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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hello L4Players,
I've recently been looking into getting an E30 BMW coupe or sedan. The design is totally timeless and has been one of my favorites for years. I'm not interested in an E30 M3, I'm looking more towards a project car I can pick up cheaply in decent condition and build up. I can totally see myself building up a modernized, serious sleeper.

Some questions I had:
-Are engine swaps recommended over keeping the original motor in the car?
-Would an LS swap be sacrilege? If so, what would you guys say is a prime motor to cram in?
-Considering that they're older cars, what kind of maintenance records should I reasonably expect to see?

Thank you!
 

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The most fun I had in a car was my old e36, and apparently e30s are even better so good choice. The motors are getting pretty long in the tooth now so a swap is probably a good idea, however you probably don't need alot of power to have fun in it. LS swaps are cool if you can pull them off, and if you are looking to tear the car apart as a full on project I wouldnt worry too much about records, just make sure what you want to keep is in half reasonable condition...
 

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Great start to a solid car!! I would skip the M3 version if you want to do the "project " thing..

Swaps....the BMW is an amazing motor and will handle all power you can want....rebuilt and turbo'd you can build 5-700 hp beasts..

could LS or 2JZ but I would not think there is a need..

grab a 2 door before they are all gone......I think it was 88 or 89 318IS even had the M suspension bits too I think ......
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for all the answers,
There's no way I could do serious mods on an M3, it would break my heart to chop up a survivor E30. The rest of them though...potential for some serious trouble >: D
 

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It'll break your heart...but it'll also be the most fun car you've ever had. This is coming from an E30 owner.

If you can pick up a rust free example go for it! Timing belt and water pump are important maintenance items. Make sure they have been kept up with. Read up, there is a lot of literature out there.

This is a car you don't need crazy power out of...IMO a LS swap is a waste of time. Rebuild the M20 to either original spec, do a stroker, or turbo it.

Suspension is a must. I have Bilstein Sports and Eibach springs on mine which is a great setup, but next time around I will either be going full coilover or at least Ireland Engineering for the springs.

Remember these are classic cars now and will require some extra love. Mine is sitting in the drive with the shift linkage all blown apart just because it was at that point and I'm just too busy to get under it, remove the exhaust and drop the transmission just to work on it.

E30 ownership is a journey :bow1:
 
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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks!
I want to make it as modern as possible, in a restomod kinda way.
What are the differences in terms of performance, cost, etc. between the sedans and coupes? Not interested in the convertible.
Also, how difficult would an M3 body part swap be? Not familiar with the older Bimmers.
 

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I can't help but imagine an aluminum V8, not likely weighing much more and possibly costing a good bit less (than a built M20), would be a great idea for an E30. You dont need to go bananas with huge heads and a big cam, as stock would be plenty. But consider cost of ownership, ease, maintenance, builder parts, and overall accessibility, and you'd have a good case for an LS1 build.

I don't see the time wasted, honestly. If it is about upsetting balance, again, I can't imagine the all aluminum LS throwing the distribution off by much. If it's about overpowering the chassis, well, that's all a matter of keeping your foot out of it, or gearing the car taller than necessary and enjoying 1400rpm 75mph cruising.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Good (albeit very heavy, labor intensive, expensive, and complicated) idea, indeed. :)
I was thinking about a s54 swap as well. That should be a bit better in terms of weight and cost.
The labor isn't an issue; I've got grease-monkey friends eager to help with anything.
 

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Or a clean E34! thats what I would love to build one day.
 

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I know some guys who have done an M50 swap into a 318i sedan, and one who used to race a M50 swapped coupe. They are great motors, cheap to buy, and super easy to do the engine swap.

Buy a non-running rust free example and do an M50 swap is my suggestion.
 

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S54 swap into E30 including parts and labor is about $8,000 or less actually.
S85 v10 swap is about $16,000-18,000.

Both swaps include everything you need. I have a friend whos done them at his shop pretty regularly. I believe his last one was S54 swap into E36. And before that was S54 into a 330xi wagon.
 

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Scandinavia does tons of engine swap with BMW engines, Would compare it to your LS-swaps.

Most typical swap is a turbocharged m50 engine in a e30. The engine is solid as hell. People have left it unopened and just turbocharged it and put out around 500 horse, and it worked very well.

I would check out PPF. They are the "go-to" guys in Sweden if you want to modify your Bmw. PPF Turbo forum • Index
Its in Swedish.

One example: The Murderous Motor: A 931bhp Bmw E30 Turbo | Speedhunters
 
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