Let me start off by saying that I don’t particularly like engine swaps in cars. I feel as if you lose the entire soul of the car when you take its engine out and replace it with something different. More so when it’s something from another brand, like the famous GM LS1 swap for an E36 M3. But even when it’s something from a similar car, I find that engine swaps take away from the car and defeat the purpose of buying that car. Having said that, I like this engine swap and I like this car.
In the latest episode of The Smoking Tire, Matt Farah drives someone’s BMW E30 325i that’s had its engine swapped with the S54 3.2 liter I6 engine from an E46 M3. The S54 is a famously amazing engine that revs high, sounds incredible and has great power. It’s way more powerful than an E30 M3, forget a 325i. So this little car is quick. Plus, it has the five-speed gearbox and steering rack from an E36 M3, with a lightweight clutch and flywheel, upgraded suspension and brakes, it’s been gutted, stripped out and caged. It also looks ugly and beat up and basically has no interior. This thing looks like a mess. But it seems fantastic.
A lot of the time, people who modify their cars are just either showing off, or just doing what everyone else seems to do to fit it. But this owner seems to have just wanted to have an E30 that was crazy fast and drove really well, regardless of how it looked or seemed. Farah gets in, takes off and is immediately impressed by how it drives. It seems so planted and the ride actually seems pretty good. It looks a bit bouncy, but certainly not overly so and it even seems kind of comfortable over rough pavement. The steering looks incredibly direct, with Farah needing very little steering input to get through turns. He notes how fantastic the steering is about a hundred times.
But the real star is that engine. The S54, according to the owner, is making about 300 hp to the rear wheels, which is a lot in an E30. It flings the little 3er around with serious force, as it’s meant for a much bigger, heavier car. So it’s a monster in this E30. It also sounds great, not too loud but not too quiet.
Overall, this is just an awesome build, as it seems like it’s just meant for driving and nothing else. This owner isn’t messing around with fancy wheels or air ride or any of that nonsense. He even pokes fun at the Stance Works crowd, claiming them to just ruin cars. Cars like the E30 3 Series aren’t about how pretty they look, they’re about how they drive. Farah has driven a lot of people’s cars in his videos, many of them top-dollar builds that look very nice. But I’ve never seen a video where he campaigns to buy the car so much as he does in this one. It genuinely seems like a car that’s flat-out awesome to drive and it’s how every BMW build should be. Forget stancing a car out, I wanna drive it.