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  1. #1
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    E39 528i 5-speed to 553i 4-speed underway

    After a few months of deliberation, an a bunch of rides in a friends supercharged 04 GTO, I realized I just wasn't going to ever be satisfied by the I6 turbo in my E39. The car has a ton of grip, and the chassis is just not as nimble as the E36 (way more cruiser-esq). So I sold my motor to a friend, sorted my parts to the side (so I can sell them over time) and went on my way to acquire some Chevy parts.

    Found a Chevy 5.3L from a 2002 silverado with ~80k miles on the clock on craigslist for $600 and picked it up Saturday. Need a GTO belt drive, some kind of oil pan (maybe?), a custom harness with PCM (have most of the plugs already), a starter, some valvetrain mods, a cam, and an LS1 intake (for now).
    Click here to enlarge


    Sunday a friend and I went to the junkyard to pull a nice 4l80e I'd spotted. It was in a 1995 Chevy work truck with AT&T inspection stickers, so I figured it would have had an easy life and be well maintained. It looks like new inside (should have taken more pics with the pan off).
    Click here to enlarge
    Click here to enlarge
    Click here to enlarge

    I'll be sourcing an FTI high stall converter (3,200-3,500 RPM) and eventually get a performance rebuild on the tranny. Still deciding whether to run an optishift controller or to try to wire in a stock PCM to control it. Looks like the stock shift linkage from an E39 auto will bolt in, and preliminary measurements say the whale of a transmission should just barely fit in that tunnel, almost like BMW meant for this beast to go in.

    I'm hoping to test fit it before the week is over, but I have to clean my subframe up and do a few things to the car before I'll be ready for that. Once I verify everything will fit, the engine will get stripped down a bit, parts will be ordered for it, and I will pick up some 1/4" plate to start making motor mount arms with.


    The car won't stay NA for too long, I simply don't have the 6 grand laying around that the magnacharger is going to require to make some real power on this thing. I'm winging it on this swap, so feel free to ask questions, I just might not have the answer figured out yet

  2. #2
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    Awesome dude.
    Click here to enlargeClick here to enlarge

  3. #3
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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by GG///M3 Click here to enlarge
    Awesome dude.
    Thanks Click here to enlarge

  4. #4
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    So cooool, keep the updates coming bro Click here to enlarge

  5. #5
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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by GG///M3 Click here to enlarge
    Awesome dude.
    rep a $#@! Click here to enlarge

  6. #6
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    AWESOME! GM V8 swaps are where it is at.

    Why 4-speed auto though?

  7. #7
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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
    AWESOME! GM V8 swaps are where it is at.

    Why 4-speed auto though?
    The main motivation for this swap comes from the issues most have with making turbo cars reliable. Given that autos absorb drive-line shock, the auto will let me drag race with less fear of breaking parts, and turn faster et's at the same time.

    I haven't driven my car since October, I don't want it down again for more than a week.

    Also, the V8 going in my fc will get a stick, and my truck has a stick, so I'm not really itching for a manual car (and ill have manual control of the 4l80e for gear selection).

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    Dude good luck looks like alot of fun. Gonna be one hell of a ride.

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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sorena Click here to enlarge
    rep a $#@! Click here to enlarge
    O I have.
    Click here to enlargeClick here to enlarge

  10. #10
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    Do it, cant wait to see how it comes out.
    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Twinturbom3 Click here to enlarge
    Keep on jealousing.

  11. #11
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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Bimmerdude Click here to enlarge
    The main motivation for this swap comes from the issues most have with making turbo cars reliable. Given that autos absorb drive-line shock, the auto will let me drag race with less fear of breaking parts, and turn faster et's at the same time.

    I haven't driven my car since October, I don't want it down again for more than a week.

    Also, the V8 going in my fc will get a stick, and my truck has a stick, so I'm not really itching for a manual car (and ill have manual control of the 4l80e for gear selection).
    Makes complete sense to me.

    What kind of truck?

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    Its an 88 Toyota pickup.

    4wd, 5-speed, 22re (fuel injected) 87k original miles, working R12 AC (and a small stockpile of replacement refrigerant).

    Off to bend a roll cage for a friends car - should be fun.

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    So did some more measuring tonight after I got home. Things keep looking better for how easy this swap will be.

    Frame rail to frame rail is around 29" the engine from the furthest point to the furthest point (on the exhaust manifolds) is around 30". This means that with some minor modification to the exhaust manifolds (or some custom headers) the engine will have no width issues.

