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Thread: E46 5.3 LS swap with 4L60E auto transmission

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    Hamilton Ohio
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    41
    My Cars
    1999 BMW 540it

    E46 5.3 LS swap with 4L60E auto transmission

    Hi guys,
    I am currently getting things together for a LS swap into a 2003 E46 coupe.
    The majority of people douing this swap use the T56 6 speed and there seems to bee a good bit of information about this swap. What I am looking for is more information and ideas on using the 4L60E auto transmission.

    Is there anyone out there that makes a kit for the swap using the auto trans? Specifically the headers, seems the CX Racing headers will not work due to the transmission pan on the auto.

    What parts of the CX racing kit will work? I assume engine mounts will, and I would like to use the Holley oil pan.

    Can anyone link me to others that have done the same swap (non turbo)?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Location
    Arizona
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    343
    My Cars
    1998 328I
    are you planning on modding it at all? would highly recommend the 4L80E over the 60...


    Can't help with the CX stuff in e46 though but i'm sure others can

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    Hamilton Ohio
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    41
    My Cars
    1999 BMW 540it
    Quote Originally Posted by RulyLSX View Post
    are you planning on modding it at all? would highly recommend the 4L80E over the 60...


    Can't help with the CX stuff in e46 though but i'm sure others can
    Well, it will probably be a long term project that will evolve over time. My engine is about 400HP at the crank so obviously I need to support that. I was going to get an upgraded 4L60E with the stronger sun shell and whatever the other standard upgrades are. My concern with the 4L80E is physical size, its already going to be a challenge using the bigger auto trans and I would like to keep tunnel modifications to a minimum.

    - - - Updated - - -

    If I go crazy down the road (years from now) and go turbo I will have to pull the engine for upgrades, so I could upgrade to the 4L80E at that time.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
    Location
    Star City, AR, USA
    Posts
    5
    My Cars
    2000 BMW 328i Sedan
    Make any progress on this yet? I'm doing pretty much an identical build.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    Hamilton Ohio
    Posts
    41
    My Cars
    1999 BMW 540it
    Quote Originally Posted by kaharvey88 View Post
    Make any progress on this yet? I'm doing pretty much an identical build.
    Slowly but surely. My dad has been visiting from Australia for the last couple of weeks so I put my project on hold. We did recover the headliner and pillars while he was here but I put the heavy lifting on hold.

    I have made some tunnel modifications and the trans is really close to fitting. I need to swap out the shift shaft in the 4L60E for a short one from a 700R4 and do a bit more beating on the tunnel.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
    Location
    Star City, AR, USA
    Posts
    5
    My Cars
    2000 BMW 328i Sedan

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    Hamilton Ohio
    Posts
    41
    My Cars
    1999 BMW 540it
    20190817_171951.jpg
    Quote Originally Posted by kaharvey88 View Post
    Thanks for that, always great to see what others have done.

    I now have the engine and transmission in the car. I was able to fabricate a simple 3/16" plate to adapt the transmission mount to the BMW transmission crossmember. The TDR engine mounts work perfectly with plenty of clearance for steering shaft, bellhousing and pan. Yesterday I got an ICT Billet, AC compressor bracket, to run the BMW compressor off the LS crank pully.

    Next is to see how the cheap Ebay headers fit. I think I will run the drivers side backwards (so as to not have to work around the steering shaft) then down under and back down the passengers side. I may have to buy a second pair for that but at $85 a pair its a lot cheaper than anything else I can come up with. If it all goes pear shaped, I will resort to the $600 CSX swap headers and modify the flange around the trans pan.

    Project is coming along nicely now, the weather has cooled off and I have a pretty good plan moving forward. Only 85% to go.

    20190817_171843.jpg20190824_160839.jpg

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
    Location
    Star City, AR, USA
    Posts
    5
    My Cars
    2000 BMW 328i Sedan
    Looking good! Thanks for that bit of info on the trans mount. I'll likely do the same.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    Hamilton Ohio
    Posts
    41
    My Cars
    1999 BMW 540it
    The project is moving along slowly.
    I have fabricated an exhaust using 2 sets of SS ebay headers, using a passenger side header turned backwards on the drivers side so as not to interfere with the stering shaft. The drivers side then loops back, runs under the AC compressor and joins in to the stock BMW muffler for now. Passenger side header needed the flange moved but then runs normally back to the BMW muffler and then out the existing BMW exhaust. I may look at reworking this later if it turns out to be too restrictive. I wrapped the headers and pipes in Lava wrap and used heat shielding wherever I thought necessary to reflect some heat.
    I had a single piece driveshaft made using a BMW CV joint at the end that bolts to the 330 diff.
    I used Thaniel's Arduino module to control the BMW gauges, and mounted a VDO oil pressure gauge, fuel pressure gauge and voltmeter, where the ashtray used to be.
    I installed a Lokar shifter and wired the neutral safety switch to enable the circuit and illuminate the START button when the shifter is in PARK or NEUTRAL.
    I used the empty compartment on the passengers side of the engine bay, at the firewall to mount the GM PCM and my relays and fuses for all things GM related.
    just a few more wires to hook up then onto the cooling system.
    20191020_142805.jpg20191020_142837.jpg20191025_125241.jpg20191217_072410.jpg20191217_072427.jpg

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    Hamilton Ohio
    Posts
    41
    My Cars
    1999 BMW 540it
    20191012_174212.jpg20191118_071958.jpggauges in ashtray.jpg20191020_142917.jpg20191020_142817.jpg

    The picture of the gauges is not my car, but it exactly what I have copied, minus the black knob.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2020
    Location
    Nashville
    Posts
    1
    My Cars
    335xi
    How much does a hot rod build like this average?

