BMW 318 Engine Swap
I was wondering how hard would it be to replace the early M42 engine in my 1991 BMW 318is with a newer M42 or M44 engine. Do I need to change the transmission also? I would like to know because I'm thinking of installing a Downing Atlanta Supercharger later on. I'm asking you because that's what you tell people with the same car as mine to do.
via the Internet
As engine swaps go, this would be one of the easiest. I would recommend a 1992-95 M42 engine because it will give you the poly-ribbed belt drive and knock sensors you will need for the Downing Atlanta supercharger, without the hassles of the M44's OBD-II electronics. You will need the engine harness and the ECU as well.
Shark Injector, Dinan or AA
I own a 1999 M3 and want to perform some basic performance upgrades. I can't decide on a chip. What do you think about the Shark Injector vs. Active Autowerke and Dinan? Also what is the difference between the different stages of the Dinan chip? Have you seen any dyno numbers on the shark in comparison with AA and Dinan?
San Diego, California
From 1996-on, the dreaded OBD-II emission control systems require the chip to be soldered in place. So it's no longer a question of just a chip--you have to buy a software upgrade.
All three of these companies--Dinan Engineering, Active Autowerke, and Jim Conforti--write excellent code. My own preference is for the Shark Injector, simply because it is a tool that affords the driver positive manual control over the process. You use the tool to download performance software or the original software at will. This can be most useful when a well-meaning dealership reprograms your ECU and wipes out your performance software. This shouldn't happen with Dinan software because of its close relationship and information sharing with BMW, but I wouldn't be surprised if it does sometimes. In any event, relative to Dinan, the Shark Injector eliminates the need to visit a dealership and therefore costs less. Relative to Active Autowerke, the Shark Injector eliminates the need to remove your ECU and ship it hither and yon across the country. In terms of performance, my feeling is all three do about the same thing--you can only squeeze so much out of the engine electronically. The exceptions to my preference for the Shark Injector would be where the driver wants to proceed with a series of upgrades from either Dinan or Active Autowerke. In that event, you would be better off sticking with its program.
Check out the manufacturer's websites for dyno information: www.activeautowerke.com www.dinanbmw.com www.sharkinfested.com
Note: The different stages of Dinan software correspond to different stages of Dinan engine modifications.
What To Do?
I have a 1994 E36 320i and wanted to know what kind of gains I can expect from such bolt-ons such as an intake, exhaust, and a performance computer chip. And I also wanted to know which companies make E36 M3 front bumpers and E46 M3 front bumpers.
via the Internet
The E36 320i is powered by a 2.0-liter version of the BMW M50 dohc six-cylinder engine. This engine was never officially imported to the U.S., and as a result, U.S. tuners have not developed performance parts for it. You didn't mention where you're located, Raphael, but European companies do support the E36 320i with performance parts. It's hard for me to answer your question because I don't have any direct experience with these companies, their parts, or the E36 320i. However, generally speaking, the standard chip, intake, and exhaust, tends to net a noticeable increase in power. On a 2.5-liter M50, for example, you'd be looking at about +20 hp. It's nearly impossible to put an exact number on horsepower and torque increases because, regardless of manufacturer advertising, different mods will work differently together, perform differently on different engines, and even dyno results are nearly impossible to duplicate consistently.
All BMW bumpers are manufactured by BMW. The factory also has various styles of front air dams available for most models, as well as other aerodynamic parts.The E36 M3 front air dam, for example, is a popular bolt-on swap for a non-M3 E36 car.
Aftermarket companies also make BMW front air dams and aerodynamics. Some of our favorites are Racing Dynamics, AC Schnitzer, Hartge, Alpina, and Kamei. Unfortunately, Kamei seems to have gotten out of the BMW aerodynamics business. It made some very nice pieces for older models, but those parts are very hard to find today.
BMW E30 M3 or E30 325is?
I am hoping for some advise. Within the next year I hope to purchase either an E30 M3 or an E30 325is. I plan to drive it regularly and use it as a weekend fun car with the occasional track day. What are the pluses and minuses of each vehicle with my intended use? Also, which back issue had sort of a buyers guide to the E30 M3?
via the Interent
The E30 M3 is fast becoming a cult car, with enthusiasts snapping up every example they can find. It's much more popular as a used car than it was new, due to the high MSRP this car had originally. And many E30 M3s were cut up for racecars, which never really made much sense--you can race a 325i much more economically and still lose to Porches just as well.
The plusses of having an E30 M3 would be headed up by the fact that you'd have the first real M car to be imported to the U.S. (and some would say the last). It's a real driver's car, serious, unapologetic, with a high-strung screaming DOHC 2.3-liter four-cylinder and minimal "features and benefits"--a marketing weenie's nightmare. This last attribute alone makes the E30 M3 even more desirably--we like anything that is "anti-marketing". The E30 M3 is, in the most basic terms, a supremely fun and rewarding car to drive, street or track. The minuses? Well, every part you need for an E30 M3 that is not shared by the garden variety E30 will cost at least twice as much. The S14 engine, for all it's wonderful qualities, does not have the longevity of the M20 engine in the 325i. It is more race engine than street engine, requires 15,000-mile tune-ups including shim valve adjustments, and is very expensive to rebuild.
The 325i, on the other hand, is a less cool car but still damn fun. It is also widely considered the most durable and reliable 3 Series ever made. Parts are cheap, and the M20 engine is responds well to performance tuning. The downside is that you'll need some aftermarket sport suspension parts--springs, shocks, sway bars, M3 bushings, wheels and tires, to bring the car into the realm of E30 M3 handling. Whenever you need parts, though, you'll be glad you have the 325i and not the M3.
Regarding back issues, the following contain E30 M3 articles. To order a back issue, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (866) 601-5199.
September 1996-M3s Squared: Two modified E30 chassis M3s
March 1997-Tech Procedure: BMW Installing a performance cam sprocket in an E30 M3
December 1997-Super-buy #4: BMW M3 (1988-1991)
March 1999-EuroSport Engineering tunes an E30 M3
E30 Engine Swap with 850
I have a 1987 325is and have been looking to do a engine swap. It's really fast already, but I'd like to make it even faster--show the rice boys what BMW's are all about. I'm just not sure what kind of engine is best to put in my car, and what engines are most reliable. I'd like to put a newer M3 engine in, but I'm not sure if it will fit, or how many parts I'll have to get made to make it fit. But then the other day I was looking for engines and came across a engine from a 850i. What are the possibilities of putting that beast in my little E30? And if I can, what kind of mods would I have to do, so that the car could handle all that extra torque and horsepower? Any info you have would be great. I haven't been able to find anything on this.
If you want to show the rice boys what Bimmers are all about, just keep your car and maintain it well, or set about restoring it. You don't see people restoring classic Japanese cars, at least not anywhere near the level of classic BMWs--not that a 1987 325is is old.
The E36 M3 engines, both the 3.0-liter and the 3.2-liter, will fit an the E30 chassis. The latter requires a bit more parts swapping, as you'll need to use the 3.0-liter fuel injection system to avoid the complexities of OBD-II. There's a one-stop-shop for this conversion information: Zionsville Autosport has an excellent instruction CD on the swap. Visit the company at www.zionsvilleautosport.com.
The M70 V12 conversion is another matter. We only know of one shop that is either considering it or in the process of doing it. Visit www.koalamotorsport.com and fire off an e-mail to owner Brett Anderson. There is no doubt that this conversion would require a great deal of fabrication in the engine compartment and perhaps the transmission tunnel. You would need to find a six-speed manual gearbox from an early 850i, which would be extremely difficult unless you want to order it from BMW. A custom driveshaft would have to be fabricated, but the large E30 differential is quite robust. There is no doubt that you'd need the largest brakes you could find, and I would say a conversion to E30 M3 5x120mm hubs would be in order. You'd need custom threaded front struts, custom Bilstein shocks, and there would be a great deal of trial and error with the suspension. My feeling is that, by the time you're done paying Anderson, you could have yourself a spiffy 850i six-speed with the drivetrain already installed, and some change left over for a tuned suspension, chips, and exhaust.
I recently bought a 1987 BMW 325is in mint condition. I wouldn't mind getting over 200 ponies to the wheels. What do you think would be a good start? Bavarian Autosport computer chip, exhaust and intake. Lets hear what ya think!
via the Internet
The chip, intake and exhaust are the standard mods, John, and they'll put you over 200-hp. Bear in mind you'll want to have the rest of the engine is good tune as well--plugs, cap, rotor, valve adjustment and coolant service.
Let's talk a bit about coolant. Coolant service is particularly important on Bimmers. I recommend changing coolant every two years using Original BMW anti-freeze mixed 50-50 with distilled water. For some reason, BMW engines are very suceptible to aluminum oxidation caused by the phosphates in every brand of anti-freeze except the factory product--the oxidation is the white schmoo that forms under water hoses. This stuff clogs coolant pasages, causing phantom overheating and head gasket failures.
