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About this blog

Not-tired M42 motor swap into a 1976 2002. On the cheap.

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The M42 got ratchet strapped to a furniture dolly when I yanked it out of the donor wreck, and I've been stumbling over it and banging my shins on it and generally cursing the space it takes up in my tiny workshop (a.k.a. closet) ever since.

So I said to myself "Self, let's just get this damn thing in the car. Figure the rest out later."


Installation was the reverse of removal; put M42 on '02 front subframe, put the whole mess on a furniture dolly, jack '02 up just for enough for it to clear the top of the motor, and lower the car down 'til the subframe bolt holes line up. Don't forget to reconnect the steering box. Which I forgot to do on my first try, of course.

Pay no mind to the enormous wad of wiring that still needs sorting.

With the new motor in, yet so far away from being in running order, I felt the need to celebrate. Let's grab a beer, sit in the car, and make vroom vroom noises!


Those seats'll do.

For those who might be curious, I used the ClassicDaily motor and transmission mounts, which worked perfectly. I'll be ordering up a ClassicDaily exhaust header very soon.


With all of the holiday family and road trip fun out of the way (drove my M3 all over Arizona, New Mexico, and even a little bit of Texas - fun trip!), I finally got some time to work on the '02 again, and set aside a full day last Sunday to pull the old motor and transmission out.

I'd been considering renting an engine hoist to yank the motor out the top, but then a closeup inspection of the suspension revealed that most all of the rubber bits on the front of the car are worn, cracked, tired, missing, or all of the above.

So I decided to drop the whole front subframe, along with the engine and transmission, jack the car up a bit, and then wheel the whole mess out from under the front of the car on my handy little motorcycle hoist.


Which worked surprisingly well. Old, tired M10 and 4 speed transmission, OUT!

I still need to detach the whole mess from the subframe and replace all of the rubber suspension bits, but having the subframe out of the car should make the suspension work a little bit easier. And I need to do a bit of research and figure out if there are any bits or pieces on the motor or transmission that I need to keep before I give it away.

Big gaping maw:


Lots of cleaning to do in the engine bay - 38 years of grime buildup all needs to get power-washed away.

Have I mentioned how awesome power washers are? They are awesome. I recently power-washed the M42, too. Notice the layer of slime here:


Hey, there's a nice, spiffy M42 under all that crud, finally visible after 30 minutes of 2700 PSI water blast:


The Virgin Mary herself would be happy to eat breakfast off that intake manifold.

And, lest I fall short on my engine swap project must-do duties, the obligatory standing-in-empty-engine-bay shot:




No updates in over a month! Shame on me.

One of my favorite places to wander on a lazy Saturday morning is the U-Pull junkyard. On my most recent visit back in December, I stumbled upon a little gem for my project:


My donor car had been hit in the front and was missing the probably-destroyed radiator when I bought it, so this had been on my parts shopping list for awhile. Found one with an oil cooler attached, no less! Not sure if I'll need an oil cooler, but can't hurt to have it around.


I'd been thinking of converting to an electric fan setup anyway - score! Got the whole shootin' match for $100. Can't beat that.



As seen in this forum post, I learned that the E21 front bumper fits the 2002 pretty well, and is even curved roughly the same as the front of the car, unlike the stock diving board bumper. A few hours in my favorite local U-Pull junkyard last Saturday (I love the junkyard) netted me a decent aluminum bumper from a '78 320i for $40.

Following tashakes recommendation, I cut two pieces of 1 1/4" galvanized pipe to 11" long, and swapped them in for the bumper shocks, using all of the same mounting hardware.


Drilled 1/2" holes in each end of my new pipes to accommodate the stock bolts, and had to pound the pipe into a bit of an oval shape to get the end on the left to fit into the stock bracket.


Looks pretty good on the car, although I'm not jazzed about the rubber accordion ends where it matches up with the fender. Half of it is from the '02, half from the E21, and it just isn't very tidy. Will need to ponder that some more.


I wish the entire bumper mounted 1/2" lower, too. The bottom of the kidney grilles touch the top of the bumper, which doesn't thrill me. Might need to figure a way to re-do the mounting holes to get the bumper to ride a bit lower.


Maybe I'll like it more with the grilles back in.


Donor Found!

At this point, I still hadn't decided what to do with the '02's motor. I'd been keeping an eye out for suitable VW TDI donor cars, but I was finding nothing in my price range. Even wrecked 10 year old TDIs are fetching $4k or more; too rich for me.

Lucky me, a *local* wrecked 1991 318is popped up in the classifieds here, posted by tommyg500. Tom had even put a coil-on-plug conversion on the M42, and purchased the Classic Daily motor and transmission mount adapter kits. Score!

