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E46 Engine Swaps
Replacing your motor? From direct replacements to more exoctic engines, if it's going under the hood of an E46 3 Series this is the forum to discuss it.

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Old 08-13-2019, 07:28 AM   #1
e46forlife207
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Located E46 LS6 Swap in Florida, thoughts?

I found this E46 ls swap for sale in Florida and have been talking to the guy after this auction ended.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/2000-Other-...53.m1438.l2649

He did all the work himself. He states they are no issues besides the A/C lines needing to be run. The CEL does come on, but thatís due to no BMW DME (according to him). The OBD port for the LS doesn't throw any codes though.

Cosmetically, the car is rougher than I would like, but that's not a big deal if it's built right. He's asking $12k. What do you guys think is a good price? Any other questions I should ask?
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Old 08-13-2019, 04:23 PM   #2
Matt 330LS
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My Ride: 330Ci
Year: 2001
Transmission: T56
Fist of all is it a clean title or a salvage title? That may not matter in some areas, but it could in others (if you care). I bought my car in TN with a clean TN title. When I moved to WI they did the title search to change it to WI and I discovered it was originally a flood salvage out of GA that was likely "title washed" in TN. I didn't care too much since I was making a track car, but I would certainly have used that in price negotiation. Plus I don't like being mislead.

I'd ask for pics of the build progress, particularly where he did subframe reinforcement (what kit, was it welded in or just panel bonded). I'd also ask the condition of the LS6 when it went in, what did he do, if anything, to freshen the motor up. Who did the trans rebuild? How many miles has he driven it since completion and is it generally well sorted.

I suppose you'll have to look at this as two different pieces. The first is the GM driveline and the second is a 236k mile BMW. $12k doesn't seem too bad for what it looks like you're getting but I'd try to negotiate down a little and see what he says. I mean, it didn't sell on eBay right? How bad does he want it gone?
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Old 08-14-2019, 07:00 AM   #3
e46forlife207
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Wow, very interesting. Yeah, definitely. A carfax should show something like that I would think.

Great questions. I really appreciate the help.

Yeah, and he's moving next month. Does it look like he missed anything important that you would have done first? Also, how difficult would the A/C lines be to run? I would think he would have done that so it would sell for more if it worked.
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Old 08-18-2019, 12:31 AM   #4
bremerd1
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My Ride: 323
Year: 2000
Model: CI
Transmission: ZF 5HP19
If the car really has all those things done to it (recently, and with decent parts), then 12K is a good deal. A quick check of Ebay shows LS6 engines going for ~$4k a little more (~6K) if they are a 'pull out' that has the transmission attached, and all the electronics included...

I'm in the process of getting a LS3+T56 put in my 2003 325Ci, and I was in for something close to 12K before I ever put a dime on the engine and transmission swap.... Sub-frame reinforcement, new suspension/bushings/rubber bits, wheels, fix all the gotchas with the convertible top and old rubber bits... The list to 'get it right before the swap' can be endless.

As far as his post on Ebay:
He list a power steering cooler (not sure why).
The fuel pump is a must on any LSX swap, as is the custom driveshaft.
He lists a M3 rear subframe - best to ask about the diff/axles (M3?). If it's got a M3 rear-end in it, those are going for about $1K, and then you have the rebuild cost on top of that...
I agree with the previous post on the rear end reinforcement; The reinforcement can be done several different ways - it'd be good to know what exactly was done, and how. (PSI in Orlando did mine - they tied it into the suspension towers on the inside of the trunk, and didn't just add on 'plates' on the bottom of the car...)
The bushings and bearings are a big deal if they were swapped - that's not a inexpensive job to have it done at a proper shop with decent parts (and all the post-refresh work like the alignment toe-in, castor/camber set (requires more aftermarket parts - the plates that allow you to do this)...
What brand coil-overs?
Who did the CAN-BUS module used to drive the gauges?

The AC lines would need to be custom on any swap. Zero2Sixty Performance has them specifically as a line item in the estimate for my swap - $500. Without the DME, will the AC even work? (We are doing a piggy-back for my swap - the DME will stay in the car...)

By the time I get completely done with the swap, I'll be north of 20K... 12K sounds quite reasonable, even if you have to put a little 'make it nice money' into it (and you will).