    The transmission will require some BFH work, but most of it will effect my pedal area very little (might have to slightly clearance the gas pedal, but that will be determined later).

    Height wise my oil pan might need a bit of clearancing on the steering rack to get the engine as low as I want, but its just some cutting with a grinder and tig welding by a shop.

    Also prepped the chassis to put the subframe back in, should have time to get some good test fitting and preliminary bracket work on Friday. I'll do my best to take pictures, its difficult working alone safely but I know they may help someone else as well so I'll try to make time for it.

  14. #14
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    kool stuff dude
    Click here to enlargeClick here to enlarge

  15. #15
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    So finally had some time to work on the truck....err "car" motor today.

    Removed the intake manifold, cleaned up the heads a bit to try to keep gunk away, and taped the ports shut:
    Click here to enlarge

    Did the same with the exhaust manifolds/ports:
    Click here to enlarge

    Removed the sway bar from my subframe, from the looks of it I might be able to use the truck oil pan (we'll see, if not there is an entire thread on off the shelf oil pans, or a dozen companies who make custom pans for <$400, or I might be able to "chop shop" the pan if there is a clearance issue). This might mean I need to use a different sway bar (aka make a sway bar), but it shouldn't be that hard to relocate it and make it work if it comes to that. Also need to drain and remove the power steering res. and pump still, I'd left them connected because I was staying BMW motor, but the chevy pump will interface so its time to make a mess of this stuff.
    Click here to enlarge


    After that I decided it was time the engine and transmission got hitched, so here they are after saying I do (with 5 of the original 6 bolts, as, well, the LS motors aren't exactly the same as a small block chevy, and this transmission came from a small block chevy).
    Click here to enlarge



    Hoping to get the subframe back in the car tonight, and if I'm lucky have enough time to re-rig the engine on the hoist and try to slide it in place for a test fitting, might not happen today, or frankly until next week, but heres to hoping.

  16. #16
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    Good work. When you plan to have it resting in between the shock towers?
    Click here to enlargeClick here to enlarge

  17. #17
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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Bimmerdude Click here to enlarge
    So finally had some time to work on the truck....err "car" motor today.

    Removed the intake manifold, cleaned up the heads a bit to try to keep gunk away, and taped the ports shut:
    http://www.bimmerboost.com/images/im...IMAG0251-1.jpg

    Did the same with the exhaust manifolds/ports:
    http://www.bimmerboost.com/images/im...IMAG0252-1.jpg

    Removed the sway bar from my subframe, from the looks of it I might be able to use the truck oil pan (we'll see, if not there is an entire thread on off the shelf oil pans, or a dozen companies who make custom pans for <$400, or I might be able to "chop shop" the pan if there is a clearance issue). This might mean I need to use a different sway bar (aka make a sway bar), but it shouldn't be that hard to relocate it and make it work if it comes to that. Also need to drain and remove the power steering res. and pump still, I'd left them connected because I was staying BMW motor, but the chevy pump will interface so its time to make a mess of this stuff.
    http://www.bimmerboost.com/images/im...IMAG0257-1.jpg


    After that I decided it was time the engine and transmission got hitched, so here they are after saying I do (with 5 of the original 6 bolts, as, well, the LS motors aren't exactly the same as a small block chevy, and this transmission came from a small block chevy).
    http://www.bimmerboost.com/images/im...IMAG0255-1.jpg



    Hoping to get the subframe back in the car tonight, and if I'm lucky have enough time to re-rig the engine on the hoist and try to slide it in place for a test fitting, might not happen today, or frankly until next week, but heres to hoping.
    It's awesome to see a project like this take shape.

    I'm wondering if we need a motor swap section but perhaps leaving it in the chassis section makes the most sense.

  18. #18
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    Thanks, and I say leave it here. Other forums have a less performance focused group, no need to split the group up more with more subforums here.


    Got a little more work done last night and this morning, I have to drive across the state now for a friends graduation party, and tomorrow is shot for car work since its kinda mothers day Click here to enlarge.


    Subframe is back in the car, although this appears to be a repeat process - the center portion will have to be hung from the struts repeatedly to pull the engine in and out, the oil pan doesn't clear otherwise at the angle I have to drop this beast in at.

    The transmission tunnel has been clearanced a lot, I didn't take final measurements this morning, but I managed to move the drivers side in about an inch, and the passenger side a hair over 1/2" (the electronics for the tranny are drivers side). I'll probably have to run a through bolt rubber mount drivers side to keep the engine from moving as much, but those are cheap and easy to make, so I'm not too concerned yet (will be mocked up on the stock mount for now). I think once I have a friend to help (since I won't go under the car with the engine supported only by the hoist and subframe not bolted in without someone else here) wiggle the motor in, I will be able to get to making some motor mounts.

