This is a long post that I update off of M3Forums.  I will try and keep it current.


S54 transplant into E36 can be done in many ways.

A basic overview of the issues regarding the transplant is as follows:

Appropriate radiator, attendant coolant reservoir, and appropriate mounting of the S54’s oil coolers are required. S54 runs a 5 bar system for fuel. There are increased exhaust needs, issues regarding DBW, deletion of HFM, deleting emissions mechanical items, a minor relocation of the vanos accumulator to accommodate new engine mount, and in my method, a minor revision of the VANOS module for use with the DTA. E46 derived engines will come with the wrong engine brackets for the mounts.

My solution or transplant package includes the following 3 major components:

1) Standalone computer from DTA, the DTA S100.

This computer retains full control over the VANOS, it deletes the HFM, utilizes my own DBW delete kit that is completely different than any on the market and allows you to retain your pedal. Although not supplied and pre-programmed to have this ability, the DTA supports launch control, traction control, full-throttle shifting, excellent data acquisition with respect to engine functions/parameters. It is a very affordable solution that is very well proven.

There are more expensive standalone products on the market, ViPec, Pectel and Motec that can handle the S54 with increased flexibility to be sure. But the ViPec is roughly twice the cost of the DTA, the Pectel is roughly 3 times the cost of the DTA, and the Motec is roughly 4 times the cost of the DTA. None of these costs include a harness, and may require upgrade packages on top of base price to accommodate certain sensors or functions. (This information is sumarized more or less from a vendor that offers all three options)

2) DBW Delete Kit.

The DTA does not currently support the electric DBW motor on the S54 engine. This means you do not need to buy an MZ3 pedal assembly or harness bits and install them. Instead, a throttle cable, cable bracket, and a new assembly to be mounted on the throttle bodies are supplied.

This is a proprietary design that is in my opinion, superior to that which other companies sell, and not at all the same as a simple and ineffective bell crank. Bell cranks can not provide the proper pedal feel and graded response from the throttle plates that is required for smooth feel and running. Customers will remove the DBW motor from the engine. My recommendation is to save the TPS sensor on it as a back up, and sell the motor on Ebay. (TPS switches are expensive, and don’t last forever, it is also critical to proper function of our system since we delete the HFM)

3) New engine harness: (Long discussion, this is the bulk of what makes this package unique)


Basically what is being sold to the customer is an engine harness that has the following properties: At first glance it is an E36 US spec engine harness for an M50/S50 engine, yet on the engine side, its terminations are all S54 oriented.

Starting on the passenger side, it has the diagnostic port retained in standard location. This allows any diagnostics to be carried out by the usual methods to maintain items like the ABS system, HVAC, cluster, body modules etc. It will not allow for communication to the DTA S100, that will be done on a customer’s laptop via a separate supplied plug/harness. OBD-II emissions testing are not supported in any way with the DTA S100. With proper catalytic converters, there is no reason that the engine could not be tuned to pass sniff test emissions. Stock E36 connections for grounding and to the battery post are retained. A factory boot on the right side accommodates the coil harness which is external on the S54, and hides all the wires to the DTA plugs. This allows for installation of the DTA in the factory location. Externally, you will not be able to tell that anything is different with this harness on the passenger’s side, all weather sealing is retained.

On the driver’s side, the 3 factory relays are modified, the O2 heater relay is removed and a BMW factory small fuse box is put in its place. A 40 amp fuse protects the DME and harness per DTA’s requirements for warranty. I can customize these other 3 fuses in this small box for customers and provide extra leads that terminate in the main splice box over the engine, or, are available at the fuse box. These three items mount perfectly in the same place, and under the stock cover. The X20 (and other two connectors for 95+ cars) is/are retained, and simply plug(s) right in. Many of the wires are no longer used, and can be re-configured for custom installations. (For example, I can leave extra leads in the small splice box that mounts to the side of the S54 engine that travel to the X20 for the customer to add oil pressure gauges, custom warning lights for oil pressure, fuel pressure etc, and have it look very professional and factory-like)

The rest of the harness is of course terminated to run the S54 engine, and includes the fuel rail, sensor plugs to the VANOS, ICV, cam, crank sensors etc. We do not use the knock sensors currently, though that functionality can be added, and the DTA adjusted to watch and use those signals. This is not available yet, and would require some user tuning. Added to the harness are sensors for a barometric sensor which is provided, along with an intake air temperature probe. A new coolant sensor is provided and will support not just the DME, but also the stock BMW cluster coolant gauge. If desired the customer can have the harness pre-wired and supplied with a BMW factory oil temperature sensor that will supply an optional (salvage) Euro S50B32 cluster with the proper signal to show oil temperature where usually there is a mpg gauge. This cluster also has a more appropriate redline marked at 7600, but it tracks to 8000 where we typically do set the DTA redline. This cluster is not included in the kit, but I do have these for sale.

