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Go Back   Bimmerfest - BMW Forums > BMW Model Discussions > 3 Series / 4 Series > E30 (1982 - 1993)

E30 (1982 - 1993)
God's Chariot. The E30 was produced primarily from 1982 through 1991. The cabriolet was the one exception which was produced through 1993.

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Old 08-11-2011, 07:33 PM
HakenTT's Avatar
HakenTT HakenTT is offline
Officially Welcomed to the 'Fest
Location: Arizona
Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 243
Mein Auto: '91 E30
Lightbulb 1991 E30 with S50 and 4L30E auto transmission

How many posts do we see people posting about their E30 project without even starting a project? I do see a lot, then you see the guy barely bought the swap engine two months later. I decided not to do that, and decided to document everything as I go along and then when I am done, I post. Sounds fair enough. And because I am doing something that hasnít been done before, it is better to post a project thread once final results are here.
I am proud to say that I am the first person to do a M50(budget better than S50) with GM 4L30E swap into E30. I searched the internet and I could not find any information about a person that swapped 92-95 E36/E34 automatic 4 speed transmission into E30 chassis, some say that member Jahnaboi did it but I could not find any evidence of that. I did sent him a PM but he never responded so he probably never did this.
Reason why I went with this A/T swap is because A/T is faster in straight line.
In reality automatic can be faster in ľ mile, you can load the power off line and donít worry about missing shifts. 4L30E GM transmission is nice responsive tranny with locking torq converter that came in the heavy SUV Isuzu Rodeo and well as super heavy E34 so I know they will handle light weight E30.
After owning my (march of 1991 production) 325i coupe A/T for 10 years , I can say that there is no car like it, I really like how the car feels, much better than my 2003 330ci. I imagined that with better engine and transmission it would be even more fun, and man I can tell you I was not wrong. M5X/S5X swap is the way to go.

After searching to buy me a M50 engine will little money, Iíve found out that is cheaper to buy the whole donor car than to be buying parts separately. And best M50 donor would be 93-95 E34 because you donít have to then look for oil pan, easier to get E36 mounting arms than E34 oil pan. I managed to find running 1995 525i with auto transmission for $700, it was wrecked in the front then the person try to fix the front end then end up just selling it. 220 000 miles on the odometer, but it does not matter, it all depends how was maintained. And E34 engines will show less abuse than for example M3 engine with 80k miles but redline miles.

Iíve found out later in the progress of the project that E34 is the way to go for donor car. Harness cover sits just perfectly on the E30 firewall. Intake boot bigger angle, better flow. A/T transmission selector sits at same spot as E30 and will bolt right on, and stock E30 shifting cover fits fine.

Removing everything from E34 was easy, just take off the radiator support and engine comes out easy.

Notice the area where A/T selector is and two holes in the front. To remove the A/T electrical harness, whole carpet needs to come out.

After the M50tu engine was taken apart I noticed that is indeed very good engine that did not see any abuse. Head gasket was in very good condition indicating that engine was not overheated.

Cylinder bores were in mint condition despite the very high mileage, again mileage is just for the resale blue book value it doesnít mean much to me. A S50 with 50k miles shows more wear than my 220k mile core engine, lol.

I decided to build a stroker M50 engine and bought M54B30 short block from local BMW salvage yard that they thought is junk motor. I payed a maximum price of $500 in my opinion a rip-off, but what can you do all german car salvage yard people are bunch of arrogant people who overprice all of the parts. I just bought it and they asked my why do I need it, and when I told them that this engine parts can be used in M50 engine to stroke it to 3.0L, the salvage yard guy quickly went to look if he has more.

When I brought the block to my house, I cleaned the block and checked it for warpage and wear, I found out that is a very good block with no damage what so ever. And later that I went to that same salvage yard, the guy asked me what did I do with the block and I told him, I pulled the parts that I need and sold the block for $150, and he was not happy to hear that.

As you can see comparison, M50 crankshaft vs. M54B30 crankshaft, and I was told S52 crank is the same.
I weighted them M50 weights 18.96 kilograms, and M54B30 crank weights 23.50 kilograms.

Comparison of M50tu piston with rod and M54B30 piston with rod. Notice the better design of the M54 piston? Thinner piston rings(less drag more power), top edge of the piston is machined to prevent edge glowing hot edge that causes detonation. Despite the smaller size M54B30 piston with rod is 8 grams heavier, that may be do to denser material.

