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3-Series (E36) Chat relating to the BMW 3-Series from 1992-1999. Autodoodad Specific models include: BMW 316i, BMW 318i, BMW 318iS/ti, BMW 320, BMW 323, BMW 320, BMW 324, BMW 325, BMW 328.

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Old 08-19-2004, 05:23 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Hi, I have a 1992 325is which has an automatic transmission. Basically, I want a car thats manual however don't want to spend too much cash. Furthermore I love bmw's and don't want to give this one up for another car even if it is manual. I have around 6-7K to spend and am wondering what the best route to take is. For this much money, would it be possible to swap the engine for an old M3 or 325is engine? I would prefer M3 but 325is is fine too. You can find them with the tranny (manual of course) on ebay for around 3K. The reason I am saying engine also is because I figure if I am going as far as replacing the transmission I might as well replace the engine too. I am tempted to sell the car and then simply buy a used M3 or 325 however my car only has 100K miles on it and it has been taken care of quite nicely so I dont want to end up with someone elses car that hasnt been taken care of. Also, an old M3 is basically my ideal car at this point which is why I would prefer swapping the engine with an M3 engine. Any suggetions + ideas would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 08-19-2004, 02:05 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Well, your best bet is to get a different car unless you love your chassis too much.

To go from an automatic to manual, you need the obvious new transmission, but you also need a new driveshaft and differential. The sizes don't match up and the gearing in the diff is significantly different than a manual transmission's differential. If your swapping out diff's, you might as well get a good LSD, there's some extra cash...
Swapping engine's isn't efficent at all. The engine themselves can run you a good 5-6 grand, installing it can be another 2+ grand, plus all of the other parts you need, wiring harnesses, DME, etc etc.

I wanted to do the same thing you did, swap from a 2.5L to a 3.2L M engine with a 6 speed manual. Cost was WAY too prohibitive and it's probably better to just get an M anyways The M3's have much better moving parts under the car. Stiffer bushings, bigger brakes, better wheels, an LSD, + they just plain look hot to begin with.
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Old 08-19-2004, 02:27 PM   #3 (permalink)
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First, I just want to point out that I don't know a lot about cars so if say something stupid , but I love BMWs and had a very similiar experience getting mine:

I found a manual 1992 325i with 167,000 miles on it. It was in at a repair shop (http://www.benkempner.com/car/ if you want to see) and I wanted it as soon as i saw it - but there was a catch.

The kid came into the shop with it billowing smoke out the back, so first they thought it was the radiator and replaced that - then before taking it out on the street they discovered it actually had a blown gasket. It was risky for me to repair the gasket because the radiator issue suggests he was really riding this thing by the time he brought it in and I was worried he cracked the block in the process - but I couldn't find out if he had until they ripped the engine apart to fix the gasket.

So I decided to shop around and found a 1993 (vanos) automatic engine with 80,000 miles on it for $1300 (Cherry Auto or something like that I can find the link if your really interested). I called around to a couple shops and got a bid for $800 - $1000 to swap it in for the new engine.

I called the kid and offered him $2800 for the car, then I figured it would cost me $2300 for the engine swap and I would have a sweet 325i for $5100 total.

To make an already long story shorter this was not a simple process. The harnesses weren't compatible, the valve cover had a tiny hole in it, the ECU kept fucking up, the o2 sensor kept fucking up, it wasn't pretty. In the end it cost $2500 for the swap and it took 2 months. Part of the reason is because I got so fed up with the first mechanic went off on him and took my car to another shop.

I never had to change the tranny at all and the engine runs pretty good now it has a lot of pep but it does some wierd things like when I'm in high RPMs and let off the gas when it drops below 2.5k the exhaust sounds irregular (not sure how to describe it - it just doesn't sound like it is smothly reving down it kinds of jumps around like a boxer engine.. sorta)

I love the car though its very fast and looks great so overall I'm happy but it was a pain in the ass. Paying $6600 for the car is a little overpriced in my opinion though - especially when your planning on paying $5100. ghead

If your going to do it might as well go for the m3 because A.) its much better and B.) your going to be emptying your pockets anyways.
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Old 08-19-2004, 06:12 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Thanks for the info. Believe me I would much rather buy an M3 and just be done with it but that would run me 15K and blue book for my car is around 5K in good condition (which mine isnt in due to various electrical + tranny (also electrical) problems). So I wouldnt even be able to get very much cash for it. I realize that swapping it is a big hassle the only reason I would think it could work is if I am wililng to spend 2-3K on the labor, and then 3K on the parts, that runs me 6K, where as even if I sell my car for 5K I would still have to spend 10K on buying the M3 and that is a best case senario. I dont know, thats just my thoughts, but it based on response it seems like an engine swap isnt worth it at all. So I think I am stuck
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Old 08-19-2004, 08:22 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Just curious, if I was able to buy just the transmission, how much would it cost to convert the car from auto -> manual and would this be worth it/possible?
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Old 08-20-2004, 12:53 PM   #6 (permalink)
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If you have a car worth say... 4k, and 6-7k to spend then you really have like 10-11k for a car right?

Here's a couple things I wish I would have done instead of a swap (hindsight is great):

1.) Sell your car for as much as you can (before anything else goes wrong), then get a 60 mo. loan for 10k (that would be under $200/mo with interest) and get a 2001-2003 used 325i with about 50k miles (check out autotrader.com there are consistantly listings like that)

2.) Sell your can and buy a car that is cheap, reliable, and has low depreciation (like a lancer or an altima to name a few) - then save up another 10k and buy a e46 325i (see 1.)). Unfortunately cheap, reliable, low depreciable cars look like shit

All depends on your situtation though if you are in a position to save in the next few years or not, exactly how good of condition your car is in right now, etc, etc.

Personally, I'm probably going to go with route 2.) until I get about 15k then I'm gonna take out a 10k loan and get a 2001-3 330Ci 50k miles for about 25k.

Sucks we can't all drive brand new M3's
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Old 08-20-2004, 12:57 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I myself would like a new M3 AND the brand new M5
and alot of other cars too... :P

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