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Thread: Help!!Confused between M50 and m52 for 800hp

  1. #1
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    Help!!Confused between M50 and m52 for 800hp

    Hello Guys.
    New member here.
    So I recently picked a e36 sedan,bare chassis in good condition from a friend. Its a 316i but has got no engine and transmission but its in otherwise overall great shape. So basically a good canvas to start with.

    Now as the title mentions it, I am looking to build a ~800whp street racing machine. So a good mid range is what I am after and it has to be manual for joy rides.
    Now my previous full blown build was widebody w124 om606 pushing close to 460 at wheels. It was a great daily, comfy and aesthetically amazing with lots of torque(atleast when I finished it) but sadly had to let it go due to some future plans anyhow I then got a 2000 e38 735il (impulsive buy) for a while. great comfy, luxurious and better handler than my w124(yes I was amazed the way it handled compared to its size). Sadly had to let it go as well, as those engines are max from factory and it was downgrade power wise. Anyhow from always wanted a nimble, compact and lightweight chassis with tons of aftermarket options. I almost picked up e34 but then made myself pick this e36.

    Now I almost decided on LS first and then 2jz before finally making my mind on mxx platform, mainly due to cost of these engine against over inflated jz(IMO) and no availability of ls in my country(even mxx are very less)
    Although, I have been doing alot of reading, researching forums pages etc. I am still confused as to pick a m50 or m52 and vanos or non vanos version to start etc. This is still a new territory for me and people have praised both engines over each other as a starting point. At this point, I would like to keep oe parts from m50/52/54 etc instead of going aftermarket forged parts for internal. But I also want setup to be reliable enough atleast for some while.
    I am also not too firm on my desired number but I want to be atleast 650hp+ with slight room for more.

    Turbo wise I have already decided to be a borg warner sxe series due to my personal experience of their cost, performance and reliability. So maybe a s369sxe will be a good pick.

    Transmission wise we tend to use gs6-53dz in om606 builds and they handle 800+nm easily plus they are cheap so makes sense.

    Rest the research is still on for other supporting bits as this platform is still fairly new scene for me.

    Sorry for the long post but the more I read, the more confused I got in my choice so had to post.

    Looking forward for suggestions, criticism from the fellow members. Thanks

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by mayurhuria View Post
    hello guys.
    New member here.
    So i recently picked a e36 sedan,bare chassis in good condition from a friend. Its a 316i but has got no engine and transmission but its in otherwise overall great shape. So basically a good canvas to start with.

    Now as the title mentions it, i am looking to build a ~800whp street racing machine. So a good mid range is what i am after and it has to be manual for joy rides.
    Now my previous full blown build was widebody w124 om606 pushing close to 460 at wheels. It was a great daily, comfy and aesthetically amazing with lots of torque(atleast when i finished it) but sadly had to let it go due to some future plans anyhow i then got a 2000 e38 735il (impulsive buy) for a while. Great comfy, luxurious and better handler than my w124(yes i was amazed the way it handled compared to its size). Sadly had to let it go as well, as those engines are max from factory and it was downgrade power wise. Anyhow from always wanted a nimble, compact and lightweight chassis with tons of aftermarket options. I almost picked up e34 but then made myself pick this e36.

    Now i almost decided on ls first and then 2jz before finally making my mind on mxx platform, mainly due to cost of these engine against over inflated jz(imo) and no availability of ls in my country(even mxx are very less)
    although, i have been doing alot of reading, researching forums pages etc. I am still confused as to pick a m50 or m52 and vanos or non vanos version to start etc. This is still a new territory for me and people have praised both engines over each other as a starting point. At this point, i would like to keep oe parts from m50/52/54 etc instead of going aftermarket forged parts for internal. But i also want setup to be reliable enough atleast for some while.
    I am also not too firm on my desired number but i want to be atleast 650hp+ with slight room for more.

    Turbo wise i have already decided to be a borg warner sxe series due to my personal experience of their cost, performance and reliability. So maybe a s369sxe will be a good pick.

    Transmission wise we tend to use gs6-53dz in om606 builds and they handle 800+nm easily plus they are cheap so makes sense.

    Rest the research is still on for other supporting bits as this platform is still fairly new scene for me.

    Sorry for the long post but the more i read, the more confused i got in my choice so had to post.