On the M20 "i" engine, aluminum oxidation clogs the water jacket on the throttle body, causing a coolant leak. Coolant can dribble from the water jack on the throttle body down onto the big electrical connector underneath it, causing driveability problems and precipitating a potentially expensive repair. If the pins in the connector are ruined, you have to replace each one individually. It can easily take a skilled technician eight to ten hours.
Remember: Change brake fluid each year, coolant every other year. You may also wish to consider a suspension upgrade. BMW's in general and the E30 in particular respond dramatically to a set of shorter, stiffer springs, Bilstein Sport shocks (use Bilstein HD shocks with stock springs), and larger sway bars. On the E30, you can also swap out the original front control arm bushings for sold offset units for the E30 M3. In addition to being a stronger bushing, the offset will aid in high-speed stability by dialing in more postive caster. You can even buy E30 M3 aluminum control arms and save 4 lb per side over the garden-variety steel E30 control arms.
And in the rear, you'll get a lot more zoot out of an E30 325i five-speed if you swap in a 4.10 limited-slip differential from an E30 M3. This swap is plug-in and play, and will afford a great deal more acceleration at the expense of increased engine speed at any given road speed, and a little more fuel. Real world top speed should not be affected, because the car won't pull redline in the overdriven fifth gear with the 4.10 or the stock 3.73.
I have a question for you guys: Is the weight of the drivetrain constant? Other than the added weight of fluids, I would think it is fairly constant. Now let's say I have two naturally aspirated motors, one rated at 121 hp and the other at 250 hp. These motors are going to hook up to an E30 325 drivetrain. Because the drivetrain is the same why is the drivetrain loss greater on the 250 hp motor? For example, I have a high compression, chipped, stroked, ported and performance cammed engine. At the wheels, I have 194 hp and on the flip side I drop a 121-hp engine in place, at the wheels I have 91-95 hp. Now with the same drivetrain more power was lost with the higher hp engine. The weight deviates slightly but I can't see why it takes more power to turn the same weight.
For your question, we turned to noted BMW engine builder Pete McHenry of Precision Performance in Winston-Salem, N.c. McHenry replied: We assume loss for a chassis dyno of the Dynojet or Dynopak type at about 17%. My son Alex's car for instance--a 1991 318is--pulled 250 at the rear wheels on a Dynopak. This converts to 290 at the crank. The engine is a 3.2 with stock M3 cams, euro AFM, Active Auto chip and injectors, and my newest head mods. It has stock exhaust manifolds and pipes.
On the other hand, a Mustang dyno will correct with a 21% loss figure. Actual over-the-road loss is probably in the 17-20% range. A lot of front-wheel-drive cars do not have any 90-degree gear changes. All gearing is straight transfer. Losses are less; I'm going to guess at 11 to 12%.
Buying a BMW E36
I have been a subscriber for some time now and have been a reader for many, many years. I am finally going to make an effort to purchase my first BMW and I am aiming to aqcuire an E36 sedan. How can I find a good buyer's guide for purchasing an E36 sedan? What do I need to look out for and what potential big dollar spendings can I expect from these preowned cars?
Saint Louis, Missouri
Well, it just so happens I'm working on an E36 Buyer's Guide article right now, Doug. Here's a preview: The E36 3 Series (1992-98) is common in the used Bimmer market, and enthusiasts are snapping them up every day. They are basically good cars, however the E36 is noted for having numerous problems that did not affect the legendary E30 3 Series (1984-1992) before it. The E30 is renown for being virtually trouble-free with the exception of power convertible tops. Unfortunately the E36 does not share this trouble-free reputation. Known E36 problem areas include radiator failures, an early model water pump defect that affected engines built up to sometime in 1995, the occasional VANOS failure, electronic HVAC control module failures, premature ball joint failures, door lock issues, door panel delamination, seat breakage, the ever present automatic transmission failures in the 80,000- to 120,000-mile range, and the very rare rear floor failures.
The most worrisome problem area is the early defective water pumps. These units have plastic impellers, which can disintegrate and cause overheating. In extreme cases, the impellers can lodge bits of themselves in the engine block coolant passages. Engines have overheated and failed as a result.
Don't be scared by all this--these are simply things that you should check out before buying a car. Bear in mind also that you should be looking for service records detailing, at a minimum, oil changes when required by the SI system, brake fluid and coolant changes every two years, and, hopefully, gearbox and differential oil changes. But more likely than not, none of this was done except the engine oil.
Although E36 power convertible tops are nowhere near as problematic as the E30 power tops before them, they can still be a yearly expense, especially if you live in the Snow Belt and don't buy a hardtop.
Generally speaking, the Z3 and its variants along with the 318ti seem to be the most durable and dependable E36 Bimmers. In part, this is because they're the simplest, with fewer electronic doo-dads to break. Also, the Z3 variants and the 318ti have the semi-trailing arm rear suspension, and they have never been known to suffer the dreaded rear floor failure - that problem, however rare, seems to threaten only E36's with the multi-link rear suspension.
Prices are all over the map, since the cars range quite a bit in age. The most desirable sedans are, of course, the M3 sedans with manual gearbox and no luxury package. The most common offering is the vanilla 325i sedan with automatic transmission.
I'm a big M3 fan, just turning 16 years old. I am just getting into the European Car thing. I want to get a 1996-1998 M3. What is the difference between E30's and E36's. Is the E30 like a 1995 and when the 1996 came out it was called an E36? Also, if I purchase a high-mileage M3 high mileage where can I get a replacement engine? How long does a factory M3 engine last, mileage-wise. I want new tires, wheels, suspension, and brakes. Would it be cheaper to get original M3 wheels from the dealer ship or is there a place that sells new stock M3 wheels for the 1996-1998.
San Francisco, California
Ross, learning how to drive in a BMW M3 is like learning sex from Madonna. It'll work, but you may get killed in the process. You'll probably wreck both the car and the relationship. May we suggest a less potent Bimmer for your first time out? How about something in a nice 318ti? No? Well, okay, if that's what you really want.
The E30 M3 was produced in US trim from 1988 to 1991. It is powered by the 2.3-liter dohc S14 engine, mated to a Getrag 265 five-speed overdrive manual gearbox spinning a 4.10 limited slip differential. The E30 M3 body structure is totally different from a regular E30, and miles apart from an E36.
The E36 M3 was produced in US trim from 1995 to 1999. In 1995, it had a 3.0-liter dohc S50 engine, mated to a Getrag Type C five-speed manual gearbox with 1:1 fifth gear and a 3.15 limited-slip differential. Post-1995 E36 M3's have a 3.2-liter S52 engine, the same gearbox, and a 3.23 limited-slip differential. BMW engines last a good long time. Given average maintenance, it is not unusual for a BMW engine to see 150,000 miles before needing bottom end work. Given extraordinary maintenance, much higher mileages are possible. Valve jobs are still standard every 150,000 miles or so, due to valve guide seal wear. And this engine family will ask for a VANOS unit every now and then. BMW has a factory remanufactured engine program, and there are several BMW engine builders in the U.S. Check out their ads in the latest issue of european car.
You should learn to drive the car in it's stock configuration before adding upgrades, Ross. Even then, the most effective way to improve the car will be to improve yourself by joining the BMW Car Club of America (www.bmwcca.org) and attending local chapter driving schools.
Buy the car before deciding to replace the wheels--you probably won't need to do so. If you do, always check with www.tirerack.com and www.tires.com for take-off M3 wheels. Roundel, BMW CCA's monthly magazine, has a large classified ad section, which often includes ads for take-off wheels. The dealer would be the most expensive place
I was wondering if you could suggest some good places to research and buy parts for a 1991 BMW 850i. Any help would be great. I love the Web site!
via the Internet
Sure thing, Byron. We'd recommend you check out BMP Design (www.bmpd.com), Bavarian Autosport (www.bavauto.com), Dinan Engineering (www.dinanbmw.com), Turner Motorsport (www.turnermotorsport.com) and Korman Autoworks (www.kormanfastbmw.com). Be sure to request paper catalogs from BMP Design and Bavarian Autosport, as both can be very informative resources.
For original BMW consumable parts or the O.E.-equivalents including Bosch pieces, some of the best parts pricing to be found anywhere right now is at www.thepartsbin.com.
Our advertisements in european car magazine are also a great catalog in and of themselves, so check them out as well.
BMW 325i E30
I have an E30 BMW 325i two-door, German version. Do you have performance figures for this car (0-100 kph, top speed, etc.)? The car has a factory close-ratio five-speed gearbox (Alpina?), with first gear down and to the left.
via the Internet
Nice car, CM! We don't have those performance figures, but you have the car. Get yourself a G-Tech Pro (www.gtechpro.com), test the car and let us know the numbers!
