E36 V8 Swap - NSFP (Not Safe for Purists)
Well the time has come. I am hours away from getting my E36 back. I drove it last night and its running quite well. I'm so excited its killing my productivity at work. Luckily I don't think anyone has noticed, it is Xmas after all; no one is productive this time of year.
I originally contemplated doing this thread from the beginning of the build and updating in piecemeal but I decided that it would be better to post following the initial conclusion of the build. I personally hate having to wait to see how things turn out so I assumed the same of maX.
This thread is in Auto Evolution's section because they are the shop that carried out the swap. I assisted in a purely research role; although there were a few times I did get my hands dirty. Ill save the cudos and accolades to the end but they did a fantastic job, just wait till you see what was fabricated.
I will say I have always been a really big fan of this project since I first saw the Vorshlag alpha car on BFC. I would talk at length to anyone about the benefits of the alu V8 in a E36. Usually I would get back the typical purist response, but more than a few times I would have a good interchange about the idea of the swap. Talking about it enough at the shop, with approximate vocals imitating a Lump LS1 seemed to be enough to convenience Rob to take on the project. Although I am positive that his top tier fabrication and mechanical abilities may have made him more comfortable to say yes to this challenge.
This project began back in August; I know that may seem like a long time ago but its not exactly a very easy swap and the standard LS swap suppliers did not really help the situation.
Once the S52/ZF was sold the project could officially begin. First items on order were the Engine and trans mount. At this point there was no engine at the shop but as the LS motors all have the same mount patterns it was a moot point; besides we expected the mounts to be a few weeks. We knew at the time we ordered the mounts still needed to be fabricated, which was not a big problem with a lead time of only a few weeks, well its funny how two weeks turns to three to four and ultimately longer.
We were told by the vendor that there was an issue with the fabricator moving locations, etc. To be honest I am sure there was a bit of truth to that but poor communication meant I was having to call the Vorshlag every day and that seems like poor customer service in my books. I believe at the time they were in the middle of an E30 V8 swap, so maybe there was some priority there, who knows, all I can do is speculate.
During this void of waiting for the Engine arrived.
Yea it was a bit dirty so I cleaned and painted.
The motor is a LS6 from an 2001 Corvette Z06 (380 HP). This meant it had different springs and cam from the 02-06 Z06 (405 HP) as well as less power. This was not a big deal as the motor was getting a new cam/springs/rods anyways.
Next to show up was some items from New Age Hot Rods. These guys are great and to be honest If I had the cash I would have bought the whole swap kit from them but 1700 for just trans and engine mounts was kinda steep for me. We did however order ABS relocation kit and a custom one piece driveshaft.
I believe the mounts are the standard BMW mounts but you just weld them further towards the front of the car on the frame. The ABS needs to be relocated if it is to be kept, as it interferes with the primaries if it is not.
The drive shaft comes with a 4 bolt BMW flange to mount to 4 bolt input for the BMW diff. On the other end it has a flange appropriate for the T56 6spd trans.
A few other parts also came in.
So at this point we are still waiting for the mounts, we have most of the accessories. We are still missing a transmission. Initially we all thought that sourcing an F-Body Transmission would be a hella easy task, given the amount of cars it is used in. Boy did we get that wrong, after days of searching and calling around we were able to locate one from the US through Standard Auto; albeit at a higher premium than expected. Think ill miss the BMW reverse position. Seriously who puts Rev in the 7th gear spot?
The mounts are still not fabricated, another month later. Rob decided that it was getting crazy and that it would be faster to fabricate the mounts in house. So the LS6 was for the first time placed between the E36 struts in its future home. After a standard mounting plate some cutting and welding the mounts were completed.
As you can see the engine sits quite low in the engine bay and almost completely behind the front axle. Should mean that it will not upset the legendary BMW handling one iota.
The Engine and trans mounts were then cleaned up/painted and ready for when required.
more to come....
NICE!! can't wait until you post some vids of it running!
