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Old 04-09-2010, 11:39 AM   #1
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: San Diego, CA
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A trip down memory lane...89' 325is + S52 inside!

Hey guys...thought I'd document my build/swap project for myself as well as everyone here. I stumbled upon this forum after already buying my e30 and wanted to contribute to this awesome community. Even only having spent a little time here, I've found a wealth of info that I need for my project. Anyways, no more rambling and on with some background info for my build...

I'm 25 now, owner of an 09 e92 335i and recently an 89 325is...I love BMWs!! I've had many cars...I'd dare to say I've owned significantly more cars than most people will in their entire lives. All in all though, I'm just your average gearhead. I love modding cars, maintaining them, and most of all DRIVING. Initially I was into VWs (of the turbo VR6 flavor), then I got into Nissans (of the SR20 and RB25 flavor), and then I was into Subarus (of the STi/GT3076R flavor) and most recently transitioned into BMW, which was really what initially sparked the flame....

About 10 years ago, I learned to drive on my dad's e30. It was a white 89 325is, all stock mostly. My dad used to take me out to a big parking lot near our house and teach me how to drive a manual transmission, a place where I could stall without recourse, haha. As I started to get better at driving the e30, he slowly would let me borrow the car more and more...up to this point, I was never really into cars at all but, the way the car handled and drove...I just plain liked it! I became very interested in how cars worked after finding out how much fun they were to drive! I ended up getting my first car, a 90 civic hatch...a hand-me-down from my older brother...it was OK, but nothing like the BMW I had just learned on.

The difference was stark and I knew I wanted a bimmer at some point. One day when I came home from school, I saw my dad pouring over a Bavauto catalog. When asked what he was looking at, he told me he was ordering some replacement parts. He ended up buying an ANSA exhaust to replace the decomposing OEM muffler, a Turner Chip, an intake, and an ATE Rotor/pad set. The first time I ever worked on a car was the following weekend when he asked me to give him a hand. I had an absolute blast, and all the parts we put on made a huge difference in how the car behaved. I was hooked to say the least.

I couldn't really afford a BMW, so I got into VWs...fast forward through the last 9 years and 12 different cars, 1 major project (96 Nissan S14 w/ RB25DET that I just barely didnt finish because I had to relocate after college) and I finally got a chance to own the exact car that ignited my automotive passion. My dad was only the second owner of his e30, and he knew the lady who had it before him...it had always been meticulously cared for...he sold it in 2008 after 12 years of ownership (I wanted to buy it then, but had too many cars to add another one to the stable) to a mechanic friend of mine who then called me a month ago telling me he was selling it.

I was elated that I would have the chance to own the car I always wanted...the first car I "connected" with, if you will. I thought about it for a day, and knew I had to have it. Long story short (even though this has been a long intro, haha) I picked the car up for 2500 last month, drove it from my home state of New Mexico 1800 miles to my new home of Mount Pleasant, SC. As stated, the car is an Alpine White 1989 325is with ~209k on it...it made the drive like a champ, although it definitely needs some love.

I always liked everything about the e30, but I also always thought it needed just a little more under the hood (I find this to be a problem with every car however, haha!). After searching here on r3v and a few other places...I decided on an S52 swap. The goal is to daily the car once I get it running well. I want it to be similar in quickness to my e92, have most of the same creature comforts, and have good reliability. I believe this goal to reasonable, and achievable.

Upon completion of my swap, and evaluating its reliability, I intend to sell my e92 (epic car payment holding down my budget) and save up for other things in life (savings/retirement, house...future-wife, etc) and being content with one car for a long period of time. I think the e30 can do it for me. Its easy to work on, parts aren't too expensive, and I LOVE the car, so I think I'm making several wise moves. Now on to the good stuff:

I'm getting an S52 from a 99 e36 M3 next weekend (4-17). Found a guy about 3 hours from me doing an LS1 swap and managed to get a decent deal on the motor, delivered to me by him. The purchase includes the S52 w/ 80k on it, wiring harness, ECU, shark injector, full exhaust, ZF tranny, driveshaft, all motor accessories, etc.