Meanwhile, let's have a look at some of the cooler points of your German-spec E30 325i:
Rest-of-the-world (ROW) E30 325i buyers had a choice between the Getrag close-ratio five-speed manual and a Getrag five-speed overdrive. Differential ratios varied in the ROW, because you could order the car with the gearing you wanted. Most close ratio cars got a 3.15 or 3.25 differential. Most overdriven cars got a 3.73 or 3.91 ratio. Of course, handicapped folks could chose a ZF automatic transmission. Here in the US, our choices were limited to the five-speed overdrive with a 3.73 differential (limited slip optional) or the optional slushbox. You could always order the close-ratio gearbox from BMW and install it after buying the car, but cost was close to $4,000. It's probably still available, but you can often find the entire E30 for four grand.
Contrary to what you may hear, the factory close-ratio five-speed manual was not made by Alpina. Alpina did use it in their E30's, though, and they may have offered optional internal gear ratios. This was back when Alpina made real cars for serious drivers. Today, Alpina has some nice keychains and scarves and stuff, and I hear they make pretty good wine. But their cars seem to have crossed a line where only 300-lb burghermeisters, Russian gangsters, the Sultan of Brunei, and other assorted poseurs may tread. The company has a wonderful history of building top-performing BMW's for serious drivers, but a wonderful history is about all they have in my opinion. But, I digress.
The differences did not stop at the gearbox and differential. The early E30 325i was also treated to more attractive (but less effective) front and rear bumpers, together with matching a matching air dam. From 1988-on, BMW went to a world bumper design for the E30--we finally got the good-looking stuff.
The engine was the same familiar M20 i-motor we all love so much, but better. The German spec car had higher compression pistons and a less restrictive exhaust system unhampered by a catalytic converter. It was a prime candidate for a Schrick cam, and many got one.
The German-specification springs and shock absorbers are also quite a bit more aggressive than their U.S. counterparts. The cars are about 10mm lower, and Bilstein shocks were often fitted at the factory. Sway bar diameter is the same. Finally, some ROW E30's are fitted with cool options that would give U.S. lawyers fits of apoplexy--fire extinguishers, first aid kits, trunk-mounted auxiliary fuel tanks. Rear fog lights are not uncommon, and as on all E30's, top speed is limited by your brain and right foot, not some electronic killjoy.
Can you tell how much I love the E30?
I'm 16 and a student at Clear Lake High School in Houston. Last summer I got a 1983 320i. After a tune-up and a few other problems were fixed, I added a K&N filtercharger and Bavarian Autosport 8mm ignition wires.
I have really big plans for this car. I am going to import a body kit consisting of a Lumma front bumper with a front splitter, and some Seidl Tuning items, with Korman fender flares to give it the wide body look. A custom paint job of black mixed with pearl and a little bit of purple will finish the body.
I also have big plans for the interior, and sound system, which consists of two 10" MTX subs, a MTX amp, and four infinity reference speakers. My pride and joy of the project, though, is going to be a new 320i engine from Bavarian Auto Recycling, adding a turbo, boring the engine out, port and polish, forged pistons. etc., to get as much horsepower as possible. This is probably one of the best cars I have ever driven, and I don't think I will ever sell this car, or drive another (unless it is another BMW).
I want to ask you about sponsorships. Money is real hard to come by right now for me, and my mom has already made it clear that it's my car so it's my money. I'm on the job hunt right now, but I think if I got someone to sponsor me and help me get in the game by putting me in car shows, etc., it would help me a lot. Do you have any advice when trying to get a sponsor? Do you know of anyone that would be willing to sponsor someone like me? Any help you can offer will very much appreciated.
via the Internet
Now hold on there, Hoss. You want our advice on how to find someone to fund your car habit? Hmmm. Well, you could start by inventing something that can turn you into Jennifer Love Hewitt.....
Dude, there are no "sponsors." Being a Bimmerhead is good clean fun and yes, it costs quite a bit, but hey, so does divorce and people do it anyway. No one is going to pay your way. The sole exceptions exist for guys who work at car magazines like ec, but to get on staff you'll have to slay an existing staff member on a Field of Honor using mace and chain. Welcome to the "Wonderful World of BMW Addiction"--now get a job.
The E21 is a fun car and you can do quite a bit to enhance performance because well, there wasn't that much to begin with. However, you should bear in mind that the cash outlay you're considering would probably buy a nice mid-1980s 635CSi. You should also become involved in the BMW community a little bit so you can grow attuned to what is and is not considered tasteful modification--"The Fast and the Furious" treatment doesn't usually sit well with Bimmerheads. Check out www.jimmy540i.com for a brief introduction to bad taste.
My first Bimmer had chairs, flares, a roll bar, lots of primer and very little else. The audio system consisted of an Radio Shack Flavoradio duct-taped to the transmission tunnel. An old 2002 rear side marker light screwed to the roof frame provided "BMW ambiance interior lighting" and the chief performance benefit was the cars light weight, courtesy of rust.
You may also want to consider spending part of that money learning to drive the car. We'd recommend driving schools sponsored by the BMW Car Club of America (www.bmwcca.org) at local racetracks nationwide.
BMW 320i Reupholstering
Hi, it's me again with the 1983 320i. This time I'm inquiring regarding custom seat work. Right now, I have two 10-in. sub-woofers and an MTX amp in my trunk, but, the way the trunk is built, it traps heat very easily and overheats the amp. So my solution that will not only solve the problem but also give my car a unique look on the interior is to take out the middle section of the seat (making it two separate seats instead of one bench) and placing the amp exposed on the back, and in the seat, I would put my Playstation 2. My question is, could I do this myself? A guy I know at Car Toys will make all the necessary parts to hold the amp. I just need the seat divided so he can do the work. What will I need to open the seat, take out the filling and sew it back into two seats? Thanks for all your help with my project so far!
via the Internet
Well, upholstery work is something that people spend years learning and perfecting. It's possible that you may be able to do the job yourself, but we don't know your level of skill or the breadth of your tool collection. I think it's pretty safe to say you should bring this job to a custom upholstery professional before you wind up buying a new back seat. My feeling is he will probably tell you to trash the existing seat and start from scratch with a complete custom setup anyway, though.
Whatever you do, do not cut the steel bulkhead between the trunk compartment and the back seat area. Audio heads do this all the time, not realizing this bulkhead is actually a stressed structural member that contributes to the structural rigidity of the car. Modifying this part may also affect the behavior of the body in a collision.
BMW 320i Turbo
I have been trying to find a company who is still making a turbo kit for the E21 320i with a 2.0-liter engine. This car will be a monster if I can just find this kit. I have found a couple of companies that used to make them but have not had any luck finding one that has them now. Any suggestions?
via the Internet
Sorry, Chris, no one makes a turbo kit for the M10 engine anymore. Calloway seemed to be the most popular, but they got out of it years ago. Bear in mind that these were not bolt-on kits; they required a full engine rebuild incorporating 6.9:1 compression pistons originally made for the 2002 Turbo. Assuming you could find a set today, they would probably cost more than your entire car. But there are plenty of mods you can do to extract power from the 2.0-liter M10 engine powering the 1977 to 1979 U.S.-specification 320i. (Before somebody asks, these mods are NOT applicable to the 1980 to 1983 1.8-liter U.S.-spec 320i.) None are legal in California, or other troublesome jurisdictions. Starting with a stock engine in good condition (including updated valve guide seals), add a Bosch ID48X mechanical advance distributor, and a Bosch Blue Coil, combined with a good set of ignition wires. In my opinion, there is no benefit in wowie-neato ignition wires. Just buy a set of Bosch wires if you need them. Stick with ignition points and condenser for reliability, or upgrade to an aftermarket electronic ignition system for performance. If you choose the latter, keep all the old parts in the trunk--someday you'll probably be installing them on the side of the road.
If your car is not subject to visual emissions inspection (and these cars are probably exempt on age in most places) remove whatever remnants of BMW's horrible EGR system still exist, take them outside your garage and throw them as far as you can. Replace the EGR exhaust manifold with a free-flow unit from a 2002tii, or a header. Have the K-Jetronic injection system set up at a shop with an exhaust gas analyser (no other way to do it, really), setting CO at 2.2% to 2.4% and the timing ball on the mark at 1,500 rpm. You will now need high-octane fuel even with the stock pistons. If it pings, retard timing until it does not. The car will now run like you've switched on a second engine. Expect about 125 hp.