The factory OBC and US spec cluster with mpg functions can be made to work with a Seattle Circuit device that the end user has to adjust, it is simple. I intend to make this an option, and the technology is proven, although I have not installed it yet on my demo car, I know it will work and retain that functionality accurately if needed.

AC can be retained; it is a low cost item to add to the harness. I have not done it yet on my demo car, but it’s a proven solution, and will be transparent with no additional switches or anything other than the factory buttons on the dashboard.

I have procured several OBD-I and OBD-II E36 harnesses for this project. If you are particular about the appearance of this harness from a cosmetic standpoint, and like your existing harness because its clean, the rubber is fresh looking on the boots, and you like the fact that it came from your car, you can guarantee a certain freshness to the harness by sending that one to me, or finding one on your own that matches your car that meets your expectations, and sending that to me. I don’t detail and clean the rubber bits on these harnesses, and some are fresher looking than others. I can easily supply a new boot to the DME area, and could supply a pair of fresh ones on the driver side, but BMW doesn’t sell the under splice box boots new, nor do they sell the small plug portion near the firewall, behind the main dme boot, where two cable’s typically exit, often diagnostic port, and main power lead etc… I am looking to see if I can find some aftermarket alternative boot parts to possibly supply customers with absolutely beautiful new parts all around, but I’m not sure that enough of the under-splice box area is visible to justify that.

My solution requires very few modifications to the engine/car for proper installation and function

1) You can re-use the E36 engine mount brackets off your old engine. I prefer the MZ3 S54 driver side bracket as it allows support of the intake manifold hardware. I prefer the Euro passenger side mount as it includes a very nice heat shield for the AC portion and the VANOS accumulator, strictly speaking this is less important than the driver side one that really does facilitate the holding up of the intake manifold
2) Block off plate and gasket for the secondary air pump opening on the cylinder head. I can supply these at reasonable costs.
3) Very minor relocation of the VANOS accumulator. Just a matter of inches and bending a factory bracket, flipping it, and re-installing it after loosening an other fastening point on the timing cover. Not a big deal really.
4) While on the exhaust side of the block, it is a good idea to service the CPV in the block, these tend to overheat and leak eventually. I believe that the same O-ring that is on the oil coolers pipes for these engines could be used rather than buying a whole new CPV for close to $50, but it’s not proven yet. You can’t buy the O ring separately that comes with the new CPV; so many people just replace them.
5) New pilot bearing is a good idea in general, along with TO bearing. You can re-use your E36 transmission as well as flywheel, clutch and slave cylinder. I’d get at least a new friction plate on principle; general maintenance is up to customer of course.
6) Coolant reservoir and plumbing. You can use the S54 item with minimal modifications, or, I can supply a complete kit based on the Euro S50 parts, it would reside in front of the DME. On OBD-II cars there are emissions charcoal filters and items in this location that will be removed.
7) Upgraded radiator. Many options for this exist.
8) VANOS unit: Removal of the VANOS pack, cutting two small holes in the cover of the VANOS pack, using needle nose pliers to pull 4 small diodes (smd) off the board, and then gluing covers back over the holes. I recommend a new gasket be put in place to avoid leaks. Some engines already leak at this gasket, so it is a reasonable item to replace anyway. I could modify customer’s units for a small fee if they are uncomfortable with this, they could re-install it easily.
9) Minor change to cluster wiring if S50B32 cluster to be used and oil temperature to be utilized. I would supply the signal on what used to be the CEL grey wire, it must simply be de-pinned, and placed in the empty opening that the Euro cluster wants to see the oil temperature signal on. I would pre-wire the X20 to bring the oil temp signal in that way.
10) Fuel pressure regulator. Our tune uses a 5 bar non-adjusted by vacuum pressure for the fuel. I recommend very strongly using the factory pressure regulator; it can be trusted to be accurate. Customer can purchase this from me, or supply on their own.
11) Wide Band O2 sensor. I strongly recommend this be added to the car. We have been using the Autometer device; it can be purchased for roughly $300, black or silver trim. This will help with self tuning, as well as running the system safely. It need not be on the dash board if you want a stock appearance, it could be hidden in a vent (I like this idea, very stealth, turn it on/off) or in the glove box even, and just used for tuning.
12) Fuel pump: I would suggest buying an E46 M3 fuel pump assembly, and swapping the pump portion into the E36 holder. The existing pump you have on E36 US spec M3 cars is designed for 3.5 bar occasional full pressure use, we will be using full time 5 bar, and the original pump is not up to that in a reliable fashion.
13) Exhaust system: Ebay headers are inexpensive, and delete the catalytic. There is probably some gain to be had by deleting the catalytic, but you could save money, have a clean exhaust, and use the existing headers from a US spec S54, they will fit. Bimmerworld sells a conversion pipe that mates the Active Autowerkes E36 Race exhaust. This latter product comes with V-band connections that allow for easy swapping of a center resonator or straight pipe portion. This solution requires almost no welding (minor adjustment of the headers) The exhaust is great for DE and racing, it may be a little loud for around town, and in my opinion risks attracting attention of police, and sensitive neighbors. If you stayed out of the throttle until you got on a highway, you could nurse the car around at low revs very easily in the neighborhood, and probably live with it. Alternatively Supersprint makes exhausts for E36 euro cars, and these would also very nearly bolt on with minimal effort, and they have a selection of resonators and mufflers, though not cheap, well made. I have Euro Cats and mufflers available as well, but shipping these is expensive too, they also can be used with minimal welding direct to the headers. (spacing is right, but one pipe needs to be shortened, and the sliding flange welded into place to match the BW part, SS parts or stock parts)
14) Intake system. Rogue sells a nice new boot, and any number of filters could preceed this, or, Euro intake boxes and filters would work as well. I plan to set my demo car up this way soon and photograph it and see if people are interested in a total factory look that way.

