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Thread: Mixed E36 Build

  1. #1
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    Mixed E36 Build

    I'm starting this thread to document my build on my recently purchased E36 M3/4/5.

    This is a 1997 ASM M3 I purchased back in November that had 114k original miles on it. With the way this car is optioned, I felt it had the spirit to be turned into a street/track toy. I thought I would oblige. This car came with LTW wheels and optioned without a sunroof, cruise control, and heated seats.

    I have been racing for the last 7 years or so. I started off auto crossing and then moved into track with a SM. After not racing for a couple years, I dove in pretty hard last year with autocross and had a blast. It re-ignited my passion and I am finally in a position I can build a car.
    https://imgur.com/dbWoICT

    I have always wanted to do an LS swap and have been researching the idea of putting one in an NB Miata. I ultimately decided to go to a platform that was intended to handle the power and stresses of racing. This led to me choosing the E36 platform.

    IMG_1446-6-1.jpg

    The car arrived a day after Thanksgiving and I drove it while I waited for some parts to be delivered.

    I started on the suspension with Bilstein PSS9 coilovers with Vorshlag camber plates, spherical shock mounts, and recommended stiffer springs. I already had rear reinforcement supports.

    IMG_20180103_190640.jpg

    Installed:
    IMG_20180210_214838_062.jpg

    During the suspension installation, I installed Corbeau RRB seats for the driver and passenger.

    Next step was to pull the engine. This took about 2.5 days. I have spent a lot of time doing clean-up from the leaky oil pan and power steering.

    IMG_20180216_223443.jpg

    Currently, I am acquiring parts and waiting for a few more.
    IMG_20180129_202824 (1).jpg

    Now, to get this power to the ground, I decided I really need to flare the fenders to fit the tires. At first, I didn't want to do this to keep the stock appearance, but I do side more with performance and safety over form.
    Last edited by wbrentr; 03-12-2018 at 10:51 PM.
    1997 E36 M3/4/5
    ASM - Slicktop

  2. #2
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    From above.

    The package that I decided upon was the D-Force LTW5 18x10 in brake dust color. The tires will be Re-71r 285-30.

    IMG_20180206_183212_Bokeh.jpg

    After doing the suspension, this is how it looked prior to small height adjustment and alignment.

    IMG_20180120_164707.jpg

    What's Next?

    Upgrading the cam and valve-train to allow for a free-er flowing engine.

    IMG_20180125_123316.jpg

    Mounting the Hard Motorsports fender flares.

    Installing the engine and working on the smaller items (fans, coolant hose routing).

    This is in preparation of new brake lines arriving. I figured I could make these myself with the relocated ABS module, but I like the professional look that Vorshlag offers.

    In the meantime, I will be practicing my race lines with my helper.
    IMG_20171225_173408.jpg
    Last edited by wbrentr; 03-12-2018 at 10:44 PM.
    1997 E36 M3/4/5
    ASM - Slicktop

  3. #3
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    Silver sedan is my absolute favorite! look forward to this. That's a big freaking cat!


    IG: dimitriantoniou

  4. #4
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    Woah, it is nice to be home after 3 weeks of travel. First week back was pretty crazy at work, but it was nice to finally work on my car a bit today in this wonderful weather. I took some time to check out the two day SCCA autocross event. I am helping out tomorrow but I don't have too much work until I get my cam installed, which will be next weekend.

    I worked on the fender flares and prepping for the cam install. This is the first car build like this for me, so I am learning as I go. Definitely leaning on people who have done it before me. Cutting the rear fenders definitely required a cold beverage before doing that.

    It isn't the 80's and this isn't a hover board, but it is a hover car!

    IMG_20180323_174912.jpg

    This is after a few measurements with the flare on and I marked it. I was conservative with the cut, so I may need to cut a little more when I get my wheels on the car.

    IMG_20180323_182556.jpg

    After cutting the rear, I was instantly reminded of a Step Brothers quote.

    Sooo much more room for activities (traction)!

    IMG_20180324_215632.jpg


    I did a bit of hammering to increase my clearance. I was flying blind right here without a wheel to install to get exact spacing. I should have my wheels mounted this coming week, so that will definitely help out.