    I still have a a couple grand to spend on parts before this will be near running status, so it may take a few weeks depending how crazy I go on everything right off the bat (I'd like to cam the motor, put in pushrods, rocker arm mods, valve springs, and a high stall FTI torque converter).

    I got a bit of relief yesterday when I got in contact with Dan @ diffsonline. He is selling me an M5 diff casing, with input stub for my driveshaft, output stubs for 540 half shafts (at least, thats the intent), and I'm dropping a ring/pinion/LSD from a 2002 E46 M3 in it. My gas mileage will probably suck (.75:1) overdrive puts me at ~2850 RPM's at 80, which probably won't do me any favors with a 5.3L, but at 65, its only ~2300, so it may not me that aweful if I just putz around a bit more, still not T56 mileage though (at least it runs on 87!).

  19. #19
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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Bimmerdude Click here to enlarge
    Thanks, and I say leave it here. Other forums have a less performance focused group, no need to split the group up more with more subforums here.
    Agreed, makes sense in the chassis section and this will work well. I try to keep the forums as focused as possible.

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    Ok, I'll start by saying - everything I did tonight is not near complete, I measured the mock up parts before heading upstairs and discovered that I'm about 1/2"-1" off in width, but its a really good start.

    So, before cutting my 5/16" plate steel into pieces and just hoping it would fit/work, I decided it would be easier to make some mock up motor mount arms out of some 1/8" door skin material, and a 1x3 (I think?).

    Started by making the plates that bolt to the engine itself (double thick to get somewhat close to the steel plate dimensionally)
    Click here to enlarge

    Then I took about 20 measurements, 3 different times, got all different numbers, and said screw it and drew a template out, cut 4 of the same shape and made two of these.
    Click here to enlarge

    This is what it should look like assembled.
    Click here to enlarge

    Took some measurements on my subframe (again, I don't ever trust myself). The BMW rubber mounts sit about 5" above the subframe (allowing for 1/4" of compression) and the steering rack is about 3-1/8" tall where the oil pan will sit, I use 3.5" to give a bit of clearance to the engine can move around, I can always put shims between the arms and the rubber mounts if this isn't enough. So 5" minus 3-1/2" gives me 1-1/2" from the bottom of the oil pan, up to the bottom of the arms. Holding the mounts in place, I measured until I got that dimension, marked it out and screwed it together.
    Click here to enlarge

    So, both of those made, might be an inch or so too wide, will have to take them apart and trim a bit off the inside, really not a difficult task, its just late and I'm really tired.


    I took a couple pictures of the trans tunnel, the hammering work is much more evident in person, for some reason my camera just won't capture it, but you can see I cut off the brackets on each side for the old ZF tranny cross member, a number of studs, and beat the crap out of most of the trans tunnel for the first 16" or so.
    Click here to enlarge

    Tomorrow I'm hoping to finish my mockups, and maybe get started on cutting the steel plate so I can get the motor mounts finish welded early this week. I should have bought a spare subframe to work off of, but its not worth the expense at this point.

  21. #21
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    One suggestion for the transmission tunnel: start using a "dolly". The more you pound that metal, the closer you'll get to punching through it. I definitely think a hammer is the way to go....using a bottle jack and plates isn't going to apply enough force in my experience.

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    Thanks for the tip, I really should have been hammering with a plate/saddle of some kind.

    But it actually should be moved enough now (I hope). The biggest problem I had is that the condenser drains ran down both sides (thats what those grommets are) and the rear floor vents are ducted right behind them. All 4 pathways are still open enough that I can blow through them, the rear vents are much less of a concern to me, but hopefully its there. If I have to hammer it more I think I'm going to run new condenser drains just to be safe, I don't want to have water pooling in my frame.

    I was using a hammer with a pretty good surface area and hitting "gently" on the weaker areas. I wish my carpet came out easy so I could stitch weld a few of these seems together.

  23. #23
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    Question, how do you know the tranny will fit?

  24. #24
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    I've measured the width of the tranny every few inches or so, and then measure from a common point on the firewall (where I think it will land) and check the trans tunnel width. If it doesn't the hammer comes back out, but I don't want to test fit until the mounts are the right width.

    I'm making new cutouts tonight, the old ones were each an inch too wide, and its just easier for me to start over, have the template done already, so shouldn't be too much longer until those are finished.

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    Are you doing this all yourself?

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