My solution requires the following:

Customer procures their own S54 engine.
Customer sends in their complete S54 engine harness, or, can pay a core fee of $450.
Customer sends in their old complete E36 engine harness, or pays a core fee of $150
Customer buys the basic transplant package from with 3 major components $3000
Customer must have 5 bar FPR, and appropriate 5 bar pump
Customer installs a WB O2 sensor. (highly recommended)
Customer needs upgraded exhaust compared to factory US spec E36

Euro S50B32 cluster, oil temperature sender and inclusion of this on harness to X20
BMW FPR with metric aftermarket barb fitting to standard fuel hose
BMW DS engine bracket
BMW PS engine bracket
BMW block off plate and gasket for Air Pump Emissions delete
BMW Euro headers (limited supply)
BMW S50B32 catalytic and muffler (limited supply)
BMW S50B32 air-filter box, heat shield (limited supply)
Rogue intake boot
Bimmerworld conversion pipe
Active Autowerkes E36 Race Exhaust
Customization of harness to be pre-wired for customer gauge packages with wires coming in via the X20 etc… would require interception of the leads under the dash and directing them to the gauge package.

As an aside and general warning: The DTA S100 will come pre-loaded with an excellent and proven tune that works on several customer cars that have been configured with 5 bar FPR, Ebay or euro headers, and low restriction exhausts, and fairly stock intakes. The tune should be modified and customized by yourself or a professional on a dyno before driving the engine hard. This is critical, and the customer accepts quite a bit of responsibility to make sure the engine is operating in normal ranges of tune before they go out and drive it at the limits under heavy load. The WB sensor helps with this process immeasurably, and you may not even need to go to a dyno to make it safe, but optimization would be best on a dyno for your given exhaust and intake and engine. A very high degree of user street tuning is possible with the DTA and a WB sensor. Harnesses and computers will be tested on an engine in my garage before shipment, so there is no doubt that the wiring will be correct and proper for the customer.

The customer will get a nice supply of extra pins and block off plugs for the actual plugs that go into the DTA computer. This will allow for expansion of the products capabilities in the future. I am happy to also provide crimping services for you if you want, I have invested heavily in the tools to do this properly. For example, if you want to add traction control in the future, you could build your harness and send it to me to terminate the pins for insertion into the DTA plugs….

I’m working on a solution to implement the traction control, there is a minor issue that DTA wants to read Hall sensors, and BMW’s are equipped with VR sensors for the ABS system. I’m working with a supplier to design a circuit to do the conversion reliably, and hope to offer a low cost solution and eventually even some mapping to get people started on this. Implementing the full throttle shifting would be simple. Launch control (similar to traction) would need that VR to Hall conversion process too, unless one went so far as to add their own Hall sensors to their car.

I am working on setting some prices for the options. I will revise this as time goes on. If anyone notices problems or inconsistencies in this post, please contact me off the thread and I'll revise and fix, unless you think it will benefit everyone. I'm working on an Excel spreadsheet that will make it easy for a customer to pick what they want and price a system.

An exciting addition is in the wings to monitor and retard appropriately for knock.  It is far superior to that which most standalones offer as part of the built in knock sensing ability, and although it will be an option in the neighborhood of $500, it will absolutely "blow your mind" in terms of its ability to tune to maximum power safely, protect the engine, and give you piece of mind.  (more to come)

Please do email with specific questions.

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