    Simple Green is my friend and should also be yours. I should contact them about a sponsorship for how much I have used on this project between cleaning up the old engine with the oil leak and power steering leak and the new engine. Anyways, here is a picture mid clean. I pulled off some of the assembly but will wait to pull the crank bolt and balancer off when I do the

    IMG_20180324_215700.jpg

    After next weekend, this build should really get moving with installation of the engine and figuring out the cooling system. My plan is to eventually have A/C, but that probably won't happen until later in the year.
    1997 E36 M3/4/5
    ASM - Slicktop

  5. #5
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    Oh, I forgot my cat tax.

    This is Cecil (11 months now) playing some Forza 7. He has lost some weight since this picture.

    IMG_20180126_191525 (2).jpg
    1997 E36 M3/4/5
    ASM - Slicktop

  6. #6
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    This week has been productive on the build.

    Earlier in the week is when I finished up the cutting/welding for the flares. All I have left is to install them.

    A few tricks, you need to weld the fenders after you make enough space for your wheels. This area can and will flex causing deformities later if you do not. They may not show up until years later.

    Vorshlag has a good procedure on this:
    https://vorshlag.smugmug.com/Project...328i/i-RJZnrQj

    I am not the best welder, but you don't have to be when you cover up the welds with seam sealer! This it to keep out any water and to provide a layer of protection against corrosion.

    IMG_20180328_210550.jpg


    I decided to go with an LS1 out of an 2002 Firebird. This was in my budget and while I had the motor out, I purchased a TSP cam kit which includes: cam, lifters, springs, pushrods, etc. I figured it was worth it to do this work while the engine was out of the car. Around $800 later, it all arrived and I scheduled a tear down day with some buds. This occurred yesterday (3/30).

    What a blessing in disguise spending a little extra money and pulling the heads to do the lifters. I wasn't sure I was even going to do the lifters, but upgraded to ls7 and having my rpms raised seemed like a good idea. While tearing the top end apart, the below images were what we saw when we pulled the heads.


    IMG_20180330_111834.jpgIMG_20180330_111836.jpg

    I knew this motor was junk to me after about 10 minutes of investigation. The next thing was to figure out what exactly happened.

    It took a few hours and one pizza later, to diagnose. When I purchased the engine, the shop told me they put a new intake gasket on, which I found was strange. But they cleaned up the motor and I just assumed that included pulling the intake manifold. After discovering what was in the cylinders, made me think they replaced the intake manifold as well. The car was wrecked and the i/m was damage and pieces were sucked down in the engine before it was shut off. These were decent sized pieces, up to an 1" x 0.5". We believe right after the wreck, an i/m piece was stuck in the intake valve which allowed the piston to hit the valve in cylinder 4. There was some corrosion in cylinder 2 as well.

    This engine was junk to me at this point. I didn't see the extra work to make it correct being a smart investment. Luckily, the place I purchased the assembly from provided me a warranty. I call them up Friday afternoon and sent them pictures. The owner was out-of-town and told me to call Saturday morning (today). We came to a deal for them to take back this engine, in pieces, and I upgraded to an LS3.

    It was a fair deal on both sides. If I ran the engine after install, it would have been more costly to repair than a hone and some parts. I am picking up the engine early next week and will be able to start the bolting up of the transmission for clearances in the transmission tunnel and shifter location. I have a brand new T-56 Magnum sitting in my garage waiting to mate up.

    This upgrade to an LS3 does require some modifications to my plans. I have already purchased my wiring harness from wiringspecialties.com, but I need to extensions to make it work. I need to research the acc. assembly to see which changes are required. But, these added changes and small headaches are worth it (to me) to get an engine with 35k miles on it and not 110k miles. Live and Learn.
    1997 E36 M3/4/5
    ASM - Slicktop

  7. #7
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    modernbeat is offline Senior Member Supporting Vendor
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    Flares are always a good choice!
    Jason McDaniel at Vorshlag

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by modernbeat View Post
    Flares are always a good choice!
    When you are expecting somewhere close to 425 at the wheels, yes! I really appreciate all your help, Jason. I can't wait until my brakes and brake lines arrive!

    Speaking of flares. The reason for needing them is, I'm running 285/30-18 wheels.

    IMG_20180403_220512.jpgIMG_20180403_220520.jpg

    Note: Only have 3 wheels, I'm letting a friend borrow one to test fit one his e36 race car. Going from a staggered 225/17 and 245/17 to these will be night and day.

    Today, I dropped my torn down LS1 at the local salvage yard. If you are in the Oklahoma area, let me know and I will recommend them. They are genuine people and very easy to work with. They accepted the damaged LS1 without question. They really took care of me as a customer.

