One of the most common engine swaps for E36 and E46 BMW M3s is the Chevy LS V8 swap. The Chevy LS V8 fits well and provides kick-ass V8 power to a a small, rear-wheel drive coupe. So it’s pretty easy to see why so many people do it. However, there’s something that feels inherently wrong about putting a Chevy V8 in a BMW M3. But the allure of putting a V8 in such a car is quite tempting. So what did the guys at Technica Motorsports do to have the best of both worlds? They put a BMW S65 V8 from an E92 M3 in an E46 M3. This E46 M3 build is featured on the latest episode of The Smoking Tire.
The E92 M3’s S65 V8 engine displaces 4.0 liters and makes 414 hp from the factory. There’s s specific engine tune and a different air intake on this build, so it makes a bit more power but not by much. Now, when most people do the Chevy V8 swap on an E46 M3, it’s usually to make it a drift car. The overwhelming torque of the V8 makes the E46 such a tail-happy monster. Yet, the torque in the S65 comes on so gradually and it doesn’t make peak power until it’s near the top of its 8,250 rpm redline. So it feels quite natural in the E46 M3, as the power builds in a smooth linear fashion.
It sounds fantastic as well, with the screaming mechanical sound of the S65 as it approaches its stratospheric redline. The E46’s normal 3.2 liter I6 is a great sounding engine as well but the S65 V8 is one of BMW’s best-sounding engines.
There was one small issue with the build, though. Fitting the E46’s steering rack around the much larger V8’s headers required some extra flex joints. This causes a bit more a dead spot on center and sort of takes a bit away from the E46’s brilliant steering. Technica Motorsports thinks that an E92 steering rack would work but hasn’t tried it yet, as this isn’t a cheap build.
Overall, though, it seems that Matt Farah is a big fan of this build. Apparently, it still feels like a BMW and like it could have come with this engine from the factory. It’s also very fast and makes a brilliant sound. We also like that Technica Motorsports didn’t change the way it looks much, as the E46 M3 is such a good looking car. This is probably the best V8-swap E46 M3 we’ve seen and the guys at Technica did a great job.