Frequently Asked Questions

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Bimmerforums Engine Conversion forum
"Lawson's Build Thread"
"What do you guys think about the 5.0?"
"5.0 and T5 in E36"

Will my car pass emissions?

In our opinion, it's everyone's responsibility to do our part for clean air.  We used the following tools to keep emissions low:
- We kept stock emissions controls such as EGR, O2 sensors, etc.
- We installed a high-flow aftermarket catalytic converter
- We performed preventative maintenance (cleaning fuel injectors, new O2 sensors, etc.)

Whether or not your car passes emissions depends on 4 things:
- The year of your car
- Local laws and regulations
- The type of emissions test. 
- The actual emissions the drivetrain produces

If your car is a 1992-1995, it has OBD1, so you shouldn't have any problems, especially if If your emissions test simply 'sniffs' the tailpipes.  If your car is 1996-1998, it has OBD2 and passing emissions may be a problem if your emissions test requires connecting to your car's OBD2 computer.  (You would have the same problem if you kept your OBD2 BMW motor and converted it to OBD1, such as many BMW enthusiasts do.) It also depends on if you are going to use catalytic converters and/or smog pump.  

In addition to emissions tests, some municipalities prohibit installing and engine that is older than the car.  Each state and municipality is different, so it's better to do your own homework.  We cannot be responsible for your emissions compliance.  

How much does the swap cost?

The swap can be done for as little as $1,000 after you sell your BMW drivetrain.  It depends alot on how cheap you can obtain the 5.0 drivetrain and how you want to complete the swap.  For example, it's possible to reuse the existing 325/328/M3 exhaust instead of running new exhaust.  Also, it depends on how much work you put into the 5.0, such as preventative maintenance and go-fast goodies.

How long does the swap take?

It depends alot on your automotive skills, but installing the 5.0 is no harder than removing the BMW engine.  You can minimize your downtime by prepping the engine & wiring before pulling the BMW engine.  We show you how in the manual.

We can guarantee one thing - it won't take nearly as long as it took us!  Figuring out how to make it work is the hard part - like taking 2 steps forward and 1 step back.  If you buy our conversion parts, the 5.0 literally drops in and you just have to make the connections.

How hard is the swap?

For a gearhead, it's not too bad.  There's no welding required, no hammering on the firewall, no custom crossmember, etc.

What conversion parts do you supply?

We can supply you with the stuff you can't buy somewhere else.  We sell the:
- Engine mount brackets
- Transmission mount bracket
- Conversion manual
See the Products page for more details.

What engine/transmission do I use?

The Mustang 5.0 from 1987-1993 is the one we cover in the manual.  Also, we cover the T5 manual transmission.  These things are cheap and plentiful.  If you want to use any other engine/transmission combo, you'll have to figure some things out yourself.  The wiring is a little easier if you use 92-93 harness because it has a fuel pump relay.  

What about the 351/carb'd engines?

The 351 will probably fit, but you'd have to go carb'd due to hood clearance.  ALso, the 351 may hit the brake booster.  Lastly, the 351 headers may hit the frame rails because the engine is wider.

Carb'd engines would require less wiring, and you don't have any emissions stuff to worry about.

What about transmissions?

The conversion assumes you'll be using the Mustang T5 transmission since it's plentiful and cheap. If you want to use any other transmission (Tremec, AOD, C4, etc.), you'll need to make your own transmission mount.

How hard is the wiring?

It's not as hard as you think.  Less than 20 soldered connections, and your 5.0 harness is ready to connect to the E36 harness!  We show you exactly how to do it in the manual.

What kind of power/speed can I expect with the 5.0?

The 5.0 is mediocre in stock trim, but have you ever seen a stock 5.0?  That's a beauty of it - unlimited parts combinations and cheap upgrades.

Head/cam/intake combinations can get you nearly 300 rwhp.  Forced induction can get you there, too.  Combine the two and you've got stupid power that will break the tires loose at any speed.

We suggest aluminum heads for more power and less weight (AFR 165's work great), different intake (Explorer intakes are cheap and effective), underdrive pulleys, and larger TB and MAF.  This combo should get just under 300 rear wheel horsepower.  Add nitrous or supercharger and presto! Stupid power!

What ways does your swap kit save time & money?

- You won't have to install and remove the engine 30 times!
- You won't have to spend hours reading a German wiring diagram!
- You won't waste hours making engine mounts
- You won't have to figure out what fits and what doesn't
- You reuse many BMW parts such as the engine crossmember, fuel pump, electric fan, etc.
- You avoid buying a custom $375 steering shaft
- You avoid buying custom headers
- We show you the cheapest place to buy the parts you need to finish the swap
- No banging on the firewall. 
- No brake booster relocation. 
- No ABS relocation. 
- Drop the engine in one time with our engine mounts. 
- No cutting or banging on the transmission tunnel. 
- You won't have to buy alot of parts that you won't use!

What is a typical cost breakdown?

Here's a typical cost breakdown for this swap:
5.0/T5 assembly   $800 mounts and conversion manual $325
Conversion parts $500
Driveshaft work $200
Exhaust work $200
Sell BMW drivetrain $1,000 (profit)

Why should I do the 5.0 swap instead of a LS1 swap or forced induction?

- It's cheaper
- It's more reliable (than forced induction)

Will these mounts fit an E30?

