All posts by Frank Macaluso

Day 1 – 10 Day Build – E21 S54

Ok, so one day down, and yes, it was purely a tear down! Not much technical info here. Took us 4 hours to get to this point on a Saturday Afternoon.

Car got picked up today from my place:


Made some space and put the car on the lift:

img_4933Major components removed today.

Front Suspension – Going 100% poly and GC:

img_4934 img_4936 img_4937 img_4938 img_4948

Engine/Transmission/Driveshaft/Exhaust. It’s was leaking something fierce.

img_4950 img_4955 img_4956


Rear Suspension – Dropped right down:

img_4939 img_4940 img_4941 img_4942 img_4943 img_4944 img_4945 img_4946

Some pics of the underbody and tunnel:

img_4957 img_4958 img_4959

Compared the driveshafts. Most likely, that will dictate the location of the engine position and as a result, i must define that position as soon as possible. If I determine that the position is too far forward, I will have no choice but to cut the driveshaft and position the assembly further back. This will result in time lost and more cash spent, but it’s important, and a one-time deal.

You can see below that the new driveshaft is much shorter, and the Center bearing location is much further back. This can easily be remedied by welding some metal relocation brackets. This will be documented in the next few posts

img_4960 img_4963 img_4962 img_4964

You look below you can see some new products coming out, using a custom Garagistic part for E30-LS1 driveshafts. This U joint will handle up to 1000hp easily and be provided exclusively by Garagistic’s LS1 powered E30.

img_4968 img_4970

Sunday is an off day .Restarting on Monday, at which point, I have the following list to-do.

  1. Siphon the gas out of the tank, if necessary.
  2. Do whatever it takes to get that E30 rear subframe to fit
  3. Cut out all unneeded sheetmetal from the assembly. Battery, trans tunnel, rear wheel well.
  4. Hang muffler in place.

Standby for more on Monday!

10 Day Build – PrePost E21 S54

Some of you may remember me from a while ago when I did my E30 M30, then a new E30 M60, then transformed that into E30 S62. I still have that E30, but now I’m on to smaller and, frankly easier, projects. In short: I’m teaming up with Garagistic LLC to undertake a risky project. The risky part being a somewhat aggressive build schedule, posting updates daily AS I MAKE PROGRESS. That’s right! That is a 10 day S54 build in the forgotten 3-series, my E21.

You want more technical detail on each of these daily updates? You’re at the right place!

Ok, so here are the bullet points of the near term overhaul.

Intro: Start with bone stock 1980 E21 320i FI M10

  • S54B32 101k miles from 2001 M3 w/ ZF S5D-320Z-HCH
  • Complete E30 Rear Suspension with offset TA bushings and S3.46 Medium Case, rear disc
  • Rota Slipstream 15×7.5 ET25 on Hankook 205/50-15
  • Full GC Coilover 350/400 suspension
  • 80A Poly bushings all around, new bearings, brakes.
  • New Windshield

Exit Criteria: Fully Functional E21 with new drivetrain, suspension. I won’t have any HVAC, no P/S, heat, No power anything. No creature comforts. Without a roll cage (yet), this will be a near race ready e21. Making custom mounts, exhaust, shifter, program ECU, harnesses…etc. All that jazz.

Here’s some history:
I bought this 300k mile E21 in February as my daily driver to/from work. I was getting 30+mpg for a while until I sprung an oil leak in July on my 50 mile commute home, no indication of lost oil pressure resulting in a blown connecting rod slip-slappin’ inside the case. So the motor was toast. What a better time to do a motor swap than now!? So I’ve spent the last 2 months collecting parts with Garagistic, planning schedule, and getting ready to tear into it. The time has now come.

Yes, this is as live as it gets with swaps and there’s a chance I won’t do it in 10 days.
Yes, the car was plasti-dipped when I got it. I plan to re-spray it next year.
Yes, There’s surface rust, but the rest of the car is solid (except under the driver pedals).
No, I don’t plan to issue a formal write-up about it, but will document here on the forums.
No, I won’t be answering every single question. Won’t have the time.

I plan to get the car running in 10 days. Next build post will be this Saturday, September 10th, after I get the car to the shop and start tear down!

