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      11-30-2022, 10:58 PM   #1
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E30 Engine swap choices

Hey everybody,

Purchased a 1991 318is not too long ago and have plans of putting a new motor into it and giving it a full track spec setup.

I have narrowed the choices down to two different motors. Either an S54 or a turbo'd M20.

Both swaps seem relatively popular so wont be needing to pioneer anything new or trying to troubleshoot compatibility issues.

I am looking to get opinions from people who have one or the other in their E30s, however any insight or tips are welcome.

Please feel free to leave reasons one swap may be a better choice than the other as I am in that indecisive stage where I can't tell which would be better.

Happy Holidays and thank you in advance!
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      12-01-2022, 05:11 AM   #2
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M52b28 with a turbo. No timing belt to worry about roughly same weight as m20b25 weight, newer and easier to find a spare engine. Been done far too many times time.

S54 while super cool, expensive and spares are not cheap. Maintenance is more than a simple M/S5X.

Mine is S52 with AA C38 supercharged with intercooler. Fun but gets heat soaked fast due to SC. If I was to do over 12 years ago I would have gone turboed route.

If you are not a member of the r3vlimited.com site I would suggest looking there. That is a almost still a strictly E30 site.
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      12-01-2022, 05:17 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by M-technik-3 View Post
M52b28 with a turbo. No timing belt to worry about roughly same weight as m20b25 weight, newer and easier to find a spare engine. Been done far too many times time.

S54 while super cool, expensive and spares are not cheap. Maintenance is more than a simple M/S5X.

Mine is S52 with AA C38 supercharged with intercooler. Fun but gets heat soaked fast due to SC. If I was to do over 12 years ago I would have gone turboed route.
Hell yeah!

I never put the M52 into consideration as I heard lots of mixed opinions on the M50 platform. I will for sure look into it.

I agree with you that the S54 might be a little more on the pricey end but I feel if I can get my hands on a salvage title cabriolet m3 I could make use of the motor and try to part out as I go. Nevertheless I will take what you've told me and do some more digging.

Thank you for your feed back it means a lot,
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      12-01-2022, 07:19 AM   #4
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Welcome to the E30 club. +1 on joining revlimited, it's one of the best E30 resources out there. I wouldn't do an M20; my E30 has a 2.9L stroker that I built in 2002 when M50 swaps were still pricey, and I wanted to keep it original. As much as I love my built motor, if I were in that same boat today I wouldn't think twice about doing an S54 swap and keeping it naturally aspirated. I have a friend who did an S52 swap, regretted not doing the S54, and is now doing the S54. It's one of BMWs best engines ever and it fits really well in an E30. Good luck with whatever you choose.
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      12-01-2022, 11:56 AM   #5
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As much as BMW engine solutions are great and nearly every combination under the sun has been done, the s5X are simply not the most robust and cost effective track setup.

I too own an 318iS and separately an S54 M coupe that I enjoy on track. If I swap the E30 engine it will almost assuredly be for a lightweight and NA Honda K24 setup. I think it better keeps to the lightweight momentum car ethos. When I am at the track I want to spend all day lapping not hunting down problems or cooling struggles.
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      12-02-2022, 01:13 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Chihuahua View Post
Welcome to the E30 club. +1 on joining revlimited, it's one of the best E30 resources out there. I wouldn't do an M20; my E30 has a 2.9L stroker that I built in 2002 when M50 swaps were still pricey, and I wanted to keep it original. As much as I love my built motor, if I were in that same boat today I wouldn't think twice about doing an S54 swap and keeping it naturally aspirated. I have a friend who did an S52 swap, regretted not doing the S54, and is now doing the S54. It's one of BMWs best engines ever and it fits really well in an E30. Good luck with whatever you choose.
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Originally Posted by Chihuahua View Post
Welcome to the E30 club. +1 on joining revlimited, it's one of the best E30 resources out there. I wouldn't do an M20; my E30 has a 2.9L stroker that I built in 2002 when M50 swaps were still pricey, and I wanted to keep it original. As much as I love my built motor, if I were in that same boat today I wouldn't think twice about doing an S54 swap and keeping it naturally aspirated. I have a friend who did an S52 swap, regretted not doing the S54, and is now doing the S54. It's one of BMWs best engines ever and it fits really well in an E30. Good luck with whatever you choose.
Thank you very much, from what I could tell on here and at rev limited it seems the S54 is a no-brainer. I also appreciate the insight about the friend's swap. I figured S54 is the beautiful sounding but had worries about the weight throwing off balance. Nothing that can not be revised. Once more thank you so much for the insight I will personally message you videos of the car when its all done.

