Frequently asked Questions:

1) Q: Did the swap affect the weight balance?

A: No. The LS1 is an aluminum block whereas the old m20 engine was an iron inline 6. We put our car on 4 point scales and the weight came out to be 60lbs heavier than the original car, however the weight distribution was still perfectly balanced. This is because the t-56 6 speed transmission is larger than m20’s so the weight of the current engine package is more centered in the car.

2) Q: Does AC, power steering, cruise control, tach, etc still work?

A: Yes! We’ve managed to keep everything working on the car. The air conditioning blows cold, we can put on cruise control on the highway and idle along at 60 in 6th gear doing 1000rpm and steering is as light as ever.

3) Q: How much did it cost?

A: $6800. As far as parts involved in getting this running our total came to approximately $6800. We had additional expenses in supplying our garage to make the swap happen (engine hoist, welder). We additionally got it painted when we were finished so our total is more like $10,000. A full parts list is included in the swap guide CD.

4) Q: What else will I have to do if I get your kit?

A: The kit includes engine mounts, transmission mount, brake hydroboost reposition linkage, radiator mount, and a second differential mount that tightens up the rear end. The only remaining things you get to get fabricated are your exhaust system which any exhaust shop can do, and have your driveshaft (usually comes as part of the engine package with the transmission) shorted to a proper length to interface with the BMW rear differential.

5) Q: This is cool. I want one. Where do I get started?

A: Our Swap Guide CD is an awesome place to start. It goes through every part, step, picture and engineering diagram we created in building our monster. We sell it for $100 and it’s in the form of a 20 chapter, 250 page PDF. We’ll knock that price off if you eventually decide to get a kit from us. Then, find a clean E30. Join the message boards – r3vlimited.com and bimmerforums.com.

6) Q: How fast is it?

A: I hope I don’t get thrown in jail for confessing this, but I’ve taken it up to 165…at which point it felt like I was floating and got really scary, although the car wasn’t even close to being topped out. I’ve done 130 UP mountain passes. Getting a 0-60 time is rather hard but it’s in the vicinity of 4 seconds. It does 0-100 in ~9 seconds. I’ve beaten a C63 AMG¬†Mercedes 60-120. Same with a 911. It’s fast enough to get yourself into A LOT of trouble.


  1. Does the LS1 allow for working heat and AC? I’m considering this swap – going for a street fighter look and being able to back it up – but I need AC in Louisiana!

    1. Hi Joel,

      You can purchase a used LSX motor from lots of junk yards. Our was $4000 for the engine, transmission, and driveshaft out of a wrecked Camaro Z28.


  2. Hi Garret,
    I bought your swap manual a while back and have finally begun work on my 86 325es. In your guide you indicate that you used a GM 22W x 17T x1.25 radiator, but no part number or vehicle of origin is indicated. Do you remember what car the radiator was intended to be used in? I appreciate any help. Thanks for putting out the manual. It’s been a huge help!

    1. Hi Bret,

      I’m really happy to hear the Swap Guide has been helping you! Our radiator was the style of the 84-86 Camaro and bought from jagsthatrun.com (similar to this one , but not the kit). Additionally, we had to replace one of the endcaps to have the outlet in the right orientation. All that should be covered in the guide… strange. Others have had success with various other aftermarket radiators however so anything around that capacity/dimensions should hypothetically work (no guarantees however!).


  3. I’m curious if your kit will work for every year, 2 or 4 door, and 3,5, and 7 series e30? Also did you have to upgrade your radiator or does a stock radiator do fine? I’m very interested in this kit and plan on buying an e30 as soon as I get rid of a couple projects and I would like to do a 6.0 swap with a t56. Thanks for your time!


    1. Hi Ryan,

      The kit will work on all 86-91 3 series BMW’s (aka the E30 body type). The chasis of the 5 and 7 series is completely different so our kit will not work with the bigger cars in the model range. We had to replace the radiator to accomodate the larger engine displacement, space limitations, and performance issues. We are currently running an aftermarket 84 trans am style aluminum racing radiator with the outlets redone to accomodate where we needed them to be. All the info and steps on how to do this is included in our PDF Swap Guide CD that we’re selling for $99. Check out the products page! Glad to hear you’re interested. The car in fun as hell and was a blast to build.


      1. Well, just to touch bases with you. This up coming Tuesday I will be buying my E30! So hopefully I will be buying your CD within the next week or so! I’m super stoked about this project!

      2. Congrats man! The e30 is an awesome little car. Absolutely loved mine when it was stock and now love it 10x more with the power!!


  4. I just wanted to let you guys know that I book marked this page and read your thread as I am hoping to do a LS1 swap into an E30 in a few years as a drift project! If I end up following through with choosing a Ls1 in an E30 I will definitely be using your guys’ guide.