    I picked up the 35k miles LS3 and waiting for the tuner to knock off all the security & emissions stuff. This was from a roll-over, so I do have some minor cleanup to do on the engine. There is some oil in the top end that I need to remove. The plan is to remove spark plugs and intake manifold and manually remove all the oil. Startup will be a little smokey.

    IMG_20180403_220533.jpg

    I do have a few things to figure out. I have minimally researched the requirements to install the LS3 pedal. I'm unsure how to deal with the fuel pressure, if anyone can guide me, that would be great. Do you have the pcm control the pressure? Or do you manually do it via the FPR?
    1997 E36 M3/4/5
    ASM - Slicktop

  9. #9
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    This week hasn't provided me much time to work on the car, but I have been doing some research on the LS3 that was recently required.

    I had already ordered everything required for the cam swap from TSP. Well, that stuff doesn't work with the LS3. I'm going to exchange my current items for a new cam and springs. Might as well and gets the most of my money back. I had originally planned for about 375-400 whp, but with the LS3 and cam I will be closer to 500 whp. Quite a jump and a little scared.

    This engine was from a 2014 SS with 35k miles. It was a rollover, which required a little cleanup prior to installing (draining some oil).

    IMG_20180406_202935_Bokeh.jpgIMG_20180406_204434_Bokeh.jpg

    I cleaned up the valve covers and I am thinking about powder coating. Thinking about black, anthracite, or something crazy like Estoril Blue or Orange. What are your guy's thoughts?

    I'm still trying to figure out if my accessory kit will fit without hitting the radiator/condenser or other parts. This kit is farther out than the f-body accessories I was originally going to run.

    Does anyone have any information on this?

    IMG_20180407_193407.jpg
    1997 E36 M3/4/5
    ASM - Slicktop

  10. #10
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    PSA: Don't use loctite on set screws/bolts. It isn't fun for the next person!

    IMG_20180409_211617.jpg
    1997 E36 M3/4/5
    ASM - Slicktop

  11. #11
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    It's been a while since an update. I'm not sure if anyone even reads this... Oh well. Quick question, any way to upload more pictures?

    Life has been busy with working on the car and work.

    After reading some on the lower control arms on the rear, I decided it was a good upgrade. The stock arms can fail and if they do, can be catastrophic. I felt it was worth the money. You can definitely tell the difference in quality.
    IMG_0241_03.jpgIMG_0242_01.jpg


    I decided to do a cam install on the LS3 since the motor was out and I had credit with TSP. This setup should yield close to 500 rwhp. Guys... this is kind of scary to me.

    For the cam install, I made my own rods to help prevent the lifters from falling into the cam tunnel. This cost me $5 and about 3 minutes with the grinder.

    IMG_0140_02.jpgIMG_0128.jpgIMG_0126.jpg
    Last edited by wbrentr; 05-15-2018 at 10:58 PM.
    1997 E36 M3/4/5
    ASM - Slicktop

  12. #12
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    Continued from above...

    What a difference in springs. These will help prevent valve float on the higher lift cam.

    IMG_0138_02.jpgIMG_0133.jpg

    Since I will be doing some road racing with this car, I decided on using a baffle to help assist with the sump. I went with the https://www.improvedracing.com/ baffle. I am really happy with the quality. Definitely check out their products. I also purchased the pick-up tube brace. I had a friend whose pickup tube wasn't secured properly resulting in the lockup and destruction of his engine.

    IMG_20180420_123401.jpgIMG_20180420_123351_Bokeh.jpg
    1997 E36 M3/4/5
    ASM - Slicktop

  13. #13
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    Clutch time. I researched this a bit and ultimately decided upon Monster Clutch. I was really pleased with their support and they are semi local to me.

    As this is a street car, I wanted ultimate driveability. This resulted in a twin-disc setup to prevent noise and chatter. http://monsterclutches.com/1998-2002...t-fbody-clutch

    IMG_20180420_175303.jpgIMG_20180501_200358_Bokeh.jpgIMG_20180501_194314.jpg

    It's almost there! The transmission is a new T56 Magnum wide ratio.

    IMG_20180505_155620.jpg
    Last edited by wbrentr; 05-15-2018 at 10:59 PM.
    1997 E36 M3/4/5
    ASM - Slicktop

  14. #14
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    Growing collection of stickers.

    IMG_20180501_203827_Bokeh.jpg

    Engine going in for initial fitment. I know I have to cut where the shifter goes with this tailhousing.

