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Thread: Project Zugzwang - e39 Touring LS Swap Build Thread

  1. #1
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    Project Zugzwang - e39 Touring LS Swap Build Thread

    I've gathered enough swap parts at this point that I think I've reached and exceeded the point of no return - starting a build thread to motivate myself.

    My starting point is a 2002 BMW 525i Touring in Titansilber Metallic with an interior in Standardleder/Grau (light gray). Not a speck of rust or corrosion, original California car transplanted to Tennessee. Car was throwing the "Trans Failsafe" error code and was stuck in fourth/reverse only. Picked it up for $900 and trailered it home. Did some reading on the error code then purchased the $13 OBD to USB cable and downloaded INPA, reset all the error codes and it's been driving fine ever since. Right now I'm in the middle of finishing up the front end suspension rebuild, which may require a new steering rack and I am not looking forward to that.

    Current stockpile of parts (I will update this throughout the project so it's easier to see a running total):
    2005(?) LQ9 6.0L iron block complete with accessories/ECM - disassembled and ready for machine shop - $800
    BC Racing BR touring specific coilovers with Swift springs 12k/14k - $1250
    JF Engine & Trans mounts - $500
    LS6 Intake Manifold (complete) - $200
    BMW Performance Brembo 6-pot front calipers w/rotors/pads/SS lines - $1400
    BMW Sport seats in Standardleder/Grau - $250
    BMW 18" e39 Style 37 forged staggered wheels - $900
    Complete front-end rebuild (Lemforder) - $600ish
    Powerflex subframe mount bushings - $400

    Shopping List:
    e39 M5 differential [EDIT] Wavetrac LSD with a 540i diff/axles
    e39 M5 front/rear bumper (might just go Umnitza)

    IMG_20180807_193032586.jpg

    IMG_20180807_193049113.jpg
    Last edited by 67Riviera; 08-07-2019 at 07:26 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
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    Milwaukee, WI
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    '99 LS-swapped 323i vert
    That sounds delicious. I'd love a swapped Touring. Sounds like you have a lot of good stuff lined up!

    Edited to add: Okay, I just googled Zugzwang, and I think I get your joke!
    Last edited by motorV8ed; 07-18-2019 at 11:13 PM.
    Diving in at the shallow end!

  3. #3
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    2002 BMW 525iT
    Here's the crusty truck engine, pulled running, turns over easily and everything inside looked pretty good to my YouTube trained eyes.

    IMG_20180827_184117401_LL.jpg

    Torn down and ready to go.

    IMG_20190309_154809.jpg

    IMG_20190309_154820.jpg

    Taking the front end apart, the rotors were so done there was a 0.125" + lip front and back, ground the lip off in order to pop the calipers off.

    IMG_20190416_185722.jpg

    Quote Originally Posted by motorV8ed View Post
    That sounds delicious. I'd love a swapped Touring. Sounds like you have a lot of good stuff lined up!

    Edited to add: Okay, I just googled Zugzwang, and I think I get your joke!
    I'm glad someone picked up on that haha!
    Last edited by 67Riviera; 07-19-2019 at 04:26 PM.

  4. #4
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    My Cars
    2002 BMW 525iT
    Engine Goals:

    (1) 450-475whp through a T56 and (2) daily driver street manners and reliability.

    I've been quoted 3000-3500 by a reputable machine shop semi local to me, P&R Engine Rebuilders out of Greensburg, PA. This is of course utilizing the engine I have already purchased, and the 317 heads it came with.

    Here's their reply to my query:

    "This type of LS buid is probably the most common that comes through our shop. A basic, budget forged piston, bolt upgraded gen IV rod and OEM crankshaft w/ appropriate balancing is for certain a safe reliable 500HP shortblock. Actual machining/cleaning/ prep costs for block and rot. assy will run around $1100, parts, ARP rod bolt, clevite racing engine bearings, wiseco street-pro forged piston, figure under $1000. Basic shortblock assembly is $400. As far as tried and true pump gas cam kit and top end kit, we use BTR frequently, around $600.00 for cam/lifter and appropriate valve spring kit. Typical cylinder head rebuild will run $300.00, above listed valve train will be installed. So overall, 11.0:1 assembled shortblock and matched heads, figure $3000.00 will get you what your looking for, reliably."

    Any pointers or thoughts about this proposed combo would be appreciated!
    Last edited by 67Riviera; 07-19-2019 at 04:33 PM.