Naturally, if you're in the process of a rebuild, you will want to use 9.3:1 European-specification pistons, some cylinder head porting, and a slightly larger camshaft. The Schrick 284 works very well with this injection system. Anything larger does not. Expect about 150 hp or so with a 1 3/8-in. primary header such as that from Stahl if you can feed the engine enough octane.
To source parts, check out our regular BMW-oriented advertisers, plus www.2002performance.com.
I Hate These Questions, Too
First, I want to apologize for asking this question. I have a 1991 318is with about 85,000 miles. The car is pretty good for my type of driving. Now the M42 engine, however fun it is, still does not have the power I want. I have looked at the M50 swap and it is down to a very fine science. The 318is is a VERY tossable car. I was wondering about the relative weights of the M50 2.8-liter engine in the Z3 and the M50 3.2-liter engine in the M3. I don't want to just drop some metal in the front of my car because its got the most displacement. I want a Bimmer that will turn well.
Ann Arbor, Michigan
No need to apologize, Geoff. We think this is a perfectly reasonable question. In fact, the ever-increasing girth of each successive new BMW model is cause for much foot stomping in enthusiast circles. You're right; at 2,602 lb., the E30 318is is a very svelt performer. It's even skinnier than an E30 M3. I, too, have lived with the M42 engine for quite a while, but like you I just hate to give up that weight advantage.
Normally, we would direct a question like this to Pete McHenry of Precision Performance in Winston-Salem, N. C. Pete is the undisputed master of BMW engine swaps and engine part interchangeability. Unfortunately he was unavailable, so we turned to his second in command, son Stuart McHenry. As it turns out, you, me, and Stuart all own the same car! His reply: "The lightweight M50 conversion uses the 2.8-liter Z3 aluminum block (52 pounds lighter), an aluminum flywheel, aluminum Z3 tubular lightweight exhaust manifold, and the M coupe (smaller) A/C compressor (or just ditch the AC altogether). This combination yields the same weight as an S14 engine from an E30 M3." Bear in mind that this engine, along with any from the M50 family, will bolt right up to your gearbox. With the weight so close, I don't think there would be any need to change front springs or shocks over to 325i units as is the case with most six-cylinder conversions. Combined with your 4.10 differential or a 4.27 from an M42-powered 318i convertible, this car will scoot away like a wet cat with sneakers.
1995 M3 3.0? 1996 M3 3.2? Difference?
I've got a simple question: besides the displacement, what is the difference between a 1995 and 1996 M3? Are there any advantages or disadvantages to owning one or the other? I'm in the market for an M3 but have not yet decided on what year.
via the Internet
There are several differences between the first and second generation U.S.-spec E36 M3. Essentially, 1996-on examples have a 3.2-liter engine, a 3.23 differential as opposed to the earlier 3.15 unit, staggered tire and wheel sizes and revised suspension components and geometry designed to soften ride quality and promote a greater degree of understeer, as well as color and trim differences, which tend to vary by year.
Engine displacement was enlarged and differential ratio lowered in a successful effort to counter the negative performance effects of the dreaded OBD-II emission control system. The 3.2-liter engine has several differences in the intake system, fuel injection, exhaust system, and of course the ECU. Early E36 M3s have four 7.5x17-in. wheels shod with four 235/40ZR17 tires. From 1996-on, the M3 has 7.5x17-in. front wheels with 225/45ZR-17 tires and 8.5x17-in." rear wheels with 245/40ZR17 tires. The later setup does much to promote understeer. The two setups are interchangeable, with the caveat that a swap to either will significantly affect vehicle handling.
Which generation is better? It depends. Hardened enthusiasts tend to prefer the unadulterated 1995 M3, whereas the country club set likes the softer later version. Many people simply like the look of the staggered wheel combination, without regard to handling. And later versions were availabe as four-doors with automatic transmissions, which makes the hardened crowd wince in abject pain, but this "poseur" version sold better than all others.
Both versions tend to experience the same problems--plastic impeller water pumps (up to 1997 or so, with updated versions now available), weak thermostats (updated version available), weak plastic thermostat housings (aluminum version available from BMP Design), radiator failures, electronic HVAC conrol failures, electronic instrument cluster failures, incurable sunroof rattles, delaminating door panels, a problem with the guide sleeve on first gear in the manual gearbox, and a very rare rear floor failure problem.
The E30 M3 (1988-91) will ask for a driver,'s door-lock cylinder and a driver;s door brake maybe once every 150,000 miles, but that's about it. However, the U.S.-spec S50 and S52 engines in the E36 M3 seem to be longer-lived than the true BMW Motorsport S14 engine in the E30 M3.
Bumper and Front Spoiler/Dam Swap
Can you tell me if the bumpers and air dam from a 1989 to 1991 E30 318i or 325i will fit on my 1985 318i?
via the Internet
The early (1984-1987) and late (1988-1992) E30 bodies are different, so this is not a bolt-on swap. It can be done, but not without a certain amount of fabrication. If you're paying someone else do to the job, you might be better off simply buying an E30 with the bumpers you want already in place. E30 prices are coming way down and these cars can be a terrific value.
If you want to keep your 1985 318i and improve bumper appearance, there's a much easier and cheaper way to do it. Remove the existing bumpers and rubber ends and filler parts, bead or sand blast the aluminum bumpers, and paint them and the rubber parts to match the body of the car. Leave the actual bumper rub strip black, of course. The rubber parts you do spray will need flex additive in the paint.
About your BMW 2002 Coverage in the Sept '02 Issue...
First off, I am the editor of a new, non-profit BMW 2002 Community Site called the BMW 2002 FAQ. It is run by myself and Steve Kupper, who, among other things, is the technical genius behind our message board. You can view us at http://www.bmw2002faq.com.
I read with great glee the wonderful coverage of the model in the September '02 issue, but noticed a couple of factual errors. I hope you don't mind if I just run down a quick list!
1. The three types of grilles are NOT directly interchangeable. The '74-77 (production of the 1502 ceased in Europe in '77) black plastic grilles will NOT fit an unmodified early car. There are many cases, however, where an '02 has been in a collision where for cost reasons the owner will retrofit the later-style nose and grilles combination. But this involves a sheet-metal swap and is often frowned upon by the cogniscetti.
2. The bodies DO rust as you indicated, but they also DO come with drain holes placed throughout the structure to allow water to drain out. The problem is, as you touched on but didnt mention explicitly, that these drain holes become blocked with leaves, dirt, etc. This is why we emphasize the need to keep these holes cleared out. The nose, and inside the doors and rockers are the prime areas for attention. In addition, the rear shock towers MUST also be cleaned out from underneath (there are drain holes where the upper spring perches are welded to the towers) occassionally because they will also become blocked with debris and start to rust. The boxed rear trailing arms on tiis can also accumulate road funk and hold water also. Blasting out these areas as well as the inside of the fenders and anyplace else where dirt might accumulate and hold water is a good idea. Finally, the gaskets for the taillights are typically the culprits when it comes to letting water into the trunk which then rusts out the spare tire well. Rusting floors is typically the result of leaking windsheild gaskets, and/or missing plastic sheeting that goes behind the door panels.
3. The Turbo picture on page 60 is in fact reversed. Ironically, given the caption! Turbos were also classically unreliable cars. They gained a reputation of grenading after extended periods at autobahn speeds. Mid-'70s fuel injection and timing systems just weren't up to the job.
4. Restorers or project-car people would be very well advised, space and spouses/neighbors permitting, to buy a parts car!!
5. Unfortunately, the BMW CCA is no longer "the" place to meet '02ers, especially online. Although many of us are indeed CCAers, the vast majority of regional '02 Fests have no direct affiliation with the club. Fortunately there is a core contingent of CCA people who understand the role of the '02 in the Company and Club's histories, but it has slowly come to be dominated by newer-model folk with sparse interest in these classic little screamers. Of course, we recommend coming to the BMW 2002 FAQ website to meet up with other '02ers online and otherwise. It is a true Community-based site that is run not-for-profit. We have a very lively message board and chat room, and are working on a local events calendar that will be accessable by anyone looking to create or attend just such an event! The FAQ portion of the website, like 90% of the '02s still left on the road, is still a work in progress (we launched on 02/02/02), but we have an extensive repository of information (much of it contributed by members of the Community) and eventually hope to cover EVERY major upgrade and maintenance issue with these cars.
Thanks again for the GREAT coverage!
Editor, BMW 2002 FAQ
Hello Rob, Mike Miller here. Thanks for writing in! Let me address your points one-by-one:
1. Perhaps the word "directly" was used injudiciously, but I've swapped the late grilles onto the early cars with a nip here and a tap there, using tin snips and a small body hammer.
2. "Uh-oh, drain's clogged..." is a section of the article that I did want to include, however the piece was already way past my word count limitation. You're exactly right about the drains.
