xflowgolf
xflowgolf Dork
10/6/17 10:12 a.m.

The want is strong upon seeing this one on BaT:

LS2 6-Speed '02 BMW 5-series wagon

...and I've seen a few in the past that I've tickled my fancy.  This one was fairly well known as well:

https://bringatrailer.com/listing/1999-bmw-528it/

Which got the gears going.  What other V8-Manual trans wagons exist that would be a viable DD and haul 4 people?  This seems like a fairly achievable build now that it's been tackled by a few people.  LSx swaps are fairly commonly available at reasonable prices.  E39's have depreciated, but still not too thin on the ground.  

Has anybody built an LS swapped E39 on here succesfully?  

Any kits to use/stay away from? Build threads? Better forums? etc.  Tips/Tricks? I've heard easier to start with a 528 instead of a 540? etc.  Drool.  

 

Robbie
Robbie PowerDork
10/6/17 10:49 a.m.

the 528 and 540 have very different steering setups. I think the 528 is rack and pinion and the 540 is like a truck with a pitman arm. I believe the consensus is because of this the 528 is the better place to start.

Furious_E
Furious_E SuperDork
10/6/17 11:18 a.m.

I've been drooling over GM B Body wagons again recently, which would fit the bill nicely with a T56 swap.  Not only would that make for a viable DD, but could serve as tow pig as well (hence my attraction.) I would think an LSx would drop in pretty easily, though I question whether it would be worth the effort over the LT1 unless you had some really lofty power goals. 

 

CyberEric
CyberEric Reader
10/6/17 11:24 a.m.

Yeah the 540i and even the M5 have recirculating ball steering because the DOHC V8 ate up so much room (not a problem with the LS). 

The 528i's had rack and pinion. That's the only reason I can think of that you'd want the I6 E39 over the V8.

xflowgolf
xflowgolf Dork
10/6/17 12:20 p.m.
Furious_E said:

I've been drooling over GM B Body wagons again recently, which would fit the bill nicely with a T56 swap.  Not only would that make for a viable DD, but could serve as tow pig as well (hence my attraction.) I would think an LSx would drop in pretty easily, though I question whether it would be worth the effort over the LT1 unless you had some really lofty power goals. 

Oh that's always my other backup dream daily build.  :)  

I had a '91 Olds Custom Cruiser that was a blast as a cruiser, but I think an E39 and a B-Body are two different animals entirely.  The whale wagon can play truck duty much better.  The E39 would actually give you that German fit and feel, more like a CTS-V wagon but on a GRM budget.  

I wouldn't track either car, just a fun family funster street build that could do this: 

dannyzabolotny
dannyzabolotny Reader
10/6/17 1:15 p.m.

Honestly, given the cost and effort of doing the LS swap (even if you do everything on your own), it's still cheaper to swap in an S62 + 6-speed from an M5 into a 540i wagon. You get an OEM feel and everything works properly. That takes you to 400hp without any additional mods.

I followed the build thread for the brown E39 LSX wagon and it ended up being extremely costly, to the point of where it's almost cheaper/easier to buy a CTS-V wagon. The electronics are a nightmare, with the BMW electronics not wanting to talk to the GM electronics. Getting AC/cruise control/ABS working is also tricky. Those don't matter for a track car, but for something that you want to daily drive it's quite nice to have everything functional.

I guess what I'm saying here is that you have to absolutely *love* the idea of swapping in an LS, because it's certainly not a low-cost swap, nor is it an easy one.

Chris_V
Chris_V UberDork
10/6/17 2:52 p.m.
dannyzabolotny said:

Honestly, given the cost and effort of doing the LS swap (even if you do everything on your own), it's still cheaper to swap in an S62 + 6-speed from an M5 into a 540i wagon. You get an OEM feel and everything works properly. That takes you to 400hp without any additional mods.

