BMW E36 V8 products in development.
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There has been a lot of interest in the BMW E36 V8 swaps, however, there are very few V8 powered E36 cars that are actually running.
Given time and development, the information about the E36 V8 swap should become better. This will result in the swap being easier, less costly, and more refined.
IF YOU HAVE INFORMATION ABOUT THE SWAP THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE, PLEASE SEND US THE INFORMATION, AND WE WILL POST IT ON THIS WEBSITE.
These are some facts about the E36 swap:
Radiator: The stock E36 6-cylinder radiator is perfectly adequate for the V8 swap. Radiator hoses from the small-block or the LSx engines can be spliced to the BMW 6-cylinder radiator hoses with our hose splicers.
Click this link to see examples of hose splicers.
Fan: The stock BMW pusher fan can be replaced with a much more powerful fan from a Volvo 850, 960, or V70 fan. It is mostly a bolt-in swap, but it requires drilling one mounting hole in the Volvo fan assembly.
The wiring to the fan should use the Volvo 2-speed fan relay, and and it should be activated with the BMW relay.
The stock BMW fan draws about 10 amps on low speed, and about 25 amps on high-speed.
The Volvo V70 fan draws about 17 amps on low speed, and about 35 amps on high-speed.
Because the front-mounted pusher fan is shrouded/ducted, it works way better than the typical front-mounted pusher fan which has no shroud or ducting. Because the Volvo fan is so powerful, in the majority of cases, no other cooling fan is required.
If you are installing a used Volvo fan, be sure to measure the amp draw, because a lot of used fans are worn out, and draw excessive current, while at the same time, they don't move a lot of air.
Volvo V70 fan installed in E36 shown below:
Differentials and half-shafts:
The E36 is available with three sizes of differentials. small, medium, and large.
The small differential came on 4-cylinder cars. It is not suitable for the V8 swap.
The medium size differential (188 mm, or 7.4" ring gear diameter) came on all 6-cylinder cars sold in American, including the M3 cars. It seems to be adequate for the V8 swap.
The large differential (210 mm, or 8.27" ring gear) came on 1996 and newer European M3 cars.
Half shafts. The half-shafts on non-M3 6-cylinder cars appear to be adequate for the V8 swap. The half-shafts on the M3 cars have larger CV joints, and a larger hub spline at the rear wheels.
Driveshaft: A driveshaft shop can make a one-piece driveshaft that goes from the Chevrolet transmission to the BMW differential with this driveshaft flange:
BMW Heavy-Duty Driveshaft Flange
There is a lot of mis-information pertaining to the weight gain of the V8 swap. A lot of people are claiming there is no weight gain, but they are removing air conditioning, catalytic converters, insulation, and other items. They may also be running smaller batteries, and they may weigh the car with an empty tank of gas, or they may simply be guessing what their cars weigh.
A stock, fully-dressed 325 engine and 5-speed transmission weighs about 530-550 lbs. 328 engines with aluminum blocks weigh less. All M3's came with cast-iron blocks.
An aluminum block LSx engine with the T56 transmission will add at least 100 pounds to the weight of a stock 325 with the 5-speed.
A small-block V8 with the T5 transmission will add at least 200 lbs to the weight of a stock 325 with the 5-speed.
A small-block Ford V8 weighs about the same as a small-block Chevrolet (within ten lbs). We aren't sure why people insist that the Ford small-block is up to 100 lbs lighter than the Chevrolet small-block.
The stock non-M3 6-cylinder exhaust after the catalytic converter is about 1-7/8" dual exhaust. The stock non-M3 muffler is free flowing, quiet, and is adequate for most V8 swaps. A muffler shop can connect the V8 exhaust to the 6-cylinder exhaust for the lowest cost exhaust system. The biggest complaint about the stock muffler is the weight.
The M3 exhaust, after the catalytic converters, is 2-3/8" dual exhaust, and the muffler seems to be the same as non-M3 6-cylinder cars. It is adequate for stock LSx engines. The biggest complaint about the M3 exhaust is the weight, and as a result, used M3 mufflers can often be purchased for a reasonably low price.
The small-block V8 swap can use rams-horn exhaust manifolds, which are inexpensive, and they do not radiate a lot of heat. They will clear the ABS pump, but we are not confident that the heat from the manifolds will not be a problem, unless heat reflecting products are put on the brake booster. The small-block V8 does not require any modifications to the stock E36 brake booster.
With the LSx V8 swap, we do not know of any factory GM exhaust manifolds that will fit on the driver's side.
Dash board instruments.
The stock instrument cluster will perform as stock with the V8 swap.