M54B30 pistons installed into M50tu block. I reused the piston rings, they were fine, no need to waste money. I did ran a cylinder hone up and down trough the M50 block just to clean it up a bit.

I decided to reuse the 220k miles rod and main bearings, they show no major wear and there is no need to spend money on new ones. Besides this is a ďbudget 3.0L strokerĒ

I did however used the old school method of checking for correct clearance , the plastiguage , just be shure. Very easy to use and cheap.

Some of you who are arrogant BMW mechanics are probably thinking that I am an idiot and that stroker engine would have crazy high compression because piston head is flat. But compression will be an actual 10.5:1 ratio, same as S50/S52 and you can run cheap 91 octane safely. How can that be? Because in M54b30 piston will sit 2mm below the deck at top dead center.

From the deck to the bottom dead center of the piston head, is 92.2mm, this would make this stroker configuration an actual 3.1L by atmospheric volume. 92.2mm stroke and 84mm bore would make it slightly over 3050cc by volume. But by the actual stroke it is still 3.0L. In my opinion this is better configuration than S50 engine. You got a strong thick wall M50 iron block with modern design rotating assembly and detonation fighting piston design with thinner piston rings. Noticed how I cleaned the surface of the block with 400 grit sand paper and water, all the way down to factory machining marks, thatís the way to go. If your core block is warped and you need to spend ton of money at the machine shop, then you are doing it wrong. If parts require machining then you got thrash engine that is not worth your project.

A M50tu E34 oil baffle has to be modded for the rods to clear as you can see in the photo, also the circled red needs a slight tap of a hammer to clear rod of piston six.

I cleaned the surface of the head with sandpaper and water, all the way down to original factory machining marks, if your cylinder head needs resurfacing then you are working with thrashed engine, not worth of building for your project. Get a known good running engine. Better yet buy a running car, like I did.

Only a true BMW enthusiast will do his valve job on the kitchen table. All the valves and guides were in perfect condition even the valve seals, I did not have to do this but I did it anyway, it is just fun to do it. Some people do drugs, get drunk, and I do valve stem job replacement on a weekend. The way you can check if valve stem seals are still good just poke one lightly with small flat screwdriver trough side of the valve spring, if its soft and has some give, then it is good, no need to be doing valve jobs.

It is like a new head, ready to go. No money invested.

I donít like paper gaskets, they will just leak at some point. I do like to use Permatex ultra gray silicone, once its dry it is like hard rubber, I never had problems with leaks when I used this silicone. Trick is to use light coats. Some people donít know how to use silicone and just put too much and it clogs oil pickup tube. If you are stupid then use gaskets and waste money.

Notice when all is torq you can see a nice even squeezed beam of silicone, thatís when you know you got it right.

This is a 8/1995 improvement for M5x series single vanos adjusting spring plate, it makes the adjustment tighter and eliminates vanos noise. I went to the same salvage yard to buy this and the arrogant salvage yard guy did not know what I am talking about and argued with me that if BMW wanted it there in earlier models it would have had it. Dealer wants $150 for these parts, but I managed to find them locally for free when I bought me some S52 cams with trays and lifters for $250 that I needed for this project anyway.

No need to waste money on special timing setting tools, I did it without any special tools, it is just a matter of using common sense and understanding how parts work, I am willing to explain how to do it without tools another time.

Reused old gasket, cleaned it, then put some light coat of same silicone, I donít have to worry about this oil filter housing leaking ever.

I decided to refresh my A4S310R(THM-R1), better known as 4L30E automatic transmission with some new internal seals and clutches. For the clutches that required special tools I did not bother to take them apart, I just replaced whatever was easy and left other things alone, anyway I tested the tranny prior from removal and it shifted fine. All old clutches were still good despite high mileage. Rebuilt kit is $150. And I donít have to worry about expensive clutch disc and pressure plates.

Rebuilding the transmission on my kitchen floor. Yeah Vin Diesel style baby.

Time for my E30 to get that old bust still good M20 out. I sold the engine prior to removal. Got $400 out of it and that will help my project budget.