    1. Thanks for the interest man. One of these engines would be perfect in a drift car because they are all aluminum engines whereas the old one was an iron inline 6 so we only gained about 60 lbs in the entire swap. Additionally, the transmission is much beefier than the old BMW one so much of that weight is centered in the car and not hanging over the front wheels. Our car came out to near 50-50 weight balance when we put it on 4 point scales.


    1. It will absolutely work! The only thing that you would need to consider is that most of the 318’s had an open differential so you’ll want to swap in a limited slip diff. We have a 2.93 and it’s great – there is more than enough torque and the car is light enough that running a tall gear actually makes the car very drivable, however if we were to swap ours out I’d put in a 3.44. More tire roasting ability…not that we can’t spin the tires whenever we want, but that would just be rowdy.


  5. Hi, love your car. Im looking to do this swap with my e30 soon. Does it work with a 318i ? would the weight distribution still be fairly even ?

    1. It definitely works with a 318i! We’ve already had one customer who started with the 318 as his base. The only thing you have to think about is the 318 has an open differential…and you’ll definitely be wanting a LSD with the power of the LS1.


  6. i stuck between a 302 or the ls1 i can do a whole 302 swap for about 2000 with kit and all drivetrain whats the advantage of an ls1 swap for another 4000 more jw thanks …. Josh

    1. I really solid option is the 5.3L truck motor (the L33). It’s the same block (and bolt patterns) as the LSX engine family but they can be picked up for about $1000. Definitely look into it as a solid budget option!


  7. so I have to let you guys in on my project, i bought a E30 from an old man who had it parked on carpet in his garage with the floor mats hanging outside the car when he didnt use it and the car got washed once a week and waxed twice a year. its basically mint. It is a 4 door 86 325e that i just bought a 5.3 for and i have a camaro 6 speed transmission for it as well. i am also swapping a full 2004 VW jetta leather interior including dashboard into my car. i will be sure to post up some photos. i look forward to purchasing a swap kit and the swap guide. great job with all you do for us trying to do this swap. much thank you to you guys. i will be pulling my original engine out obviously. is there much market for selling the original motors? mine was fully rebuilt 4000 miles ago.

  8. Hey, it’s Ryan again!

    I’ve been doing a LOT of research on this build. I know I’m set on doing a LSx swap for sure and keeping all the accessories on the motor. Question I have, with a ls1 and t56, this gives the car a 50/50 weight distribution? The motor I’m wanting to use is the lq9. I can pick the motor up, all accessories, wiring harness, and ECU for $800-1200. I need a 6.0 for my build to work. Problem is, the lq9 is an iron block along with the heads I’m using. This makes the motor around 85-100lbs heavier than the ls1. So with that much more weight in the front, will it throw off the weight distribution too much or be too strenuous on the motor mounts? What kind of problems could I run into going with the iron block instead of aluminum? What would you guess the weight distribution would be with a 100lbs heavier motor? Thanks for your time and I’m almost ready to purchase your instructional CD! Hope all is well! Have a good one!

  9. Ryan I am doing a similar swap im using the 5.3 motor which is also about 100lbs heavier. from the research i have done you shouldnt run into any problem unless you really plan or taking hard turn where your front tires are squealing under grip. i dont imagine understeer will be a issue unless you plan to maybe do autocross with it or something like that. invest in some good rubber and you should be all set man. i would imagine the motor mounts will hold up just fine as well. if you look at the design of them all your weight transfer goes into the body and gets distributed throughout. hope that help you a little

  10. Garret and Steve,

    I am thinking about undertaking the E30-LS1 project next fall. Do you plan to still be producing kits then?

    Also, I know its the last thing on your mind when building a V8, but what kind of fuel efficiency do you get out of your car?


    1. Hi Joe,

      We plan on making these kits as an ongoing project. Surprisingly we get really good gas mileage because the car is so light and with the 6 speed tranny we can cruise on the highway in 6th gear going 70 at 1200 rpm – basically idling along at highway speed. Hope that answered your questions if you have any more feel free to email me at garretvs@gmail.com


      1. I was looking more for a specific number when you’re not driving it hard. “good” is pretty relative, as my current car gets 45 MPG, hehe.

      2. Haha fair enough. I might have to get back to you on an exact number but I feel like in the past when we checked it get close to 30 mpg on the highway and low 20’s in town. The key is just keeping the rpm low since the moto has so much torque that you can basically idle around everywhere in a higher gear than normal. Honestly though even driving it pretty hard I get close to 20 because of the highway mileage. It’s impossible to not put your foot down in this car…

  11. I have been looking into both the Ford 5.0 swap and the LS1 swap for my 1989 325i. I saw that with the 5.0 swaps you need to pound out the tunnel for the transmission in order to fit the bellhousing section of the trans. Did you also need to pound out/modify the trans tunnel when doing the LS1 swap?

    Thanks for any info!

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