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E36 M3 (1995-1999)

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Old 03-31-2019, 05:15 PM
m3me1138 m3me1138 is offline
Don't Panic.
Location: Charlotte, NC
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 36
Mein Auto: 97 M3, 96 M3/LS,17 Tundra
E36 LS (LS6) Swap - So this is happening.

Hey everyone!

It's been 10,000 years since I've been on and posted anything. I still have my Estoril Coupe which is being slowly and painstakingly restored to something reasonably close to OEM spec. It's currently at a body shot (8 months now) shaking off years of northern winters. I should have it back this summer ready to put back together. ANYWAY, that's not why you're here....

You are here because in the absence of my other E36, I had to get another one. A 96 Black/Black M3 Coupe. The stock engine was fiddled with and done right. M50 manifold, UUC Corsa exhaust, some kind of aftermarket headers? NOT GOOD ENOUGH!

I'm swapping in an LS6 out of a 2002 Corvette Z06 with 35,000 miles. This thread will detail my build and hopefully serve as a template/resource for any of you that want to go down this path. Feel free to contact me with questions. God knows I've done the same to many others that came before me. There are many retail (online) establishments where you can buy parts or entire "swap kits" for this, and they all work...reasonably...well. Each has their up sides and down sides. I found that compiling my own parts list was a better fit for me.

The Goal: Yes, this thing will have a screaming 405 horsepower LS6 under the hood, but the objective is to make a kind of touring car. Something I can road trip or daily drive and not pay the price in vibration, idle volume, general driveability. I will be going with a quiet-ish exhaust setup and aiming for as little NVH as possible.

I've uploaded a couple of pictures of the car before I started with this whole nonsense. I'll be posting updates as I go. I have a goal of finishing this thing in just a few months. Let's see if that happens.... Here we go!

This is the car the day I purchased it:

And after I got it home:

At some point in it's life it received a quality carbon fiber hood and then later a NOT quality paint job, including over the carbon fiber. This will be fixed during this project.
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Last edited by m3me1138; 03-31-2019 at 06:23 PM.
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Old 03-31-2019, 06:03 PM
m3me1138 m3me1138 is offline
Don't Panic.
Location: Charlotte, NC
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 36
Mein Auto: 97 M3, 96 M3/LS,17 Tundra
The new engine

As I stated in the last post, I will be swapping in an LS6. I found mine on Ebay and called the place before hitting "buy it now". Be aware, the prices stated online are negotiable, even if they don't provide a "make offer" button. I managed to save about $400.00 from the price listed on the auction. Here is the engine when it arrived and a few of the loading/unloading process.

This was how it arrived. Well packaged and as expected. I had it shipped to a local business because it was free.

This is it being triumphantly loaded on my truck:

And the Unload:

Finally, here it is on the stand. I stripped all of the unnecessary bits like the old wiring harness and engine mounts.

I will be using a wiring harness from Wiring Specialties. They have been EXTREMELY helpful through this process. I don't think there are any alternative options out there for custome wiring harnesses, but nonetheless, I highly recommend them.

Last edited by m3me1138; 03-31-2019 at 06:18 PM.
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Old 03-31-2019, 06:36 PM
m3me1138 m3me1138 is offline
Don't Panic.
Location: Charlotte, NC
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 36
Mein Auto: 97 M3, 96 M3/LS,17 Tundra
The Transmission

The LS line of engines are extremely modular and interchangeable. The transmission from one fits on another, and the heads are also swap-able. Unfortunately, the Corvette has it's transmission located at the rear of the car directly attached to the differential. Even though it is a T56, it is configured in such a way as to be unusable for this swap. I considered buying one and rebuilding it to be used here, but the cost was roughly double that of a low mileage T56 already configured to mate directly to my LS6. I selected a T56 from a 2004 Pontiac GTO with 54,000 miles on it. The gearing is similar to that of the Corvette, but more importantly, it has triple cone syncros and beefed up shifting forks. I recommend this version over the earlier 98-02 f-body T56 for this reason. Here is the transmission I ended up with:

Note: the shifter is an aftermarket MGW unit. Although I have not seen it used in any previous swaps, I believe it will come in handy when fitting the transmission to the car. More on that later.
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Old 05-07-2019, 10:18 PM
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hornhospital hornhospital is offline
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Location: In the Grumpy Chair
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Mein Auto: E24x2,E36x3,E30x2, F150
Subscribed. It's been a month plus.....
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Old 05-11-2019, 05:32 PM
m3me1138 m3me1138 is offline
Don't Panic.
Location: Charlotte, NC
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 36
Mein Auto: 97 M3, 96 M3/LS,17 Tundra
Collecting Parts.....

I was just reminded that people actually read my thread and are waiting for an update! Fair enough! I've got good news and bad news:

The good: I have spent the intervening month collecting parts for the swap that I will detail below

The bad: I have also purchased a 20' enclosed car hauler to pack the entire project and much of my workshop in order to move to Wisconsin. This means that after this post, it will be a little bit before I set up the new workshop and get rolling. It kills me as I've finally collected most of what I need to get this thing going. Anyway, the ipdate:

I've received most of the parts I need to start. I've included a few pictures of the goodies below..

Here is the wiring harness. Wiring Specialties is awesome. Yes, it is possible to just create a wiring harness, but the fit and finish of this and the support they provide is second to none. I certainly couldn't turn out a product this good.

It also came with the PCM. Wiring Specialties has flashed this unit to adapt it to my exact specs (A/C w/GM Compressor, OBD2, etc) Super easy and actually pretty inexpensive.

I decided on a set of "home made" engine mounts from a gent in PA. He also did the mounts for the McCrimmon LS/E36 and was nice enough to make me a set. These mounts are super solid and they use the stock engine mount pads for lower NVH.

As many of you know, the ABS block move is one of the bigger challenges inherent in this swap. I decided to go with a full Chase Bays setup and delete the ABS block altogether. This setup will also delete the brake booster making for a super clean engine bay and more room for the LS6. I pretty much went on a buying spree at Chase Bays. Also pictured is the E36 to LS power steering adapter kit with upgraded power steering cooler, the smaller washer fluid reservoir and the hoses needed to the LS to E36 clutch setup. I ordered the power steering reservoir as well, but they are on a massive back order, so who knows when that will come in. Hopefully it's before the move.

I decided on an LS7 clutch and flywheel. I don't intend to boost this engine or really pull much more then stock HP out of it at any point. I want a smooth daily driver. This kit is a stock GM part including flywheel, pressure plate, and new clutch. It should be good for about 500hp with no issue and still be smooth and easy to drive in stop and go traffic.

Although I am not pulling the engine apart due to it's super low mileage (35k) I will be upgrading all applicable external bolts to ARP. Here are the flywheel and pressure plate bolts as well as a few random bits for the fuel system.

That's where the project is at the moment. As I said, it'll be a bit before I can set up again and make any progress. As you can see, with all this new kit, it should go together relatively quickly when I do get back to it. Stay tuned!

Last edited by m3me1138; 05-11-2019 at 05:38 PM.
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