Pulled the M20 out and sold it the same day. Thanks to local BMW forum www.azbmw.org

Brake booster out of the 1982 320i, $20 from local you pull it junk yard, in my case it was easier to cut the rod and then reweld it then to thread it. Green E21 mounts, later I made some aluminum adapters that I put on top to correct the angle and lift the engine few millimeters.
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Old 08-11-2011, 07:33 PM
HakenTT's Avatar
HakenTT HakenTT is offline
Officially Welcomed to the 'Fest
Location: Arizona
Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 243
Mein Auto: '91 E30

Engine with 4L30E will go in just as easy as M20, as long as it is all stripped, longer trans cooler line has to be installed prior to installation. Also the ebay supersprint knockoff headers wonít clear, they have to be installed later. I eliminated the heater system.

I overdid it, but the driver side channel has to be slightly kicked in for the selector cable to clear properly.

Stock E30 cross member will fit fine, sense I used E21 manual tranny mounts, I had to re-drill the transmission holes and cross member holes. You can see it in the picture.

I had to get the drive flange from 1995 318i as well as the whole driveshaft, the front section will have to be shorten to about 5mm, and you canít use the dust cover. This is because E36 318i driveshaft is still one inch too long, and stock E30 driveshaft two inches too long. Anyway driveshaft works great.

This transmission uses different system of control, so two holes will have to be cut out, the same ones that you see in the E34 interior.

Harness and selector cable installed.

E34 selector installed, I machined the rod so that E46 selector knob can be used. As for the wiring, very easy, looking at wiring diagrams, E34 selector has an internal reverse light switch, and has to be wired differently. Maybe I will write up later what goes to where but only about 6 wires need to be configured out.

Trans computer, the black box named Getriebesteuerung sends a ďfaultĒ signal trough pin 29 a gra/brown wire, a negative signal, and I installed a switch and a LED, so that I can see if there is a limp mode fault. These transmissions have very sensitive computer, and they do go into safe mode often. BMW later had less sensitive chip eprom programs made to reduce the fail safe sensitivity. Only way to read the tranny ecu codes is to use Snap-On MT2500 scanner, with BMW cartridge and 20 pin adaptor.

A dual brake light switch has to be installed from E34 or some other model. Just follow wiring diagram on how to wire it to the ECU.

As you can see all finished. I installed LED , A to M indicators, that get grounded by the ECU pin 10 and 31.

I made a transmission oil cooler out of the stock E30 oil cooler, I reversed the metal lines, cut, and then welded on them lines from E34. Cooler is big enough and gets plenty of air. I bought some 12mm bulk oil cooler lines from www.autohausaz.com

I manufactured some support using metal pipe and E30 tranny mount, to prevent engine moving forward in case of engine mount failure. Kind of works the same way as stock E30 with automatic tranny.

Used stock E30 exhaust keeper, reused stock E30 exhaust, into supersprint headers. It will do the job.

I used E34 A/C hose section, cut it, then welded on E30 A/C hoses. I used two cans of real R-12 and A/c blows very cold. Notice the lower radiator hose? Looks like it is made just for the swap. If you buy Gates brand hose part number #21900, you cut in half and you will get a upper and lower hose for your swap that look like its made for the swap application, if you cut the hose at the wrong spot you will have to buy another one. Cost of hose, only $18 and you get upper and lower, canít beat that.

Very cheap and effective high flowing cold air intake. I cut the front section of stock E30 air filter box bracket, then used the rear section plus welded on some E34 P/s reservoir bracket to the section and made a support for the air mass meter, and then drilled the front of K&N filter and manufactured the mount so that the whole filter is secured and does not touch other parts and get worn.
1. Home depot gutter flashing, easy to cut and fold, good enough to steer away hot air from the radiator
2. Home depot two hole pipe strap
3. K&N filter RC-4690 $60
4. Stock E34 air box adapter and velocity stack cut and filter put on.
5. Welded on custom C-shape support bracket for the maf

Both the 413 ecu and tranny ecu sit in the glove box. I used E34 trans ecu mount to bolt it on the E30 stock location, then I used E30 M42 ecu holder bracket for 413 ecu and Zip tied it to the auto ecu. The 3 relays are held but cut stock E34 holder plus cover.

