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View Full Version : VERY theoretical question: Which is easier... an engine swap or a tranny swap?


TD
01-10-2003, 12:53 PM
Okay, if I were to have a shop do a swap, which would be cheaper and easier, a tranny swap or an engine swap?

In other words, would it make ANY sense to get either a 528iT 5-spd and swap in the 530i's or 540i's engine or get a 540iT and swap in the 540i's 6-spd manual tranny?

I REALLY doubt I'd do either, but since it's really quiet here today and this absurd idea crossed my mind, I thought I'd ask.

Plaz
01-10-2003, 12:56 PM
Originally posted by TD
Okay, if I were to have a shop do a swap, which would be cheaper and easier, a tranny swap or an engine swap?

In other words, would it make ANY sense to get either a 528iT 5-spd and swap in the 530i's or 540i's engine or get a 540iT and swap in the 540i's 6-spd manual tranny?

I REALLY doubt I'd do either, but since it's really quiet here today and this absurd idea crossed my mind, I thought I'd ask.

Could the clutch/tranny that comes with a 528iT handle the torque from a 540 engine? You might have to swap 'em both if you went that route. :dunno:

Alex Baumann
01-10-2003, 12:56 PM
Well, if you want to swap the 540 engine in a 528, you'll probably need the tranny as well. (someone correct me if I'm wrong)

I think, getting the 6-speed tranny in a 540 is cheaper.

DrBimmer
01-10-2003, 12:57 PM
There is alot more to an engine swap than just pulling out one and popping in another. That being said, the same goes for a tranny swap. But, my (somewhat educated) guess would be that the tranny swap would be more economically feasable.

nate
01-10-2003, 12:57 PM
I would think 540iT tranny swap would be easiest...

I think that you should go for the full M5T converstion :bigpimp:

http://bmwm5.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?s=&threadid=19533

CD-55
01-10-2003, 12:58 PM
I expect the transmission would have less interfaces and be a less complex swap than an entire E39 engine would be.:dunno:

The HACK
01-10-2003, 12:58 PM
Actually tranny swaps are not that involved...Especially for a manual transmission. The entire assembly unbolts at the clutch and front of the drive shaft, with a few mounting points supporting the tranny onto the chasis. The whole thing comes off as an entire unit.

Engine swap is a completely different monster. Electronics, intake, exhaust, various cooling systems, lubrication systems...etc would all need to be disconnected/reconnected depending on how complete the engine that you're buying is. That, and on top of that the engine must be lifted UP from the engine compartment and the hood needs to be removed to remove the engine.

TD
01-10-2003, 12:59 PM
Originally posted by nate328Ci
I would think 540iT tranny swap would be easiest...

I think that you should go for the full M5T converstion :bigpimp:

http://bmwm5.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?s=&threadid=19533


Yeah, I'll just take out a second mortgage...

I've seen that before. While damn impressive, it's also insane. And he'd better plan to keep it a LONG TIME as he'll never recoup what he put into it.

pdz
01-10-2003, 01:08 PM
would it not be easier to change the compression and/or the displacement with a stroker motor or a blower on a 528iT?

face it, in this theoretical wandering, you've voided warranties....so, if you had a reputable blower company, i would get the 528iT and charge it up with some forced induction.

i completely agree with you, by the way, a slow wagon has zero appeal in the end.

JST
01-10-2003, 01:12 PM
Lots of differences between the 528 and 540. Springs (for the extra weight up front), transmission, differential, steering (remember, the 540 has recirculating ball, because the engine gets in the way of the rack). The list goes on.

OTOH, there are electronic differences between an auto engine and a manual engine, plus there are differences in the crank (that come from the torque converter). The *easiest* thing to do would probably be to buy a 540iTA, pull the engine and transmission, sell that, and then buy the driveline out of a 540i 6 speed and bolt that in. You'd need other extraneous items out of the 6 speed donor car, too, like interior trim, shifter, linkage, pedal assembly, etc, so a wrecked donor car might be the way to go.

This would require a significant dollar outlay, but it could be done, and it probably wouldn't be that difficult.

EDIT:

Here's an idea: buy an E34 530iT that has compression problems because of the Nikasil liners, but never had the engine replaced under warranty. Can probably get one of those cheap. Then replace the driveline with a newer M62. OTOH, then you wouldn't be able to defray the cost of the new driveline by selling the old one.

Kaz
01-10-2003, 01:13 PM
Swapping one MT for another MT should be easy given physical restrictions (you're not gonna get an Allison 6sp to fit in a 2002).

