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Anyone who has driven a stock powered E30 knows the feeling. You’ve got the wind in your hair, the tunes cranked and your foot to the floor as you hit the on-ramp to the expressway only to be slightly let down when you are inevitably overtaken by a late model Minivan before you’ve even hit 3rd gear.
After being convinced that nothing is wrong with the engine by confirming this occurrence with many other enthusiasts, you start to ponder solutions, in which case, it is not long at all before you decide on an engine swap.
In this article, we will go over a detailed list of all of the items necessary to swap your oem/E30 power plants for any of the later, more powerful BMW M5X/S5X straight 6 engines.
Though these swaps are all somewhat similar, there are some differences in which case it is important to decide on a few key points before you begin collecting the necessary parts for the job.
This will be largely dependent on your budget, availability as well as desired power output once the job is done. Choices will range from M/S50’s to M/S52’S to M/S54’s. All of these can still be had relatively easily, though you will find the S5x variants to be climbing quite high in price as of late. Keep in mind that these engines were found in many different 5 and 3 series models ranging chronologically from the E34 all the way through the E46 generations.
Next, it’s best to determine whether or not you plan on keeping the oem E30 Getrag 260 gearbox. This is a matter of personal preference and can also be dependent on how much power you plan on running in whichever engine you go with. Typically, it is smart to adapt the later, 24v manual gearboxes to the higher powered builds, though it can be executed either way.
Once these initial steps are taken, it is now time to equip yourself with all of the finest E30 swap parts that Condor Speed Shop has to offer.
Before even diving into the swap specific parts, it is important to address any weak points within the chassis and suspension by replacing any old/worn bushings with Condor’s lifetime warrantied UHMW bushings.
This will include the subframe bushings to help eliminate play between the chassis and body, control arm bushings to solidify steering performance, the differential bushing to eliminate any potential play within the drive line, and the rear trailing arm bushings to correct any harmful weaknesses in the rear suspension.
From here, it’s also a good idea to address any potential reinforcements you may consider adding to higher power builds. This will include the front subframe, sway bars, rear subframe and shock towers.
Once the chassis is solidified, you will then want to be equipped with the correct engine and transmission mounts.
Condor’s Swap Mounts are designed perfectly to accommodate any of the aforementioned engines with ease as they are angled perfectly for the proper geometry and ease of installation.
When paired with a set of UHMW or polyurethane transmission mounts you can be sure that the increased power will be efficiently sent directly through the driveline and onto the street.
It’s also important to note here that you will also want to install their 24v Swap Transmission Brace if you plan on keeping the Getrag 260 transmission. This brace will provide the correct angle at which the transmission must sit to adapt to the updated power plant as well as provide additional reinforcement.
Long gone are the days of spending 6 weeks going through the swap, wire by wire, double backing until you get it right. Thank goodness for that.
For once, this part of the job is actually FUN. These harnesses are made to order and come with easy to follow instructions to make the job a much more tolerable task for shops and DIY’ers alike
With all of the vital hardware items covered, it is time to refine some details. Condor offers everything from control arm bushings for 5 lug swaps to shift rebuild kits and shift knobs to knock out all of those “while you’re down there” tasks.
Finally, why not top it all off with a matching set of drip bands to add a little flare while also protecting your hydraulic reservoirs from sweat and overflow.
The task of swapping the E30 has come a long way in a relatively short time frame thanks to a company like Condor. Not only are their parts optimal for the job, but their product descriptions and website resources truly make it a one stop shop for all things BMW.