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supernaught
10-19-2008, 07:20 PM
Looking at an M38B36 swapped e34 525. Problem is the valve cover says BMW and there is a blank spot where M POWER should be. Is this ok, or is there a way to find a code on the engine that will prove it is a M5 engine/tranny? Looks right otherwise and pulls pretty hard.

Anything on this combo of chassis/drivetrain that I should look for if I'm wanting to buy?

ACS_DAN
10-19-2008, 08:05 PM
Should have ITB's. Oh yeah... and the S38 should look nothing like an M5x/S5x.
http://www.autopower.se/galleri/powerbilar/jannem5/bilder/902/xdsc_0926.jpg

supernaught
10-19-2008, 08:24 PM
can't recall if it had that ///M on the intake, but I know the engine did look like that. I did a quick search before I went to see it and the only thing that stood out was the valve cover. Looked like there was room for M Power to fit, but almost as if it was ground off or never there.

supernaught
10-19-2008, 08:45 PM
also one other thing was the clutch was a BITCH to put down. Supposedly the M5 trans with a perf clutch but the effort did not seem likable. is this adjustable and shouldn't it be easy? and is that a symptom of an issue?

zubbie
10-19-2008, 09:16 PM
You do realize what you are getting into? Don't buy it unless you get a PPI from a reputable indy BMW mechanic. If this S38 needs work you'll hate BMW's for the rest of your life. And based on the fact that you can't identify an S38 from 20 yards I'm guessing you won't be doing the work yourself

supernaught
10-19-2008, 09:28 PM
I will definitely have it checked by a BMW mech., and I am not afraid of doing any work myself. As I see it be able to identify an engine should not reflect any intentions I had on who would perform any service. My clear point is that I was hoping someone could answer these questions before I waste time and money getting it inspected. Does it not appear like I'm trying to do some research before I decide to buy?
Also, are there any engines that look like a S38, that share the same intake etc?

ACS_DAN
10-19-2008, 09:50 PM
I will definitely have it checked by a BMW mech., and I am not afraid of doing any work myself. As I see it be able to identify an engine should not reflect any intentions I had on who would perform any service. My clear point is that I was hoping someone could answer these questions before I waste time and money getting it inspected. Does it not appear like I'm trying to do some research before I decide to buy?
Also, are there any engines that look like a S38, that share the same intake etc?

Lots, Most M motors have individual throttle bodies. S38b35's or b38's, S15, S50's etc.

If this is the car I think it is, I'd wait a little bit. you can grab an e34 m5 for 3 to 4 grand more. Unless insurance is an issue for you =p.

craz azn
10-19-2008, 10:01 PM
So much mis-information already in this thread. LOL.

You do realize what you are getting into? Don't buy it unless you get a PPI from a reputable indy BMW mechanic. If this S38 needs work you'll hate BMW's for the rest of your life. And based on the fact that you can't identify an S38 from 20 yards I'm guessing you won't be doing the work yourself

^ What this guy said. He speaks truth.

supernaught
10-20-2008, 09:58 AM
naw, insurance is not an issue, just looked like not too bad of a deal. Looks to be tight in all the right places. I'm looking for another challenge anyways, and I have a former tech as a coworker. E30s are simple and fun and I want more. Not like it would be a DD and I would depend on only that car.
And forgive me if I don't have any e34 M5s in my neighborhood to compare with, I'm trying to start with what I did notice.
I appreciate the dissuasion on you part to save me the aggravation of buying a problem car, but I'm trying to evaluate the issues that I could see to determine if any further persuit of the car is worthwhile. Aesthetically it is in a condition I can live with. Engine is strong and smooth, transmission shifts well(aside from clutch pressure) suspension is tight, etc. Just looking for constructive advice.
Could the clutch issue be that they didnt swap the master cyl? The m5 Master has a larger bore, right?

And thanks for ALL the help, I don't mean to say that I will ignore anyones input, I'm trying to get my info straight before I put too much effort into it.