Thank you.
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      12-02-2022, 01:17 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 86Zed View Post
As much as BMW engine solutions are great and nearly every combination under the sun has been done, the s5X are simply not the most robust and cost effective track setup.

I too own an 318iS and separately an S54 M coupe that I enjoy on track. If I swap the E30 engine it will almost assuredly be for a lightweight and NA Honda K24 setup. I think it better keeps to the lightweight momentum car ethos. When I am at the track I want to spend all day lapping not hunting down problems or cooling struggles.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chihuahua View Post
Welcome to the E30 club. +1 on joining revlimited, it's one of the best E30 resources out there. I wouldn't do an M20; my E30 has a 2.9L stroker that I built in 2002 when M50 swaps were still pricey, and I wanted to keep it original. As much as I love my built motor, if I were in that same boat today I wouldn't think twice about doing an S54 swap and keeping it naturally aspirated. I have a friend who did an S52 swap, regretted not doing the S54, and is now doing the S54. It's one of BMWs best engines ever and it fits really well in an E30. Good luck with whatever you choose.
Quote:
Originally Posted by 86Zed View Post
As much as BMW engine solutions are great and nearly every combination under the sun has been done, the s5X are simply not the most robust and cost effective track setup.

I too own an 318iS and separately an S54 M coupe that I enjoy on track. If I swap the E30 engine it will almost assuredly be for a lightweight and NA Honda K24 setup. I think it better keeps to the lightweight momentum car ethos. When I am at the track I want to spend all day lapping not hunting down problems or cooling struggles.
I get you 100%, personally I can not fathom putting anything other than a BMW motor into it. Nevertheless I have seen a K swapped E36 at willow springs and the thing was a beast. Once the motor is out of the car I do not plan on keeping it stock but more so just building it to handle more than it will ever deliver, the deep BMW-bullet-proofing rabbit hole. Thank you for the info though I appreciate it immensely.

Have a great rest of the year,
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      12-02-2022, 07:23 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by c18 View Post
Thank you very much, from what I could tell on here and at rev limited it seems the S54 is a no-brainer. I also appreciate the insight about the friend's swap. I figured S54 is the beautiful sounding but had worries about the weight throwing off balance. Nothing that can not be revised. Once more thank you so much for the insight I will personally message you videos of the car when its all done.

Thank you.
Good luck with your project! I agree, the S54 is a no brainer unless you want to go super crazy and do an S85 - those are the only two engines I'd ever consider swapping into my E30. All of the S54s Achilles heels are known by now, throw some rod bearings/gaskets/service items on that motor while its on a stand and you'll have a solid, reliable car with BMWs best n/a I6 of all time Look forward to the progress, start up a thread here and on Revlimited
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      12-02-2022, 09:13 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by c18 View Post
I get you 100%, personally I can not fathom putting anything other than a BMW motor into it.
I hear ya. Something to be said about a great sounding punchy engine (the k24 is not). Share the details when you start digging in. I am trying to keep my slicktop 318iS stock (unlike the rest of my cars) and we will see how long that lasts
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      12-02-2022, 10:05 AM   #10
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I hear ya. Something to be said about a great sounding punchy engine (the k24 is not). Share the details when you start digging in. I am trying to keep my slicktop 318iS stock (unlike the rest of my cars) and we will see how long that lasts
Wow, it's a slick top too huh? That's a rarity; it would be tough but I'd want to keep that one as close to stock as possible if for no other reason than value retention. How clean is it?
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      12-02-2022, 10:21 AM   #11
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It's a solid 8/10, picked up from a longtime BMWCCA member. Fully redone at a CA BMW shop in 2011 with a respray to the Delphin Grey Metallic. More recently a suspension and interior overhaul. There are a few small things to sort here and there but very clean, zero rust or corrosion.
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      12-02-2022, 02:19 PM   #12
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I will say after just perusing car-part.com looking at S54's there is not a lot on market and they are definitely not as cheap as they were 7-10 years ago. The cheapest I say was 6300 and average was about 7300 for engine no, transmission.
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      12-02-2022, 03:00 PM   #13
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It's a solid 8/10, picked up from a longtime BMWCCA member. Fully redone at a CA BMW shop in 2011 with a respray to the Delphin Grey Metallic. More recently a suspension and interior overhaul. There are a few small things to sort here and there but very clean, zero rust or corrosion.
That is stunning. Very nice car you have on your hands there.
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      12-02-2022, 03:02 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M-technik-3 View Post
I will say after just perusing car-part.com looking at S54's there is not a lot on market and they are definitely not as cheap as they were 7-10 years ago. The cheapest I say was 6300 and average was about 7300 for engine no, transmission.
Yep, it's about 10K in engine/transmission. Good engine swaps aren't cheap...
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      12-02-2022, 08:37 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M-technik-3 View Post
I will say after just perusing car-part.com looking at S54's there is not a lot on market and they are definitely not as cheap as they were 7-10 years ago. The cheapest I say was 6300 and average was about 7300 for engine no, transmission.
Yup they're only going up. Living in LA a lot of people are ready to lose money here and there to get things out of the way. Need to find a way to capitalize on a insanity-driven s54 owner and get one for a good deal! Thank you for the input though I agree 100%
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      12-26-2022, 02:45 PM   #16
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https://newlondon.craigslist.org/cto/7571434757.html