Here are some pictures:

IMG_4842 IMG_4838 IMG_4777 IMG_4281 IMG_4259 IMG_4226 IMG_4223 IMG_4221 IMG_4211 IMG_4204 IMG_4175 IMG_4180 IMG_4181 IMG_4183 IMG_4201 IMG_4172 IMG_4159 IMG_4122 IMG_4088 IMG_3506 IMG_3507 IMG_3976 IMG_3978 IMG_4084 IMG_3421 IMG_1895 IMG_1816 IMG_3182 IMG_3180

So there you have it. Daily updates posted around 10pm EST starting this Saturday night!

Symptoms of Faulty E30 Control Arm Bushings

I once asked my dad, who was driving me to the store one day, “How come I can feel every single bump and crack in the road when we’re driving?” to which he replied, “Maybe you think you feel every bump, but what about the ones that you don’t feel?”

It comes on slow, but when it does, it’s not only annoying, it’s downright dangerous. Some automotive designs are more susceptible than others based on the geometry of the suspension arms. It’s something that we all suffer from at least once in our lives. And if we’re avid automotive enthusiasts, it’s something that we all must deal with, either by reaching into our pockets to have someone else replace, or getting on our backs and fixing it ourselves. That’s right. I’m talking about control arm bushings. All cars have ‘em. All cars need ‘em.

They’re a high wear item on our cars and for good reason. They control the suspension travel and buffer the rough road noise/bumps/potholes so that you don’t have to feel them while driving. Most rubber bushings, durometer 60A from our previous polyurethane bushings post, is very soft. This is great because it’s comfortable, but it’s loose, non-sporty, and wears out fast. Not to mention, you need expensive pullers and or other creative tools to press it out.


What are the symptoms of bad Control Arm Bushings, particularly the front? The symptoms vary quite a bit, but the same general theory is the same. Steering wheel wobble at specific speeds is the most common. But bad control arm bushings can sometimes mask itself through warped rotors. Oftentimes when you brake at a specific highway speed, regardless of steering, the wheel shakes. This is due to bad ball joints on the control arm bushings. There are 2 ball joints on the E30 Front Control Arms.  From Real OEM, see below:


As you can see there is no “upper” and “lower” control arm. There is just the single, triangular control arm, and it’s below.

Unfortunately, the ball joints are not repairable. However, it typically takes much longer for the ball joints to wear out compared to the rubber control arm bushing itself.  So for most shadytree mechanics, the control arm is to be thrown out in the even that the ball joint itself develops play.

You can test for ball joint wear by taking a long pry bar and inserting it in between the control arm and the subframe. This allows you to see at a glance if the control arm ball joint moves, you have play and need to replace the ball joints, aka the entire control arm.

Another symptom of bad front control arm bushings is the fact that everytime you go over a speedbump, onramp/driveway, large crack, or quickly brake the car and hear a clunk, it’s much more likely that the rear control arm bushing, commonly referred to as the “CAB” is worn. If you look at the diagram above, you’ll see that the control arm is a stud going through a rubber control arm bushing. This membrane tends to wear out, and quickly if you drive aggressively.

You can replace these and fix any clunking you’re experiencing relatively easy. Here are the rough steps for replacement. Please note that we highly recommend you have these installed by a professional and if you decide to install any product by yourself that you are proceeding at your own risk:

  1. Remove the 2 M10 bolts that hold the “eyelet” to the frame. Use a 17mm boxwrench and NOT an open ended wrench. You need the leverage to remove. They eyelets contain concentric studs that fit very nicely onto the frame member of the E30. Unscrew them, stick a pry bar in, and pry it loose. Oftentimes, you’ll relieve some stress once you remove it.
  2. If the old bushing is bad, it will simply pull right off. But you’ll need to remove the bushing from the eyelet, so that you can reuse the eyelet. For this you can cut the inner diameter bushing from the eyelet twice, making 2 halves. Break through that wall and it will fall right out. Best way to do this is put it in a vice and use a sawzall to cut. See the figure below.3
  3. Now you can replace the bushing. This is where it gets easy, and rewarding. I recommend Garagistic’s polyurethane bushings, 80A. Soft, but great for occasional track use. Perfect for street, and lasts for a ton of enjoyable spirited driving miles!
  4. Simply take the bushing and push it right in. The fit will be very tight and you will need to use a rubber hammer to get it 100% in as the friction increases during installation, but it will fit, and perfectly at that.
  5. Then, Installation of the eyelet is the reverse of removal. Torque the 17mm bolts (M10-1.5) to 14ft-lb.