Willm5
10-20-2008, 10:01 AM
Trust me, working on and taking care of a S38 is not like any other motor. They require constant up keep and cost quite a bit to fix if something should be wrong. I love my car and i LOVE the S38, its a great motor, but you have to stay on top of it or your gunna hate it. You cant just ride things out or use quick fixes on it like other motors. You take care of it and it takes care of you. Leave something for to long and it'll bite you in ass. Take it from someone who is just having his head rebuilt for around 6k USD.

supernaught
10-20-2008, 10:28 AM
Thanks
I don't mind consant maintenance and I would like to step it up from my M20. And I DO plan on doing a lot of work myself.
And if its such a pain in the ass, why does anyone own one at all? If the +ves outweigh the -ves, I'm willing to try. Again, providing I get a good point to start from.

BigD
10-20-2008, 12:33 PM
An S38 in good shape requires almost no extra cost or effort to maintain than any other normal BMW engine. Valve adjustment is pretty much the only thing, and it's done once a year. You can do it yourself if you get the bucket depressing tool. If wear items are replaced before the end of their service life (like a waterpump after 2-3 years), it's a very reliable and cheap to run engine.

The problem is that the only good S38s left, the ones that have been maintained properly their whole life, are not for sale. You'll likely end up with a neglected pile of shit. That's where this engine gets expensive, where something like an M20 or M30 can limp along for another 200k on oil changes and new spark plugs. If it hasn't had regular oil changes and wasn't treated with the care every engine deserves but rarely gets, the oil pump will die, your chain will skip and you'll need new valves and possibly some pistons. A new exhaust valve is around 300 bucks, there are 12 of them. A new intake valve is around 250, there are 12 of those too. A new piston is around 600 - 6 of those. A good used crank is 1-2k. Another 1-2k for a new HG kit, oil pump and various other crap. Starting to get the picture? Even if you do your own work, it will cost a lot.

Unless it's a an original, unmolested car whose owner you trust to have taken great care of it from the beginning of its life (which ideally wasn't long ago due to a full rebuild by someone who knows these engines), like putting almost no load on the motor until the oil temp gauge reads over 85, WALK AWAY. The cheap price of these cars reflects their state. A car you can trust long term will cost you over 20 grand. For that price you can get a newer used car with better performance (like a 6 spd GTO).

MGYVER
10-20-2008, 01:51 PM
IF you are serious, I have a REAL E34 M5 in great shape:

1991 Black on black
197,000km
HID retrofit (proper E46 projectors and ballasts)
UUC Shortshifter and DSSC
Mark D chip
BMW CD43 headunit with DICE iPod integration
Rust free Southern car, original paint
Front suspension bushings all recently replaced
New OEM catalytic converters, new O2 sensor.
Brand new clutch 2 weeks ago.
Runs well and pulls hard.
Can e-test and certify at cost.
Price would be in the 12-13K range.

supernaught
10-20-2008, 01:56 PM
I'd love to have a real M5 but I don't have the $.
This deal I'm looking at is more in my price range(included is the cost to get on the road and service). If the deal looks too sour or is gone before I'm ready, I'll just dump more $ into my IXs.

bmwm5lover
10-20-2008, 02:42 PM
A lot of good info.
Tough motors, but if they were neglected, you are in a for a hate relationship.

My car has been fairly good so far, I did the waterpump(which was starting to go), a T-stat(as precaution), and a bunch of other Misc items when I first got it, along with a full front susp overhaul. On my agenda next, is a Valve adjustment, and probably main rod bearings, and tensior which was done not too long ago(as a precaution.). My car is a high miler which has received proper care(it seems) for most of its life, and was never abused. I do oil changes with good oil ever 3-4Kkms like clock work.

supernaught
10-20-2008, 02:52 PM
I am tempted to have it inspected. I'll see. If its still for sale when I am back in the area by the end of the week, I'll have it looked at.

zubbie
10-20-2008, 03:33 PM
If you are looking for a good reliable DD with a bit more luxury than an E30 then you can't go wrong with an M50 (91 and up) 525 with a manual transmission. It will not be a powerhouse but will treat you well and, with regular maintenance, cost you very little. There are quite a few non abused lower mileage ones around for $3-4K.