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    Hamilton Ohio
    Posts
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    My Cars
    1999 BMW 540it
    Quote Originally Posted by Tliggin View Post
    How much does a hot rod build like this average?
    Way too much, just ask my GF.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    Hamilton Ohio
    Posts
    41
    My Cars
    1999 BMW 540it

    Project Sour Kraut continues.

    20200129_195605.jpg20200129_195703.jpg20200129_195713.jpg20200129_195649.jpg20200129_195617.jpg
    Project Sour Kraut is almost ready to run and would actually fire up in about five minutes, but I am waiting till spring to do that.


    Electrical is done with relays and fuses mounted in an opening by the firewall.

    Fuel system is plumbed and pressure checked, holds a perfect 50 PSI.

    Power steering is connected and using a Corvette pump to power the BMW steering rack.

    Cooling system is plumbed. I am using a pair of 90 degree silicone hoses at the bottom connected with a barbed coupler and coming off the stock BMW radiator using the BMW hose connector. At the top I am using a part from CX Racing that adapts the top fitting on the BMW rad to the GM water pump. Heater hoses run through the BMW heater valve to the heater core then back out through a T to the bottom of the surge tank, then on the other side of the engine bay I mounted a vented overflow tank. This should allow the system to purge any air into the surge tank then the system should stay full thanks to the pressure cap and overflow tank.

    By chance I was able to adapt the electric Camaro cooling fans that I already had to work with the BMW radiator, the BMW originally had a mechanical fan which is now gone. These are wired through a series of three relays that give me high and low speeds based on pre set temperatures in the engine computer (PCM).

    Air Conditioning is one hose and a charge away from being done. I have one hose from the condenser to the compressor that is 3 inches too short. I am using the complete BMW AC system mounted to the GM engine using a special bracket from ICT Billet.

    I have mounted three VDO gauges where the ash tray was, oil pressure, fuel pressure and voltage. They match the BMW gauge font nicely (picture to come of this) also mounted a small amber LED that lights when the shifter is in reverse. I used a red lighted START push button that lights in PARK and NEUTRAL and only energizes the starter relay in those positions.

    Next thing is a Lokar accelerator cable and bracket. Followed by hooking up the BMW electrical to the headlights and such.

    Yesterday I ordered a front end kit with new control arms, bushings, and end links. After that’s all on I will need new brake pads and rotors all round and two new calipers up front. I already have some SS brake hoses ready to go on.

    Finally fill the coolant, Power Steering fluid and prime the oil and its done…….until I figure out what I want to do with the rear end and suspension.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
    Location
    Milwaukee, WI
    Posts
    242
    My Cars
    '99 LS-swapped 323i vert
    Wow, great progress. The goal is in sight!
    Diving in at the shallow end!

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    Hamilton Ohio
    Posts
    41
    My Cars
    1999 BMW 540it
    Got my transmission cooler buttoned up this weekend, also couple of pics of my VDO gauges. Both pressure gauges say Oil Pressure, but one is connected to the fuel rail and will display fuel pressure.

    20200202_143148.jpg20200202_144144.jpg20200202_143349.jpg20200202_143356.jpg

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Feb 2020
    Location
    Richmond Ky
    Posts
    2
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    E46 and e39
    i assume your using a corvette or camero crank pulley
    I'm getting ready to start this my self just purchased a 330i last week with a bad engine
    would be killer if you had a parts list or part numbers for the brackets, mounts oil cooler, stuff like that if you didnt mind sharing

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    Hamilton Ohio
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    My Cars
    1999 BMW 540it
    Quote Originally Posted by Witzel View Post
    i assume your using a corvette or camero crank pulley
    I'm getting ready to start this my self just purchased a 330i last week with a bad engine
    would be killer if you had a parts list or part numbers for the brackets, mounts oil cooler, stuff like that if you didnt mind sharing
    While I did keep a spread sheet of everything I spent, I didn't keep detail like part numbers.
    PM me your email and I will send you the spreadsheets I have, they may be of some use.
    Feel free to contact me as you progress through your build and I will be happy to share with you what I did.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    hercules, ca, usa
    Posts
    257
    My Cars
    1999 BMW M3
    How do you like the tdr mounts? I would like to use them with my e46m ls swap project as well. Can you post more pics of your fitment on driver and passenger side header section to get and idea of the space? Thanks
    Last edited by m3tracklover; 02-26-2020 at 06:31 PM.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
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    Hamilton Ohio
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    1999 BMW 540it
    Quote Originally Posted by m3tracklover View Post
    How do you like the tdr mounts? I would like to use them with my e46m ls swap project as well. Can you post more pics of your fitment on driver and passenger side header section to get and idea of the space? Thanks
    They are beautifly made pieces but I can't speak to how well they absorb engine vibrations as I am not driving the car yet.
    The biggest concern is making headers work. I wasn't convinced I could use the CX racing headers without modifications so I bought two sets of Ebay headers and used the passengers side on both sides of the engine, turning the drivers side backwards, or exiting forwards, then routed the pipe around the front of the engine and down the pasengers side. there are a few spots where the exhaust is a bit close to the AC compressor and steering rack, but I have gone pretty crazy with heat shields and header wrap so hopefully all will be well.

    When I try to add pics I get a box that says I have exceeded forum quota. If you know how to fix that I can attach some pics.

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