Best of all, they come with a lifetime warranty!

For those looking for a sportier ride and more aggressive stance, you can always obtain offset control arm bushings. This allows you to have more caster, more camber, more traction.

When you go to place an order for Garagistic Control Arm Bushings, simply check whether you want the centered version (more factory feel) or offset (more aggressive for occasional track use), and whether you want 80A (more aggressive than factory) or 95A (harder and more connected feel) or even delrin (much harder and more aggressive exclusively for track use).


Thanks for reading and have a safe and happy modding experience with Garagistic!


Install INPA/EDIABAS right here!

I’d like to introduce you to a comprehensive write-up on how to become a BMW specialized hobby-mechanic. It’s funny how seemingly intimidating this can be. As I search through the forums, I see so many people struggle and get confused with what is what, how to install, problems during installation, connectivity issues, driver issues, or simply don’t understand or become overwhelmed by the amount of information. To help the community, I’d like to break this information up into 2 stages.

The first stage is getting your computer setup with the basics, including a virtual machine with Windows XP SP3 which includes the wiring diagrams, technical information, and parts catalogue. All things that do NOT integrate with a car through OBDII.

The second stage is actual code reading through INPA, EDIABAS, WinKFP with a FT232RL cable.



This is nothing more than acquiring wiring diagrams, parts catalogue, which can also be found at, and TIS, which is step-by-step instructions for basic and more complex repairs to yoru BMW. Here’s what you need to get started.

Go on Ebay and buy yourself a BMW service repair workshop manual including TIS/WDS/ETK/EPC/ETM.

TIS – Technical Information Systems. The most detailed, comprehensive step-by-step procedures, explanations, and pictorial diagrams from bumper to bumper you will ever see. All major and minor service and repair instructions included.


WDS – Wiring Diagrams (1982 – 2008). Every wiring diagram for all BMW’s. From components to pins to connectors and much more.  Fully interactive and user-friendly! There’ll be another blog post on how to navigate through these wiring diagrams specifically.WDS

ETK/EPC – “Parts Catalog” (Covers 1982-2013): The most detailed and extensive BMW parts catalog on the Internet. Now includes PRICES as well, something that was not included in earlier versions. Comes with exploded diagrams for a detailed analysis of all parts.


ETM – Electronic Troubleshooting Manuals. These are the old PDF’s for all BMW’s made in the 80’s/90’s & early 00’s. Electronic wiring diagrams and connector view guides that complement the Wiring Diagrams. 


This typically comes in one or two DVD’s and can be found on ebay for anywhere from $10-$15. The DVD comes with a VM (Virtual Machine) application for this to be installed on a Windows XP SP3 tunnel. This is mandatory and complements your stage 2 upgrade of INPA/EDIABAS/WinKFP/NCS…etc.


This is where things become more complicated…and for good reason. I would like to take some time to guide you through the detailed installation. Again, you absolutely need to either have a dedicated Windows XP SP3 computer, or you can have a windows 7, 8, or 10 computer, 32 or 64bit machine is fine, as long as you have a virtual machine set-up as I documented above in stage 1.

What you see below is taken from and is free information online.

However, the download links to the latest software is becoming harder to find. And as a result, I’ve taken the 700MB INPA file and have it on my Dropbox account which is free with the purchase of any M62/S62 Swap write-up upon request. Just go to, purchase the M62/S62 writeup, and send a request to share the INPA file as well!

DOWNLOAD THIS ON YOUR PRIMARY COMPUTER, IF RUNNING WINDOWS 7, 8, or 10, OR IF YOU’RE RUNNING A VIRTUAL MACHINE, YOU MUST BRING ALL OF THESE FILES TO YOUR VIRTUAL MACHINE. It’s a 700MB file, so it takes a while, but all of the installation itself you see below must be done on the Windows XP SP3 machine.

So what is it, and what’s included in the download?

INPA/DIS – The most common version is 5.0.2. This is not an acronym for anything that I’m aware. It’s the portal for which you can connect directly to your car’s computer on all 1996+ OBDII BMW’s. This includes most if not all models from 1996 to TODAY. INPA does diagnostics including read/reset engine codes. It also communicates with your other computers (Transmission, ABS, Instr Cluster, Seats, Cruise Cntrl…..etc).