No - see

Can you do the swap for me?

No, we don't do swaps for other people, sorry.

What about other engines and/or other cars?

Sorry, we don't have any knowledge or intent of swapping other engines in E36 BMW's or 5.0's in other BMW models (other than the E30 5.0 swap, we do intend to get to that one).  We don't have LS1 swap parts, sorry.  Vorshlag Motorsports, New Age Hotrods, and Nash Motorsports all specialize in E36 LS1 swaps.

Does this swap work on a 318 or a 325?

Either one will work.  We think the Z3 should clear the intake.  318ti's, OBD2, OBD1, they all should work.

Do you have E34 5.0 kits?

I don't know if they will or not.  You are welcome to try the mounts to see if they work in an E34.  

Can you sell me a driveshaft?

I can, but it will be more expensive than you having one made.  All details for the driveshaft are in the manual.

Will the rear end hold up?

The BMW differentials can handle alot of power, especially the M3 units.  The turbo E36 crowd has figued out many solutions:

Can I use the 318 wiring harness?

You'll use the 5.0 harness and the main connector off your BMW, and splice them together.  It's the big plug next to the master cylinder.

Do you have a conversion for an automatic transmission?

It's easy to convert an auto car to the Ford T5 manual transmission.  Just add the clutch pedal and clutch master cylinder, and it's not too bad.  You can use the Ford C4 or AOD easily enough.  You'll probably have to drill holes in the trans crossmember.  You might be able to reuse the stock auto shifter.

Can you sell me a complete package?

No, just the parts listed on this website.

Do you have the engine/transmission mounts in stock?

All parts listed for sale are in stock.

What about supercharger and/or turbo?

If you want to supercharge or turbo, you'll need a little extra room between the front accessories and the radiator.  You can get this extra space in the following ways:
  • 'Push' the radiator forward, mounting it up in the radiator supports.  This would involve some cutting and maybe welding.
  • Use a 94-95 Mustang or Explorer motor.  This gains you 1 3/4" of space, as the accessories are  shorter.  You'll have to figure out a way to mount the power steering pump, but it shouldn't be too hard.

What about the 2003/2004 Cobra 5.0?  What about the Mustang 4.6 motor?

Both of these motors are much larger than the older 5.0 motor because they have double overhead cams.  To swap this in would require ALOT of cutting and welding because the motors are much wider.

What about OBD2 and California emissions?

BMW's built in 1996 or later use OBD2, with stricter emissions.  The only 5.0 that has OBD2 would be the 96-98 Explorer motors and perhaps the 94-95 motors.  There is one person that has swapped a 94 or 95 Mustang motor in his car and it passed CA emissions.  He installed Mustang shorty headers rear-facing.  To install these, he had to cut out part of his frame on the drivers side to fit the header, and weld pieces back on.  Details on his build are located here:
Please note that our manual only covers 87-93 Mustang emissions and wiring.

What about EGR, smog pump, etc?

Most 5.0 guys remove the smog pump, plumbing, and plug the back of the heads.  This will be required in this BMW swap if you run front dump headers because the smog pump would be in the way of your exhaust pipe.  The EGR is a separate system that really should be left in place.  It is a self-contained unit on the throttle body that helps MPG and emissions with no impact on performace.  When you remove the EGR, you will have idling problems.

What about 5.0 and 302 engines from other years and models?

The 302 has been produced starting in the 1960's as the 289.  I can't tell you what will and won't work, but here is a rough summary:
  • Older engines are carb'd, V-belts, no roller cams, with front sump oilpans
  • In the 80's the 5.0 started getting roller cams, fuel injection, serpentine belts, and rear sump pans
  • The 87-93 Mustang HO is generally the best choice, especially if you can get it with the T5 attached
If you find a deal on an engine, you should consider the following items:
  • Find out if it has a good factory compression ratio
  • EFI systems built for economy, not performance (Crown Vics, vans, trucks, etc.)
  • 87-88 Mustangs had speed density systems, while 89-93 Mustangs have the more desirable mass air systems
  • If you go carburetor and plan to swap out heads/cam anyway, then most any engine will work
  • Oilpans are cheap, so its easy to changeout a front sump to a rear sump
  • The 5.0's found in large cars/vans/trucks may be cheap but will their factory HP ratings suck.
Learn more here:
We have assumed that you'll use the cheap and plentiful Mustang 5.0.  If you want to use another engine, you'll need to consider the following problems:
- Accessories may be different
- The oilpan may not be rear sump like a Mustang
- Wiring will be different
- Other differences such as headers, coilpacks, intake heights, transmissions, and other differences.

We are not experts on the 5.0.  We don't have any experience with drivetrains other than 87-93 Mustang 5.0/T5.  If you decide to go with another engine, you'll have to figure out some things on your own.

Click here to see photos and more details

Anatomy of a 5.0 swap:

(Click for larger size)

Stock BMW engine:

stock m52

Front end removal:

front removed

Empty engine bay (cleaned):

empty bay

Prepping the 5.0:


Upgrading the intake:


Back together with new parts:

back together

Dropping it in:

dropping it in

5.0 in place: 

in place

Getting closer:


Driver's side mount:

passenger side mount

Front dump exhaust & Y pipe:

drivers mount

5.0 computer in stock location:


One-piece driveshaft:


Single 3" exhaust: