BMW e30 Engine Swaps

BMW e30 Engine Swaps, whats in your e30? The classic e30 BMW has been around for many years now, from 1982 to 1990. With its legendary handling characteristics due to the front engined rear wheel drive set up & with a relatively light body, it was and still is a sought after car.

From Drift missile to Original untouched classic, these amazing bits of German Engineering can be picked up from a few hundred pounds to £6000 plus for a minter!

The German engineered beasts from the east still have cult status after all these years, mainly due to the M3 powered cars and the many, many highly modified race cars and drift machines that have been built.

Many different engines have been transplanted into these little beauty’s over the years. With the conventional swaps from other BMW models to the more extreme swaps, where people have fitted M5 V10s & even V12s. Others have even risked offending the BMW community by fitting big Yank V8s or Japanese engines, with big turbos & big power…..

What you fit or plan to fit depends on a couple factors, How much do you have to spend and How good are your mechanical skills?

I have put together a list of some of the most popular swaps that have been done in e30s but at the end of the day your imagination is the only limiting factor!

The 1.8i M42B18 has around 136BHP and is a relatively light engine, helping the e30 to handle a little better and this is a fairly straightforward swap. Not really worth doing unless you are on a very limited budget.

The S14B23 from the M3 has around 195BHP in standard form. This is for the purist e30 lover with deep pockets. This is the engine fitted to the M3 model and is a 2.3 ltr 4 pot engine that produces more power then the 6 pot 2.5 ltr M20B25 engine and is a lot lighter then the 6 cylinder, giving a lot better handling.

The M20B25 6 cylinder 2.5ltr was fitted to many e30s. Producing around 170BHP, this was quite a torquey engine giving the e30 good performance although the weight of the engine would make the e30 tend to understeer.

The M50B25 produces around 190BHP. This is a 24v motor that revs a lot better then the 12v M20s and is also a more modern engine and responds well to tuning. These engines can be found cheaply and is a fairly easy swap to do.

The M20B27 produces over 200BHP and a fair bit of torque. Its more of a modification then a swap. You will need the engine block from a 325e or 525e which was a 2.7 but not high revving due to the head design but had a lot of torque. Add use the head from a M20B25 engine, which basically is a stroker engine. Similar to the Alpina powered e30s without the fancy manifolds.

The M52B28 produces around 190BHP (yes the same power as the M50B25) This 24v 2.8ltr engine has the same power as the 2.5 litre M50 engine due to the restrictive manifold used for German Tax reasons! This engine gives more torque and has a single VANOS setup but when fitted with the 2.5ltr inlet manifold and a remapped ECU you can get over 220BHP. This swap is very popular but due to the OBD2 set up & EWS, it is not as straight forward as the OBD M50B25 engine to fit but pound for pound one of the best swaps.

M52B28 in e30

The S50B30 or S50B32 produces around 286BHP or 321BHP from the e36 M3s. This a great swap if you can afford it. This swap will really liven up the e30 and is a pretty straight forward swap.

The M30B35 produces around 218BHP but has Loads of torque. These engines although heavy are bullet proof and popular for turbo charging and a straight forward swap. Both Alpina & Hartge done this conversion on the e30s back in the day!

The S38B36 & S38B38 engines from e34 M5s produce 315/335BHP and a lot of torque. This big 6 pot engine is a tight fit but worth the effort although they are expensive to repair. Hartge have done this conversion in e30s

The M60B40 & M62B44 V8 engines produce around 300BHP & plenty of tyre shredding torque. Power output will depend on your exhaust system and although the straight six engines sound great nothing beats the rumble of a V8! The V8 is shorter but wider then the 6 pots but this enables the engine to sit further back improving the handling. Engines can be bought fairly cheap but fitting the mighty V8 is a bit of a venture!

Fitting the S85B50 engine producing 501BHP from an M5 V10 or the M70B50 engine producing 300BHP V12 engine is not for the faint hearted and is a very tight fit. There isn’t much help on the web for these swaps and you will need very deep pockets and a big wallet for these conversions. It has been done before though so if you want the ultimate e30, this would be the way to go……

As for me I went for the M52B28 engine, a fairly straight forward swap although not just a straight swap! I’m happy with it and have the M50 manifold & remapped ECU but you always want more power!!! To get any more from the M52B28 I would have to start spending quite a bit of dosh…….So it looks like M62B44 V8 is the way to go for me. 😉


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