Why do I like posting American V8 swaps to German cars? Well, in part it’s because they’re a fantastic performance value. In dollar per horsepower produced, it’s just downright hard to beat a package like the GM “LS” line. Yes, they’re a blunt tool compared to the precision work that typically characterized the stock motors the original car came with – but sometimes, you just need or want a big hammer. The “LS” wasn’t just a a unintelligent lump of iron, though – with aluminum construction, they’re often lighter than the engines that they replace. Two of the favorite chassis to stick these engines in are two of the best regarded, best handling chassis out of the box that enthusiasts love to modify – the Porsche 944 Turbo and the BMW M3:
All posts tagged m3
For some time, there was a giant gulf in between European-spec cars and U.S. spec cars. Granted, part of that divide still exists today if the large assortment of cars that do not make it to these shores, but at least enthusiasts can rejoice that at last – for the most part – performance versions that are available in Germany are very close to the same that we receive here. One of the last notable cars to exhibit the large divide was the E36 M3; while Europeans enjoyed over 280 horsepower from the individual throttle body S50B30 in 1992, the later released U.S. spec M3 carried an entirely different motor with some 40 horsepower less. Though the S50B30US is certainly a great motor by itself, the knowledge that the “better” version existed across the pond somehow took a bit of legitimacy away from it. Also differentiating the European versions were better floating rotor brakes, better glass headlights, better lower and stiffer suspension, and some neat interior options:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1994 BMW M3 on eBay
I have to hand it to the BMW crowd; no one pulls off as many clean swaps as we see from the them, and no group gets as creative. Sure, there are plenty of VR6 Mk.2s that look slick and the 1.8T is finding its way into plenty of different Volkswagens, but often the VW swaps have a list of needs longer than their builders’ ironic beards. That doesn’t mean we don’t see our fair share of poorly executed BMWs too – but today isn’t one of those days. While the current swapoholic candidate is the E30 chassis, this enterprising individual decided to go all vintage on the bandwagon and chose a clean E21 instead. Kudos, sir – well done right off the bat. Then, with a clean motor swap, a slick interior from a Volkswagen, brakes from a Volvo (no, really!), and some minor plastic surgury, they created one heck of an appealing package – perhaps one of the nicest aftermarket-built E21s I’ve ever seen:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1983 BMW 320i on eBay
Going to the track is like any other addiction; it has its highs and lows. You may start going with a stock car, but soon you’ll feel the need to modify the suspension, beef up with wheels and tires, throw on some racing brakes, strip the interior and all of that heavy stuff that slows you down like air conditioning, sound deadening, and seats. Then you drop a cage in and hit the track; all smiles, no doubt, but it’s been an expensive journey and your track weapon is really only good at fast laps for a small percentage of its existence; the rest of the time, it just sits or is exceptionally uncomfortable and inconvenient as a daily driver. Plus, modern cars have gotten so expensive and complicated, with enough computer aids that they can nearly lap themselves. What is an enthusiast to do, then? Well, you can look towards some perennial favorites that helped to establish the reputation of BMW; the M3. In this case, I have two examples that are set up to hit the track – a racer E30 and a street-drivable but track-biased E46. Which is your flavor?