I followed the build thread for the brown E39 LSX wagon and it ended up being extremely costly,

The same guy that built that brown LSx wagon just finished a supercharged S62/6speed swapped E38 that is absolutely gorgeous. But, it was quite costly, too.

https://petrolicious.com/articles/this-engine-swapped-six-speed-sedan-is-the-m7-that-bmw-never-built

There is still the electronics to deal with though the E38 has the added difficulty of not coming with a manual trans so there are additional steps to get everything to play nicely together. It'll be slightly easier on the E39 due to the factory 6 speed manual option, bu tthe engine itself still won't be cheap. And you'll want to rebuild it due to them not being the most reliable at higher miles, and that's going to cost more than an LSx as well. The LS can get you more power, cheaper, with greater reliability overall. It just won't have the cool factor of building a "factory" M5 wagon. ;)

dannyzabolotny
dannyzabolotny Reader
10/6/17 3:43 p.m.
Chris_V said:
dannyzabolotny said:

Honestly, given the cost and effort of doing the LS swap (even if you do everything on your own), it's still cheaper to swap in an S62 + 6-speed from an M5 into a 540i wagon. You get an OEM feel and everything works properly. That takes you to 400hp without any additional mods.

I followed the build thread for the brown E39 LSX wagon and it ended up being extremely costly,

The same guy that built that brown LSx wagon just finished a supercharged S62/6speed swapped E38 that is absolutely gorgeous. But, it was quite costly, too.

https://petrolicious.com/articles/this-engine-swapped-six-speed-sedan-is-the-m7-that-bmw-never-built

There is still the electronics to deal with though the E38 has the added difficulty of not coming with a manual trans so there are additional steps to get everything to play nicely together. It'll be slightly easier on the E39 due to the factory 6 speed manual option, bu tthe engine itself still won't be cheap. And you'll want to rebuild it due to them not being the most reliable at higher miles, and that's going to cost more than an LSx as well. The LS can get you more power, cheaper, with greater reliability overall. It just won't have the cool factor of building a "factory" M5 wagon. ;)

Yeah, the E38 is a lot trickier electronically due to the E38 never having an S62 option. The E39 is a lot more straightforward.

I guess the costs depend on how you source the motor. An LS will be cheaper for sure, especially from a junkyard, but you'd want an all-aluminum LS if you wanted to keep the balance the same, and those tend to cost more since they're mostly found in Corvettes. An S62 will run you anywhere from $3k-$6k depending on the mileage. I wouldn't hesitate to buy a higher mileage engine, the actual engine block is solid and can last for hundreds of thousands of miles. A full engine overhaul for an S62 would be $1k-$2k for new gaskets, new rod bearings, etc. This is assuming you do all the work yourself.

Now the LS might be cheaper to overhaul before installation, but when it comes to actually making the LS fit, that's where it gets tricky. Motor mounts, transmission mounts, transmission cross member, shifter, etc. All of that stuff gets to be pretty pricey unless you're a master fabricator, whereas the S62 drops right into a 540i with no modifications needed. And then with the LS you have to deal with making it play nice with the radiator, power steering, AC, cluster gauges, etc.

In the end you might be a little ahead financially with the LS swap, but it certainly isn't cheap. And you'll probably spend twice as long getting everything to work properly. Now if you're trying to get a BMW wagon to 800hp, then the LS swap option starts to make a lot more sense, because you'll spend a LOT of money trying to get an S62 to those power levels.

02Pilot
02Pilot Dork
10/6/17 4:29 p.m.

My fantasy when I had my E39 525i was to swap in an S54. I'm sure it's a nightmare, but I firmly believe that BMWs are supposed to be propelled forward by naturally-aspirated inline engines.

xflowgolf
xflowgolf Dork
10/6/17 10:22 p.m.
dannyzabolotny said:

I followed the build thread for the brown E39 LSX wagon and it ended up being extremely costly, to the point of where it's almost cheaper/easier to buy a CTS-V wagon. The electronics are a nightmare, with the BMW electronics not wanting to talk to the GM electronics. Getting AC/cruise control/ABS working is also tricky. Those don't matter for a track car, but for something that you want to daily drive it's quite nice to have everything functional.

I guess what I'm saying here is that you have to absolutely *love* the idea of swapping in an LS, because it's certainly not a low-cost swap, nor is it an easy one.

Well to be fair, the brown build was done as a no expense spared, all brand new everything build. 

Im not suggesting this to be "cheap" to do correctly, but it also could likely be done magnitudes cheaper than the cost to build that one.  I also think dependable power is more easy to come by vs. the S62 swap or similar BMW swap options, and even an iron block LS isn't going to be noticeably heavier, if any, in a street car. 