But on any reasonably modern car the engine and AT computers do a lot of talking so parting them is probably not very practical.

In this E39 example, I think there are some viable options since MT electronics exist for every engine (M52TUB28, M54B25, M54B30, M62TUB44).

You would essentially be taking a Touring shell and stuffing MT sedan guts (more of it than you might think) into it.

pdz
01-10-2003, 01:17 PM
how much is the true cost of a GOOD blower kit then?

seems to be about $4500 and then buy some sort of warranty to cover some stuff for another $1200?

this is assuming 528iT brakes are okay. and the clutch (which i doubt) is robust enough for this.

bluer1
01-10-2003, 01:23 PM
Having personally done both, (on non BMW autos), the tranny
swap is much easier (provided you have a lift).

I've never gone AT->MT though as the big issue isn't the swap,
it's not having a third pedal, (and linkages, and hydraulics, etc.).
It was enough to keep me from going AT->MT with a VW.

TD
01-10-2003, 01:28 PM
Originally posted by bluer1
Having personally done both, (on non BMW autos), the tranny
swap is much easier (provided you have a lift).

I've never gone AT->MT though as the big issue isn't the swap,
it's not having a third pedal, (and linkages, and hydraulics, etc.).
It was enough to keep me from going AT->MT with a VW.

That's actually the part about a AT->MT swap that made me think it might be easier to just swap engines.

We're talking some serious retrofitting.

Why can't BMW (the supposed builder of the Ultimate Driving Machine) make a fast wagon?

Kaz
01-10-2003, 01:30 PM
Originally posted by JST


Here's an idea: buy an E34 530iT that has compression problems because of the Nikasil liners, but never had the engine replaced under warranty. Can probably get one of those cheap. Then replace the driveline with a newer M62. OTOH, then you wouldn't be able to defray the cost of the new driveline by selling the old one.

I would imagine something like this would be MUCH easier to do on a E34 which is on less-integrated late 80s electronics (heck the early ones were 70s-based M20/M30 engines).

pdz
01-10-2003, 01:31 PM
Originally posted by TD
That's actually the part about a AT->MT swap that made me think it might be easier to just swap engines.

We're talking some serious retrofitting.

Why can't BMW (the supposed builder of the Ultimate Driving Machine) make a fast wagon?

they DO make a fast wagon, you dork-a-mongous.

only it's steptronic only. 540iAiT.

in that case, i think i could very much live with an automatic.

TD
01-10-2003, 01:33 PM
Originally posted by pdz
they DO make a fast wagon, you dork-a-mongous.

only it's steptronic only. 540iAiT.

in that case, i think i could very much live with an automatic.

:lmao:

When I drove one at a Komen Ultimate Drive, I found the tranny took all of the joy out of the car. Either that or it had been ragged on mercilessly.

pdz
01-10-2003, 01:38 PM
TD:

i found my time in a dealer 540iT loaner to be scheis-eating grin the entire time. put wood paneling on the side and i would probably keep a car such as that for the duration.

:)

Kaz
01-10-2003, 01:40 PM
Hmm, well, we know E38 MT conversions are possible. I guess its not easy since Koala Motorsports charges "from $8000." :yikes:

Only $1700 for "old models" (presumably E3/9, etc.).

Nick325xiT 5spd
01-10-2003, 01:43 PM
I spent quite a lot of time in a 740i SP, and the slushbox really did take all the fun out of that car. :( I don't see why a 540iTA would be any different.

LMC
01-10-2003, 01:55 PM
Yeah, I think I gotta do the lemming thing here and vote for the 6-speed in a 540iT.

This would be a truly awesome car.

Hey, TD, by the way, do you, uh, have your wife's email handy? Let's get her in on this change-wife's-cabrio-into-our-touring thread...

Kaz
01-10-2003, 02:00 PM
Originally posted by LMC

[...]change-wife's-cabrio-into-our-touring [...]

:lmao: :lmao: :lmao: :lmao: :lmao:

PhilH
01-10-2003, 02:09 PM
Since you're so damn picky, you might as well just pick up a Euro E34 M5 and be done with it.

http://www.robertlevinson.com/M5_Touring/visuals/M5_1.jpg

http://www.robertlevinson.com/M5_Touring/visuals/M5_top.jpg

http://www.robertlevinson.com/M5_Touring/

http://home.attbi.com/~opti/rightview2.jpg

TD
01-10-2003, 02:10 PM
Originally posted by LMC
Yeah, I think I gotta do the lemming thing here and vote for the 6-speed in a 540iT.

