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BMW E36 LS Swap with LS1 Engine and T56 for sale

A clean E36 is getting harder to find by the day. They’re great, pure cars and you should probably buy one. Or buy this BMW E36 LS Swap and feel what happiness is like!

Black BMW E36 LS Swap

Model: 1996 BMW 328i
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Miles: Drivetrain – 16,500, Chassis – Unknown
Price: $22,500
Seller Type: Private Party
Listed On: Facebook Marketplace
Something Unique: LS-Swapped *LS1 and T56* done right!

Why buy a BMW E36 LS Swap?

Obviously, you buy an E36 LS Swap because you’re a reasonable, sensible person looking to go from point A to point B. No… You actually want to spend money on rear tires and tear up backroads and highways.

The LS1 has a well-earned reputation for packing a punch while being on the “affordable” side of the swap spectrum. It fits particularly well in the E36 with its larger, pre-F30 3 series, engine bay.

LS1 in BMW E36 engine bay
LS1 looking right at home

While this platform is a strong candidate for an LS swap, finding a well-sorted one for sale is a tough task. When they are up for sale they do not last long. The E36 is a lightweight sedan chassis at just over 3000 pounds stock.

If my napkin math is right, then post-swap, curb weight should be pretty close to that of a 4th generation Camaro and slightly heavier than a C5 Corvette. You just get 2 extra doors and a classic BMW interior for your troubles.

The looks of an E36 are also clearly and objectively perfect. I’m not going to lie, the G80 grill is finally starting to grow on me. The new M2, though? Nah… This is how a BMW should look.

black bmw e36 headlight and front view

LS1 Swap Details

Cool, just tell me about this swap already. Right on.

The LS1 and T56 only have ~ 16,000 miles on them. You’ve literally got another one or two hundred thousand miles to send this thing. Especially if it’s just on street duty.

This build has some extra sizzle:

  • BTR Stage 2 LS3 Cams, with supporting springs, and Chromoly 7.4 Push Rods. You’re getting both performance and reliability out of this. Rev it out and enjoy it!
  • MGW Short shifter
  • Holley Terminator, wiring harness, and Display. They make some beautiful units. You know this already though.
  • Steel 17 pound driveshaft – lighter than a stock E36!
  • CXRacing exhaust setup: Longtubes, 3″ Mid pipe, and muffler. Depending on your comfort level with CXRacing, this may swing your vote one way or another. At least do some research first. They can be solid units.
LS1 with BTR Stage 2 Cams in engine bay

With the cams and valvetrain upgrades in place and some extra airflow, you should be getting over 400 horsepower to the wheels! This is a lot for 4 door, but only ~3300 pound (post swap), car.

That power-to-weight ratio is competitive with some newer Audis RS5’s, some BMW M4’s, and even some older Porsche 911’s. For the price, are you really gonna sit this one out? Note: there are some pretty wild RS7 builds out there though if you’re just chasing specs.

Handling and Suspension Configuration

The stock setup was never going to cut it with the increase in power and weight. Not quite in the suspension category, but it is running an E36 rear end and differential. At least both wheels will hook up, or just spin in sync…

It’s got polyurethane bushings throughout, along with new transmission mounts. The tried and true BC Racing Coilovers and Authentic BMW Style 197 wheels have this thing sitting pretty. The extra grip and rigidity are certainly required in this swap over the stock E36 wheels.

BC Racing Coilovers and Style 197 wheels
Black powder coating looks amazing!

A new set of Falken Azenis will keep you grounded well enough. They may provide less refinement than a set of Michelin Pilot Sport 4, but this car’s goal is not refinement. It’s a solid and reliable, but visceral and analog experience.

That being said, you’re going to be swapping tires a lot. So you’ll be picking up a new set soon anyway.

You also get two steering rack options with this guy. The OEM power steering rack, or the legendary Z3 manual steering rack. The Z3 manual rack is currently installed, of course.

There are some cars that break the mold, but can we all agree that newer cars’ steering feel is just meh?

I feel more engaged driving near the edge of my E39 M5 than I have in distinctly “better” and newer cars. Shoot, I’ve even had more fun with an E80 like this than some other performance cars.

I still am sort of intrgued

1996 BMW E36 LS1 Swap Takeaways

If this car isn’t sold already, buy it. I can’t imagine a world where you do buy it and regret that decision. It’s a very well-sorted and buttoned-down swap.

Clean interior of E36

It maintains its E36 interior perfectly, providing only slight visual clues that you’re probably in for more than you bargained for. I love the original cluster being in place. The Holley display is tucked in right near the center armrest.

E36 interior with Holley display near center arm rest

There is not a thing about how this car looks that I do not like. If I didn’t have my M5, I’d buy this today. If I magically find a way, I still may be it today. Never give up, right?

side right rear view of black on black BMW E36 LS Swap
Black on Black BMW E36 LS Swap

Here’s the original Facebook posting. The owner is understandably getting a ton of interest, so please only reach out if you can transact.