    Looking forward for suggestions, criticism from the fellow members. Thanks
    s52

  3. #3
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    What fuel do you have available? You are in India? If you not going to do forged pistons and aftermarket rods then I would recommend getting a M52b28 and an M50b25 non vanos and combining the two. Use the crankshaft and pistons from the m52b28 with the m50b25 non vanos block and connecting rods. Can use either the M52 or M50 head. Use the m52 lifters and lifter trays and vanos unit with an M54B30 intake cam, and put the non vanos intake cam in the exhaust side of the head.
    Last edited by someguy2800; 04-28-2022 at 12:49 AM.


    86 325es, 2.8L m50, S476sxe, ProEFI 128 ecu, e85, solid rear axle, TH400 trans, 28x10.5w slicks, zip ties, popsicle sticks, tape
    best time 9.06 @ 151.8 mph, best 60 foot 1.30

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Colby Colbs View Post
    s52
    Ohh I thought they require more work to handle boost and are still rare to find compared to their m counterparts.


    Quote Originally Posted by someguy2800 View Post
    What fuel do you have available? You are in India? If you not going to do forged pistons and aftermarket rods then I would recommend getting a M52b28 and an M50b25 non vanos and combining the two. Use the crankshaft and pistons from the m52b28 with the m50b25 non vanos block and connecting rods. Can use either the M52 or M50 head. Use the m52 lifters and lifter trays and vanos unit with an M54B30 intake cam, and put the non vanos intake cam in the exhaust side of the head.
    Hey thanks for the detailed reply.

    Yes the car is in India. And we get 100octane, 95 and 91 fuel readily. No e85 although they recently have increased ethanol content in 91 fuel.
    The same friend is also selling m50b20 non vanos. Which can be good unit to start with for the stroker build?

    I am in Dubai right now for a while and getting engine parts, wheels etc is easy and cheaper here. So I am thinking of getting internals from here. And sending over to India. Sending complete engine from Dubai to India is tough right now but can be possible option.
    So if your mentioned combo works for my desired goal it will be easy.

    Also I might consider the aftermarket forged internals if they are reasonably priced.

  5. #5
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    The B20 is significantly different with smaller cylinder bores, smaller valves in the head, and longer connecting rods, so it would not be a good starting point for a stroker build.

    Forged pistons are $800-$1100 USD and aftermarket rods are $500-$1000 USD depending on brand.

    An S52 work fine for boost but they only sold them in North America. You can make a replica S52 by boring out an M50B25 or M52 iron block to 86.4 or 86.5mm. Keep in mind that in most countries M52’s came with aluminum blocks with thin cast iron cylinder liners. In the US they came with iron blocks.
    Last edited by someguy2800; 04-28-2022 at 12:05 PM.


    86 325es, 2.8L m50, S476sxe, ProEFI 128 ecu, e85, solid rear axle, TH400 trans, 28x10.5w slicks, zip ties, popsicle sticks, tape
    best time 9.06 @ 151.8 mph, best 60 foot 1.30

  6. #6
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    Love my 87mm motor. Don't feel like a dog down low. Under 1000whp it's the best way to go.

    You can use any iron block and bore it to fit the s52 pistons as Perry said.

    Sent from my SM-N960U using Tapatalk

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by someguy2800 View Post
    The B20 is significantly different with smaller cylinder bores, smaller valves in the head, and longer connecting rods, so it would not be a good starting point for a stroker build.
    Exactly as I thought, so this engine will only be good just to use the block and bore it out to required dimension, that too if possible. Hmm makes no sense to put money for whole engine and end up using just block

    Quote Originally Posted by someguy2800 View Post
    Forged pistons are $800-$1100 USD and aftermarket rods are $500-$1000 USD depending on brand.
    Price seems fine and I guess it will give room for 1000whp. An option that can be thought of.

    Quote Originally Posted by someguy2800 View Post
    An S52 work fine for boost but they only sold them in North America. You can make a replica S52 by boring out an M50B25 or M52 iron block to 86.4 or 86.5mm. Keep in mind that in most countries M52’s came with aluminum blocks with thin cast iron cylinder liners. In the US they came with iron blocks.
    Quote Originally Posted by Colby Colbs View Post
    Love my 87mm motor. Don't feel like a dog down low. Under 1000whp it's the best way to go.
    You can use any iron block and bore it to fit the s52 pistons as Perry said.
    As I stated I am in Dubai, so I can look for s52 to start with. Here most of the car parts come from U.S.A and Japan so I can think that I might be able to get hold of s52 engine. How about s54??

    I havn't done much of reading for s52 yet but I guess heard is weaker? And block is not as good as m52 for boosting???

  8. #8
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    S54 is a better engine stock for stock, it's much more of a race type engine out of the box. I love M50 based engines because they are just so damn tough and reliable. The S54 is also quite a bit more money to build and maintain. Then you get into the electronics. You are much more limited on stock DME tuning. I can provide packages for either if you are going to use a standalone ems. I use ProEFI almost exclusively for my packages with an option to upgrade to MoTeC if the budget is there.