  5. #5
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    Stuttgart, Germany
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    1997 M3 / 5.3
    I have little experience other than re-ringing and fresh bearings to our 5.3 with a mild cam. Sits at nearly 400 CHP. Seems like you could reassemble what you have and make the power you desire for low bucks doing something similar. Otherwise no different than any full engine rebuild with all the associated costs.

    I really dig a wagon swap. We came close to doing the same, but ended up with a 4 door M3 candidate. Would have enjoyed the utility...Good Luck!

  6. #6
    Join Date
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    95 m3 coupe
    We have the same goals, and my touring is also titansilber. I will be doing a color change after my swap is done though. Funny, I have bc with the 12k/14k in mine as well. I went umnitza for both front and rear match bumpers.

    That machine shop quote looks right on. I started with a lq4. Had it bored to 6.2 and flat tops put in it to raise compression. Rotating assembly was balanced and polished, line honed mains and big ends, they fully assembled the short block with all arp hardware, I supplied the cam, lifters, springs. I ditched the 371s for 243 which the machine shop extensively ported, 5 angle valve job, new seals etc. I paid 2800, plus the cam kit. Mine will run on ms3pr0 evo rather than the gm ecu. I'm running the autokraft pan, trying to figure out a sway bar option now.

    I've been taking pictures, one day I'll start a thread.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
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    Washington
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    BMW 525i
    Looks good keep the pictures coming!
    2002 BMW 525i - 5.3L LS Turbo Swap
    Follow me on Instagram at Lantz_E39
    Link to my build page

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by mentaleeill View Post
    We have the same goals, and my touring is also titansilber. I will be doing a color change after my swap is done though. Funny, I have bc with the 12k/14k in mine as well. I went umnitza for both front and rear match bumpers.

    That machine shop quote looks right on. I started with a lq4. Had it bored to 6.2 and flat tops put in it to raise compression. Rotating assembly was balanced and polished, line honed mains and big ends, they fully assembled the short block with all arp hardware, I supplied the cam, lifters, springs. I ditched the 371s for 243 which the machine shop extensively ported, 5 angle valve job, new seals etc. I paid 2800, plus the cam kit. Mine will run on ms3pr0 evo rather than the gm ecu. I'm running the autokraft pan, trying to figure out a sway bar option now.

    I've been taking pictures, one day I'll start a thread.
    Nice and clean! What headers are you using? Did you drive on the BC coils before tearing into it? I'm hoping they're good, didn't feel like I could justify spending more with my budget. Is there a benefit to going 243 over 317? I thought they were very similar.

    I'm planning on doing the Holley Terminator X, but to be fair I haven't done much in-depth comparison.

    I think Brandon (RVAE34) used an adjustable Nascar style sway bar in order to clear everything.
    Last edited by 67Riviera; 07-23-2019 at 08:37 PM.

  9. #9
    Join Date
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    95 m3 coupe
    I'm running hedman mid lengths. Passenger side went right in, drivers side I had to massage 1 runner and completely remake 1.
    The bcs are awesome for the price, this is the 3rd car I've had them on, the other 2 were e30s. I actually like them more than the kw variants I used to run that cost 3k.
    317s have bigger chambers than the 243s, this produce a lower c.r
    Jesus freak and rva both ran a Schroeder nascar bar. Schroeder sold and I'm having a hard time finding a bar with similar dimensions.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by mentaleeill View Post
    I'm running hedman mid lengths. Passenger side went right in, drivers side I had to massage 1 runner and completely remake 1.
    The bcs are awesome for the price, this is the 3rd car I've had them on, the other 2 were e30s. I actually like them more than the kw variants I used to run that cost 3k.
    317s have bigger chambers than the 243s, this produce a lower c.r
    Jesus freak and rva both ran a Schroeder nascar bar. Schroeder sold and I'm having a hard time finding a bar with similar dimensions.
    Regarding the headers, Sikky told me they have a reworked e39 kit including headers that should drop soon. Granted the price delta between Hedman and Sikky is pretty substantial, but I'll probably cough up the extra for some shiny longtubes assuming they deliver on that.

  11. #11
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    I like my car too low for long tubes. Eventually, I'll build my own ss mid lengths, or maybe a long tube with a tri-y collector for more ground clearance.
    Sikky builds their headers around their mounts, so it's a good chance they won't fit unless you use their kit.

  12. #12
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    While I'm waiting on a few miscellaneous items to show up I did some thinking on what solution I wanted to pursue for the limited slip differential situation, and while my initial thought had been that an e39 M5 diff would be the easiest, I'm beginning to lean in another direction.