3. In my experience with Turbos, the problems the cars had in the 1970s were due more to poor quality motor oil than any inherent weakness in the engine parts themselves. Primarily, the KKK turbocharger is lubricated by engine oil, which makes it highly susceptible to oil coking if old fashioned petroleum oil is not allowed to cool down before shutting down the engine. This wasn't unique to Bimmers--SAABs and Porsches had the same issue. If you build a 2002 Turbo engine today, start with a good turbo bearing, and run a high quality, high viscosity synthetic motor oil such as Red Line, Amsoil, Mobil 1 or LE, my feeling is that the problems we saw in the 1970s would stay in the 1970s. The Turbo restoration I was in on is running strong with about 50,000 miles on the rebuilt engine and new turbo, using Red Line 20W-50. And the guy doesn't hesitate to spool it north of 120 mph.
4. Parts cars can be great, or they can wind up costing more than new parts depending on how much restoration work the old parts need. And there's also the thing about the parts car tugging at your heart until you finally relent and restore it as well, thereby effectively doubling your expenditure instead of cutting it. Well, that's what happens to me anyway!
5. BMW CCA has indeed moved toward newer Bimmers, but I disagree that it's not the place to meet '02ers. First, it's natural for the membership to gravitate toward more plentiful cars--in fact sheer numbers demand it. However, the Club is vastly diverse, and probably the best source of information for any BMW whether it be a 327 or a Z8. If regional '02 fests don't receive Club support, it's probably because no one asked for it. In my experience the local chapters and national officer are more than willing to step up to the plate.
Best regards, Mike
Supercharged 325 or a WRX?
I have a '93 325is automatic. It has been modified with H&R springs, a BMP chip and Racing Dynamics sway bars. About a year and a half ago I installed a Powerdyne supercharger and within two months cracked the head. I really miss the supercharger's power, so what should I do to my recently rebuilt engine to beef things up in order to handle the supercharger's power? In addition, what should be done to the tranny? Finally, would it be better to simply install a different rear end for better acceleration and sell the supercharger (I really don't need to go 170 mph anyway). It's either this or a new WRX. I hate to buy a new car, because it seems that I am close to what I want now.
Woolwich Township, New Jersey
Keep the supercharger, Cal. It probably had nothing to do with the cracked cylinder head, which was more than likely just a fluke. We don't hear of any excessive instances of head cracking on this engine, supercharged or not. Replace the head, and use head studs from Race Ware (www.raceware-fasteners.com). Also, get with the manufacturer of the supercharger and verify that you're using the correct head gasket. Some of these guys want you to use a slightly thicker head gasket, and if this is the case, Race Ware can help you out with slightly longer studs.
When installing Race Ware cylinder head studs, first compare the block end of the studs with the original head bolts. Verify that the thread length is the same. In some applications, Race Ware studs have longer threads than the factory bolts. This is okay--the bolt-holes are threaded right to the bottom. But in these cases we have to clean the bolt-hole threads in the block using a tap. This is because they were never used. To clean the threads, first shoot carburetor cleaner into the bolt holes and blow them out with compressed air. Shield your work with a shop rag to prevent the scummalade from getting all over the place--especially in between the pistons and the cylinder walls. Then use a tap-to-ratchet fitting, lubricate the tap with cutting oil, and chase the threads while backing out the tap frequently. When the threads are clean, you'll need to clean the bolt-hole with carburetor cleaner and compressed air once again. Follow Race Ware's installation instructions carefully.
The best thing to do to an automatic transmission is to replace it with a manual gearbox, especially where there's forced induction in the general vicinity. If you want to keep the slushbox, the best thing to do is an ATF service with a new filter and Red Line D4 ATF (www.redlineoil.com), a synthetic Dexron III product. Note three things: 1.) This transmission does NOT have BMW's so-called "lifetime fill" ATF, or our advice would be different. 2.) If an automatic transmission has been neglected for much more than 50,000 miles, changing the ATF and filter is a risky proposition. Better to just run it, be a good person, and try to get by on Karma. Sometimes a well-meaning tech services a neglected but functioning automatic, only to have it start slipping immediately afterwards. We can't explain it, but we've seen it happen enough times to be wary. Personally, I think the fresh ATF can flush a bit of crud from a place in the valve body where it was doing no harm, to a place where it will do harm. But that's just a guess. 3.) If you overfill a BMW automatic transmission or get the tiniest bit of lint in the oil pan, you're asking for trouble.
You can install a shorter differential, but there's nothing like a supercharger for kick-in-the-butt acceleration. The problem is, you already have a 3.91 differential with the automatic transmission (manual gearbox 325is had a 3.15 diff in 1993). How low do you want to go? Right now, it just seems to be long-legged because of the automatic's overdriven fourth gear. In your case, it's better to stick with the supercharger--in my humble opinion. --Mike Miller
Top Three Engine Builders
I wanted to know the top three BMW M3 engine makers. I know Hamann and Denon, but what other ones are there. I heard of something with an H like Hakari or something. Something better than a Denon supposedly does the quarter-mile faster than 13 sec. I would appreciate it if you can supply contact info for Denon and Hamann, and the other one, if there is such.
First, M3s are not dragsters. BMW engine builders are not, and cannot, build a competitive BMW drag engine. You'd be far better off buying a Ford Mustang SVT Cobra. You'd have a quicker car, and save oodles of money. BMWs are about road-course racing, not drag racing. The SVT Cobra may not be a European car, but it is a hell of a deal: 0-to-60 mph in 4.5 sec., 1/4-mile in 12.9 at 111 mph, 155-mph top speed, limited electronically (you know it's a matter of days until someone defeats the limiter), 0.90 gs on Car and Driver's 300-ft. skid pad, all for 35 grand and change.
We'd have a hard time picking the "top three" BMW engine builders, simply because all the big-name places are so good. And they tend to excel at different things. Here are a few builders we came up with, in alphabetical order:
AC Schnitzer (www.ac-schnitzer.de)
Active Autowerke (www.activeautowerke.com)
Dinan Engineering (www.dinanbmw.com)
Hamann Motorsport (www.hamann-motorsport.de)
Korman Autoworks (www.kormanfastbmw.com)
"Hakari" doesn't light up any bulbs. We're good, but we're not mind readers. Also, don't overlook small engine builders. Some of the greatest work can come from the littlest shops.
Tell Me Everything
After purchasing a BMW 1992 325i (manual), the next best investment was to pick up your magazine and read about the aftermarket products and the articles that may relate to my car. I was a Japanese car enthusiast but decided I want that comfort that also comes with the power. Anyway, I'm unfamiliar with European brands and don't know which ones have a good reputation. Who better to turn to then european car magazine? I want to do some basic modifications, I decided H&R for my springs and most likely Bilstein for my shocks. I need more help on the performance chip, intake, headers and cat-back exhaust brands. I came across the performance chip and intake on the Dinan website and was wondering what you guys thought of its products. I'm completely lost with headers (also heard they cost a lot) and exhaust. And where can I find a good aftermarket clutch and flywheel for added strength, durability and weight loss? With the modifications to the engine only, with top of the line products that I want, can you give me a ballpark figure of what I'm looking to spend? Is the 325i even worth investing in? Since mine is a 1992, it doesn't have VANOS--what is the difference? One last, last thing: Where can I find HID conversions and BMW glass (instead of plastic) headlight covers.
via the Internet
Jeez, want us to drive it for you, too? No problemo, Anthonius, we've been there and done that.
Dinan Engineering is famous for its well-mannered, factory-like modifications that yield a subtle yet tuned BMW, much in the tradition of the more sedate European tuners such as Alpina (well, Alpina is sedate today, anyway). We like Dinan's work, and we'd suggest that you consider going with its entire tuning program--engine, suspension and brakes, if you decide to go that route.We note, however, that Dinan does not carry all the mods you want to perform. Other places do, such as Turner Motorsport, BMP Design, and Bavarian Autosport. All these vendors sell top-notch parts. Turner raced the E36 extensively, so you may want to spend some time on its website. Only one exhaust manufacturer makes both the header and the cat-back system--Supersprint. But there's no problem mixing and matching if you want, because there are many cat-back systems for the E36. For an HID conversion that includes European headlight assemblies, you'll need Turner Motorsport. And bear in mind that your shock and spring application will depend on your production date--there were some funky parts differences in the 1992 model-year E36 front suspension, so have this information handy when you call. Your production date is on a sticker in the driver's door jamb.
One thing you didn't mention but should have is the factory X-brace for under your front frame rails. This stiffens the front chassis considerably and provides a measure of protection for the aluminum oil pan.
All totaled, we expect the mods you want will run about $5,500 for parts alone. If you're not doing the work yourself, labor will depend on market prices in your location.