WinKFP – This program allows you to flash ECU’s and reprogram your module. Unless you know exactly what you’re doing, do not use this program. It takes some specialized knowledge in order to extract the files and reflash the ECU’s. This will be covered in future blog posts.WinKFP

NCSexpert – This is used for coding. You can enable options that are not normally installed on your car. It’s mostly in german, so you have to do a lot of research to ensure that you don’t unintentionally screw up your ECU.


Tool32 – This allows you to conduct specific tests on your engine. You can actuate VANOS, cycle your ABS pump or move your seats if you’d like. It’s mainly used for diagnosis more than what INPA can do. It’s useful if you’re trying to debug a problem on your BMW.


What to purchase? You need a cable. That’s a fact. You need a DCAN + K-Line cable with a FT232RL usb chip inside the cable. The FT232RL chip is your interface from OBDII to your USB computer. There are cheap cables out there with other interface chips (CH340 for example). Do not buy these cables as they are unreliable and have connectivity and driver issues. The FTDI FT232RL Chip is much better for this application. See below for a picture of the cable you should buy. Your best bet is to do this:

  1. Go to ebay or google
  2. Type in the following search criteria: “DCAN cable FT232RL”
  3. Buy a cable no more than the $15-$30 range max.


Again, as long as it has the FT232RL Chip, you’re good.


You might benefit from getting access to your diagnostic through this system as well. For that, I purchased an OBDII to Diagnostic adapter. It connects to your OBDII port of your DCAN Cable and plugs directly into your diagnostic port in your BMW ranging from 1996 to 2005 timeframe. After 2005, they removed the Diagnostic port altogether and now solely rely on the OBDII.

OBDII to Diag Connector

Now that you have the necessary cables, do not plug them in to your computer yet. Set them aside. You must access and download the software. Follow these directions EXACTLY as you see them below. The screenshots are again, from

Unpack INPA and run Programminstallation/setup.exe Application

Choose language:


Click “Next”:


Next step:INSTALL3

Next step:INSTALL4

Next step:INSTALL5

Next step:INSTALL6

Next step:INSTALL7

Next step:INSTALL8

Next step:INSTALL9

Next step:INSTALL10

Next step:INSTALL11

Next step:INSTALL12

Next step: Select “STD:OBD”. Next step is very important. Whatever COM you select will need to match the driver when you install the DCAN Cable. I recommend you use the first available COM.INSTALL13

Next step: INSTALL14

Next step: (just skip 3x)INSTALL15

Next step:INSTALL16

Next step (restart your computer). If you have a Virtual Machine, restart the machine and let it reboot normally.INSTALL17

After restart:

Open :\Referenz.2005\INSTALL\Instprog.exe. It’s the application.

Click OK:


Choose Language for UK:


In next 2 windows click “Continue”.


In next window choose BMW Group Rectification programs UK: Notice the Source drive. This is important that you unzip the INPA files to the correct path or it will not find it. ALL OF THE UNZIPPED FILES NEED TO BE PLACED IN YOUR C:\ DIRECTORY. Adding it as a subfolder will prevent you from moving past this step.

In next windows set 3 checkmarks:


In next 2 windows click “Continue”


After copying click “END”

Now, here’s where your DCAN + K-Line USB Cable come into play. This is where you may need to load your drivers as a one time setup. After that, plug and unplug as much as you’d like. Here is what you need to do.

  1. Open your VMware or equivalent virtual machine for Windows XP SP3.
  2. Plug in your DCAN Cable into your computer, USB 1.0, 2.0, 3.0 – Doesn’t matter.
  3. Depending on your computer or VM, you it might recognize the USB easily and load the FT232RL Drivers automatically. If that’s the case, then follow the steps and complete that driver installation. If that does not work, follow the steps below.

In my dropbox folder I’ve shared with you contains a driver called, “CDM v2.12.06 WHQL Certified”. Follow the instructions below for installation. AGAIN, INSTALL THIS IN YOUR VM OR WINDOWS XP SP 3.

When you plug in the cable, and you have question marks by the drivers, do the following:

Right click on the driver and click on update driver:


Click next:

DCAN Install 1

Click browse: Then open your documents folder, or the folder that you saved all of the INPA files. DCAN Install 2

DCAN Install 3

Find the file “CDM v2.12.06 WHQL Certified”. Double click it and it will load the drivers.

