The Build Begins E30 S38B36 Swap

This is my blog site documenting my build of a 1989 BMW 320i Mtec II. This a Japanese import to Canada. The E30 had 55km when I acquired it but a blown timing belt caused the M20B20 engine’s valve to impact with the pistons.

A rusty E34 M5 was purchased from eastern Canada. Its body was in rough condition but the previous owner had 10 grand in work done on the engine included a dealer supplied new block. This made for a perfect donor S38B36 engine.

I have decided to keep a list of all parts ordered for this project.

I wanted to list a couple great places I got parts from. Steve at Blunttech has been a great help, along with Mark at Ground Control. If you haven’t already, check out there sites in my links below.

Basically I put them into 3 categories: Swap / 5lug / Misc


  • S38B36 engine w/harness, ecu – Donor Car
  • M30 to E30 custom mounts –
  • Getrag 265 transmission with removable bell housing – used
  • M5 clutch/flywheel/pressure plate – Donor Car
  • 25117527252 Z3 1.9 shifter – Blunt
  • 25111220600 shifter bearing E30M3 – Blunt
  • 25112225369 shifter bow E30M3 – Blunt
  • 25117519669 shifter bearing E30M3 – Blunt
  • 25111220322 straight selector rod E30M3 – Blunt
  • 25111220707  bearing, shifting arm E30M3 – Blunt
  • Custom frame spacer – Metalsdepot

5 Lug Conversion

  • 1996 E36 M3 Control Arms – Blunt
  • E36 M3 front knuckles with bearing – Used
  • E36 M3 Calipers – Used
  • 34-21-1-164-399 – Z3 6cyl rear rotors – Blunt
  • 33-41-1-095-772 – Z3 6cyl rear hubs – Blunt
  • E30 Rear wheel bearings and hardware – New
  • E36 rear calipers – Used
  • E36 318ti rear carriers – Used
  • GroundControl E36 on E30 Kit w/camber plates,bearings – Ground Control


  • 3.46 LSD Differential – Used
  • 33172228425 Z3 Diff Mount – Blunt
  • 33311129144 sub-frame bushings – Blunt
  • Clutch Pedal Assembly – Donor E30
  • Crack free dash – Donor E30
  • Slave cylinder – New
  • Mason front and rear strut bars

Which Wheels?? 5 Lug swap BBS RS, Style 5, M-technik

So I still haven’t decided what wheels to run. It will be 5 lug with 5×120. I have collected 3 different sets that will fit.

Let me know what you think. I found pictures of cars with similar body and the wheels I want to run to show what they look like.

Style 5s

I have brand new 17×7.5 et 31 OEM Style 5s made by BBS. I bought these on a whim when ECS was clearing them out.

Beautiful OEM wheel, but not quite as wide as I would prefer.

M Systems

I have a set of original 17×8 M System wheels from my E34 M5 that I am not using. With a different size tires, these would make an ideal option. They are minty and recently refinished.


I have a set of classic BBS RS wheels. They are staggered 16×8 and 16×9 with nice lips on them. This is most likely what I am going to run on them. Almost too common though, I may have to powder coat the faces a custom color to set them apart. Any ideas?


Well I decided to run the 16″ BBS RS, There are pretty customized, I ended up doing a lot of trial and error to see what fits with the 5 lug swap. I used 1.5″ lips, and 6.5 and 6″ barrels giving me 8.5″ and 8″ widths, seem to fit fine with 215/45 tires.

I powdercoated the centres white and ordered new gold bolts and polished caps. I really like the final look

bbs copy

5 Lug conversion using E36 M3 parts

I have decided I will need to go 5 lug, gives me a lot better selection of wheels and I think its the best way to go.

I decides to go with rear Z3 6cyl rotors/hubs, brakes and bearings and in the front I ordered new E36 M3 control arms and brakes.

Ground Control builds a perfect kit for this conversion. I placed the order and they are building it, should be here soon!

I also ordered a set of these from Jon to help with clearance issue with exhaust as well as its required for the 5 Lug conversion. Plus the normal benefits of upgrading to these amazing upgrade from TreeHouse Racing. Note: Do not buy the Chinese knock offs on eBay, buy the original CNC cut forged design and support the original creator!

BMW S38 engine swap is getting installed S38B36

I pulled out the S38 from the E34 and installed it into the E30. Due to the size of it and that fact the front rad cradle does not unbolt on the E30 as it does with other BMWs, a bottom up install was my only option.



The engine is in and I ended up using S38B35 cooling system parts. Very difficult to find used and a few of the parts and NA from BMW Germany now so its tough to find.

For a radiator I used a universal one available from Summit Racing


The brake booster was a tight fit the the manifold. 20mm spacers brought the subframe down for hood clearance but made the plenum hit the booster. A bit of grinding on the plenum freed up enough room though.



The shifter had to be cut and resized to fit the Getrag 265 and line up with the shifter hole in the cabin. I did some Aluminum welding to make it all work


Here is the engine all assembled and ready to go!