Placing CSF’s E36 S54-Swap Cooling Answer By way of Its Paces


German Sensibilities

Within the Nineteen Nineties, all E36s have been constructed the identical. Certain, they left the manufacturing unit in varied coloration schemes, with totally different packages and specs, however all of them rolled onto BMW dealership flooring crafted with the identical pragmatic German precision. They have been — and nonetheless are — nice machines.

However 25-plus years on, I can guarantee you that E36s are not all constructed the identical. They’ve all been disassembled, reassembled, reworked, serviced, or torn into ultimately. Many merely haven’t stood the check of time, succumbing to the weather after being saved open air.


In the meantime, many others have primarily been destroyed by well-meaning fans who wished a dirt-cheap RWD platform to wring out on the observe in a method or one other.


Throughout the days when these chassis have been worthless, typically they have been simply not value maintaining on the highway when one thing failed. One other $400 cooling overhaul? I’ll simply purchase a whole 325i with pale paint and torn seats for about that, thanks.


However for higher or worse, gone are the times of super-affordable ‘90s vehicles, and as such nearly all of them are value maintaining on the highway as we speak. Nonetheless, preventative upkeep is rarely enjoyable, particularly when your automotive is working fairly properly already.


My pal Jon Nguyen’s E36 M3 obtained an E46 S54 swap below earlier possession, and since Jon acquired it he has simply been figuring out some kinks on the observe and native backroads right here and there. As I’m positive you’re properly conscious, the cooling system is a serious ache level on the E36, particularly when you begin pushing extra energy.


The S54 is an enormous bounce in horsepower and torque in comparison with the S50/S52 engines that the American-spec E36 M3s obtained (333hp and 262lb-ft for the E46 versus 240hp/236lb-ft at most within the US E36). With the excessive 8,200rpm redline of the S54, the utmost piston pace is famously 4,896 feet-per-second — 90% of a mile or 1.5 kilometers every second. Unsurprisingly, the thermal load can also be increased with the S54, and all of the sudden all of these little plastic bits that make up the manufacturing unit cooling system turn into far more crucial.


Jon’s automotive was working the usual Z3M cooling setup that you just typically see with these E36 S54 swaps, and whereas this can be a superb answer it’s nonetheless a multi-piece setup with plastic tanks affixed to the edges of the core. For observe abuse, ‘superb’ doesn’t fairly reduce it.

CSF Time


Enter CSF Race’s new BMW S54 Swap Radiator & Oil Cooler answer for the E36. CSF has lengthy been providing radiators for each the E36 and E46, in addition to the equally outfitted Z3, however their new providing for this particular swap is the primary of its type.

You profit from all of CSF’s current analysis on each chassis and get the perfect of each worlds on this new product. For instance, the S54 requires a way more demanding oil-cooling system than what the E36 ever supplied, so CSF made provision for a race-spec oil cooler that mounts with an included bracket to the underside of the radiator. Truly, two totally different oil coolers can be found, supplying you with the choice to both retain air-con or delete it.


I met up with Jon at Race Manufacturing unit in Campbell, California who dealt with the set up of CSF’s new parts. Race Manufacturing unit is a light-weight operation very accustomed to quite a lot of BMW chassis, and this construct within the nook undoubtedly piqued my curiosity. One for one more time…


The set up went easily, which is crucial once you’re paying a store to deal with a venture for you. Even once I’m engaged on an set up myself, having all the things drop into place simply makes my life so significantly better. Nowadays, even once I’m doing my very own work I typically merely don’t have the endurance to custom-fit components or watch for brackets to be fabricated. There’s a time and place for that, however as a lot as potential I merely need issues to be as plug-and-play as potential.


The manufacturing unit clips, retainers, and mounting positions are all reused with CSF’s new piece, and from private expertise with the usual CSF E36 radiator, the one factor you’ll want to be conscious of is clearance to the growth tank given the additional girth of CSFs all-aluminum unit.


Jon has this addressed with the favored E30/Euro growth tank that mounts within the rear nook of the engine bay, the place the secondary air pump is discovered on US vehicles. This additional pump can be deleted (particularly in hotter climates, I imagine) and the ensuing check-engine gentle will be coded out, so that is one thing I must do on my personal CSF-equipped E36 M3 once I get the prospect.

E36 Issues


Cooling isn’t the one ache level of an E36, and the S54 brings its personal further problems. Fortunately, the double-VANOS system in Jon’s automotive has already been rebuilt and the rod bearings and varied seals have been changed.