2002 BMW E46 M3 Manual Coupe - $13,750 (Greenwich, CT)

For sale is my 2002 E46 M3 Coupe, in Carbon Black, Black Interior and a Manual Transmission. This car was in a slow fender bender that took out the original cooling system and radiator core support, hood, headlights and right fender all which were replaced with new OEM parts. No frame damage and no airbags. The car has a rebuilt title.

Recently I took the car to a track day (Only track day) and went off in the rain, with no undercarriage damage but I unfortunately scraped against tires and there is body damage, however, no frame damage again. This car has never had frame damage and was a California car when I bought it roughly 4 years ago, absolutely zero rust. It has only been driven through 1 winter and always meticulously maintained and hand washed by me. This is my second E46 M3 and 3rd BMW. I am only selling because I do not have space and bought another car as this was my daily. This car has been upgraded in a few ways with a focus on better handling/performance while keeping an OEM feel.

Auto-Solutions Short Shifter 20% Reduction
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Weighted shit knob

The car drives incredibly well, happy to test drive with potential buyers.
Price: $13,750
I can pull the suspension and reinstall the stock suspension with 70K miles for a $1,000 off but would rather sell it on the car. Priced to sell

Sell off the remaining parts and come out ahead.
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      12-28-2022, 09:27 AM   #17
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S54 for a proper track car with emotions.
Without emotions but cheap and fast: B58
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      12-31-2022, 05:47 PM   #18
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S54 for a proper track car with emotions.
Without emotions but cheap and fast: B58
Completely off the top of my head, and if it's handed off to a shop, I'd guess a B58 would be at least $25K installed and running.
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      01-01-2023, 09:00 AM   #19
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M50. Fairly inexpensive, bulletproof ... " in stock form they can withstand roughly 400 horsepower, and with some internal work, over 600 is possible."
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      01-01-2023, 10:22 AM   #20
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or KA24 https://kpower.industries/blogs/news...ackage-is-here
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      01-01-2023, 10:30 AM   #21
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Quote:
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or KA24 https://kpower.industries/blogs/news/the-k24-bmw-e30-swap-package-is-here
That ole jdm vs oem conversation. KA24 is definitely a good option.

What about m20 with stroker kit?
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      01-16-2023, 09:09 AM   #22
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That ole jdm vs oem conversation. KA24 is definitely a good option.

What about m20 with stroker kit?
A Honda engine in a BMW is blasphemy.

In this day and age, I wouldn't waste the money on stroking an M20 unless you want to keep the original engine in the car. I have a 2.9L stroker in my E30, I love it, but I did it 20 years ago when M50 swaps were still big bucks. Today you'll spend engine swap levels of money building an engine and end up with something that's significantly less powerful than what you could have had with a proper swap (using a BMW engine of course).
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