Putting an LS engine in a 3-series BMW is popular among road racers for the combination of inexpensive, reliable V8 power and exceptional handling dynamics. In fact, it's popular enough that there are swap kits and components available.
"The E30 is one of the best chassis to come out of the BMW factory," explained Jamy Lippencott, owner of Smokey's Dyno. "The LS engine fits like it was made for the car, and it's so easy to get ridiculous horsepower out of one. Plus, an all-aluminum LS1 or LS3 only weighs about 85 pounds more than the stock BMW four-cylinder, so the handling characteristics aren't really affected."
Known for its tuning prowess with high-end cars like Maseratis, Porsches, BMWs, and Corvettes, Smokey's didn't want to do something as 'ordinary' as an LS/BMW swap. The shop approached Summit Racing Equipment with a plan to build a real monster of a car—a 600-plus horsepower beastie that can terrorize the competition at the track, yet will happily take you to the store with the A/C on full blast.
Summit Racing and Trick Flow supplied the components for the engine. It is based on a GM Performance LSX 6.2L aluminum block filled with a Callies Compustar 4 inch stroke crank, Howard's 6.125 inch billet rods, Wiseco pistons, and a Trick Flow TrackMax Stage 4 camshaft. Up top are a pair of Trick Flow GenX® 235 CNC-ported cylinder heads a F.A.S.T LSX intake, and F.A.S.T. fuel rails with 60 lb.-hr. Trick Flow fuel injectors. The fuel system is from Aeromotive. The engine is mated to a T-56 six-speed transmission.
The E30's suspension has been totally revamped with components from a Z3 M roadster. The brakes are from a BMW M3. Covering those brakes are huge Billet Specialties Pro Touring wheels (18 x 11 front, 18 x 13 rear) on Toyo Proxis tires.
Adding to the coolness factor is the DTM Fiber Werkz body kit. Patterned after German Touring Car Series racers, Smokey's E30 is one of only three cars in the U.S. to have one of these kits.
The E30 is currently in the final stages of completion (exhaust system fabrication, body kit fitment, body wrapping, etc.). It is scheduled to be displayed at the DTM Fiber Werkz booth at the 2012 SEMA Show in Las Vegas. Summit Racing will be running a series of build articles on its blog, OnAllCylinders.com, in the near future.
Smokey's Dyno plans on running the car in road course competition in 2013 as well as attending East Coast Timing Association (ECTA) standing mile events and a possible stint on the Hot Rod Magazine Power Tour.