Following the engine and transmission mounts being painted and being able to mount the motor in the car it was time to start looking at headers. Anyone who has looked into this swap knows that headers are one of the high cost items. This led us into a challenge because after fabricating custom all custom mounts it was unsure if any produced headers would even work. We were told from a source that it would likely not work but would be a good starting point. So we started looking for used LS swap headers, yea like they are super easy to find. Oddly we did find a few sets, so we spent a bit of back and forth time with measurements and seeing if they would work. In the end it turned out the headers were for a Ford 5.0 swap, but while we were communicating with these parties the shop received a few goodies.
The Cam is from Comp Cams and is the Thumpr(275thr), I wanted a bit of exhaust overlap to give it a muscle car sound. LSA is 109 so it has no problem with that. After doing the cam swap some accessories were bolted on and we were ready for headers.
Rob felt that, again, in house design and build was the best way. So Block hugers were purchased and then cut apart. After some time playing with the pieces, much like the Vorshlag kit, we chose to run the steering shaft right through the primaries.
The headers were then cleaned up and painted.
Now that most of the hard stuff was out of the way the driveline could be bolted in for good.
Next came the engine harness, fuel setup, and the rest of the accessories. This allowed us to start the car.
A few points to mention. The fuel system was built using a Corvette Fuel filter rather than the BMW one. The BMW pump moves enough fuel and because the Corvette fuel filter has an pressure regulator built in we were good to go.
The front end was then put back together and the heating system was worked out.
You will notice the BMW power steering fluid reservoir sticks way up from the engine this was only temporary to get the car moving; It did not stay like that.
Add in some head lights and a corner marker or two and here we are bound for the exhaust shop.
The exhaust configuration was up for debate right until the first pieces were welded on. The only decision we made going in was the choice of stainless.
We went 2.5'' from the headers to a 3'' Y pre Cat.
Then a 3'' cat into a MagnaFlow with dual oval tips.
So at this point we have the first startup and drive away.
I was worried it was going to be loud, but my fears were put to rest as it actually sounds quite tame, that is until you hit some higher rpms. Unfortunately I have no video of that to show you at the moment, rest assured that some will be posted soon enough.
I would like to thank everyone that worked on this project, Some from Auto Evolution (Rob, Matt, Andrew, Jenn), some not (EMPOWERD, SimplyCars, suppliers). Honorable mention goes out to Standard Auto wreckers and NAHR(New Age Hot Rods). Without all the support this project would not have been a success. If anyone is looking for any type of swap you can trust Auto Evolution to get it done properly. Rob, his team, and supporting vendors have the knowledge and expertise for any kind of project you can throw at them. Great work guys!
That's about all there is too it. See you guys on the street.
Awesome, can't wait to see it.
Nice write up Dan. Was fortunate enough to get a quick ride in it last night. Pretty crazy! You'll definitely require some serious rubber to hook-up all that torque, the thing was spinning top of 3rd! The gearing seams tall, thought i'd recommend a shorter rear-end, but you'll just loose more traction. Basically, widebody & 285 tires in order! Can't wait till it warms up so we can really put it though it's paces.
That's awesome Dan. We need some WOT videos.
That sound coming from an E36 is simply awesome! With all that torque i would also think hooking would be somewhat of an issue.:D Great job Dan and everyone involved!*th-up*
congrats Dan, that swap looks great. A question though, what mods have been done to the chassis to strengthen it up? rear diff? how much more weight does the engine and tranny add to the car now? finally was there any cam changes or is the engine pretty much stock right now?
From my understanding, the LS6 is all-aluminum and weighs about 75lb LESS than the (iron block) S52. The "V" configuration allows for a lower profile, giving it an slightly lower center of gravity.
Sick one Dan...
Me wants a ride :)
Sick, sick, SICK! Congrats Dan! I wanna go for a ride in this asap! :D
Awesome! Enjoyed the read and can't wait to see it.
very nice swap, looking forward to some motion videos with some nice wot runs.
Thanks guys. There will be rides and vids aplenty soon enough.
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