As far as how I'm approaching the swap, I'm doing the OBD1 conversion to gain power and for ease of the swap. I found a guy selling an e34 M50B25 with an engine hoist and engine stand for a few hundred dollars...it was a great deal and got me a lot of the OBD1 parts I'll need, if not at least the oil pan. It's a non-vanos motor and I'm pretty sure it was mated to an auto tranny. I'm still trying to research it, but I don't think I'll be able to use the wiring harness since its non-vanos. I plan to use the intake manifold, throttle body, coilpacks, fuel rail, cam/crank sensors, oil pan, aluminum thermostat housing, etc. on my S52.

I think all I need to complete the OBD1 conversion is 413 DME, e36 5spd OBD1 harness, and MAF. If anyone's got them, let me know!

Other related items I want to do are e36/z3 steering rack (mine is sticky and worn out), suspension overhaul, and of course some wheels!

I'll have lots of goodies for sale in the next few days as I begin removing parts for the swap....but I'll leave that for the FS section...tell your friends though, should they need anything m20-related!

On with some pics....here's the car the day I got it:

Back in SC...in my garage ready to begin work!

Shot of the interior...pretty clean. Threw an Alpine CDA-105 in...

The GF loves to help in the garage...I'm a lucky guy!

M20B25 coming out...I hope it goes to a good home. Lots of miles but burns ZERO oil and makes good power still!

M50B25 I attained for OBD1 purposes...

Just a cool shot...

Thanks for reading guys...I'll be updating regularly.

Last edited by gkurey; 10-30-2010 at 06:06 PM.
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Old 04-19-2010, 09:18 PM   #2
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So its been a few days...got some news. I pulled the pan and all of the OBD1 goodies I could off of that M50....if anyone need parts, or even a whole head or block, let me know! The pan was nasty, but luckily my GF wanted to help me clean it out...she got it looking pretty decent (ill show in pics below).

In more exciting news, I got my S52 + goodies on sunday. I cannot believe how nice the engine/trans are. It barely looks like its ever even been on the road. I would literally eat off of the transmission. The guy I got it from was super nice and brought a few friends to help unload it. They were all car guys and seemed pretty stoked on my project, 2 of them are doing LS1 e36s...so I suppose they know how to throw together a good project, haha. After they left, I immediately made preps to get the engine on the stand. I stripped one of the pressure plate allen head bolts sadly, and proceeded to drill it out....I HATE allen head bolts on stuff like this...oh well...it wasn't too bad, 20 minutes later I had an entire bolt in metal-shaving form on my garage floor and the clutch was off...it also looked to be in great shape, but I may as well slap a new one in while its so easy to do so. Currently waiting on parts from Pelican so I can slap on the e34 pan, put in a new tstat, and get on with the OBD1 conversion (gaskets, etc). I'll have more to post this week.

Im pretty sure of the answer, but is there any way I can make a non-vanos m50 wiring harness work on my S52 for the obd1 conversion? I'm guessing no, but if anyone has any ideas, let me know!

On with the pics:

Piliaged M50...if anyone needs parts, LMK!

E34 pan + the cleaning fest...pretty nasty in there!

Ahhhh S52 Delivery!

The glory...my first real M motor!

Clean clean clean!

He didn't even wash it out...came out of his car with 80k on it this clean!

Stubborn clutch aftermath...did I mention I HATE allen heads??

More to follow this week!!
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Old 04-19-2010, 11:38 PM   #3
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awesome thread. gotta love family e30s

1991 BMW 318i (Old Shell RIP, Now Being Re-shelled & Reborn)| 1983 Peugeot 505 STI | 1992 Volvo 245 DL
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Old 04-20-2010, 12:23 AM   #4
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Glad I clicked.
- skipping the E36 generation completely -

Originally Posted by Stephen View Post
Alot of newer cars do nothing for me
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Old 04-20-2010, 12:33 AM   #5
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Don't know if I'd call it a "real" M motor, but I like the direction this thread is headed. Keep it up.
paint sucks
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Old 04-20-2010, 12:34 AM   #6
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pics of GF or ban