  9. #9
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    In stock form an iron block m52 will handle more power than an S52 because an S52 makes substantially more torque so they tend to bend connecting rods at a lower hp than an M52, but an S52 with forged rods and pistons will make a lot of power. An S52 is more likely to crack the block because more material is removed from the cylinders, but that is typically not an issue until higher power levels than you are looking for. I’ve been making some 86mm bore S52 pistons for people that building an S52 out of an M52 block. It keeps a little more cylinder wall thickness compared to boring an S52 to 87mm but still pretty close to S52 displacement.
    Last edited by someguy2800; 04-28-2022 at 08:13 PM.


    86 325es, 2.8L m50, S476sxe, ProEFI 128 ecu, e85, solid rear axle, TH400 trans, 28x10.5w slicks, zip ties, popsicle sticks, tape
    best time 9.06 @ 151.8 mph, best 60 foot 1.30

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by someguy2800 View Post
    In stock form an iron block m52 will handle more power than an S52 because an S52 makes substantially more torque so they tend to bend connecting rods at a lower hp than an M52, but an S52 with forged rods and pistons will make a lot of power. An S52 is more likely to crack the block because more material is removed from the cylinders, but that is typically not an issue until higher power levels than you are looking for. I’ve been making some 86mm bore S52 pistons for people that building an S52 out of an M52 block. It keeps a little more cylinder wall thickness compared to boring an S52 to 87mm but still pretty close to S52 displacement.
    None of these motors in stock forum will make 800whp~ or live longer than a few pulls if it did. I've never seen an 800whp, 900whp, or even 1000whp S52 crack a block. Blocks don't just crack from cylinder pressure. They crack when you miss the tuneup and try to compress water.

    My S52 was perfectly reliable above 1000hp on 42psi and 8500rpm. At 53psi boost it only tweaked the #1 connecting rod due to the head gasket letting go due to insufficient clamping force to keep the head gasket sealed up. Head gasket choice, surface flatness and RA were also less than desirable for that type of combo but it didn't owe me anything. S52 vs M52 feels like Big Block to Small Block comparison.

    Trust my advice and keep you some under the curve, your driving experience will be 100x better. This is my advice from testing all these different combinations over the last 10+ years.

    This message was sent from my 1000++HP 87.1mm S52 engine.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Colby Colbs View Post
    None of these motors in stock forum will make 800whp~ or live longer than a few pulls if it did. I've never seen an 800whp, 900whp, or even 1000whp S52 crack a block. Blocks don't just crack from cylinder pressure. They crack when you miss the tuneup and try to compress water.

    My S52 was perfectly reliable above 1000hp on 42psi and 8500rpm. At 53psi boost it only tweaked the #1 connecting rod due to the head gasket letting go due to insufficient clamping force to keep the head gasket sealed up. Head gasket choice, surface flatness and RA were also less than desirable for that type of combo but it didn't owe me anything. S52 vs M52 feels like Big Block to Small Block comparison.

    Trust my advice and keep you some under the curve, your driving experience will be 100x better. This is my advice from testing all these different combinations over the last 10+ years.

    This message was sent from my 1000++HP 87.1mm S52 engine.
    I didn't say any of them would make 800 in stock form, I'm explaining where the misconception comes from that an S52 is not good for boost. And you're not looking very hard if you've never seen an S52 crack.

    This message was sent from my 1300+WHP 84mm M50 engine
    Last edited by someguy2800; 04-29-2022 at 08:50 AM.


    86 325es, 2.8L m50, S476sxe, ProEFI 128 ecu, e85, solid rear axle, TH400 trans, 28x10.5w slicks, zip ties, popsicle sticks, tape
    best time 9.06 @ 151.8 mph, best 60 foot 1.30

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    I know of tons of failures. None of them failed from too much power. Not a single one.

    Sent from my SM-N960U using Tapatalk

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    I wish I had a crystal ball.