I was more wondering if somebody made a harness or the like to make the gauges play nicely.  The canbus interface or wiring shenanigans are the part I would get stuck on.  It seems there's plug and play mounts and such, and the GM management is easy to tune/wire since there's LS swapped everything and support on that side, so the hard part is making the BMW side play nicely. 

stuart in mn
stuart in mn UltimaDork
10/6/17 11:19 p.m.

If you could find one that was in good shape, an earlier e34 5 series wagon would probably be an easier swap subject.  There's a lot less computer stuff to deal with.

Nathan JansenvanDoorn
Nathan JansenvanDoorn Dork
10/7/17 2:14 a.m.

Danny, the gauges etc are actually quite easy to deal with (recode to analog if necessary) and swap mounts are available off the shelf, as is a suitable oilpan. 

vazbmw
vazbmw HalfDork
10/7/17 5:51 a.m.

In reply to xflowgolf :

It's not an e39, but here is what I did on my e34 Lsx e34 wagon

Jaynen
Jaynen SuperDork
10/7/17 6:50 a.m.
vazbmw said:

In reply to xflowgolf :

It's not an e39, but here is what I did on my e34 Lsx e34 wagon

Thats awesome. I also like how you told that guy if you have to ask how much it could cost to do then it would not be worth the money to you to have me build you one lol

Patrick
Patrick MegaDork
10/7/17 8:16 a.m.

In reply to Furious_E :

As an LS1 swapped b body owner, yes it's worth it.  

xflowgolf
xflowgolf Dork
10/7/17 10:44 p.m.
vazbmw said:

In reply to xflowgolf :

It's not an e39, but here is what I did on my e34 Lsx e34 wagon

Awesome! 

infinitenexus
infinitenexus Reader
2/6/20 6:25 a.m.

Necrobump.

 

I was having fond memories of my 2003 M5 this morning and fantasizing about LS swapping an E39 one day.  How are the factory transmissions in these cars?  I know some people turbocharge these engines and I haven't read about transmission issues in those situations.  Is there a way to connect an LS V8 to the factory BMW transmission, and is the factory 5 speed enough to hold a mild LS?  Seems like that would make things a lot easier if it was possible.  

MTechnically
MTechnically Reader
2/6/20 7:34 a.m.
infinitenexus said:

Necrobump.

 

I was having fond memories of my 2003 M5 this morning and fantasizing about LS swapping an E39 one day.  How are the factory transmissions in these cars?  I know some people turbocharge these engines and I haven't read about transmission issues in those situations.  Is there a way to connect an LS V8 to the factory BMW transmission, and is the factory 5 speed enough to hold a mild LS?  Seems like that would make things a lot easier if it was possible.  

The transmission is a Getrag 420G, which is quite well known to handle additional power very well. One of the challenges is that the transmission is technically non-rebuildable. Getrag does not supply rebuild kits.Though I believe there is someone in California that does service them for $$$$.

The usual course of action when one faila s it to just replace it with a known good unit.

infinitenexus
infinitenexus Reader
2/6/20 9:11 a.m.

A quick google shows me that there's lots of adapters available to mate an LS to the Getrag 420G.   This definitely makes the idea of LS swapping an E39 much easier.  And E39s are getting super cheap these days, especially the 528s.  Hmmm, possible ideas for a future challenge car?  

buzzboy
buzzboy HalfDork
2/6/20 9:31 a.m.

Somebody on Bimmerforums makes engine/trans mounts and swap headers for E39s.

chandler
chandler PowerDork
2/6/20 1:57 p.m.

Wasn't it JakeB that did a bunch of them?

golfduke
golfduke HalfDork
2/6/20 2:45 p.m.

I don't have a dog in the fight aside from owning and enjoying an M62 540i Sedan.  Having done some research and futher prodding, I honestly think my next step for ultimate family hauler/cool-factor carnage is going to be an S62/420G swapped wagon.  The engine would be the pricey part, but it'd be mostly* plug and play, and would be a hilariously fun cruiser-hauler.  

 

infinitenexus
infinitenexus Reader
2/7/20 8:04 a.m.

After seeing pimpm3 get a decent E39 for $500, I'm having dreams of being able to find a similar deal, sell the interior to recoup the money, and race it in the 24 hours of lemons and 20xx challenge, and then hunt around for a cheap 4.8 LS and swap that in.  It's nice to dream!

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