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Old 04-20-2010, 12:46 AM   #7
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s52 and an alpine e30
off to a great start!
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Old 04-20-2010, 12:52 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by fiftytakedowns View Post
pics of GF or ban


Originally Posted by slammin.e28guy View Post
I pack my CD player with asbestos. Those mother fuckers pay dearly for stealing my shit.
Originally Posted by kronus View Post
try whacking parts of the motor with a wrench while yelling "YOU WANT SUMMA DIS? HUH?"
Originally Posted by chadthestampede View Post
This is like a reverse build thread; it starts out nice and gets shitty.
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Old 07-02-2010, 03:20 PM   #9
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Hey guys...sorry its been so long since I've posted. Work and other things in life have pretty much kept me from getting on here to do a decent update...but I have done a lot of work on the car since my last update 2.5 months ago. Progress is a little slow, but new financial obligations (got engaged, WOOT!) have kept progress on the slow side as well as just having time due to my rotating shift work schedule. The fiance encourages me to work on it often though, so here is what I've got to report:

Last time I posted, I was tearing down the S52 and getting it ready to go in for the swap. I dropped off the rear sump pan and swapped in a pan from an e34. This went well except for a major issue that popped up later (I'm updating chronologically, so bear with me)...

Here is a shot of me tearing down the S52 on the stand.

A shot of the engine with the e34 pan installed. While the pan was off, I loctited the oil pump nut as well as galled the last thread to keep it on.

I also proceeded to install a new waterpump and a new thermostat of lower temp.

The flywheel looked really good and I found a place that would machine it instead of buying a new one...only took ~.01 off to make it nice again.

That same night I put the tranny back on and got it ready for install into the e30 chassis.

Fast forward another day and I got the m20 out...pretty easy to remove! I had a garage full that night!

While the engine was out, I took the opportunity to do the e36 rack swap. A lot of people i saw were cutting and using aluminum spacers. I used some delrin spacers I found at lowes....worked well!

After a little cleaning and the rack swap, I was ready to put the S52 in. Its pretty long so I had to get an extreme angle to get it in. My fiance was a good helper that day!

This is where I started noticing a problem with the oil pan install. After having the motor at that angle, but unfortunately after getting it resting in the car, I noticed an oil leak already from the pan/front timing cover/block intersection on the passenger side. I know if its leaking now, it surely will leak with oil in the system. So I had to step back, take off the rack, and drop the pan. This was not easy and really stunk. I didn't know but apparently you are suppossed to use a sealer as well as the gasket. I reinstalled using my favorite gasket maker "The Right Stuff" and I'm hoping no leaks upon filling this system this weekend.

Here is a pic of the motor just after install, no wiring or anything:

As many people know, the factory brake booster must be changed to run a DOHC motor due to the intake manifold hitting it. Given many choices, I went for the cheapest possible. I scored a 944 booster from ebay for 15 shipped haha! Here is a pic of the size difference, 944 Left, 325 Right.

Even after this, I've probably only got 1-2mm of room...CLOSE! This is a test fit of the intake manifold. Oh yeah, thats 1-2mm even after shaving the fins off the intake mani.

A lot of people seem to get rid of extra systems, but for this project, I wanted to keep most things intact if possible. I was able to keep the fuel charcoal canister by moving it back a few inches under the brake MC by just flipping the bracket!

The rest has been fairly simple...swapping sensors for my OBD1 conversion, hooking up the wiring harness, hooking up coolant lines, hooking up vacuum lines, etc. The last things I need are a lame throttle cable bracket, then I can hook the throttle cable up properly and a chip; oh and exhaust.

For the exhaust, I've got the e36 obd2 system that came with my motor that I may or may not try to make work. It looks like it will need some heavy modification.

Also, I'm working on installing my coilovers. Got some from BC racing. Construction looks good enough, but there is one issue. The portion that requires welding on to the knuckle is too narrow to accept the e30 shock housing diameter. Upon question the manufacturer, it seems the early e30s had narrower shock bodies and the seller who I got these from sold me the wrong kit. New shock mounts are on the way so I can finish the install. Here's the disassembled driver side, new tie rod end awaiting new damper...