For the ECU use the performance chip for early 1995 M3, gray sticker 506 ecu. Or invest about $100 and burn your own chips. www.moates.net under Ēchip programmingĒ, I already posted the proper files at www.ecuproject.com, free registration required, and instructions how to tune your own Motronic ecu is there under Motronic section. Once you get into it , its not that hard and you will love it.

I know I am providing lots of good information so that people can enjoy their E30 for cheaper, but some members just canít take it and will talk junk and thrash my post. They rather buy an S52 and pay some shop to rip them off and after they spend 5k into their swap they just canít look at someone else who did it for much cheaper.

And the results? All I can say is WOW, I should of done this swap before. Car moves like a V8 muscle car off the line, I know at ľ mile I could have very impressive 60 footers. I have a 2004 330ci and my now swap E30 is much faster. This 4L30E transmission shifts smoothly, and when that kickdown switch gets nailed, tranny shifts to low gear and rear tires brake traction,
Poor manís S50 how to do list:
Get good M50tu equipped car for less than $1000, very doable, sell off the smaller stuff on ebay, and bigger stuff localy. -$500 at least, scrap yard will give you $300 for the engineless car. Sell your M20 engine like I did.
Get an overheated or good M54B30 block, these are not hard to find, they got aluminum blocks that crap out under heat, and shops and salvage yards donít know about the stroker thing so you maybe able to get it for cheap. I payed $500 and sold the bare block for $150 and still got the oil pump and main pulley. Reuse the piston rings they are better then new aftermarket ones.
Get S50 or S50 camshafts, I payed $250 for mine and got trays and lifters with it. You can machine down the M50 trays for S52 cams to fit. Cams run from $200 to $350 used.
Gasket for the head, for M50tu, $120 plus silicone, get the older version front and main seal they have the spring and work better than springless lip new design seals. $20
Buy a ebay chip for 506 ecu, they are usually just copies of dinan and will work well $40, or spend $100 in eprom burner and few SST27SF512 chips and burn yourself free programs that I posted on www.ecuproject.com
You can easily build your self a nice S50 equivalent M50 engine for under a $1000 on basis of buy the whole thing and sell the stuff you wonít need. If you are stupid loser then even the best instructions canít help you then just buy a already swapped S52 E30 and enjoy it.
I hope that I provided enough of great information, and I hope you like my post. Thanks. Take care. I will go ahead and enjoy my on a budget S51 swapped e30 now. Guys at AZBMW.org hate me so much.
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Old 08-11-2011, 09:40 PM
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downhiller downhiller is offline
livin large
Location: des moines
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 7,360
Mein Auto: 2012 hypermotard 796
good work, but im the type that gaskets are a one time use thing. just like head bolts. and i always resurface the head. but to each their own
I know a lot about cars. I can look at a car's headlights and tell you exactly which way it's coming
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Old 08-12-2011, 07:52 AM
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fcsteve fcsteve is offline
Location: pennsylvania
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 6,950
Mein Auto: 90' 24v, 89' 325is
hasnt been done before ... because auto transmissions are for little girls

i also love how arrogant you are
if you want to lead the orchestra, you must turn your back on the crowd

build: http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=382667

Last edited by fcsteve; 08-12-2011 at 11:15 AM.
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Old 08-12-2011, 08:20 AM
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kyfdx kyfdx is offline
Who, me?
Location: Kentucky
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 2,511
Mein Auto: 2006 330Ci ZHP
Amazing stuff....

You know... I just get in my car, turn the key, and go... lol
2006 330Ci ZHP Imola Red
2011 X3 Bluewater
1995 M3 Montreal Blue
1987 325iS Bronzit (retired)
2011 Z4 Space Gray (retired)
2008 X3 Sapphire Black (retired)
2005 330Cic Silver-Gray (retired)
2003 325i Sport Steel Blue (retired)
1967 2000CS Delphin Gray (retired)
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Old 08-12-2011, 01:19 PM
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bimmerboy08 bimmerboy08 is offline
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Location: Omaha, NE
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 1,337
Mein Auto: 1988 BMW 325i
I like it, but i think i got called stupid a bunch of times...