Bear in mind that E36 BMWs with multi-link rear suspension (all except the 318ti compact and the Z3 variants) can experience a very rare but catastrophic rear floor failure around the mounting points for the rear suspension. Check these areas periodically from under the car and from under the back seat.
"Worth it" is a relative thing, Anthonius. We know a guy who put about $30,000 into a Bavaria (coolest Bavaria we ever saw). If it's worth it to you, then it's worth it. Just don't expect to get your money back if you sell the car. Get your money's worth by driving the hell out of it instead.
VANOS is from the German, VAriable NOckenwellen Steuerung, or Variable Camshaft Control. VANOS uses an ingenious electro-hydraulic two-position piston in conjunction with an internal/external helical gear on the intake camshaft secondary gear drive to vary camshaft timing according to engine load.
In the old days, advanced cam timing produces a better power curve at higher engine speeds, but the intake/exhaust valve overlap causes a rough idle. Retarded cam timing produces a very smooth idle but lacks the cylinder filling necessary for performance at higher engine speeds. The result is that most camshafts are a compromise. VANOS, however, allows the best of both worlds with adjustable valve timing.
A VANOS-equipped engine may have more peak torque than a comparable non-VANOS-equipped engine, but the real benefit is that a higher level of torque is available throughout the rpm range. This is why VANOS cars accelerate faster and feel more powerful.
The only drawback to VANOS, other than complexity in general, is possible failure of the VANOS unit itself. VANOS failure is characterized by sticking, usually in the advanced position. A VANOS unit stuck in the advanced position is in turn characterized by idle problems--but not by fluctuating idle; which is caused by an idle control valve problem. Instead, the engine won't idle at all. VANOS units may also grow noisy as they age, but the noise generally does not affect function.
The Z3 Question: Snow--Yes or No?
A friend of mine who owns a BMW Z3 told me that she was going to get rid of the vehicle because she drove it once in the snow and scared herself. Her plan is to get a 330 with all-wheel drive. My advice to her was that it may be worthwhile looking into putting snow tires onto the Z3 for a few months when snow is possible and to keep the car. I also told her that just because a car is all-wheel drive, if it has ultra-high-performance tires it may still drive poorly in the snow. Is this sound advice that I gave, or is the Z3 never going to be driveable in a few inches of snow?
via the Internet
Pat, your advice is exactly right. The difference between a car that is "good in snow" and one that is not is snow tires, period. This is true regardless of how many wheels, or which ones, drive the car.
Front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive will get you out of your parking place faster than rear-wheel drive, and both will tend to understeer on a low-traction surface. Rear-wheel-drive cars will oversteer on a low-traction surface. To the unskilled driver, understeer is less frightening than oversteer. The skilled driver makes use of the oversteer when driving in snow, throttle steering around corners as lesser motorists gape in abject horror.
So-called "all-season" tires are, in my opinion, 98% marketing and 2% science, the latter directed toward silica-tread compounds that remain soft in cold weather. I've never seen a set of all-season tires that was worth a damn in actual snow. In fact, they should call them "no-season" tires, because most don't really excel at anything.
We have seen time after time that all-wheel-drive cars without snow tires perform about as well as rear-wheel-drive cars with snow tires. I have personally driven all over the Northeast in rear-wheel-drive BMWs equipped with four snow tires, and I've never had a problem. Ground clearance becomes an issue before traction. Of course, all-wheel drive and snow tires is the ultimate winter setup. In the end, the proliferation of all-wheel drive and the myth of the all-season tire were both born of marketing's need to cater to U.S. drivers who refuse to buy snow tires. Both fail.
On a BMW, nothing will send the car into the trees faster than mismatched tires. You need to use the right snow tire and wheel setup at all four corners, and yes, you do need four. In my experience, tirerack.com and tires.com have the best deals on snow tire and wheel setups. BMW also has factory-steel-wheel and snow-tire packages. Steel wheels are heavier and less expensive than alloy wheels, both of which make them good choices for winter service. And bear in mind that skinnier tires work better in snow. On many Z3s, the best snow set-up is 6.5x15-in. steel wheels and 185/65-15 snow tires. This combination won't work on all of them, due to brake size considerations.
The Inheritence: 325es
I recently inherited a BMW 325es. This car has 328,000 miles on the engine. I personally think the car could have run for 400,000 or more. The engine is stock but does not run any more. The car's body is still in good condition except for some scrapes on the bottom left/right doors and front fenders plus a lost kidney. Sometimes I think this car was built by God himself, as it sits there dormant as if saying, let's try this again. I just wanted to get some expert advice as to how to get her up and running again but with added performance and some very sharp BMW spirit.
Croton on Hudson, New York
James, did the dearly departed have it in for you somehow? There's nothing like the bequest of a 328,000-mile Bimmer that doesn't run to give your survivors the boost they need in life. Well, maybe not. But it will probably build character. We don't know your level of mechanical ability, the breadth of your tool collection, or the nature of the place you have for working on cars. As for mechanical ability, if you're writing in to us for advice, we're going to assume it's not-too-much. This is key. Resurrecting a Motronic BMW from the dead (literally) is not the best way to cut your teeth in the automotive world. We're talking graduate-level wrenching here, and we're going to recommend from the outset that you flatbed this car to a professional independent BMW technician. Let's put performance mods on the back burner for now and concentrate on getting the engine running.
Assuming you dismiss that advice, step number one is to buy the Bentley E30 3 Series Service Manual, a set of fuel pressure gauges, and a digital voltmeter (DVM). If you want a one-stop shop for all three, BMP Design (www.bmpd.com) is one such place. You haven't told us anything about the symptoms the car has except that the engine doesn't run. Does it have electrical power? This is the first step. Use the DVM to check for power at the battery. If it doesn't have power and won't take a jump, you'll need a new battery. Make this number one in the long list of parts to follow.
Once you have power, you want to verify the presence of fuel in the tank. The fuel gauge is clearly the place to start, but depending on how long this car has sat, you might want to remove the rear seat bottom and access the fuel tank by removing the fuel-sending unit. Eyeball the gasoline and check to see if there's anything obviously wrong in there, like the tank is empty, or the fuel is gummed up, or dirty.
If the fuel looks good and you have power, turn the key. If nothing happens, you need to check for power at the starter with the DVM. If there is power at the starter and voltage drops when the key is turned, your engine is probably seized and the dearly departed is probably laughing. If the engine turns over but does not start, you need to verify whether main and fuel pump relays function. The manual covers these procedures. Main and fuel pump relays are preventative maintenance items on BMWs--about every 120,000 miles.
However, sometimes the fuel pump goes bad too, and on an E30, 120,000 miles would be a good preventative maintenance interval for the pump (replace the filter, too) as well. But the biggest mistake amateurs make when working on any car is buying part after part without knowing exactly what the problem is. On a car like this, it can be very complicated, because more than likely you have lots of faulty parts.
Hopefully the engine will fire up for you. At that point, you need to follow the diagnostic trouble trees in the manual to address cold idle, hot idle, cold running and hot running problems. The maintenance section of the manual will help you with routine work. Bear in mind this engine has a timing belt, which must be changed every 50,000 miles or every five years, whichever comes first. If the belt brakes, the valves hit the pistons and the engine will need a cylinder-head rebuild at a minimum. Come to think of it, um, check the timing belt first.
V8 Engine Swap
I race a modified E36 M3 in the BMW CCA racing series. I am trying to do a V8 engine swap into my car using an M62 3.5L V8 engine, and I am trying to locate a German company that has done these swaps and supposedly has all the necessary parts. I am told that its name is M&M Motorsports (formerly H&H Motorsports), or something similar. They were featured in a magazine article a few years ago. Any assistance you could provide would certainly be appreciated.
San Diego, California
Keith, this type of swap is always a custom job--no one is going to have a conversion kit full of parts on the shelf. Moreover, to the Germans the E36 is fast approaching ancient history status. We think the best way for you to approach such a conversion is to enlist the help of a good independent BMW technician. In the San Diego area, we recommend Carl Nelson at La Jolla Independent BMW (www.justbmws.com), 710 Turquoise, (858) 488-1555. Nelson will probably want to consult with BMW engine swap specialist Brett Anderson at Koala Motorsport (www.koalamotorsport.com). This is not going to be a bolt-in kit. The job will require expert fabrication skills.
Turbo'd M3 Gasket Thickness
This is regarding the Active Autowerke Turbo'd M3 (Project M3). What was the stock thickness of the head gasket, and what was the thickness of the new gasket/ or total compression drop? Thanks.
via the Internet
Karl Hugh at Active Autowerke (www.activeautowerke.com) replied, "The gasket assembly is actually two parts; we use a specially designed copper spacer gasket (heat treated to our specs) that sits under a factory-type-looking gasket with a stainless-steel fire ring. The spacer varies in thickness depending on the customer's cylinder-head dimensions--we supply a slighter thicker spacer if the head was already off and milled. The spacer varies between 1.575mm and 1.828mm. The stock factory head gasket is approximately 1.8mm. Our gasket is approximately 1.95mm. The compression ratio falls right into the area of 8.5:1 on the 3.0-liter motor; on 3.2-liter applications the compression ratio is slightly higher. We top off the gasket assembly with our longer torque-to-yield head bolts."