And the new dampers....pretty sexy!

Thats about where I am for now...so close to a start up I can taste it! I will try and post more frequently....gonna fill the system with water and oil this weekend and try to kick it over for the first time. Progress on the A/C system will be slow until after the wedding in Sept. but I expect to tie up a lot of loose ends around then. Also, I forgot to mention that I installed a Flexalite 16" pusher pan in front of the condenser, and ordered a lower temp fanswitch to work since I wont be fitting in the OEM clutch fan.

Oh, and for those who threatened me with ban if I didn't post more pics of the fiance...here she is (disregard me being in the pics, lol)


Last edited by gkurey; 07-02-2010 at 03:22 PM. Reason: I suck at posting
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Old 07-02-2010, 06:35 PM   #10
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Congrats. Looks like a cool project, and that is a clean engine! You're also lucky to find a girl that tolerates a lot of time in the garage. Keep those pictures coming.
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Old 07-02-2010, 07:01 PM   #11
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You're a lucky man Gavin, a lucky man
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Old 07-02-2010, 07:06 PM   #12
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Awesome thread is awesome. Stoked for the pics when its all done.
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Old 07-03-2010, 03:33 PM   #13
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Awesome thread!
Originally Posted by e30e View Post
lose the old man bmwcca badge.
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Old 07-03-2010, 03:50 PM   #14
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What a good sport.
You're a lucky guy; Good luck with the build!
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Old 08-27-2010, 07:47 AM   #15
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Hey guys...long time since I've updated. Last I left off, I was about to install my suspension. Usually that takes an afternoon, but this kit requires a bit of welding and modification to the front spindles. This update focuses on the process. I would have posted this a month ago, except for half way through, I found out the kit I had was for the 4cyl e30s w/ smaller front shock tubes...oops. The vendor I got the kit from was cool though, and they helped me exchange for the 6cyl version. So after all that, I can now post the installation. Here we go:

First order of business is to remove the OEM suspension and tear it down to a bare spindle/shock tube.

Next, I cut off a majority of the shock tube, leaving approx 2" as a guide for the weld-on coilover mount.

Then, since we're going to be welding and we want good, solid welds, I cleaned up the spindle by removing paint and contaminants with a wire wheel!

After that, I checked the fit of the weld-on mount with the spindle. Very tight fit but thats good...since the mount slips over the old shock tube, perfect suspension geometry can be ensured.

The next step was super crucial. The spindle was pre-heated using a torch for ~10-15 min to help reduce material/thermal stresses created from welding to prevent the cast iron spindle from cracking. This also would help with the penetration of my little flux-cored welder to get a good weld. Welding cast to steel is tricky, but the results are great if the proper prep is done.


And the final result...They aren't the greatest looking welds...I did this on the garage floor...no work bench, not sitting, etc etc, but the toes of the welds show adequate penetration and I feel that they will hold up to the abuses of driving just fine! That being said, I miss my old 210v Lincoln MIG that I had to sell before I moved out here...but this little 90$ harbor freight FCAW isn't too bad at all either! I'm pleasantly surprised (I bought it just for this and to make my exhaust).

Next...wash, rinse, repeat on the other side and paint the bare metal to prevent future corrosion!

Finally, with the correct damper for my car...the front suspension is ready for installation! Looks sexy IMO

On the car with the wheel back on! Looks great and will go a lot lower. I intend to lower that car a bit more once I'm done working on the exhaust.

So the suspension is now done, the driveshaft is installed and I am working on the exhaust. I'll post pics of that tonight perhaps. I am running an OEM e36 M3 exhaust all the way through (I want it quiet lol). Turns out it needs a lot of work to be installed, but its cheap since I already had it as part of the swap deal and according to others, it sounds good.

After the exhaust, all I need to do is install some SS brake lines, install the clutch line, bleed the system, fill the motor with coolant and oil, and crank it up! I'm getting very close!!

Thanks for reading guys!
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