DCAN Install 4 DCAN Install 5

DCAN Install 6

Click finish:DCAN Install 7

Click finish:


DCAN Install 8

There should be no more question marks or exclamation points.

DCAN Install 10

Now go back to your device manager and locate the usb for the DCAN cable. Ensure that the port is the same COM as that you have chosen when you originally set up INPA.  You can change the port by doing the following:

Right click on the Port and click “Properties”.


On the port settings tab, click “advanced”


On the drop down, pick the correct COM port that is not already in use (NEED TO USE COM1). Again, you must have the COM’s match from the initial INPA Installation. Click Ok, Ok, Ok, Ok, until all is good.


Now’s a good time to restart your Windows XP SP3 machine or your VM.

Now is where it all comes together. Start up your VM Windows XP SP3, plug in your cable to the computer and then to your car. Turn the key to ignition and you should see the image at the top of this screen….. That’s success right there!



Ares: E30-LS1 – Removable Wiring


Now that we have a removable radiator core on the ARES LS1 Swapped E30, we can now do some cool stuff with the wiring. Here, we decide to route the wiring inside the driver fender and make a removable connector, similar to the C101 or X20 connector conveniently mounted on the side of the inner fender wall, near the ABS pump.

There is one major goal to executing this somewhat complicated arrangement of mechanical & electrical workarounds. And that is our ability to get access to the front of the engine in 1, 2, 3. Quite literally. 1. Unbolt the complete support. 2. Disconnect the electrical connector on the driver side fender, and 3. Pull the entire subassembly forward, headlights, bumper, valence, and all!!

Pinouts and detailed routing will be described in the actual write-up, so if you’re ever interested in executing a clean swap like this, then the write-up will detail every step of the way including pinouts, tools, specific parts used, and the overall intention of the design with regards to the affected components (Headlights, turn signals, electric fan…etc).

The final product will be grommeted, painted, and polished for ease of installation.


Here we used a simple X20 or C101 connector from an any E30, E34, E32, E23, E24…etc. We needed both the male and female end so that the connection would be removable when needed.



The electrical hookups were easy. When you source the X20/C101 connector, you have 2 options.

  1. Source an X20/C101 connector (both male/female), pins, and wire of proper gauge and build this assembly yourself. Part Numbers will be presented in the write-up, along with suggested pinouts. Remember that there are high-gauge wire needed for the electric fan,  headlight power, and ABS power. Lower gauge wire is acceptable for turn signals and other ABS signals.
  2. Go to the junkyard and source your own X20/C101 connector both male and female. You must unplug the connectors, cut about 6-12” of wire, and then crimp The E30 body wiring to that connector assembly. I recommend crimping over soldering. It’s easier, cleaner, and it’s preferred on aircraft flight deck panels! How awesome is that!?

The wiring bundle shall be cut at or near where the wiring is to be terminated at the driver fender.  Take that  bundle and snake it at the fuse box through the hole available and through the tunnel in the driver-side fender frame rail. Out it comes at the front of the tunnel and snakes to your connector.





And that is the installation in a nutshell. All in all, there is not much to it. But it does add value if what you’re going for is an easily removable system.

Stay tuned as we continue to brief you on more info as we continue to build this LS1-E30!

So you want to know more about e30 Polyurethane Bushings?




Red, Green

Orange, Yellow Purple – Is there a difference? Which one is harder? What does the color mean? But I’m just looking for a slightly sportier feel. Is Urethane the same as Polyurethane? All of these questions, and more, will be answered.

What does it all mean?

I’ll save you the suspense – Urethane IS Polyurethane, just in a different form. And color means nothing in terms of performance. Some suppliers use a signature color to represent their company. Some companies don’t care what color is used. And some companies use colors to differentiate batches due to a slightly altered methodology of production or in other terms, a ‘date code’ identifier.

Yes, 95A is indeed harder than 80a and will give a sportier feel in the application of suspension and drivetrains. More on that later. But because 95A is harder than 80A, it is much more easily machineable (turning, facing, drilling, boring…etc). But why is it actually harder or softer?  For all intents and purposes, Urethane is the same as Polyurethane. Urethane is the monomer (ethyl carbamate). Basically, polyurethane is a long chain of urethane molecules, and they are bonded front to back, front to back, and so on….