    86 325es, 2.8L m50, S476sxe, ProEFI 128 ecu, e85, solid rear axle, TH400 trans, 28x10.5w slicks, zip ties, popsicle sticks, tape
    best time 9.06 @ 151.8 mph, best 60 foot 1.30

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    My 87mm motor has been alive for years over 900whp and going by some of the accepted wisdom on the internet, it should have cracked in short order after making over 800whp. I don't think Boris ever cracked his 87mm block with 1/2" studs (another thing that was supposed to crack), or if he did then he has had other major failures including leading to a melted head and a circular radiator. I think without doing some focused destructive testing, all we can really conclude is that the thicker wall motors have a greater margin for error at those power levels, which, I suppose falls into the no shit bucket.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheJuggernaut View Post
    My 87mm motor has been alive for years over 900whp and going by some of the accepted wisdom on the internet, it should have cracked in short order after making over 800whp. I don't think Boris ever cracked his 87mm block with 1/2" studs (another thing that was supposed to crack), or if he did then he has had other major failures including leading to a melted head and a circular radiator. I think without doing some focused destructive testing, all we can really conclude is that the thicker wall motors have a greater margin for error at those power levels, which, I suppose falls into the no shit bucket.
    Well does a bear sh*t in the woods... this man gets it!

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    Great info guys.
    And I think it was correct to start this thread as internet is filled with false info and its better to get info from end user in around the same power levels to get correct idea. I mean so far with my findings I always thought that s52 is weak for boosting but how false was it.

    Anyhow I will try finding either the s52 or m50b25 and m52b28 here in Dubai. Here they tend to overprice anything that is "M" related so lets see.
    I will skip the forged internals for now and run close to 600 to be on safer side.
    Buuuutttt...If I end up saving funds or come across a great deal, then I will get forged pistons and rods as well and save my future time.

    Now what do you think the choice of trans being gs6-53dz and turbo being s369sxe(not sure of a/r) is right? (Both are cheap and tried by me, although in a totally different build)

    And I think going full standalone will be right. Still doing my research on other supporting mods like injectors, pump and going through build threads here, whenever I get time.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by someguy2800 View Post
    What fuel do you have available? You are in India? If you not going to do forged pistons and aftermarket rods then I would recommend getting a M52b28 and an M50b25 non vanos and combining the two. Use the crankshaft and pistons from the m52b28 with the m50b25 non vanos block and connecting rods. Can use either the M52 or M50 head. Use the m52 lifters and lifter trays and vanos unit with an M54B30 intake cam, and put the non vanos intake cam in the exhaust side of the head.
    Also If I am able to get iron block m52b28 vanos engine, then no need to get m50b25? Then all I would be requiring is m54b30 intake cam right? Are the connecting rods from iron block m52b28 vanos are as strong as m50b25 non vanos connecting rods? Or just get the forged rods and be done. How much power levels are the m52b28 pistons good for?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Colby Colbs View Post
    None of these motors in stock forum will make 800whp~ or live longer than a few pulls if it did. I've never seen an 800whp, 900whp, or even 1000whp S52 crack a block. Blocks don't just crack from cylinder pressure. They crack when you miss the tuneup and try to compress water.

    My S52 was perfectly reliable above 1000hp on 42psi and 8500rpm. At 53psi boost it only tweaked the #1 connecting rod due to the head gasket letting go due to insufficient clamping force to keep the head gasket sealed up. Head gasket choice, surface flatness and RA were also less than desirable for that type of combo but it didn't owe me anything. S52 vs M52 feels like Big Block to Small Block comparison.

    Trust my advice and keep you some under the curve, your driving experience will be 100x better. This is my advice from testing all these different combinations over the last 10+ years.

    This message was sent from my 1000++HP 87.1mm S52 engine.
    wow. thats impressive! is this all with the arp 2000s? not on 11mm studs?


    would like to do get my 87mm s50 to 800whp+

    Also besides the ATI damper what is needed for 8000 rpms?

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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by BMWFanatic View Post
    wow. thats impressive! is this all with the arp 2000s? not on 11mm studs?


    would like to do get my 87mm s50 to 800whp+

    Also besides the ATI damper what is needed for 8000 rpms?
    It made 1230hp but lifted the head. Ethanol race fuel and 5* of advance at 53.xx psi boost. It would have made more power but this engine was never prepared for that kind of jam. Stock 10mm ARP2000 head studs and stock damper. I do not condone this type of behavior, I knew all the risks and was fully prepared. Motor still ran perfectly but was clear the mls headgasket let go. If I tried to do one more pull I'm certain it would have split the block. I have a $15,000 standalone package on the car and shit load of sensors on the car.

    I'm currently finishing up the chassis to be able to handle all that power. Pretty much the white car all over again but more of a street car that I can race. The S52 has been slapped together with all new pins, eagle extreme duty rods, a cut ring gasket, 10mm 625 head studs, and I replaced the bearings for good measure although they were fine. 1 rod was bent and all the pins were bent. It has my OG ATI damper on it now as well.