The problem with the car you are looking at is it will always be a frankenbmw. M5 headaches without the resale value. Maybe you will get lucky and find a well maintained motor. If this is the case I would suggest that 95% of the asking price equals the value of the motor.

supernaught
10-20-2008, 04:14 PM
Without any experience I cannot say that the motor is in top shape. It looks and sounds good. Pulls smooth. But then again, I don't know what to listen and feel for. I didn't notice any significant tick or uneven idle.
I appreciate the input zubbie. I have a question tho, do you have more pictures of your wheels? What are they, I can look them up?

Mystikal
10-20-2008, 04:48 PM
I'd love to have a real M5 but I don't have the $.
This deal I'm looking at is more in my price range(included is the cost to get on the road and service). If the deal looks too sour or is gone before I'm ready, I'll just dump more $ into my IXs.

If you can't afford a $12k M5, there is no possible way you can afford to maintain an S38.

supernaught
10-20-2008, 05:22 PM
If you can't afford a $12k M5, there is no possible way you can afford to maintain an S38.

I don't need a $12k M5. Its not that I can't afford a 12k M5 its that I don't want to spend that much.

Plus I found exhaust valves at $60(APW) and intake valves at $60(BavAuto). Clutch master for ~135(elite) and slave for ~57(elite) and timing chain at $105(APW).

What do you see a price being for a decent 89 525 with a good M5 motor and trans(170k) swapped in, everything else stock?

bmwm5lover
10-20-2008, 06:23 PM
A high mileage motor is about 3-4K.
A low mileage motor is about 5-6K. A fresh rebuilt one is about 6+$.
Take it from there.

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/BMW-E34-M5-ENGINE-S38-3-6L-COMPLETE-WITH-TRANS-dinan_W0QQcmdZViewItemQQ_trkparmsZ72Q3a543Q7c39Q3a 1Q7c66Q3a4Q7c65Q3a12Q7c240Q3a1318QQ_trksidZp3286Q2 ec0Q2em14QQhashZitem370098338235QQitemZ37009833823 5

Keep in mind you don't get any of the other "Authentic" M5 bits.
There was a M5 clone on ebay a few months ago for about 6K.
I would pay, if it is in mint shape, about 6K for the car.

NOTORIOUS VR
10-20-2008, 06:53 PM
Without any experience I cannot say that the motor is in top shape. It looks and sounds good. Pulls smooth. But then again, I don't know what to listen and feel for. I didn't notice any significant tick or uneven idle.

Sounds to me like the car sound s pretty solid... If you know someone familiar with BMW's in general from that era (he doesn't have to be an M5 expert, but solid mechanical BMW knowledge) and he thinks it's good to, I don't see much to worry about.

The only thing I would suggest is to ask the current owner what maintenance has been done on the car/drivetrain and for the documents supporting that it has been done (receipts for parts, etc). If he can't give you that, then I'd say plan on doing the important stuff once you've bought the car right away so you have piece of mind.

Other then that, don't let people scare you.

zubbie
10-20-2008, 09:16 PM
Without any experience I cannot say that the motor is in top shape. It looks and sounds good. Pulls smooth. But then again, I don't know what to listen and feel for. I didn't notice any significant tick or uneven idle.
I appreciate the input zubbie. I have a question tho, do you have more pictures of your wheels? What are they, I can look them up?

Wheels are Rondell 58's staggered 17X10 rear, 17X8.5 front.

More pics here
http://forums.bimmerforums.com/forum/showpost.php?p=12100626&postcount=342

supernaught
10-20-2008, 10:31 PM
Thanks zubbie. they looked familiar.

I am going to try to have it inspected when I can get the time this week.

BigD
10-20-2008, 11:25 PM
Plus I found exhaust valves at $60(APW) and intake valves at $60(BavAuto).

Sure, you can also find a Testarossa for 10 grand:
http://nashville.kijiji.com/c-Cars-vehicles-Classic-cars-1986-FIERO-GT-FERRARI-TESTAROSSA-512TR-KIT-W0QQAdIdZ70624712

That kind of approach will fly with a Civic or with a 325 but the reason OEM S motor internals cost a lot of money is not the branding.

TEUTONICFOOL
11-16-2008, 11:30 PM
so, did u buy the car??

supernaught
11-16-2008, 11:39 PM
no, waited too long. But it did have the same Rondells as above but in 18". They made me drool a lot. Full M5 suspension and brakes. Oh well. Bought another IX instead. Happy.