Engine Swaps How To

E30 touring s50b30 swap

Our friends in Riga (Latvia) specialize in classic BMW restoration and also offer importing cars from the sunny US states that have never seen snow. Once these rust-free future classics are brought over to Europe they provide a wide range of services including engine rebuild or swap, custom manufacturing, suspension upgrades, and just about anything else you could need to build your dream car. We’re proud to share one of their builds with you and show you exactly what can be achieved by someone who knows E30s from A to Z.

This story, however, is about a genuine German market car and the troubles that come with a year-round driven E30. When Mikelis got his E30 Touring in 2011 he could already picture the dream car that he wanted to build. The car was recently re-sprayed in factory Daytona Violet with a matching European market only Design edition interior and had a complete Touring spec M-Technic 2 body kit.  Not too shy on the road as well, thanks to the M52B28 engine swapped in by the previous owner. For Mikelis though, that was too short for the driving pleasure he wanted out of a six banger. So he went to purchase an S50B30 from an Euro E36 M3 bumping close to 300 horsepower. The stage was set to build a clean and mean Touring, but his own effort was not enough to pull it off. Weeks turned into months and the car ended up sitting untouched for more than two years. Mikelis finally decided that enough was enough he hired professional help. He decided to have the car built by his friend’s workshop right here in Riga because of their reputation for high quality work and expertise in such projects, especially the kind involving E30s. The main goals for the car were to have the M3s straight six swapped in smoothly, have it technically sound and to eliminate any rust on the car.

Mechanics pulled the dumped in engine out so they could really see what they were dealing with and strip away any rust patches or old, flaky paint that would compromise the quality of their work. Custom mounts for the S50s engine accessories were custom made along with a Vanos delete plate and E30 convertible strut reinforcement plates were added for strengthening the front of the wagon. The S50 straight six received new seals, gaskets, and parts wherever it needed them. No cutting corners for the S50 to be up to original power specs and reliability.

The crew made also a custom short-throw shifter to liven up Mikelis’s driving experience. An aluminum oil cooler was the only custom piece that wasn’t produced in-house. The S50s wiring harness was modified to fit all the E30s connections and hidden away neatly behind the original plastic trim. Mikelis’s car then got new fuel and brake lines as well as a full custom exhaust produced in-house and tipped off with a Simons rear muffler.

Once everything was mechanically sound it was a matter of giving the bay looks to match its performance. Everything was thoroughly cleaned and given a fresh coat of paint to contrast the violet body finish. The last touch in the bay was a custom designed and made strut bar that adds both form and function. The car’s underbody and suspension received a thorough cleaning to make sure there was no rust hiding under the car.  Suspension was overall in a good shape and had minor upgrades where needed. The underbody was sprayed with factory-like coating to inhibit any rust after cleaning the body. Damaged and missing exterior trim bits were taken care of and the M-tech panels were aligned to sit flush.

So how long did this complex project take? Well, after sitting untouched for two years and delivered to the workshop, Mikelis was able to hit the road in his dream E30 Touring after just three months. That’s an engine swap and shakedown with all the custom manufacturing and fittings in both metal and electrics, also including suspension work, hand-made exhaust, custom shifter and bodywork. The highest standards were maintained during the three month work. The hardest part of the project was fitting the S50 nicely and figuring out the best placement for all the custom mounts of the engine’s accessories. Work was only delayed by waiting for OE BMW parts deliveries and the time that it took to CNC machine the custom pieces required for the work. A lot of time and attention was spent on the underbody as well to make sure the E30 would be totally rust free. On the day of giving the car back, Mikelis brought some BBS RZs to finish the look he wanted to achieve.

This touring is a testament to the quality and hard work that goes into everything that these mechanics put their hands and tools on. It’s a gorgeous, well executed thirty and another example of the pride that our friends take in their work. Whether looking to import a car, have some work done, or just buy some spares for your classic BMW, this is the place to find what you need. For more details in regards of work with classic BMWs please write to us at info@8classic.com. Also, feel free to follow the owner of this fantastic touring on Instagram   – @Mikelisv

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