The speedometer gets its signal from the differential, so no adapters are required.
The 1996 and newer water temperature sending unit bolts onto the LS1 cylinder head.
Small block engines can use the water temperature bushing shown on this link to install the 1992-1995 E36 water temperature sending unit. V8 BMW Water Temperature Bushings.
The tachometer signal from the LSx ECM can be programmed to provide the correct signal to the BMW tachometer.
The fuel economy gauge in the instrument cluster uses the injector pulses and speedometer inputs to provide the fuel mileage. With the LSx swap, the fuel economy gauge can be calibrated with parts from this company:
Steering shaft/Firewall modifications
Some people are recommending that the steering shaft be replaced with an aftermarket shaft for header clearance.
We believe the best thing to do, is move the steering column, where it goes throught the firewall, to make more room for the headers.
In addition, the steering shaft from the E46 can be installed into the E36, with some slight modifications. The modified E46 shaft provides about 3/16" more clearance.
See instructions here.
The following items are being developed for production, so please don't call and ask about these parts. When they are ready, we will post it on this website.
Small-diameter brake-booster installation kit.
We feel one of the biggest obtacles to making the LSx V8 swap practical is the stock brake booster, which limits the positioning of the engine, and requires the use of ultra-stiff motor mounts, which transmit noise and vibration into the car. Ultra-stiff motor mounts can actually cause the car to rattle apart.
To avoid using ultra stiff mounts, the first BMW V8 kit on the market (http://www.nash8503.com/index.html) uses a Ford Mustang hydroboost system to replace the stock E36 booster -- it is a good solution, but it is somewhat costly and complicated.
We are developing a kit to install a smaller-diameter dual-diaphram booster from a BMW or Mercedes into the E36. This provides about 5/8 " more clearance between the exhaust header and the brake booster and valve cover so the LSx engine can be mounted with rubber mounts that won't trasmit as much noise and vibration into the vehicle as the virtually solid mounts that some people are currently using to prevent contact between the booster and the valve cover.
The dual-diaphram booster is provides a more rigid feeling brake pedal as a result of through-the-booster-bolts, which directly link the master-cylinder to the firewall -- this eliminates the flexing of the stock E36 booster housing under heavy pedal-pressure.
Clearance between 1993 BMW 540i booster and LSx valve cover shown below.
Slotting hole in firewall and repositioning steering column where it passes through the firewall will improve clearance, and allow using the stock steering shaft, or a modified E46 steering shaft.
Tilting the engine one degree so that the driver's side is higher than the passenger's side improves clearance for the brake booster, steering shaft, and Camaro ac compressor.
The booster below is from a BMW 1993 540i, and with some modifications to the clevis, it will fit the E36.
Brake pedal travel sensor relocation kit. Prototype shown.
Some cars (1996 and newer non-M Cars) do not have the pedal travel sensor, and no such modification is required
Camaro Air Conditioning Compressor.
With our engine mounting kit, the air conditioning compressor will have about 1/4" clearance from the frame rail.
1/4" clearance is not enough if you are using stock Corvette replacement mounts. The compressor mounting bracket requires some machining to move the compressor 1/4" closer to the engine, but it is pretty easy to do.
The tensioner pulley needs to be removed (already removed in photograph) to install the ac compressor when engine is mounted in car.
The shorty headers are a low cost alternative to long-tube headers. Unless you are running a big cam, with lots of overlap, the long-tube headers do not have a big power advantage over shorty headers.
Advantages of the shorty headers are: low cost, easier installation, and less heat in the engine compartment and transmission tunnel. The shorty headers are also substantially lighter than long-tube headers. The headers should work with the stock steering shaft.
Estimated price of the 1-5/8" primary, 2-1/2" collector header is $300 for plain steel and $425 for ceramic coated. Options include V-bands, which will be about $100 extra.
Headers may not work with some mounting kits, and requires relocation of ABS pump.
Prototype header shown below.
Motor mounting kit.
The mounting kit requires removing the stock BMW engine mounting pads on the rear of the subframe. This is done primarily to improve header clearance.
The design of the mounting kit distributes load to the frame rails to prevent fatiguing the crossmember. The wide distance between motor mounts reduces the amount of engine twist for a given torque, reducing problems with headers banging into the steering shaft and brake booster.
The mounting kit uses 1984-1991 Chevrolet Corvette isolators to reduce vibrations going into the car.
1984-1991 Corvette mounts are fairly stiff, and prevent the engine from moving around very much.
Mounting kits are also being developed for the small-block Chevrolet V8's. These kits require similar modifications to stock front crossmember as the LSX mounting kit.