    IMG_20180505_194457_01.jpg

    I made a template... ended up my BMW is scared to get cut. I will be gentle.

    IMG_20180515_203443.jpg
    1997 E36 M3/4/5
    ASM - Slicktop

  15. #15
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    You Sir - have vision, talent and taste... No Fear of this beast - you are in control of your right foot at all times!!!

  16. #16
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    I'm local to you.

    If you need help on the AC for a drivebywire LS3; your welcome to look at my sedan.
    1998 M3 Sedan - LS3 M12T56 - E38 PCM w/ AC and DBW. 420rwhp.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by OKsweetrides View Post
    I'm local to you.

    If you need help on the AC for a drivebywire LS3; your welcome to look at my sedan.
    I'm going with the mechanical tb. I considered doing DBW, but I already had everything to the LS1 swap and it would have ended up costing more to do DBW. I do see the benefits of having it though. I plan on using A/C, but not necessarily at first. I have been reading up on Sanden compressors. I believe this is what you used? Which front assembly did you end up using?
    1997 E36 M3/4/5
    ASM - Slicktop

  18. #18
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    Nice, yes. mechanical is much easier tbh.

    Sanden 508 IIRC. I went with the Eaton E-Z clip for all the lines. Made life super duper easy. Positives for a SD508, that type of compressor is better fit for the type of valve that the E36 uses in it's refrigerant flow valve, you'll get wicked cold AC, and it's easy to make up adapters too (you don't have to use "docs blocks" which are a pain to find, or was). The Sanden is also smaller than the GM compressor, which I got 4 or 5 different types of that came on the LS1; and none of them fit nor allowed lines when my engine was in; and I wasn't about to go exotic swapping heads on a AC compressor.

    I have it underdriven as well, so I'm not in fear of it overrunning, but I got a rpm switch to override.

    Sent you a PM as well for some non-public info if needed.
    1998 M3 Sedan - LS3 M12T56 - E38 PCM w/ AC and DBW. 420rwhp.

  19. #19
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    Wowzer, too much travel and work recently. I have been able to get a few things done, major things really. The engine is in the car, transmission aligned, driveshaft on, rear wheels mounted, and the brakes just arrived.

    I am currently working through the a/c issue. I will be using a Sanden S5H09 compressor, but am unsure of the cylinder head/fittings right now. I should figure that out this week.

    A couple tips if you are using the Vorshlag mounts, you need to follow their instructions to a t. You will need to drop the k-member (sub frame) with everything else being loose. It was a pain in the but until that eureka moment, everything slid in after that.

    Next steps will be the a/c, fuel system, install the wiring, install the accessory drive (using an ls3 from a '14 camaro), and then cooling.

    I am really happy with the way the wheels, tires, and flares turned out. I was a little worried in the beginning.





    One of the easier fitments in the swap.





    Look at these compared to the stock rotors. These 2-pieces rotors are super nice, definitely need to help slow down when I'm on the track.



    It is beautiful!




    This picture shows the shifter alignment. I'm working through a few solutions, but I may just end up taking a drawing to a machine shop and have them build me one. I plan on using my stock BMW shifter knob w/ light.



    And here is some panda tax.
    Last edited by wbrentr; 07-21-2018 at 11:39 PM.
    1997 E36 M3/4/5
    ASM - Slicktop

  20. #20
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    How does this setup look to you guys?

    1997 E36 M3/4/5
    ASM - Slicktop

  21. #21
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    Wow, props on taking on this whole job by yourself, this is a lot of work! Have you done projects this involved before? You seem to be making fast progress. What kind of "extra" work did you have to do to get the motor/trans installed, or did they just kind of drop in smoothly with the new mounts?

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by 95maxrider View Post
    Wow, props on taking on this whole job by yourself, this is a lot of work! Have you done projects this involved before? You seem to be making fast progress. What kind of "extra" work did you have to do to get the motor/trans installed, or did they just kind of drop in smoothly with the new mounts?
    Thanks. When people say, "Just LS swap it, it's easy!" you know they haven't done an LS swap. The amount of small items that need to be considered and done while doing a swap like this is insane.

    I did a motor swap in my Honda back in high school, but that was nearly 12 years ago.

    I had to remove some insulation for room on the firewall with plans to put some heat shield/noise insulation back. But other than that, the engine dropped in relativity smoothly. You do have to drop the k-member and keep everything loose.
    1997 E36 M3/4/5
    ASM - Slicktop

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