Talking of ache factors, Jon additionally has had customary RTAB pocket reinforcement and entrance subframe reinforcement work carried out by our mutual track-day pal Jake. The entrance and rear shock towers have been additionally beefed up at the moment.


The automotive sits on adjustable JRZ RSOne coilovers with distant reservoirs, that are paired with polyurethane differential and rear subframe bushings in addition to aftermarket decrease management arms and sway bars.

OEM-spec entrance bushings have been utilized together with alternative brake strains, however the manufacturing unit brake assemblies stay (for now) and have been upgraded with Carbotech XP10 pads. An E46-spec ABS system was introduced over with the S54 swap.


White-finished RAYS Volk Racing TE37SLs measure 17×8.5-inch sq. and are wrapped in Yokohama Advan 235/40R17 tires. I’m unsure precisely what it’s, however I love a German automotive on Japanese wheels.


Jon principally makes use of the TE setup for the road now, with a wider set of 17×9.5-inch Desmond RegaMaster Evos taking up for observe obligation, that are paired with 255-series rubber in any respect 4 corners. The extra meat the higher with S54 energy up entrance.


The automotive will not be wild aesthetically, with an LTW-style rear wing, entrance splitter, and a set of Euro projector headlights by Hella that stability one another out. You’ll additionally discover the Euro-spec clear corners, tails and aspect markers which were added.


Inside, there’s a really comfy Bride A.i.R. bucket seat on Brey-Krause fastened mounts, however the passenger-side Vader, rear seats and door playing cards stay. Alongside with air-con, fortunately.


Again below the hood, you’ll instantly discover the large Turner CSL air field, and you’ll undoubtedly hear the Tremendous Dash stepped exhaust headers which were put in. Truly, the automotive is just too loud to cross sound at Laguna Seca, so Jon might want to do another work on the exhaust to have the ability to drive there. The entire setup is managed by an MSS54HP ECU with a {custom} HTE tune.


A more in-depth look reveals that Jon opted to make a reduce throughout his manufacturing unit entrance cooling duct in order that he might nonetheless run this together with the aluminum radiator cowl equipped within the CSF package. A black model can also be included.


After all, there are various different little odds and ends that Jon has attended to on his E36. All of this sounds good on paper, however how does it translate into the driving expertise?

Observe Time


The easiest way to inform is on the observe, the place Jon absolutely put his E36 by means of its paces just lately with my Northern California-based pals at SpeedSF Observe Occasions.


I acquired a while behind the wheel as properly, and in comparison with my E36 M3 the responsiveness from the S54 clearly makes an enormous distinction. Particularly on the increased RPM ranges you’re in on the observe, the engine swap actually shines.


Most of all, the sound from that superior Turner consumption and out the headers is only a straight shot of dopamine. This factor screams.


The S54 does weigh barely greater than the previous engine, however you don’t discover it in any respect given the correct suspension setup. After all the additional energy — and the expertise the S54 delivers — is properly definitely worth the commerce anyway. As an apart, the JRZs aren’t too stiff for the road, which is sweet.


You undoubtedly don’t end up needing extra brakes, both, and the up to date ABS system works properly and isn’t over-intrusive. A greater driver than myself may profit from an enormous brake package, however I discovered from Jon’s automotive that my inventory setup isn’t working at its finest and ought to be checked out.


I additionally actually liked Jon’s BimmerWorld pedal setup and located it far more pure to heel-toe with than my manufacturing unit meeting.


After all, the automotive stayed cool and delivered constant outcomes all day lengthy. Quickly Jon will likely be putting in an AiM sprint and data-logging system the place he’ll actually be capable of dive into the numbers and different nitty-gritty nerd stuff.


Driving Jon’s automotive has given me a variety of concepts about what I must do to enhance my very own M3 — specifically, who has an S54 sitting round I can use? — and I actually admire the seat time. It’s straightforward to throw cash at a automotive, but it surely’s far more troublesome to take action in a smart and methodical method.


Reaching stability is the last word aim right here, a aim that Jon has achieved. On that word — due to a plethora of high-quality, race-proven parts — the entire is bigger than the sum of its components.

Like I mentioned: not all E36s are constructed the identical, however at this level Jon’s is certainly constructed proper. All that’s left is for him to search out that 8,200rpm redline as typically as potential.

Trevor Ryan
Instagram: trevornotryan




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