I saw one of these on craigslist with a LM7 (5.3L) a while back. It was also listed at $12K, but in the pics, the car was in far rougher shape, and it had a smaller engine, and a 5 speed (I don't remember the transmission in that one).

If you are within day trip range of Jacksonville, it'd be a good Saturday/Sunday trip to go look at it closely in person.

Dan B
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Old 08-19-2019, 08:22 PM   #5
e46forlife207
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Dan B,

Thank you so much for all detailed information to run with! I'm several states away, but I'm trying to justify a trip down there to see. Based on your research and depending on his responses to some of these questions, it sounds like a worthwhile trip and a good deal.

Thanks again,
Matt
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Old 08-20-2019, 08:03 PM   #6
bremerd1
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My Ride: 323
Year: 2000
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Transmission: ZF 5HP19
Sure!

Keep in mind daily driving something like this can be challenging. Most shops won't be able to work on it. Oil changes, sure. Troubleshooting a drive-line issue, knock, clunk, or vibration will be challenging unless you have someone that is willing to dig into it. (I'm lucky in that respect - I've developed a very good relationship with a local shop (not even the shop doing the swap!) over 15+ years that isn't scared of the 'non-standard' work, as long as I'm not in a hurry to get the vehicle back).

Good Luck!

Dan B
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Old 08-21-2019, 05:42 AM   #7
e46forlife207
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Thanks!

Wow, that's very interesting. So I actually have a 2001 330ci 5-speed that I've redone the headliner/pillars on and almost finished dying the seats, etc. on the inside along with a bunch of other cosmetic items and immediate maintenance needs I paid a shop to fix. It runs great and only has a small oil pan leak, but that's it. My original plan was to look for a used supercharger/injector kit on here and start going through the expected maintenance items myself. I was starting to get worried that it had too many miles, 141k, for all of this investment when I found this E46 ls swap which has always been a dream. Would you stick to the original plan or go look at the swap?

Thanks,
Matt
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Old 08-23-2019, 08:12 PM   #8
bremerd1
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My Ride: 323
Year: 2000
Model: CI
Transmission: ZF 5HP19
I ended up in a similar dilemma. I purchased a '00 323Ci, and went completely through the car: engine oil leaks, transmission replacement, repaint, interior overhaul, HID lights, suspension... there wasn't much left to to do to it. With the engine and transmission gone through entirely (and all the money spent doing so), I didn't want to try and swap in a new driveline. The 323Ci had 160K when I started the refurbishment (2 years ago).

I also looked into the supercharger- and came to a similar conclusion: it wasn't worth the money on such an old engine with high mileage. A 330 swap would end up north of 7k, and at that point I should just keep going, since I'd never get anything close to the money I spent on the car if I sold it...

About 2 years later (a year ago now), I found a '03 325Ci with a blown engine (warped head), and a myriad of other maintenance items... So I purchased it, spent a year systematically repairing/replacing _everything_ (including a engine, so I could move it around and actually drive it), and will be embarking on the swap on the 9th of September. The 325Ci had about 124K when I purchased it.

I know I'll never get my money out of the car, but that's a non-issue for me.

My original foray into BMWs was in 2005: I bought a '00 323i sedan. I gave the car to my son in 2017 when he turned 16. It had nearly 300K miles on it. He is still daily driving it (~340K miles and still ticking). I wouldn't worry about the miles as long as you don't mind the upkeep...

If your car runs well and you want to keep it as-is (and have the spare money to put on a LS swapped toy), then it's worth chasing the LS swapped car. LS swapped old BMWs are not a sound investment - you can pick up a low mile C5 corvette for less, and a LT1 trim C6 for about the same amount of money...

Dan B
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Old 08-26-2019, 07:18 AM   #9
e46forlife207
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Good to know and very exciting.

Yeah, not so much worried about getting a return on my money but more what is the better bang for my buck.

That is quite the testament to what these cars can do when properly cared for and very cool you could pass it along to your son.

Sounds good. I'm going to get more information on this ls swap and see what kind of deal I can make as I really want to stick with an E46.

Thanks again for all the help and information. This has really helped me not only evaluate this ls swap but digest several different options I've been considering with these cars.

Best,
Matt

Last edited by e46forlife207; 12-14-2019 at 05:56 AM.
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