The answer at a high level is: Isocyanates*, Polyols, and Crosslinking. Flexibility is attributed to the polyol, which is a soft, elastic polymer and its reaction with the Isocyanates (averaging 2 or more groups per molecule).

The theory is that high amounts of crosslinking within short chains combined with lower molecular weight polyols give tough or rigid polymers. Conversely, long chains, low crosslinking, and a higher molecular weight polyol give a polymer that is very stretchy.

Polyurethane crosslinking allows the polymer to be a three-dimensional network. As a result, the overall molecular weight is very high and allows polyurethanes the property of not softening up when heated, aka ‘thermosetting polymers’.

Polyurethane was invented during the WWII era by the German Otto BayerProfessor, Dr. Otto Bayer (1902-1982), known as the “father” of the poly industry. From there, polyurethanes can be found in adhesives, coatings, foams and finally flexible foams in the late 50’s. Today, you can see polyurethanes in virtually anything, including structural moldings for anything you see. Footwear, appliance, home, garage…etc. This is all great, but here we’re going to discuss how polyurethanes have shaped our automotive aftermarket culture for use specifically in swapped BMW’s.

Durometer (more commonly known as ‘Shore’) is nothing more than a measure of hardness. And within that, there are several different scales. Most common is the ASTM D2240 Type A for polyurethanes. Hence the “A” at the end of the number. (examples: 70A, 80A, 95A). Scale is from 0 to 100. The higher the number, the harder the polyurethane. A calibrated instrument is used to provide a very specific force to a poly of certain dimensions, creating an indentation in the material. The machine holds its indented force in the poly for 15 seconds, then is released. Immediately thereafter, the indentation is measured for depth. For shore “A”, a hardness range of 100-0 is proportional to the depth of (0.0” – 0.1”+). Aka, no indentation, the harder the material and therefore a durometer of 100 is assigned. Durometer is a dimensionless quantity. And because of that, there are many scales depending on the standard that’s used and the best scale is chosen based on the properties of the polyurethane. Here is a quick scale below of the durometer and the scale used for various materials. Again, most if not all automotive applications deal with shore, or scale “A”.


Now that you know about the history of polyurethane, how it works, and how it’s measured hardness works, how about common-day applications.

You don’t always need 95A all around or 80A all round on your e30. Sometimes it’s critical to have harder poly on some areas of your e30 while softer on others. Factory e30 rubber mounts for most applications, including oil filled motor mounts are in the 60A-65A range. That’s pretty soft, but to give you comparison compared to stock, see below.

60-65A – Stock e30

70A – 25% stiffer

80A – 30-35% stiffer

95A – 75-80% stiffer

While the 60A-65A bushings do result in a lot of engine movement, especially during hard acceleration, the benefit is a comfortable driving experience and less noise transmission through your e30. M20 80a

For that perfect balance, I recommend Garagistic’s 80a e30 mounts.


Just a quick list of the benefits of Polyurethane bushings over stock e30 rubber.

  1. It allows your e30s suspension to react quicker to changes in road conditions, quicker steering, more responsive and receptive to your inputs as the driver. As a result, the power lost in the soft bushings is actually going right to your wheels!!
  2. Polyurethane is easy to install, no presses or special tools needed!
  3. Polyurethane outlasts rubber bushings. In most applications, it will last the life of your daily road driven e30!
  4. You can get custom offset fitment for race applications to help with wheel alignment, ride height…etc.

Want to go delrin on your e30? or even crazier and get solid bushings? Not a problem, only it is. If you daily drive your E30 and want to go delrin or solid, the ancillary setback is that the E30 chassis itself is not particularly designed for this type of vibration from the drivetrain and the roads. And because of that, things happen. Connectors dislodge, pins and electrical connections come loose, screws slowly back out and some bolts loosen up. For a car manufacturer to design to those strict requirements of solid mounted bushings, the car would look like a tank. You can use delrin or even a solid mounted configuration, but just beware of the long term consequences  on your e30 due to daily driving around town.

What else does Garagistic offer?

Well, a ton! E30, E36, and now even E46!!

Poly part1Poly part2

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more posts. At least 2 new posts per week, with one of them guaranteed to be dedicated to the ongoing E30-LS1 project!!