Turbo for a BMW 633csi
I was wondering if you know of any turbo kit available for BMWs or for the 633csi in particular.
Abstract Auto Solutions
Calgary Alberta, Canada
Yes. Korman Autoworks, in Greensboro, NC, carries turbo kits for many BMW models, including the 633CSi. Or at least it's still listed on the website at www.kormanfastbmw.com for $4,650. Korman has been building and installing turbo kits and turbo engines since the late 1970s, so we have no reservations about referring you to the firm. However, our recollection is that this is not a bolt-on kit for the 633CSi. You may wind up building a "turbo motor" using 7.5:1 compression pistons, larger exhaust valves and a cutting ring head gasket. Obviously, the $4,650 doesn't include internal engine work.
You don't state your mileage or the condition of the engine, but it's entirely possible that a rebuild would be advisable anyway. The sudden introduction of a turbocharger is great for blowing a tired engine to smithereens. One night it goes to sleep as a mild-mannered emissions-choked U.S.-spec 3.3-liter M30, and it wakes up a firebreather with another 150 hp or so, but also with worn bearings and cylinder bores. Next thing you know, there's a big bad noise and a bunch of smoke. When adding forced induction, it's a good idea to start with a reasonably fresh engine.
We note that Dinan Engineering (www.dinanbmw.com) used to build turbo engines for the 633CSi, but Dinan doesn't cater much to older Bimmers anymore. The 6 Series products link is no longer operative on its web site. This must be some kind of "tuner thing." European tuners are notorious for pulling the rug out whenever a body style goes out of production.
Beyond the E46
I've heard that the next-generation 3 Series is due out in '07. Do you have any info on this?
via the Internet
We spoke with noted BMW writer Bob Roemer on your question. Roemer lived and wrote in Germany for years, staring down the Russians from a U.S. Army tank. He's famous for hearing things on the street. His reply: "Based on BMW's traditional 8-year model run, that's about the right timing [new 3 Series in 2007]. We haven't seen any spy photos yet--it's too early. The new 3ers will probably be built at the Munich-Milbertshofen, Dingolfing and Leipzig plants with additional production from the South Africa and Thailand plants if needed."
Missed Shift = Dead Engine
I have a '99 M3, and my friend was driving in fifth gear on the freeway. He meant to downshift into fourth but accidentally got it into second. The car hit into the redline really quickly, and about 5 minutes later all the lights on the dash came up and my car slowly died. I tried to start it, but it kept on choking. Can you help me out and tell me the problem. Any advice is greatly appreciated.
via the Internet
Ethan, we hope your friend is wealthy. He has most likely blown your engine to smithereens. A BMW technician will have to remove the valve cover and oil pan, and/or use a borescope to ascertain the exact damage. Our experience with over-rev damage on this engine is that a connecting rod, probably number four, will break, causing the piston to hit the valves. In extreme cases, the cylinder head can actually break. In most cases, the best solution is a factory rebuilt engine or a used engine if you can find one. Despite certain Internet rants to the contrary, driving experts are in agreement that missed-shift over-revs are caused by driver error and driver error only. Although we've heard of other cases, we've never heard of any case where BMW allowed warranty coverage.There is a school of thought that says the E36 M3 is susceptible to missed fifth gear downshifts due to the rotational torque of the engine and its affect on the relatively smallish gearbox mount. Check out www.uucmotorwerks.com, which sells an upgraded gearbox mount. We don't necessarily subscribe to this school of thought, but there's no doubt that UUC's gearbox mount is stronger than the stock mount.
E30 M3 or E36 M3 or '95 325is with Mods
I have enjoyed your magazine for years and really appreciate the things I've learned reading your articles. I'm hoping you'll offer an opinion on my current question: Which car should I choose to replace my 1984 Euro 323i with 240,000 miles? I love the car's style and handling, even with minimal mods. I am considering three cars: An E30 M3, a 1995 E36 M3, or a 1993-95 325is with money left over for performance mods (turbo, brakes and suspension). I have read in other tech articles that the E30 M3 is considered more reliable than the E36 version, and that means a lot to me. I drive 30 miles of mostly winding country roads to work every day and need something I can count on. But I also want more power than my little 323i has given me--much more, hence the E36 M3. I have also considered the E36 325is for its lower price tag and the AA turbo I could afford to install. Any input based on your experience would be much appreciated.
Eric T. Reiss
New Holstein, Wisconsin
Eric, the E30 M3 vs. E36 M3 issue is destined to take its place alongside such endless broils as Ginger vs. Mary Ann, Coke vs. Pepsi, fake vs. natural, manual vs. SMG, and Britney vs. Christina. Here's my take: Mary Ann, Pepsi, natural, manual and Britney.
Oh, ahem, 'scuse me. Here we go:The E36 3 Series (1992-98) is common in the used Bimmer market, and enthusiasts are snapping them up every day. They are basically good cars, but the E36 is noted for having numerous problems that did not affect the legendary E30 3 Series (1984-92) before it. The E30 is renowned for being virtually trouble-free, whereas the E36 is not.
Known E36 problem areas include radiator failures, an early model water-pump defect that affected cars built up to sometime in 1995, the occasional VANOS failure, electronic HVAC control module failures, door lock issues, door panel delamination, seat breakage, the ever-present automatic transmission failures in the 80,000 to 120,000-mile range, and the very rare rear floor failures. The most worrisome problem area is the early defective water pumps. These units have plastic impellers, which can disintegrate and cause overheating. In extreme cases, the impellers can lodge bits of themselves in the engine block coolant passages. Engines have overheated and failed as a result.Don't be scared by all this--these are simply things that you should check out before buying a car. Bear in mind also that you should be looking for service records detailing, at a minimum, oil changes when required by the SI system, brake fluid and coolant changes every two years, and, hopefully, gearbox and differential oil changes. But more likely than not, none of this was done except the engine oil.
Although E36 power convertible tops are nowhere near as problematic as the E30 power tops before them, they can still be a yearly expense, especially if you live in the snow belt and don't buy a hardtop.
Generally speaking, the Z3 and its variants along with the 318ti seem to be the most durable and dependable E36 Bimmers. In part this is because they're the simplest, with fewer electronic doo-dads to break. Also, the Z3 variants and the 318ti have the semi-trailing arm rear suspension, and they have never been known to suffer the dreaded rear floor failure--that problem, however rare, seems to threaten only E36s with the multi-link rear suspension.Specifically addressing the E30 M3 vs. E36 M3, all of the above applies and more. The E30 M3 requires more maintenance (expensive shim valve adjustments and $7 spark plugs every 15,000 miles). Any E30 M3 part that isn't the same as a regular E30 part will cost at least twice as much as the corresponding E36 M3 part and probably more. The E36 has more low-end torque, yet those who E30 M3 racer Jimmy Pettinato calls "momentum drivers" tend to prefer the fun-to-drive traditional BMW aspect of the E30 M3. Finally, due to low production numbers, used E30 M3 parts are very hard to find, and the S14 engine very expensive to rebuild. In comparison, God made oodles of E36 M3s, and used parts are plentiful.
Which would I choose? As a BMW traditionalist, I prefer the E30 M3 over the U.S.-specification E36 M3. Now, if we're talking a German-spec M3 GTR or an AC Schnitzer M3CLS, that's different.
Six into Four
I have a question that I hope that you can help me with. I have a 1984 BMW 318i with the 1.8-liter four. My question is if the six cylinder from any of the models up will bolt into my car without too much trouble. Any help will be greatly welcomed. I'm interested in buying a new engine and was wondering what my options were.
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Ryan, it depends on your definition of "too much trouble." Not knowing your level of mechanical ability, the nature of your workspace or tool collection, or your willingness to pay a professional, here's our advice: You can buy an E30 3 Series with the six-cylinder engine already installed by the best in the business--BMW. There are zillions of them out there, even the best examples rarely bring more than $10,000, and they don't need an engine swap.
However, as engine swaps go, the E30 seems to be a good candidate. Any BMW six-cylinder will physically fit, and all have at some point or another either from the factory or in the hotshoe Bimmerhead community. We'd recommend you check out the website www.zionsvilleautosport.com for its instruction CD on M50 into E30 conversions.
