Wednesday, October 23, 2013

15k: Three's A Crowd: 1987/88 BMW E30 3-Series with S50/S52 Swap

Regular tipper and SF Bay Area car aficionado Kaibeezy sent us a tip on a nice looking E30 BMW 3-series with a later M3 engine swapped into the front...but then he sent us two similar cars and we were presented with a dilemma. Which S50/S52 swapped E30 do we feature...and logically the answer is all three.  Find these S50/S52 swapped cars, a 1988 BMW 325is for $14,500, 1987 BMW 325i for $12,500, and 1988 BMW 325is for $9,000 for sale in the Bay Area via craigslist.  All tips from Kaibeezy.

Up first is this 1988 325 with an S52 from a 1996-1999 US spec M3, good for 240 horsepower and 236 ft-lbs of torque from 3.2 liters.  Power to weight ratio should be much improved compared to either an E30 M3 or an E36 M3 and it should make for a great driver.

This next E30 with S52 power is presented in a decent shade of white paint and with a well detailed listing from the seller.  This swap has been put through the full BAR approval process and is 100% legit to register and smog in California.  In truth, the S52 swap is probably simple enough that most smog technicians wouldn't notice the difference, but to be within the law requires some hoop jumping that the previous owner of this car has done.  Great!

The final swapped E30 uses the S50 1995 M3 engine, a 3.0 liter inline-6 that makes the same 240 horsepower, but puts out a bit less torque at 225 ft-lbs.  The difference between S50 and S52 will be hard to tell from the driver's seat in such a lightweight chassis and this one will probably be just as fast as the previous two examples, but offered for a big discount.

Decision time.  Which one would you choose?  See a better inline-6 swapped E30? email us here:


  1. hey, how about some comments here - these are right down the DT pipe - plus the swaps are "in the family" and two of them indicate "professionally done", which is at least some comfort they aren't held together with coat hanger wire - which would you pick? i'd take the black one, most inconspicuous

  2. I just think that regardless of engine selection, not many folks are going to want to stomach $9k - 15k for a non-M E30.

    I'd just buy the E36 from which these engines were extracted and be done with it. for example.

    I'm all for sleepers, but a 240hp E30 is still an E30. Great enthusiasts car but for people who can afford a $15k car, their $$ is going to be better spent elsewhere.

  3. Gimme the bar certified car's keys please. See you at smog in two years.

  4. What's an S52? Is the average person supposed to know this? The drivers side fender has been repainted (color mismatch).


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