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carbuilder723

BMW S54 into S30 Chassis - Build Thread

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Hey everyone, 

So I've been into doing this swap for over a year now, collecting parts along the way, planning, building my engine, test stand, and most recently getting my s54 running. SO i figure it's about time I start a thread that I can post up pictures, and progress as I go.

So it all started back in 2017, when I bought my first Z. It was a white 280z, tan interior and was pretty stock overall. I loved to it and it really got me hooked. I drove it for a while and once I started to get this idea seeded in my head of swapping in a BMW motor, I began to realize, that I had the wrong car to start out with. It was in good shape, had been repainted real nice, but it had been in a front end accident at some point and the front frame rails were a little buckled in front of all of the suspension pickups. Not wanting to deal with that or some of the other things that may have been hiding under the fresh paint, I decided to sell it. In the mean time while selling the white one, another one showed up on craigslist (of course) about 40 minutes from my parents house.  My Dad did me a solid and went to look at the car for me and was able to report that it was in reasonable shape, but not running.

Long story short, I bought that blue car in May 2018 and then stored it in Virginia for almost a year while I finished selling the white 280z and started building my S54 completely fresh and planning out what I wanted to do with the rest of the build.

 

So that is basically the back story. The next few posts will be for my engine build and the test stand that I build for it.

 

 

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Not that it will directly interest too many people here, but my S54 build was pretty in depth and took place over about 8 months. I sourced parts from all over the place, but had the block bored out, decked, and aligned honed on the mains. I managed to find a 30k mile crankshaft that measured out with the micrometer to be completely nominal on every journal (rod and mains) that I had dynamically balanced with the new pistons and rods to within 1gram. Should spin nice and smooth all the way to 8200rpm. Standard cams and a bunch of parts that are known to "bullet proof" these otherwise finicky engines and a nice paint job and I ended up with a very pretty engine if nothing else.

 

Along the way I had picked up a BMW 5speed transmission out of a 328i for really cheap and decided that would be what I use moving forward. Now that I had the engine and transmission, it was time to connect them up and see if I could get them to function on their own, outside the car. Enter the Engine Test stand side project. 

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Engine Test Stand... This step probably wasn't entirely necessary, but I did it so that 1) I could get the engine running after an 8 month build process and 2) so that I could work out any of the bugs with the wiring and the computer before trying to integrate it into the car. I wanted to know that this thing actually worked before it made its way into the car.

 

I bought a new welder and some raw material and went to town. Most, if not all of the accessories I have, will be used once the engine is in the car again, for consistency sake. some of those include:

full suite of custom speedhut gauges that will make their way into the car

Z Car depot 2-pass aluminum radiator

Mishimoto 10-row oil cooler (may make this bigger eventually but this works for now)

Bosch 044 fuel pump

Summit 10 micron inline fuel filter

Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator

ATL Well Cell fuel cell

Kassel Performance tuned MSS54HP ECU set up to run as a standalone engine management

 

In addition to all of this, I wanted to use the actual front cross-member from the 260z to hold the engine on the test stand. This where some great forum members helped out immensely. Luckily, there are a few more rogue people like me that have put BMW engines into S30s and did some really great work to document how they did it and BMW was nice enough to make the engine pickup points the same on their 6-cylinders for nearly 20 years. RTz actually went through the effort to make engineering drawings of his engine mounts and M3240z documented his build with lots of pictures that have helped in a big way. I can't thank those guys enough just for helping me get to this point.

 

Once this thing was done being built and everything mounted up, wired in and ready to go, it finally started for the first time on July 31st, 2019. She ran great with almost no issues. I plan to do a very basic "break in" while it's on the stand and go through a do a full leak check. Once it's installed in the car, I will do the actual break in procedure that my machine shop recommended. 

 

Next post will be about the car...

 

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With the engine built, and the test stand operational, let's take a look at the car itself.

It's a 74 260z, VIN in the high 28,000 range. When I bought it, it didn't run which didn't matter so much since an engine swap was the prime directive. 

The body was in really good shape from every indication I could see. Frame was straight, floors not rotted out (depsite being a little dented from someone who didn't know where to put the jack), battery tray completely mint. The only area of concern I could find was along the rear valence in the sheet metal behind the rear bumper. But it was isolated to that area and seems to stop well below the license plate. Other than some minor hail damage, the sheet metal is as good as i could expect for what I paid.

 

Like I mentioned in my first post, after I bought the car, I stored it for nearly a year in Virginia while I built the engine. (I live in Michigan). Once I finally had the car in Michigan, I made short order of completely stripping it of every part I could find that had a fastener. Now the car is sitting on jack stands in my garage. That is pretty much where the car sits for now.

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Other projects I've completed in the mean time: 

Rear differential build:

               - 83' 280zx R200

               - 3.90 ring and pinion

               - Mfactory HLSD 

               - new bearings all around and a fresh coat (several actually) of paint

CV axle build

               - '84 300zxt CV shafts

               - 4340 shorter axle shafts from White Head Performance

               - 27 spline companion flanges from White Head Performance 

               - stock 27 spline outer stub axles that came with the car

 

Can't say these next ones are projects, but they are parts waiting in the wings until I go to put this whole thing back together.

Full T3 rear suspension

Arizona Zcar front brake kit

IMPUL steering wheel

Recaro Profi SPG seats

Vintage Dashes replacement dash board

 

 

 

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Looks good, it looks like your engine is already together so it may be something for latter, Lang racing offers a widening service for the rod bearings that is supposed to eliminate the rod bearings wear these engines experience.  Even after 2 recalls most cars run hard still wear out the rod bearings around 60k.

It should be a nice engine for the lighter e30.

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4 hours ago, grannyknot said:

Fantastic, the S54 is certainly the best straight six BMW ever made.  Are you really going to run your trumpets like that, sucking road dust into your pristine cylinders?  It would sound glorious though.

The trumpets will have their own individual filter setup before it runs on the road. Just haven't gotten them yet.

 

3 hours ago, caperix said:

Looks good, it looks like your engine is already together so it may be something for latter, Lang racing offers a widening service for the rod bearings that is supposed to eliminate the rod bearings wear these engines experience.  Even after 2 recalls most cars run hard still wear out the rod bearings around 60k.

It should be a nice engine for the lighter e30.

As far as the bearing wear issue, I have heard of Lang's service and I have also heard mixed things about that process. I decided to just use the best OE crank I could find and if I need to service the bearings every 60k miles, that's not too bad considering that is going to take quite some time to rack up that many miles.

 

And yup, aiming for 340hp and 2500lb. Should be more than enough while still being balanced.

 

Today was about seats and getting the glass out. The Recaros are going to fit great. I just need to get them lower down in the car. I have the side mounts and sliders coming this week. 

 

I got all of the glass out of the body with no drama, except that I cracked the windshield. Any specific places known to have quality replacements? Seems like $150 is the going rate for one from the normal Z stores.

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19 hours ago, carbuilder723 said:

 

I got all of the glass out of the body with no drama, except that I cracked the windshield. Any specific places known to have quality replacements? Seems like $150 is the going rate for one from the normal Z stores.

I've heard a few times over the years that the new windshield glass is a slightly different shape around the corners and can cause some leaks if not sealed up properly, personally I would pick up an old one.

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