About this Wiki
The E30 Wiki should be used as a tool to help all E30 owners. The greatest feature of the Wiki is that anyone with an account on Bimmerfest has the ability to edit it. If you see something incorrect or notice something missing, simply click on the edit link to the right of any section. Please respect the contributions made by other members.
Early four-cylinder models use the carry-over M10 engine, shared with the E12, E21 and E28. Later four-cylinder models use the M40 engine, which was also used in the E34 and E36. Some later four-cylinder models used the M42 engine, which was also used in the E36. All six-cylinder models use the M20 engine (shared with the E21, E28 and E34) in various configurations. The E30 introduced the M3 model, which uses a bespoke S14 four-cylinder engine.
At launch, the following models were present, all in the coupe body style: 316i (M10), 318i (M10), 320i (M20), 325e (M20 in an economy tune) and 323i (M20).
In 1983, the sedan body style was introduced.
In 1985, the 325i replaced the 323i, and the 324d was introduced.
In 1986, the M3 was introduced.
The Series 2 models were released in September 1987. Changes included:
- M40 engine replaced the M10
- 324td model was introduced
- Touring (wagon) body style was introduced
- 325e model was discontinued
- Various cosmetic and mechanical changes were also made, including redesigned tail-lights (except for the M3 and convertible models).
The 318is model, using the M42 engine, was released in 1989. Also in 1989, North American models changed to the plastic bumpers used by the rest of the world.
Almost every engine known to man has been swapped into an E30 at some stage! However, unlike the impression often given by the internet, engine swapping is not an easy task for beginners. There are many tales of abandoned swaps. Anything is possible, but if you haven't every changed a clutch by yourself, then an engine swap is a steep learning curve. No project is ever without unforeseen complications, even on a swap that has been completed many times by others and is thoroughly documented. If that hasn't scared you off, here are the options...
The simplest option. Obviously, all of the parts will be compatible with the E30, it is just a question of how much needs to be swapped over. The easiest combination would be swapping a M20B27 for a M20B25: just bolt the new engine to your existing transmission, make some modifications to the cooling system, upgrade the wiring harness and use the new DME (PhotoGuy30523 thread). For the sake of safety, brakes and suspension should be upgraded to suit, or at the very least, refreshed. Note that the early E34 525i models used the M20B25, so this is often a good source for donor engines and gearboxes.
Upgrading from four-cylinder to an E30 six-cylinder engine means that the gearbox, driveshaft, differential, DME and instrument cluster from a six-cylinder car will also need to be used (mtfraser100 thread).
Other BMW engines
Wiring modifications are required for all non-E30 engines.
M50, M52, S50, S52
Instead of installing an E30 engine, the next simplest options are the M50, M52, S50 and S52 engines. The E30 six-cylinder gearbox can be used, although custom mounts are needed because the engine sits at a steeper angle. The E30 brake booster gets in the way of the intake manifold, therefore it is necessary to modify the manifold, use a smaller booster or move the booster. On RHD cars, the exhaust headers need modification to clear the steering column. The sump also clashes, and the most common solution is an E34 M20 sump. Also, a custom exhaust is usually required, although there are reports that the E36 exhaust can fit the E30 with minimal modifications.
The swap is mostly the same for M50, M52, S50 and S52 engines, with the main difference being that the later engines have more complicated EWS systems.
M54, S54 and newer BMW six-cylinder engines
Although these engines also bolt up to the E30 six-cylinder gearbox, these newer engines have the added complications of drive-by-wire and more secure EWS. The S54 also has the added issues of the ITBs, the lack of a MAF and the dual sump.
Motors newer than the M54 are likely to at least have additional electronic issues when engine swapping.
Another common swap is the M30 engine. Custom engine mounts are required. Modifications are required to the driveshaft, exhaust (except for the headers) and cooling system (e30zone page).
- FrankM_E30 M60 build thread
- LOW'N'SLOW344 M60 build thread
- Deee M60 build thread
- garagetastic M6x guide
- Jean M62 build thread
Obviously, wiring modifications are required for all non-BMW engines.
The LSx engine series is probably the most common of the non-BMW engines that are swapped into E30s.