I immediately made plans to check the car out, and agreed to purchase it that night. Trailer rented, I returned a couple days later to fetch my new prize.


Ain't she PURTY?!??! *ahem*


Aside from a few dings and the big 'ol wallop on the left front, the car was in pretty dang good shape. And it was originally from Canada, so it was lacking the fugly airbag steering wheel.


Here's the donor car, in its temporary home. My garage space consists of only one space, currently occupied by the '02, my stepdad's K1200LT, and my own K1200RS. The space next door belongs to my lovely girlfriend, so the E30 put her vehicle out on the parking-challenged street. Which meant...

I had to bust ass and strip that E30 down as fast as possible to keep my better half happy.

I bought the car on 11/16/13. Here it is again, later that day:



Five days later, I was done. Not bad for a guy who isn't much of a wrench, and only worked on the car after work every other day.


I saved a crapton of parts; motor, transmission, front and rear subframes including hubs and wheels, the seats, the entire brake/ABS system, and a bunch of random parts. The other parts were donated to a new friend I met on the Yahoo E30 list - but I made him stop by and remove the parts he wanted.

Two tools I have come to ADORE since starting this project: The Sawzall and The Cordless Impact Driver. Those two tools saved my sorry white ass from much pain and hell. The Sawzall was especially awesome - instead of messing around with an engine lift, I just cut the front end off the car and wheeled the motor and transmission right out the front with a furniture dolly. How awesome is that? No lifting! No cursing! (well, maybe a little cursing)

Obligatory standing in the empty engine bay shot...


Yes, I AM that dorky.

But, I was pretty damn pleased with myself. THE MOTOR WAS OUT!


Soooooo PURTY!

SRSLY, that's one hellish mess of wires. I'm super-paranoid about having all of the ECU widgets/wires/relays/sensors and any other gewgaws I might need to get this motor running properly and smog-check-able in the relatively primitive '02. So I went a little nutty, saving damn near every wire and relay I could possibly extract from the wreck.

Motor out of the donor car, I wheeled the shell down the street to the local metal recycler who gave me $50 for it. Woo!

Now to get that tired M10 out of the '02...


Next task was to get the ratty old carpet out, and try to chase down the source of a moldy, musty smell in the car.

Once I got the carpet out, I found the sound insulation in the passenger footwell saturated with skanky water. A few hours of scraping, cursing, heat-gunning, cursing, vacuuming, chiseling, and cursing later, I got the nasty stuff out.

Pleasantly surprised to see no rust in the floorboards, save for a tiny bit of surface rust that sanded right off. Jumped in with some red primer to cover the freshly naked metal.



Good enough, for now.


Bumper Removal.

Yep, those godawful bumpers have to go. Starting with the front...



Gives me a better look at the bondo'd schnoz, too.


The rubber accordions on the sides of the bumper crumbled as soon as I started touching them. I hope I don't need them later.

I'm thinking of doing the E21 front bumper setup, as this car will be a daily driver and while I like the look of the small bumpers, I would like a little bit more protection.

I foresee some U-Pick junkyard expeditions in my future...



Having hauled my little victim home, I took some photos to properly document the starting point of my project. Back when I shot these, I didn't know what I was going to do with the car yet; would I fix the M10? Swap in a VW TDI motor? Or maybe find something else to swap in?

Here's how the car looked in its new home, to give an idea of just what I've got to work with:



Not bad. Needs some love, but a worthy restoration candidate to be sure.


Ah, yes. The obligatory "trunk full of random parts, removed by someone else a long time ago".


Granatrot! Whatever I do, I will be keeping the car this same color. I like it.


Previous attempts at reviving the M10 included a refreshed cylinder head, but it was later discovered that the bottom end is bad - she's got a bad case o' rod knock, cap'n.


Previous owner bondo'd out a dent or two on the driver's side quarter panel.


And some bondo schnoz repair on the left front.


Paint is pretty beat up on the sides of the car. The car also sat outside in Seal Beach for well over a year, which deposited a thick layer of sea slime on everything.


Seats and door cards are gone. Carpet is pretty ratty, so that will be going. Thankfully, the dash is crack-free and clean, and the headliner is in okay shape.

More to come...


The Start.

Back in August, my good friend Ray (a.k.a. ray_koke) generously donated a 1976 2002 to my humble cause. The car has a tired M10 with a bad bottom end, no seats, no door cards, and pretty sad granatrot paint. But the car is 99% rust-free and solid, with good glass.

Here's me picking the car up from Ray's friend's shop in Seal Beach, CA:



Neat little car, lots and lots of potential - just needs some love.