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Help with options for an automatic


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I'm looking for advice to get the most fun for a friend who can no longer operate a clutch in his 2002.  My friend is retired and an avid BMW and 2002 owner, and has a pristine 1973 2002 with a 4-speed that he has driven for years.  He drove that car everywhere, including to a novice track day at Watkins Glen.  Recently he has developed trouble with weakening leg muscles, and needs to use a wheelchair and can only drive an automatic.  Not be deterred, he bought a used e39 wagon with an automatic and throws his wheelchair in the trunk and still comes to all our chapter events.  Now he wants to regain the ability to drive his 2002 as well, so he bought a 1976 automatic 2002. But the performance is a little lack-luster and he has trouble adjusting the carbs.


I'm trying to figure out options.  He will sell his '73 4-speed 2002 so he will have some capital to work with to upgrade his '76 automatic.  He wants to convert to fuel injection to get a bit more reliability since it's hard for him to get out of the car to fiddle with carbs.  He also wouldn't mind a bit more performance than the stock carburated m10 coupled to the automatic.  Some options I thought of:


1) Add an aftermarket fuel injection/ecu conversion kit to the existing engine.  Have any kits been plug-and-play, or are we dealing with Megasquirt levels of modification?  Perhaps wake up the engine with a better cam at the same time? 


2) Swap in a later 4 cylinder?  Is there an automatic transmission compatible with the m42 or m44 engines?


Any other suggestions?  I'd really like to help him regain access to his beloved 2002.


Thanks for your help,




Edited by Ian
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Not sure what car's the intended user of the automatic if he's selling his 4 speed car.  If it's a 2002, the obstacle is likely to be the transmission tunnel dimensions. 


Auto '02's had a larger (just wider?) tunnel to fit the auto transmission.  I've not seen how much larger.  E30's with an M42 (later years 318 tbd) and  E36's with M42 (early years 318i and 318ti) or M44 (later years 318i and 318ti) all had available auto transmission options.  I've not seen an M42 or M44 auto transmission but do know that the 5 speed is quite a bit fatter and heavier than an '02 4 speed.  I'm not sure what versions of which were available in the US during what years


Online info indicates that M42's are more tunable than M44 which was basically locked down for emission control reasons.  There are quite a few M42 conversions talked about in the FAQ.  Having driven a 5 speed M42 318ti which is heavier than an '02 by quite a bit, I can guess you'd see significant performance improvement with an auto M42 in an '02.  An M42 or M44 with auto transmission is going to be quite a bit heavier than an M10 with 4 speed but the HP difference will more than overcome that - something like 138 hp for the early M42 IIRC.  Installing either M42 or M44 in an '02 will involve way more wiring and sensor gizmos than an '02 with M10 (but way less than in a modern car).


Anything but an '02 auto transmission will leave you without a way to feed the speedometer since the later cars did not use the mechanical speedometer cable.  A GPS speedometer is the answer to that problem- search on "Speedhut".


Having typed all of that, what about an E21 auto transmission which certainly bolts up to the M10 with no problems?  Inquiring minds may want to know how it compares to the '02 auto box.

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Thanks for the replies.  I edited my initial post: My friend bought a 1976 2002 with an automatic, and wants to update that car, either by converting to EFI or swapping in a different engine.


I like the idea of using a 318i intake, I had thought about that for my own car at one time.

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Not much plug and play of EFI on our cars.  @Dudeland experimented with the Holly Sniper EFI 2 barrel setup and reported issues.  If it was my project, I would go MicroSquirt V3.  In theory, you could use the ECU to just control the injectors on a E30 318i Intake manifold with a 325IS Throttle body.  Then all you would need is a E30 325 in-tank fuel pump, an adapter to mount a different TPS and a Coolant Temperature and Intake Air Temp Sensor to program your fuel delivery.  Later, when you are feeling frisky, you could tackle the ignition using IE's trigger wheel for the M10 and run wasted spark EDIS-4, (super simple and cheap).


Thanks for answering my questions on the S14, I may have more as I go along.



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The sniper efi works ok.  Just before I parked it for the winter I felt that I finally had it pretty well dialled in.  

Since I did my sniper efi they came out with a single barrel version that is for a Jeep.  I feel that if you wanted EFI and weren’t looking to do too much more than modernizing the fuel system it would be a very good candidate. 

If you are hoping for more performance then you need to find a way to move more air .  Converting to TBI efi is not going to give you too much. 

Perhaps port injection will give you a bit more umph. @AustrianVespaGuy is a great source of information on this subject. 

P.S. if you want sequential port injection you will need a full megasquirt and a cam position sensor. 

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This works with 285. CI engines.  The reason I would have a look at is is that the velocity of the air through the single barrel may help with atomization of the fuel.  Just a theory. 


Are you tired of struggling with the old BBD carburetor on your Jeep®? Does your off road rig leave you hanging at...



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I wouldn't even bother with the 3hp22 automatic transmission that came in the 2002. They weren't very good to begin with and are ticking time bombs now. Also good luck finding parts and someone willing to touch a transmission that old.


I would suggest an m42 with an 4hp22 out of an e30 318i. I don't know if anyone has done it with an automatic but you can buy most of the parts for the engine.


To get any newer more reliable automatic transmission to fit you will probably have to modify the transmission tunnel.

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58 minutes ago, 2002iii said:

I would suggest an m42 with an 4hp22 out of an e30 318i. I don't know if anyone has done it with an automatic but you can buy most of the parts for the engine.

I wonder if the m42 bolt pattern would match the 4hp22.  I'm pretty sure the m42 only appeared in the e30 line as the 1991 318is that only came with a 5-speed which I don't think matches the m10 block.  But the idea of an m42 with a 4hp22 is a great suggestion.

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1 hour ago, Ian said:

I wonder if the m42 bolt pattern would match the 4hp22.  I'm pretty sure the m42 only appeared in the e30 line as the 1991 318is that only came with a 5-speed which I don't think matches the m10 block.  But the idea of an m42 with a 4hp22 is a great suggestion.

M4x 4hp22 transmissions were available in euro 316i and 318i.

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I am with Ray on this- there are LOTS of versions of hand- operated hydraulics out there,

and it would be (almost) trivial to hook them up to the 2002 slave,

with a lever right on the gearshift.  Likewise, braking assist, since the 2002 

'boost' is pretty minimal by modern standards.


The challenge with anything too special is it'll need a LOT of development, and

someone with limited strength is going to have a hard time crawling around underneath

moving exhausts, etc.  Hell, I have to do 2 weeks' worth crunches before I change a

transmission, anymore, or I hurt myself.


I once instructed a very good driver in a very large car- he'd had a bad accident, and both of

his ankles were fused solid.  We had a blast, and I learned at least as much from him as he did me.

He kept coming back, and kept improving that car to give himself better fine throttle control and

better brake feel. (I think it had a 440 in it- all I knew is that my face melted once he got confident

enough to pin it on the front straight at Pacific.)

He played with linkages, hand controls, various power steering options-

and now, I wave as he blows by me, often twice a session.


So as long as shifting isn't a problem, I'd focus on alternate clutch and brake,

and see if that is a good direction.  The average 2002- vintage (or hell, even E39 vintage)

slushbox just SUCKS on the track, and no amount of work's going to get around that.

It's the torque converter, as much as anything.

I rented a Kia last summer that, in sport mode, was FAR better than any pre- DCT BMW.


DCT IS an option, if you're into cutting the tunnel, but it's a ton of work and money.

And at that point, putting it behind an N50 in an E30 is probably the better application.



drove an auto E39 wagon to work today.  

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