The E30 is what all actual driving enthusiasts are after. It's an unpretentious machine, quietly capable of spectacular feats of handling. It's light, simple design is rugged enough to run against $400k rally cars, but on the street it' communicative chassis delights even the most disinterested driver. It really is one of the world's ultimate driving machines
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Old 08-12-2011, 01:28 PM
Pennyw1se Pennyw1se is offline
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Location: Phoenix
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 377
Mein Auto: 1988 325e
Get used to it. This guy either gets kicked off of BMW forums or gets hated on because of his crappy "I know more than you ever will" attitude.
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Old 08-12-2011, 04:29 PM
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eieio4tn eieio4tn is offline
Location: bimmerhaven
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 663
Mein Auto: 1987 325is
tis nice...but gaskets are cheap, and a head shave is a must. i do appreciate the research that was done on this project. well done you smarta$$ somebeach. hope it lasts forever...
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Old 08-12-2011, 04:51 PM
01325 01325 is offline
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Location: Arizona
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 65
Mein Auto: 330i

Great job.

Absolutely wonderful.
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Old 08-13-2011, 03:54 PM
anstead610 anstead610 is offline
dream chasin'
Location: Bethlehem, PA
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 1,835
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Mein Auto: 24v e30 -88 toyota pickup
Thread has brought the lulz.

What I have learned from this thread:
OP doesn't know how to drive stick
OP thinks he's better than everyone else

This e30 is now being parted out. NO body panels are for sale, bumpers/fenders/hood/mirrors/valance or front turn signals. Everything else is up for grabs. Euro grills/cluster are sold, suspension/brakes/LSD/rear tails are already spoken for.
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Old 08-13-2011, 04:45 PM
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cmybimmer cmybimmer is offline
Location: 'llejo Califo'nya
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 14,381
Mein Auto: A rental
Lots of work there... Good stuff.

"The American Dream only makes sense if you're sleeping" - Lowkey
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Old 09-04-2011, 06:54 AM
billk2002 billk2002 is offline
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Location: cincinnati, ohio
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 1
Mein Auto: 1989 e30
Nice write up, great photos. I prefer a manual transmission, but if you live in an area where traffic is a bear a four speed automatic is not a bad choice. The power to weight ratio has got to great.

Last edited by billk2002; 09-04-2011 at 06:55 AM.
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Old 09-16-2011, 11:12 PM
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ForcedFirebird ForcedFirebird is offline
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Location: Coral Springs
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 814
Mein Auto: 1986 327is
So let me get this right. You put an m50 with a b30 crank in your e30 behind a slush-box and called it an s50?

What was it you said to me on another forum? Something like "you're awesome"?

Last edited by ForcedFirebird; 09-16-2011 at 11:26 PM.
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Old 05-30-2014, 09:10 AM
maneshorin maneshorin is offline
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Location: mass
Join Date: May 2014
Posts: 1
Mein Auto: Turbo e30 ix
Very good read.. ill be looking to do an auto swap to my vert with hopes of installing an m52 from my 98 328i winter package. I need a few good details from you of you wouldnt mind helping out a fellow chap. Please contact me at maneshorin@gmail.com
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Old 05-30-2014, 11:12 AM
astroboy424 astroboy424 is offline
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Location: campbell, Ca
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 211
Mein Auto: e30 325i
Nicely done sir, but I wouldn't be surprised if you have an oil leak or knocking starts to occur . Machining is a very important process. I understand you had a "good" head but it's still a must. Maintenance is mandatory.

But I'm a 21 yr old kid in a community college and want a cheap stroker like this.. so I respect it.

smokin, chokin, drinking, applauding, getting money.
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Old 05-31-2014, 01:45 AM
E30nadler E30nadler is offline
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Location: Greensboro, North Carolina
Join Date: May 2014
Posts: 10
Mein Auto: 1987 325is, 1998 318i
Pretty cool build, I can tell you have a lot of time in that car and it shows. I love seeing people do different things and engineering builds like this. Anyone who completes a project gets my respect but this is another level. But, I do have to say you come off a little harsh, I guess dealing with bad forum people for a long time can do that to you though.
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Old 05-31-2014, 01:57 PM
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HakenTT HakenTT is offline
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Location: Arizona
Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 243
Mein Auto: '91 E30
I sold this car two years ago to a guy who said he will do 5 speed manual conversion to it. Then I just saw him the other day and he still has the 4L30e auto in it, and I asked him "you said you will convert to manual" and he said "this thing is cool I love driving it auto".
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