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E36 (1991 - 1999)
The E36 chassis 3-Series BMW was a huge hit among driving enthusiasts from the first moment the car hit the pavement. The E36 won numerous awards over the years it was produced and is still a favorite of many BMW enthusiasts to this day! -- View the E36 Wiki

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Old 09-14-2014, 05:54 PM
TheDonVon TheDonVon is online now
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Location: Melbourne FL
Join Date: Sep 2014
Posts: 5
Mein Auto: 1998 323is
Talking New BMW Owner - 323is Project

Hello everyone!

Just wanted to say hello and introduce myself. My name is Eric and I just purchased my first BMW. It is a 1998 323is. I bought it as a project car, and right now the car is in pieces. I have a lot of work cut our for me putting this thing back together and getting it running strong! I think I will probably be spending as much time in the forums doing my research and getting information from the experts as I will in the garage wrenching my project!!! I bought this car to have some fun getting my hands dirty ripping apart engines/trans/car etc. My goal is to have some fun and turn this thing into a weekend monster that I can have some fun with at the drift or autocross track. No serious competition racing just a fun to drive sports car!

So what did I buy you ask? Great question! My project is a dark blue 1998 323is. The guy I bought it from had pulled the motor due to bad compression in 2 cylinders, and was going to do a swap. I bought the roller, along with both engines. The engine with bad compression is an m50 2.5L, and the new motor he bought for a swap is an m52 2.8L. He told me the m52 has 30K miles on it and was bought from Alpine Motorsports (I have no idea who alpine motorsports is, but he said it was a popular BMW parts dealer). The m52 motor has m54 heads on it, and is dual vanos. It also has the harness with it so it will hopefully be a straight forward swap. It has a 5 speed trans, i believe it is the original from the car. Also the car looks like it has an m3 interior in it. The seats all have the M stripes.

So what is my plan going forward? Another great question! So right now I have a rolling chassis in my garage along with 2 complete engines! Step number one is to find the markings on the engines to determine in detail what I have in my possession. I know the basics of the engines, but I am sure it is not as simple as m50 2.5L and m52 2.8L with m54 heads. I am sure there is more to it than that! Once I figure out what I have then I will need to decide what motor I am going to put back into the car. Most likely i will put the good m52 2.8L motor back in the car, unless there is a reason to run an m50 2.5L????

I am a newbie to BMW, so any input, advice, suggestions, etc are really appreciated. What do I need to know about the m50 vs the m52 engine? Do I want the single vanos on the m50 or the dual vanos on the m52? Transmission - how do i determine what trans i have? Which ones are good? Are there any good recommended transmission rebuild kits out there i should look into? Help me out experts, point me in the right direction of things I should investigate first and things I should learn first!

Thanks for reading! I will get some pictures up soon! I hope to get to know all of you real soon, learn a bunch from all of you, and last but not least i hope to bring another great BMW into these forums!

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Old 09-15-2014, 06:15 PM
TheDonVon TheDonVon is online now
Registered User
Location: Melbourne FL
Join Date: Sep 2014
Posts: 5
Mein Auto: 1998 323is
I guess without any pictures nobody will respond. Well here are some pictures of what I am starting with.

M52 E39 Motor which will be used.

Blown Stock Motor (Not sure which it is only tag on it is the VIN tag)

Transmission stamp. I am guessing this is the stock Trans?

Any advice for a new owner? Come on guys, how about a warm welcome here for a new member with an awesome project lined up!

Last edited by TheDonVon; 09-15-2014 at 06:26 PM.
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Old 09-15-2014, 07:01 PM
hornhospital's Avatar
hornhospital hornhospital is offline
D'oh, You kids!
Location: In the Grumpy Chair
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 14,340
Mein Auto: 1995 318is / 1993 325is
Welcome to Bimmerfest!

The Getrag is the stock 323 5-speed. The 328s and M3s got the ZF 5-speed. The Getrag is fine unless you get crazy with the horsepower.

I don't think you can put an M54 head on an M52 block....could be wrong.
Quotes to live by:
guessing gets expensive...drivinfaster
nothing is more expensive than a cheap BMW...c4harpe13

Ken Kanne, Silverhill, AL, E36 Forum Mod/Craigslist addict/Hoarder of all sorts of stuff
BMW-CCA #441426
1995 318is "Bebe"; 1993 325is "Elvira" 1985 635CSi "Katja" 1984 633CSi "Sylvia"

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Old 09-16-2014, 03:59 AM
TheDonVon TheDonVon is online now
Registered User
Location: Melbourne FL
Join Date: Sep 2014
Posts: 5
Mein Auto: 1998 323is

I do not know for sure about the m52 with m54 heads, that's just what the PO told me. I need to get that engine on a stand and cleaned up, then hopefully I will be able to find something to identify exactly what I have!

Any idea of how much horsepower the Getrag can handle? For the near future I am sure i will be fine because I will be N/A, but in the future I will probably get the itch for some boost

Another trans question, what is their service life? The car has 180K, and i believe this is the original trans. I'm thinking it may be time for a rebuild; Are their any reputable rebuild kits on the market?
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