1981 633CSi (E24) Widebody
A few years back I was at a car show, and saw a 1981 633CSi (that's what the guy at the display told me). It had a "widebody" kit on it. Almost a week after I got my own 1981 633CSi, I started looking for an identical kit for it. Now a year and a half later, I still haven't found one. Do you know where I can obtain a kit like that for my car, or can you at least point me in the right direction?
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Nothing will get you in trouble with the BMW fashion police like a widebody kit, Peter, but unlike them we respect the right of individual expression. After all, in the immortal words of the Beastie Boys, you gotta fight for your right to party. Check out www.erebunicorp.com for the only E24 widebody kit we could find, as well as a number of other BMW aerodynamic parts, including many for the E24.
BMW Project: 1983 320i
At 16, I just received a 1983 320i as a gift. I love this car! I will never own another car again, unless it is another BMW. I am having some problems, though. I have received mixed information. Is the 1983 320i an E21 or an E30? Also, if it is an E21, where can I find aerodynamics for it?
This is my project car. I plan on restoring it and making it a street-eating machine by dropping a supercharged 1989 M3 motor in it. My only problem is finding the things I need (i.e. aerodynamics, etc.). If you could help me with my problems, or help me restore my car and make it one of the most unique cars in the Houston area, I would be eternally grateful. I want to use my car as a moving billboard to show just what can be done in the hands of the right people. My current goals for the summer are Eibach springs and Bilstein sport shocks, and an upgrade to Stage 1 HIDS4LESS xenon headlights. I am a huge fan of the magazine, and think that the project M3 is jawdroppingly kickass.
David, we can tell you're a smart guy just by the minimum amount of editing your letter required. We get letters from 45-year-old professionals with graduate degrees that have to be sifted through an Enigma decoding machine just so we can discern the main point. And thanks for the compliments. Jawdroppingly kickass sleds are tools of our trade.
We suggest you spend your first summer addressing any mechanical deficiencies this car may have. The first $35 you spend should be on a membership in the BMW Car Club of America (www.bmwcca.org), so you can attend some local chapter meetings, hook up with like-minded types, and find the best E21 shop in Houston (yes, it's an E21, although E30 320i's were produced for non-U.S. consumption). We'd also suggest hanging around that shop and learning a thing or two from the technicians. If you go running to a pro every time an older Bimmer makes a rattle, you're going to be out a ton of money better spent on your tenth facial piercing or another tattoo for your girlfriend, or something like that.
Mechanically, pay special attention to the brakes. Change the brake fluid using good DOT 4 fluid (we like ATE SL and Type 200, but BMW sells a nice bottle of DOT 4 brake fluid at a good price), and replace the rubber hoses. Many enthusiasts use stainless-steel braided Kevlar brake hoses for better performance. The 320i uses drum brakes at the rear, which is fine for now (see below). But adjusting BMW drum brakes is an art form that we don't have room to explain here, except to say you need to find someone who is good at it and will show you how.
BMW 328Ci: How Fast Can It Be?
I have a BMW 328Ci and I was wondering if you would recommend sticking with the stock motor and begin with upgrades such as camshafts, pulleys, turbo kits, chips, or just get a new engine? Thank you.
Speed costs money, Behzad. How fast do you want to go? If money is no object, contact www.koalamotorsport.com. Engine swap specialist Brett Anderson will gladly transplant an E39 M5 drivetrain for you, along with the required suspension and brake upgrades. Then head for Nevada, and you can find out how fast a 328Ci can be. You may also learn a thing or two about the Nevada court system or the frailty of human life.
Now, if you'd prefer to keep your license, your money, and maybe spend some more time with your family, the standard 328Ci engine upgrades consist of a cold air intake, performance software, and a performance exhaust system. In between, there are supercharging options, and a host of other mods--just leaf through the magazine you're holding. The advertisements we run in each issue of european car are more than that--they are a tremendous resource for enthusiasts. By visiting the websites of various tuners and parts houses and navigating through their links, you can learn a great deal about the performance options for your european car. --Mike Miller
BMW 325is Performance
I'm wondering if you can help? I have recently acquired a 1987 325is and I'm in the process of boosting the performance. I've done some of the more common things like the chip, the suspension, awaiting a Supersprint exhaust, K&N element, etc. But given this car is 14+ years old, there are few if any articles that talk about this car. I am hoping that you can provide or direct me to such information. I'd love to know who's chip is better. Who's exhaust provides more hp and torque. What mods really work and which are a waste of time.
Jason, you're on the right track. The E30 325iS is one of the most economically sound performance bargains in the BMW world. While not as trick or modern as the E36 3 Series that followed it, the E30 is more durable, and more reliable. For bolt-ons, we'd recommend a K&N cone intake (instead of the drop-in element), a Conforti chip, a Supersprint exhaust system, and if you can swing it where you live, a set of Supersprint or Stahl headers. This is about the extent of what you can do without rebuilding the motor with trick internals.
Things like larger throttle bodies and adjustable fuel pressure regulators are really helpful only if you've used one of the following: higher compression pistons, headers, a performance camshaft, or done some cleanup work on the cylinder head and valve seats.
We get a lot of questions on adjustable fuel pressure regulators. On a relatively stock engine, you wind up leaving an adjustable fuel pressure regulator at the stock setting anyway. However, on an older, worn engine, an adjustable regulator can be used to dial in just a scooch more fuel pressure (maybe 1 psi), to rid the motor of flat spots and stumbles that result from worn injectors and crudded up valves. BMP Design makes the nicest unit--it has an integral VDO fuel pressure gauge that we absolutely love. There is also a school of thought that says fuel pressure regulators vary even when new, and if you can buy and adjustable one and dial it in, so much the better. We can see the logic in that, but these things are pretty expensive compared to a garden variety fuel pressure regulator--especially when you don't need to replace the existing unit.
In the rear, you can always install a 4.10 limited-slip differential from an E30 M3 in place of the standard 3.73 unit for extra acceleration. The trade off would be a little off the top of the fuel economy, and a little bit more engine rpm at any given road speed. But with your fifth gear overdriven .81:1, the 4.10 would really be a 3.32 in fifth gear. It would be, well, like an E30 M3, only quicker.
The E30 suspension responds dramatically to performance tuning. Bilstein sport shocks and shorter, sport springs are the way to go. We prefer H&R springs these days. Suspension Techniques still has the best deals on sway bars, although their hardware kits are not the best--that would go to Dinan or Racing Dynamics. At the front, you'll want E30 M3 offset control arm bushings. You can also use E30 M3 aluminum control arms to cut unsprung weight--particularly useful if you've fit heavier-than-stock wheels and tires.
Getting into more expensive things, there is also a factory five-speed close-ratio gearbox that was optional in Europe. This works excellently with a 3.25 limited-slip differential from a E28 535i or late E24 635CSi. --Mike Miller
1998 BMW M3
Tech Gurus, I just bought a '98 M3 with 40k rolled up. I was going to get the 2002 M3 till I realized the price was a little more than I was willing to spend. I also have a '98 740i so the M3 was going to be my play car. I got the M3 for 28k.It was certified with a warranty for 7 years and 100k miles. So, I figured that this car was the better deal. I love the way it handles and it's a quick bugger too! But, like all guys, it's time to get serious and add a little more power. The first thing I'm going to do is change the header, air filter, and exhaust. Then, when time permits I will add either a supercharger or a turbo. I have a few questions first and I'm hoping that you all could give me a hand.1)What brand of bolt-on parts would you recommend (reliability, craftsmanship etc.). 2) I'm in Maryland and would like to find a local shop(or someplace relatively near me) that I could trust my car to and has a great track record with M3 tuning.3) If I added a turbo or supercharger would I have to replace the rear end to handle the power increase? 4) What kind of mods would you recommend that would give me the best bang for the buck? 5) What kind of engine mods would I have to do to be able to withstand the supercharger or turbo? Any help would be much appreciated.
Russell K Lee Jr.
Russell, for E36 M3 bolt-ons, we prefer the Conforti Intake systems (there are different levels) in place of a drop-in K&N filter, a Conforti chip, a Supersprint exhaust, headers, and possibly a set of cams. Our one-stop shop for this stuff is www.turnermotorsport.com. Will Turner raced the E36 M3 extensively, and the product of his experience appears in his online catalog. However, there are many other tuners out there with E36 M3 bits, and your tastes might be different from ours. Search our ads, search the 'Net, and search the brains of your fellow Bimmerheads.
The best way to find a shop is by word-of-mouth reputation. We'd recommend joining the BMW Car Club of America (www.bmwcca.org) and attending some local chapter meetings. Ask others who wrenches on their cars. When you supercharge or turbocharge an S52, the only mod you'll need to do to ensure drivetrain reliability is use good lubricants. We recommend Red Line engine oil, Red Line D4 ATF in the gearbox, and Red Line 75W-90 in the differential. --Mike Miller