RK Nation: Alejandro’s ‘M302,’ a Ford V8-swapped BMW M3

We’re not averse to BMW drivers here on Roadkill. In fact, we can think of a couple that we like and we’ve just found a new one we dig: Alejandro Jaimes’ Ford 302-swapped BMW E36 M3. We found the project, which Alejandro calls “M302,” in our RK Nation section on Alejandro’s page so we asked him to tell us a little about his work-in-progress.

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Alejandro has a number of friends near him in Houston with BMW E36s (“E36” is cool kid talk for “1992-1998 BMW 3-Series” using the chassis code) and after selling his convertible E36, he wanted another one. He bought this engineless E36 M3 from a friend and started researching swaps. LS swaps are starting to become common in E36s and straight-six fans have started putting RB (old Nissan GT-R) and 2JZ (last-generation Toyota Supra) engines in them, but Alejandro wanted something different. And cheaper.

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So he found a 5.0-liter V8—known as the Ford 302 if you prefer displacement in cubic inches—from a Ford Explorer complete with wiring harness, computer, and rebuilt five-speed manual transmission for just $1,000. That was significantly cheaper than a stock BMW M3 replacement engine and the mid-’90s Explorer V8 came with GT40P heads. Alejandro added in Ford’s ubiquitous E303 cam, a widened throttle body, and a chip for the computer, which should help the project easily eclipse the M3’s stock 219 horsepower rating. [Edit: The number is actually 240 HP; we think Alejandro’s 5.0-liter should still be in or over that mark.]

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“Dropping in the motor was not much of an issue since it’s actually a little smaller than the BMW engine,” Alejandro said. “Motor mounts and transmission mounts were customized by my dad. I bought a set of JEGS generic long tube headers and between the two sets we had enough tubing to hack up the passenger side header and make a tri-Y header for the drivers side while clearing the steering knuckle and ABS pump.”

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The project isn’t quite driving, since Alejandro still needs a custom driveshaft, shifter, clutch-slave hose, intake, and finishing items on the front end. But he’s still got reason to get excited as he looks just a bit ahead: “I can already see myself cruising down the freeway with the beautiful sound of a v8. I’m sure it’ll make heads turn once I crank it in public.”

We also think the V8’s growl will get people’s attentions more than the BMW straight-six howl. Once he reaches that lofty goal of having a running, driving project, Alejandro will have his goal of BMW handling and some extra horsepower. “I’m looking for a fun street car that’s more powerful than the stock motor without compromising the handling. I would like to daily it as much as possible, but I’ll see how bad the heat gets in the summer here in Houston since the car currently doesn’t have a/c until a custom bracket is fabricated.”

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We love seeing projects like Alejandro’s M302, even while they’re still coming to fruition. You can share your projects on your own RK Nation page and we might feature them here on the website or even in Roadkill Magazine. Sign up for your own RK Nation page right here and see what Roadkill fans like Alejandro are building in their shops, garages, carports, back yards, front yards, and everywhere else Roadkill fans wrench.

Something to Say?

4 thoughts on “RK Nation: Alejandro’s ‘M302,’ a Ford V8-swapped BMW M3

  1. Hi RK ! Where does that factory M3 219 hp comes from ? As far as i know, the US M3 was 240 hp in both 3.0 and 3.2L versions. By the way, i’d be curious to know how does this 302 performs compared to the legitimate EU version of the M3 (321 hp in 3.2L)

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    1. BHP is rated at 240hp. There are many many many dyno graphs showing between 215-219whp and 205-210wtq out of the US S50 and S52. If BMW would’ve given us the Euro versions, I don’t think I would consider the swap. But like you, I too would like to see how my car compares to the Euro M3.
      A friend of mine has a full N/A bolt on S52 and dynoed 270whp. If anything, he would be the guy to beat

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    2. I’ve autocross my 5.0 M3 and a stock US-spec M3 back to back and they’re very different animals. While my car has boatloads of torque available right off of idle, the stock M3 has to be wound up to get power out of it. Coming out of corners in my car, I have to be careful with the throttle or I risk too much oversteer. In the stock M3, I could peg the throttle and eventually power would build. The flip side was that my 5.0 (with the stock Explorer cam in it still) has no top end at all, while the stock M3 is most lively up top. In a fast slalom (45+mph) I can be really abusive with the throttle and the car will stick no matter what. In the stock M3, I found myself having to let off and be much more gentle at high RPMs.

      The T5 behind the Ford engine is a much clunkier transmission with a much more mechanical feel. Shifting gears on the BMW ZF unit feels entirely different, if a bit rubbery. There’s a bit of rubbery stretch and then the trans “clinks” into gear. The Ford T5 has a solid “chunk” into each gear. Fortunately with my powerband, I never find myself needing to shift out of second on the autocross course.

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