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Thread: Installing S52 in my 97 528i Automatic

  1. #1
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    Installing S52 and manual transmission in my 97 528i Automatic

    I did some searching and found no conclusive info.
    Please, I don't need coments such as why not buy E39 with M62 etc...I've had 98 540 and 03 M5. I liked both cars a lot but strangely I find myself enjoying my 528 more because of superior rack and pinion steering feel combined with lighter aluminum subframe.
    As most here know S52 is close cousin of my M52 with different bore, stroke and camshafts. Also, they use very similar DME and my understaning is that there are companies out there who can reflash my DME to work with S52 and eliminate EWS.
    Also, I'm aware that I need different driveshaft and the factory diff on my 528 is 4.10 and 2.93 diff is matched with 5 speed manual. But since E39 is heavier maybe 3.46 diff would be the best of both worlds.
    I've also thought about buying 01-03 530i 5 speed but those are very rare and I love my 528 with Bilstein B6, refreshed suspension, upgraded front brakes to 530i/540 size, brand new OEM M Pars and recently swaped black interior (almost there) instead of ugly sand beige factory one.
    To me, 50 HP / 33 lb-ft bump along with manual instead of 4 speed automatic is enough reason to do this.
    What say you masses?



    Last edited by BMW540san; 02-14-2020 at 11:54 PM.
    1997 BMW 532 M (formerly known as 528iA)
    S52 engine / 5 speed manual * 18" M Parallel Wheels * Euro Armrest * Spal Electric Fan * Bilstein HD * M Sport Steering Wheel * OEM Aero Front Spoiler * Remus Exhaust * 530 / 540 324mm Front Brakes

    2003 BMW X5 4.6is
    Supersprint Exhaust * Spal Electric Fan * 88C Thermostat * Air Susp. Delete (Bilstein HD Struts / Shocks, Suplex Coil Springs) * 20" OEM Style 177 Wheels

    2005 Toyota Tundra TRD Off Road

  2. #2
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    Turbo S52 would be even better. There was a member with an M5 that he supercharged. He later swapped in an S52 and turbocharged it.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by pbonsalb View Post
    Turbo S52 would be even better. There was a member with an M5 that he supercharged. He later swapped in an S52 and turbocharged it.
    While I understand that is quite popular upgrade with S52, I'm firmly set on NA. When I source decent S52 I will take advantage of engine out and swap manifold with M50 and maybe few other upgrades plus obviosly check first compression, change rear main seal etc...
    I enjoy so much my 190 HP M52 with 4 speed automatic so I know I'll be very happy with 240-260 HP and 5 speed manual.
    1997 BMW 532 M (formerly known as 528iA)
    S52 engine / 5 speed manual * 18" M Parallel Wheels * Euro Armrest * Spal Electric Fan * Bilstein HD * M Sport Steering Wheel * OEM Aero Front Spoiler * Remus Exhaust * 530 / 540 324mm Front Brakes

    2003 BMW X5 4.6is
    Supersprint Exhaust * Spal Electric Fan * 88C Thermostat * Air Susp. Delete (Bilstein HD Struts / Shocks, Suplex Coil Springs) * 20" OEM Style 177 Wheels

    2005 Toyota Tundra TRD Off Road

  4. #4
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    that 4 speed GM transmission does a good job of amplifying the M52 torque so that it can move that heavy E39 body. Once you swap to S52 with manual, it will feel like there is no more power gain.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by hakentt View Post
    that 4 speed GM transmission does a good job of amplifying the M52 torque so that it can move that heavy E39 body. Once you swap to S52 with manual, it will feel like there is no more power gain.
    You're probably right to some degree but 4.10 diff probably takes good part of credit for the plentiful torque feel from very low rpm's.
    I wonder would it be too much to leave 4.10 diff in connection with ZF S5D 320Z 5 speed manual that is typicaly found with E36 M3 or E39 528i with manual option. I think the 4.10 diff can take the increase of 33 lb-ft of torque with no issues but I need to find online calculator to see how much would rpm go in relation to mph.
    Or get somewhere in the middle with maybe 3.46 diff. These are just wild gueses and I won't commit to buying parts unless I know it can work.
    Last edited by BMW540san; 02-14-2020 at 11:56 PM.
    1997 BMW 532 M (formerly known as 528iA)
    S52 engine / 5 speed manual * 18" M Parallel Wheels * Euro Armrest * Spal Electric Fan * Bilstein HD * M Sport Steering Wheel * OEM Aero Front Spoiler * Remus Exhaust * 530 / 540 324mm Front Brakes

    2003 BMW X5 4.6is
    Supersprint Exhaust * Spal Electric Fan * 88C Thermostat * Air Susp. Delete (Bilstein HD Struts / Shocks, Suplex Coil Springs) * 20" OEM Style 177 Wheels

    2005 Toyota Tundra TRD Off Road

  6. #6
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    4.10 is too short for a 5 speed manual, unless you are a racer with an extended rpm limit and no need to drive on the highway. I would not go higher than a 3.64 (I have run 3.15, 3.23, 3.38 and 3.64 in my E36M3 with S52 and ZF320). For practical reasons, a 3.23 from a 96-99 M3 is a good upgrade from the open 2.93 that came in E39 528i manual trans cars. It is not as old as the 3.15 from 92-95 E36 6 cylinder models, not as rare as the 3.38 from an automatic M3, provides reasonable gearing for highway driving — BMW specified it for this trans and engine combination, and a 3.46 or 3.64 needs to be built and that is beyond most DIYers and not cheap if you must pay for it.

  7. #7
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    Thank you for the valuable advice. You clearly have practical knowledge.
    3.23 sounds good but I guess I have to do some research how to fit it into E39 rear subframe and how would half shafts fit.

  8. #8
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    I have some vague recollection the E39 6 cylinder cars used some odd diff, so maybe a 96-99 E36 M3 diff won’t fit. I think the 530i automatics used a 3.46. It would be fun unless you do a lot of highway trips at 80 mph. I actually really liked the 2.93 in my E39 528i with manual trans. Very comfortable cruiser. It always felt so relaxed on the highway compared to my E36 M3.

  9. #9
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    This would be fun car for twisty back roads here in TN so 80 would probably be top speed most of time. It seems that for my purposes 3.23-3.46 would work best. I need to do proper research to come up with best combination of diff fitment and driveshaft change to fit onto MT. This is very early stage in my planning so I'll come up with best possible plan before starting to buy parts.

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