    Sent from my SM-N960U using Tapatalk

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    Quote Originally Posted by mayurhuria View Post
    Also If I am able to get iron block m52b28 vanos engine, then no need to get m50b25? Then all I would be requiring is m54b30 intake cam right? Are the connecting rods from iron block m52b28 vanos are as strong as m50b25 non vanos connecting rods? Or just get the forged rods and be done. How much power levels are the m52b28 pistons good for?
    The M50 non vanos rods are stronger than the M52/S52 rods and are also 135mm. M50 vanos rods are 140mm so they can’t be used. The M50 non vanos rods are good, but heavy compared to aftermarket forged rods.

    The next part that needs changing are the pistons. Aftermarket forged are best for big power. If using stock pistons, loosening the ring gap will help them survive a little longer but they are still risky.

    Running race gas will also increase the chance the stock pistons and rods will stay together, but race gas is expensive for cars that are driven a lot. A thicker headgasket will lower compression so you can run more boost using pump gas.

    Seems like the OP wants to push the limits of stock parts and does not want to spend money on forged rods and pistons.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by mayurhuria View Post
    Also If I am able to get iron block m52b28 vanos engine, then no need to get m50b25? Then all I would be requiring is m54b30 intake cam right? Are the connecting rods from iron block m52b28 vanos are as strong as m50b25 non vanos connecting rods? Or just get the forged rods and be done. How much power levels are the m52b28 pistons good for?
    The M52 iron block is fine. The M52 rods are thinner than M50 rods but will still handle some power with careful tuning. It’s a difficult question to answer how much power the rods or pistons are good for without knowing how good your fuel is. A stock M52b28 will make 550whp with decent reliability with head studs, cutring head gasket and copper spacer, and regapped rings on good fuel. On E85 you can push that further. I don’t know if your local fuel is capable of doing the same. The stock pistons are pretty strong but they have no tolerance for detonation. If the tune is not right or you overboost or if you get a bad tank of fuel it will break the ring lands on the pistons. The advantage of a forged piston is that it can tolerate some abuse without just instantly breaking, and you can get them in lower compression ratios so you don’t have to use a thick head gasket.


    86 325es, 2.8L m50, S476sxe, ProEFI 128 ecu, e85, solid rear axle, TH400 trans, 28x10.5w slicks, zip ties, popsicle sticks, tape
    best time 9.06 @ 151.8 mph, best 60 foot 1.30

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    Quote Originally Posted by pbonsalb View Post
    The M50 non vanos rods are stronger than the M52/S52 rods and are also 135mm. M50 vanos rods are 140mm so they can’t be used. The M50 non vanos rods are good, but heavy compared to aftermarket forged rods.

    The next part that needs changing are the pistons. Aftermarket forged are best for big power. If using stock pistons, loosening the ring gap will help them survive a little longer but they are still risky.

    Running race gas will also increase the chance the stock pistons and rods will stay together, but race gas is expensive for cars that are driven a lot. A thicker headgasket will lower compression so you can run more boost using pump gas.

    Seems like the OP wants to push the limits of stock parts and does not want to spend money on forged rods and pistons.
    Quote Originally Posted by someguy2800 View Post
    The M52 iron block is fine. The M52 rods are thinner than M50 rods but will still handle some power with careful tuning. It’s a difficult question to answer how much power the rods or pistons are good for without knowing how good your fuel is. A stock M52b28 will make 550whp with decent reliability with head studs, cutring head gasket and copper spacer, and regapped rings on good fuel. On E85 you can push that further. I don’t know if your local fuel is capable of doing the same. The stock pistons are pretty strong but they have no tolerance for detonation. If the tune is not right or you overboost or if you get a bad tank of fuel it will break the ring lands on the pistons. The advantage of a forged piston is that it can tolerate some abuse without just instantly breaking, and you can get them in lower compression ratios so you don’t have to use a thick head gasket.
    Great. I think it will be better to save up and invest in aftermarket forged pistons and rods and start with m52 iron block. Also, getting race fuel in India will be tough and no e85 pumps as well, the 91 fuel has to 10-15% ethanol and as I stated above the best available is 100 octance.
    Planning a full standalone but might start with stock ecu but either way will get tuning done from good tuner.

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    So you are limited to 91 octane. Look into water methanol injection — maybe it is available? You will want a compression lowering headgasket to get anywhere near your power goals on 91 octane.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pbonsalb View Post
    So you are limited to 91 octane. Look into water methanol injection — maybe it is available? You will want a compression lowering headgasket to get anywhere near your power goals on 91 octane.
    No.. 100 octane is available. Yeah water/meth is available and definitly compression lowering will be done.

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