December 4, 2023


Power Of Engine

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

7 min read
German Sensibilities

Within the Nineteen Nineties, all E36s have been constructed the identical. Certain, they left the manufacturing facility in numerous colour schemes, with completely 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 not directly. Many merely haven’t stood the take a look at of time, succumbing to the weather after being saved outdoor.


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


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


However for higher or worse, gone are the times of super-affordable ‘90s automobiles, and as such nearly all of them are value protecting on the highway immediately. Nonetheless, preventative upkeep is rarely enjoyable, particularly when your automobile is working fairly nicely already.


My good friend Jon Nguyen’s E36 M3 obtained an E46 S54 swap beneath earlier possession, and since Jon acquired it he has simply been understanding some kinks on the monitor and native backroads right here and there. As I’m certain you’re nicely conscious, the cooling system is a significant ache level on the E36, particularly when you begin pushing extra energy.


The S54 is a giant soar 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 velocity is famously 4,896 feet-per-second — 90% of a mile or 1.5 kilometers every second. Unsurprisingly, the thermal load can be greater with the S54, and instantly all of these little plastic bits that make up the manufacturing facility cooling system change into way more essential.


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

CSF Time


Enter CSF Race’s new BMW S54 Swap Radiator & Oil Cooler solution 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 sort.

You profit from all of CSF’s current analysis on each chassis and get one of the best 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. Really, two completely different oil coolers can be found, providing you with the choice to both retain air-con or delete it.


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


The set up went easily, which is essential while you’re paying a store to deal with a venture for you. Even once I’m engaged on an set up myself, having every thing drop into place simply makes my life so a lot better. As of late, even once I’m doing my very own work I usually merely don’t have the endurance to custom-fit components or await brackets to be fabricated. There’s a time and place for that, however as a lot as doable I merely need issues to be as plug-and-play as doable.


The manufacturing facility 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 could 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 automobiles. This further pump can be deleted (particularly in hotter climates, I imagine) and the ensuing check-engine gentle may be coded out, so that is one thing I have to do by myself 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 extra problems. Fortunately, the double-VANOS system in Jon’s automobile has already been rebuilt and the rod bearings and numerous seals have been changed.

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


The automobile 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 substitute brake traces, however the manufacturing facility 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 undecided precisely what it’s, however I love a German automobile 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 monitor responsibility, that are paired with 255-series rubber in any respect 4 corners. The extra meat the higher with S54 energy up entrance.


The automobile isn’t wild aesthetically, with an LTW-style rear wing, entrance splitter, and a set of Euro projector headlights by Hella that steadiness one another out. You’ll additionally discover the Euro-spec clear corners, tails and aspect markers which have been 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 beneath the hood, you’ll instantly discover the large Turner CSL air field, and you may positively hear the Tremendous Dash stepped exhaust headers which have been put in. Really, the automobile is simply 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 facility entrance cooling duct in order that he may nonetheless run this at the side of the aluminum radiator cowl provided within the CSF package. A black model can be included.


In fact, there are a lot of 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 monitor, the place Jon totally put his E36 by means of its paces just lately with my Northern California-based mates at SpeedSF Track Events.


I bought a while behind the wheel as nicely, and in comparison with my E36 M3 the responsiveness from the S54 clearly makes an enormous distinction. Particularly on the greater RPM ranges you’re in on the monitor, 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. In fact the additional energy — and the expertise the S54 delivers — is nicely definitely worth the commerce anyway. As an apart, the JRZs aren’t too stiff for the road, which is sweet.


You positively don’t end up needing extra brakes, both, and the up to date ABS system works nicely and isn’t over-intrusive. A greater driver than myself would possibly profit from a giant brake package, however I realized from Jon’s automobile that my inventory setup isn’t working at its greatest and needs to be checked out.


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


In fact, the automobile stayed cool and delivered constant outcomes all day lengthy. Quickly Jon can be putting in an AiM sprint and data-logging system the place he’ll actually have the ability to dive into the numbers and different nitty-gritty nerd stuff.


Driving Jon’s automobile has given me plenty of concepts about what I have to do to enhance my very own M3 — particularly, who has an S54 sitting round I can use? — and I actually recognize the seat time. It’s simple to throw cash at a automobile, however it’s way more troublesome to take action in a smart and methodical method.


Attaining steadiness is the final word purpose right here, a purpose that Jon has achieved. On that be aware — due to a plethora of high-quality, race-proven elements — the entire is larger 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 seek out that 8,200rpm redline as usually as doable.

Trevor Ryan
Instagram: trevornotryan



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