    Philly has a great write-up on a Wavetrac setup using the 540 case and gearset:

    As luck would have it, I have an e39 540i M-Sport diff and axles that I picked up on the cheap. They're a bit rusty but I think salvageable. If I'm not mistaken, the 540i M-Sport diff has a 3.15 gear ratio. Using the Tremec Gear Ratio Calculator linked here, with a 3.15 gear ratio and a tire height of 26 inches rounded up, assuming transmission ratios based on the T56 Magnum 2.66 @ 2000rpm/5000rpm:

    1st Gear 2.66: 18.46mph/46.16mph
    2nd Gear 1.78: 27.59mph/68.98mph
    3rd Gear 1.30: 37.78mph/94.44mph
    4th Gear 1.00: 49.11mph/122.78mph
    5th Gear 0.80: 61.39mph/153.47mph
    6th Gear 0.63: 77.95mph/194.89mph

    I like the way that falls out. If I've got anything wrong in there, please correct me.

    Rack Doctor steering rack has arrived, so removal/install will follow shortly.

  13. #13
    Join Date
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    2000 BMW 540i
    This company might have something that you can use for the anti-roll bar. They're easy to deal with. If you think you'll have to bend the arm get them in steel. you can heat them before bending. Aluminum doesn't like that near as much. http://1speedway.com/index.php?route...product_id=113Cool project! What front accessories? Vette?

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by lewyd View Post
    This company might have something that you can use for the anti-roll bar. They're easy to deal with. If you think you'll have to bend the arm get them in steel. you can heat them before bending. Aluminum doesn't like that near as much. http://1speedway.com/index.php?route...product_id=113Cool project! What front accessories? Vette?
    That looks promising, thanks for the recommendation!

    I'll be using Vette/Camaro accessories I think.

  15. #15
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    While I'm waiting for the funds to pull the trigger on the engine build I'm finishing out everything else that I already have the parts and/or funds for, namely the suspension/wheels/tires and some interior items. Yesterday I managed to get the steering rack out, along with several choice cuss words. Hopefully I can finagle the rebuilt unit in without too much trouble. I used a combination of the Bentley manual pdf and a great write-up by Sactown540 over on Bimmerfest.

    EDIT: A small addition to the instructions from Bentley/Sactown540 - both provided pretty scant detail on the step where the splined shaft from the rack itself is actually separated from the steering column - I expected it to easily slip out after removal of the 13mm bolt, and that was most certainly not the case. On a lift this would probably be a lot easier, but on jack stands and with the room I had to work with, I ended up using a mallet and 3/8 socket extension to back the slip fit end of the steering column off the splined end of the steering rack.

    Lifting the engine to get enough room to work the rack out:

    IMG_20190825_174343.jpg

    Popped the engine mounts out for replacement, holy cow they were wrecked (at 140k):

    IMG_20190825_195846.jpg

    Scene of the crime, steering rack bleeding out:

    IMG_20190825_215053.jpg

    The rebuilt unit from RackDoctor:

    IMG_20190826_205017.jpg

    BONUS ROUND my brother brought me a Hazet Assistent collapsible tool trolley from Germany, it's pretty sweet! I can't figure out how to rotate the picture to portrait unfortunately.

    IMG_20190826_204925-2.jpg
    Last edited by 67Riviera; 08-27-2019 at 08:39 PM.

  16. #16
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    But won't the swap make the new engine mounts unnecessary? Or are they part of the new mounts?
    Diving in at the shallow end!

  17. #17
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    Looking good! Keep the pictures coming.

    Quote Originally Posted by motorV8ed View Post
    But won't the swap make the new engine mounts unnecessary? Or are they part of the new mounts?
    On JFs mounts they use the factory mounts.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    2002 BMW 525i - 5.3L LS Turbo Swap
    Follow me on Instagram at Lantz_E39
    Link to my build page

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lantz View Post
    On JFs mounts they use the factory mounts.
    Right, though if I recall, some recommend using Z8 mounts? I might swap them out for something more solid down the road.

  19. #19
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    I started with stock ones and figured Id see how it goes.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    2002 BMW 525i - 5.3L LS Turbo Swap
    Follow me on Instagram at Lantz_E39
    Link to my build page

  20. #20
    Join Date
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    Is it the z3 or z8 mounts that work on our non v8 5 series?
    open-uri20140811-1053-19a4qac_.jpgz3
    open-uri20190226-11760-tpagp7_.jpgz8

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrallande5020 View Post
    Is it the z3 or z8 mounts that work on our non v8 5 series?
    JesusFreak/RVAE34 used Z8 mounts per post 13 in his build thread here.

  22. #22
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    Thanks man, ordering them now!

  23. #23
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    How's it coming along?

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