Estimated pricing is not available at this time.
Stock E36 crossmember on the left.
Center crossmember has stock E36 mounting pads removed.
Right side crossmember has a prototype mounting pad installed, and a 1" x 2" hole for inserting attachment hardware.
Transmission mounting kit.
After removing the stock E36 engine mounting pad from the front subframe, and enlarging the stock hole to 1" x 2" rectangular hole, install the adapter plates to the subframe, using the pieces shown above to align the pads onto the front subframe, as shown below.
After the parts are aligned, mark the holes on the subframe, so that they can be drilled in the correct location.
Enlarge the stock hole in the subrame to a 1" wide x 2" long rectangular hole (as shown below), as this is required to install fastening hardware inside the subrame.
Use a 3/8" drill bit to drill holes on the marked spots. Be sure to deburr the inside of the subframe so that the attachment hardware fits flush to the inside of the subframe.
Temperarily install the mounting pads onto the subframe, and double check the alignment. If the 3/8 holes drilled into the subframe are not properly located, use a file or die grinder to elongate the holes to the proper location.
Paint the subframe with semi-gloss black engine enamel to prevent rusting.
Semi-gloss black paint matches the stock BMW paint very well.
Insert the bar with the two threaded holes into the subframe through the 1" x 2" rectangular hole, and screw the 3/8-16 socket head cap screws into the back two holes.
Insert a 3/8-16 nut into the subframe, and screw the front socket head cap screw into the nut. Insert a 9/16 wrench through the 1" x 2" rectangular hole to hold the 3/8-16 nut while tightening the socket head capscrew..
If you have problems doing the above, turn the subframe up-side-down, and allow gravity to hold the bar into place.
Remove one socket head capscrew, install blue Loctite onto the screw, and reinstall. Repeat with the other socket head cap screws. Tighten the socket head cap screws to 35 ft-lbs.
Put a piece of aluminum tape over the 1" x 2" rectangular hole. If you don't do this, you will probably drop a nut or bolt into the subframe when it is installed in the car.
Drill holes into the frame rail, as shown (Two 5/16" holes and one 1/2" hole), using the the "frame insert" as the template. Install the "frame rail insert" into the frame rail with the threaded rod.
Insert the bar with the tapped holes into the frame rail.
Attach the 1/4-20 socket head cap screws first. Do not tighten. This will allow you to move the frame insert slightly, when installing the 3/8-16 bolts that attach the motor mount pad to the frame rails.
Driver's side shown above. Passenger's side shown below.
Mounts have slotted holes to allow adjusting engine position side-to-side, and front-to-back. The height of engine can be adjusted by installing shims or spacers between engine and adapter, or between rubber isolator, and frame adapter bracket. This allows for optimum engine position to prevent the engine from contacting the subframe, frame rails, and steering shaft.
Long-tube headers designed to work with our engine mounts. Plain steel headers shown above. Ceramic coated headers also available.
Our long-tube headers can be used with the stock BMW steering shaft.
Aftermarket steering shafts can cause noise and vibration to enter the car due to a lack of a rubber isolator.
The steering shaft must be removed to install the header, and then it fits between the header tubes.
The design of our motor mounts places the rubber isolators are far as possible from the engine as possible to reduce the leverage the engine has on the crossmember.
The diagrams below show how placing the rubber isolators at the engine can cause the subframe to fail.
Cracks in the crossmember as a result of motor mount design that does not spread the load onto the subframe. Volvo 700 subrame shown above, which began to fail after about 20,000 miles.
Ultra short thermostat housing for LS2 waterpumps. Will fit LS1 water pumps if used with LS2 style thermostat.
The thermostat housing in the background is a typical aftermarket thermstat housing -- our part is much shorter.
The 1-5/16" housing is 1.42" tall.
The 1-9/16" housing is 1.27" tall.
The typical aftermarket 1-9/16" housing is 2.07" tall.
The factory 1-9/16" housing (shown below) is about 2.57" tall
Last updated, 04/04/14
JTR engine swapping manuals are available directly from JTR Publishing,
As well as through a number of retailers, including:
• Summit Racing (S-10: Part #JTR-S10; Jaguar: Part #JTR-JAG),
• JEGS (S-10: Part #116549; TPI &
TBI: Part #117942),
• Steve Smith Autosports (S-10: Part #S212; TPI & TBI: Part #S195), and
• Classic Motorbooks (S-10: Part #116549; TPI & TBI: Part #117942;
Jaguar: Part #118438; Datsun Z: Part #115501; Volvo 200: Part #122587).
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