5X came out more expensive every single time and that was for mutt US spec engines, not real S50B32 or S54s.
The response when I gave people the results was unilaterally "oh I wasn't talking about building one I was talking about a junkyard takeout S5X".
No one ever compared apples to apples of building fresh engine to fresh engine.

Somehow the S14 got pigeonholed as expensive and high maintenance, but as the owner of maybe 7-8 S14 engines (4 currently active in cars, 2 race cars, 2 street cars) I don't see it and I race mine as hard as I can.
I have never had an S14 break on me that I did not 100% contribute to the damage through pilot error.
In fact the S14 has made me look great even after 9000+ RPM mis-shifts and just soldiered on in races (The videos still make me wince when I watch them, and that S14 still just pulled onward after I found the gear)...

This weekend,,, like almost every other track weekend, my at track engine work entailed,,, checking the oil, looking for any abnormalities under the hood, a tug on the alt belt and thats it. I actually pulled the plugs on Sunday for a look see mainly because I was bored.

Over the past 4 seasons since the last refresh, I think I have adjusted 4-5 valve shims total during off season maintenance.
Mine revs reliable to 8000 rpm every single shift with shim overs.

S14s don't require anything more taxing than any other BMW race engine would.
Have it built by one of the guys who know the engine well.
Get it tuned by someone who knows how to tune on a dyno,,, not somebody's best bro, riding in the passenger seat with a laptop who someone, who knows someone, says "he's a great tuner".
Do those things and they live long happy lives.
99% of the S14s "expensive" and "fragile" reputation has been fostered by bad tuning / detonation induced failures -or- just bad / inexperienced building.

Just my observations as an S14 devotee...
Carry on with your regularly schedule enquiry.
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Last edited by JimmyP; 08-13-2017 at 10:02 PM.
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Old 08-13-2017, 11:12 PM   #5
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I'd agree- except for the high cost of entry.
S14 engines themselves, and major components
have gotten pretty darned expensive.

But yes, now go to build one, and the S14 rebuild
parts (pistons, bearing shells, etc) are just what you'd
spend for any M10 race engine.
As long as the head's in decent shape, it's a bit more than
an 8- valve head- but cheaper than an S54, certainly.

For lightweight torque for little initial money,
however,
an M54B30 is hard to beat. AND it's still in the power
ballpark of a 'vintage'
really built S14.
But the car's a bastard at that point, and when it's time for a real
'race build', all of a sudden, it's going to take real race engine money.

Me, I'd stick an LS1 and a t56 in it and giggle.

t
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Old 08-14-2017, 08:18 AM   #6
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I think I may agree with you,,, I'd love to build a small displacement, high revving LSX (the T56 part I'm not so sure of) but we are not gonna be vintage racing that combo if thats the intent.
They probably will not even have it with any of the 6 cylinder BMW variants.

I have always said if the world runs out of S14s for my E30 M3s I'll switch to the Ford Duratec Cosworth engines.
http://www.cosworth.com/products/cra...ratec-engines/
Its pretty close to a modern S14, just BMW didn't build it, Cosworth did.
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Old 08-15-2017, 06:55 PM   #7
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I have by far the cheapest car in my Nasa region. I run an s52. Its cheap and its fast. A built s14 is worth my entire car.......
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Old 08-15-2017, 09:22 PM   #8
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I appreciate all comments and opinions, I'm all about hearing different points of view. If I can clarify my particular situation, it is that I have multiple cars, including one with an s14 I am trying to complete this particular car in a similar theme that the PO spent like 15 years working on. It is not financially feasible for me to keep this theme using any S14, so I am trying to do second best, plus I already have tons of s50/52 parts sitting around that would be truly race worthy, and would keep with the theme as much as possible. The rough math is that I would save approximately $20k initially, with additional savings in long term maintenance. I would gain maybe 100 pounds but the car would still weigh less than a ton. It would be complete and functional in both form and function (fingers crossed).
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Old 08-15-2017, 10:30 PM   #9
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Here's left field- turbo M10!

Parts are cheap, you could use an early E21 manifold so it'd look vintage,
and as everyone knows, turbos make for fantastic explosions at the track!

heh

t
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Old 08-16-2017, 01:51 PM   #10
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Thanks for the suggestion but not looking for left field, more of an in park home run or at least a line drive triple.
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Old 08-16-2017, 02:21 PM   #11
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Sell the IP dominator cams and solid lifter conversion, oil pan, and filter housing, and buy an S54? People pretty much make 320 whp all day long with junkyard engines.

This is, of course, after you have exhausted your other avenues lol. Used S14s are just bonkers for pricing these days. Engines that basically need a full teardown are going for 8K. Back when Azevedo would just rip S14s out of M3s like they were going out of style you could get an engine/trans combo for peanuts.
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Old 08-16-2017, 02:54 PM   #12
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Sell the IP dominator cams and solid lifter conversion, oil pan, and filter housing, and buy an S54? People pretty much make 320 whp all day long with junkyard engines.

This is, of course, after you have exhausted your other avenues lol. Used S14s are just bonkers for pricing these days. Engines that basically need a full teardown are going for 8K. Back when Azevedo would just rip S14s out of M3s like they were going out of style you could get an engine/trans combo for peanuts.
Agreed. A stock S54 is the best answer. It'll make more power than a built S50/52, be way more reliable, and will be cheaper.
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Old 08-16-2017, 04:07 PM   #13
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Since you want real bases, it's gotta be an S54. Everything else is just weak sauce...

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Old 08-16-2017, 06:57 PM   #14
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to be honest, I don't really care if a replacement engine is "Motorsport" or not. If it isn't an S14, then the provenance of the replacement powerplant doesn't really matter a whole bunch.

The S54 is not only cheaper than a comparable built S50 or S52, but the extra revs come in handy on a track because the powerband is wide and canted to high engine speed operation. If you set an S50/52 to an 7800+ rpm redline with hot cams, it would not last as long as an S54, period. You'd suffer many other issues way before an S54 would throw a rod because of a rod bearing failure. 400 - 500 rpm doesn't sound like THAT much, but on a track, you can hold gears longer, or downshift a slight amount earlier, and concentrate on your braking release point/rate that much sooner than an engine that has a lower max rev.
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Old 08-19-2017, 08:48 PM   #15
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Ok i hear what you guys are saying. How much more weight would an s54 add comparitively?
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