This would be a truly awesome car.

Hey, TD, by the way, do you, uh, have your wife's email handy? Let's get her in on this change-wife's-cabrio-into-our-touring thread...


She saw the thread as of the first evening after I originally posted it. She knows. And I showed her the Car and Driver Volvo V70R article last night after I saw it.

I got a "We'll see..."

PhilH
01-10-2003, 02:11 PM
This guy did a V8/6-spd swap with an E34 touring.

http://www.bmwe34.net/ASP/DURegistry/RegDetail.asp?id=100

http://www.bmwe34.net/asp/upload/100.jpg

Plaz
01-10-2003, 02:13 PM
Originally posted by TD
"We'll see..."

"...monkeys fly out of my butt before I drive THAT thing!"

:lmao:

TD
01-10-2003, 02:37 PM
Originally posted by Plaz
"...monkeys fly out of my butt before I drive THAT thing!"

:lmao:

Not nearly that strong. She's not opposed to wagons at all in principle. She'll just debate how long we can continue to get by with just the convertible. Me just being annoyed about Home Depot runs really isn't enough incentive in her mind. But eventually, enough incentive will exist as, should we ever have a second child, she just won't be able to fit both in her convertible. It's already tough for me to be a passenger in her car when our daughter is in her child seat directly behind me. My knees are in the dash. As her legs have been getting longer, it's been getting worse. And I'm not even mentioning how much I enjoy being kicked in the head.

So it'll happen. It's just a question of when. It'll be hard to convince her to do so before this summer is over. But we'd get a lot more for her car in resale if we sold it in the spring. So it might be this year, it might be next. But she knows we'll have to.

I'm not a big convertible fan, so I'd sell it tomorrow and get by on one car until I found the right wagon. But, obviously, THAT isn't going to happen.

DINANISR3
01-10-2003, 02:40 PM
ey TD.. check this out.. http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category=33615&item=1876598882
go for it.. youd be the man if you bought this and actually went through with it.. and guys check the sellers view sellers other items.. race M3 shell anyone? those 2 things would be the perfect car... only if i had the money.. :( :thumbdwn:

JST
01-10-2003, 02:47 PM
Originally posted by PhilH
This guy did a V8/6-spd swap with an E34 touring.

http://www.bmwe34.net/ASP/DURegistry/RegDetail.asp?id=100

http://www.bmwe34.net/asp/upload/100.jpg

Yeah, short of an M5T, a 1995 540iT Sport is exactly what you would want.

PropellerHead
01-10-2003, 02:51 PM
I vote tranny swap into a 540iT. The motor swap wont happen b/c of the steering rack (as mentioned by JST). Pick up a used one from 2000 or so and drop it at Koala.

Or, get a 2001 540iT step, get the paddle shift upgrade, and supercharge it- ~$8000 or so from ESS.. Definately not boring.

Plaz
01-10-2003, 02:57 PM
Originally posted by TD
Not nearly that strong. She's not opposed to wagons at all in principle. She'll just debate how long we can continue to get by with just the convertible. Me just being annoyed about Home Depot runs really isn't enough incentive in her mind. But eventually, enough incentive will exist as, should we ever have a second child, she just won't be able to fit both in her convertible. It's already tough for me to be a passenger in her car when our daughter is in her child seat directly behind me. My knees are in the dash. As her legs have been getting longer, it's been getting worse. And I'm not even mentioning how much I enjoy being kicked in the head.


Understood. It was just too easy of a setup. :D

As an aside, you can't put the child seat in the center? Is that a convertible thing? I was informed that the center is definitely the safest place. Barring the center, the seat behind the driver is supposedly the 2nd best, as drivers instinctively will swerve a vehicle to avoid being hit themselves in the event of an inevitable impact.

TD
01-10-2003, 03:09 PM
Originally posted by Plaz
Understood. It was just too easy of a setup. :D

As an aside, you can't put the child seat in the center? Is that a convertible thing? I was informed that the center is definitely the safest place. Barring the center, the seat behind the driver is supposedly the 2nd best, as drivers instinctively will swerve a vehicle to avoid being hit themselves in the event of an inevitable impact.

The seat is in the center in my car. But the convertibles only have two seats in the rear with a raised cushion between the two seats. You physically can't put it in the center in the convertible.

So it's on the passenger side (easier to make eye contact via the rear view mirror and easier to reach when you need to turn around when stopped).