* Recent efforts are attempting to minimize the use of isocyanates to synthesize polyurethanes, because the isocyanates raise severe toxicity issues. Non-isocyanate based polyurethanes (NIPUs) are in the works as a new class of polyurethane to alleviate environmental concerns.

Thanks to wikedia, McMaster for the information

Ares: E30-LS1 – Removable Core Support


Welcome to the second installment of the E30-LS1 Build.

Here we discuss a topic that is on every E30 enthusiast’s mind – How to effectively make the radiator core support removable. And this is just the first of 2 parts discussing this very in-depth topic.

To start, we’d like to quantify this discussion. Let’s list out the requirements:

  1. Must be easy/quick to remove – Mechanically & Electrically
  2. Must be relatively simple to construct
  3. Must look stock
  4. Must maintain stock functionality

Historically, an easily removable assembly, whether it be a subframe, engine, radiator, or any other subassembly of a rally or race car is key in order to get it back in the race. Here, we try to replicate that to the best of our ability in Ares. Below is a rough list of the pros and cons to doing such a modification. Also are a small list of items that could make/break your effort. This write-up is designed to de-risk your project and execute a professional looking E30 Front Subframe:

Pros Cons


How to cut the core? We performed a combination of drilling out existing spot welds with cutting and re-welding our own support structure to maintain stability and strength of the assembly. See below for cutting/drilling locations:

Radiator Core0

There are certainly many methods to incorporate a removable core support while maintaining to all of these requirements, but we will show you at a high level how we plan to execute that with Ares.

Here we have our documented main attachment points. These points must be, strong and somewhat concealed, while maintaining ease of accessibility with hand tools. Below you’ll see the basic structure of Garagistic’s go-forward approach when constructing to all of this criteria.

Radiator Core

The prototype modifications have been made as shown below. You can see where it was decided to make the connections. Each of these mechanical connections shall have either weld nuts attached or the holes tapped for ease of installation/removal. All tapped holes shall have at least 3 threads to meet the minimum torque requirements for a thread of that size.e30-removable-core-support (29)

e30-removable-core-support (26)   e30-removable-core-support (52)

Above are some pictures of the entire assembly after construction has been conceptualized.

Now let’s go back to our criteria – our requirements for our removable subframe. See below for the responses to our self-induced requirements.

  1. Must be easy/quick to remove – Mechanically & Electrically
    1. 6 Bolts, assembly pulls out by pulling toward the front of the car. No binding occurs
    2. C101/X20 style connector mounted directly on the fender wall near the ABS Pump
    3. Removal/installation of the core support and supporting structure will take no more than 10 minutes, including bumper, valence, core support, headlights..etc.
  2. Must be relatively simple to construct
    1. Basic welding knowledge, making steel brackets, and welding nuts or tapping for ease of remove/install.
    2. Need die grinder, angle grinder to make brackets and sheet metal bracing
  3. Must look stock
    1. Utilized existing support with modifications.
    2. Holds factory E30 radiator or an aftermarket Moshimoto with stock mount locations
  4. Must maintain stock functionality
    1. All electrical signals maintained
    2. Mounting points easily accessible.
    3. Maintains stock strength

More info to come in the second installment as we finalize our electrical routing! Because many of the signals require 10-12 gauge wire, we cannot use a simple aftermarket connector. Therefore, we plan to use a lightly used C101/X20 style connector and mounting it bulkhead in the side of the fender, thereby concealing the routing of the wires from the fuse box to the front end of the car. This helps the project remain inexpensive, available connectors, and no special pin/depin tools. The signals involved are:


e30-removable-core-support (2)

Want more detail? Stay tuned for the official write-up of the E30-LS1 through Macalent LLC. There’ll be much  more detail with step-by-step instructions on how to on the construction of the removable core support, hardware listing, hole drilling for spot welds, measurements,  and suggested wiring for the one-connector hookup, making this super easy for the shady-tree mechanic.

Thanks for reading and continue to stay tuned for regular updates on this amazing project!

Introducing the God of War: Ares, The Formidable E30 – LS1

LS1 Timeline

The time has come…and the schedule above confirms!

That’s right! This is the start of WEEKLY updates to our most recent and proudest build. You’ll get the opportunity to follow us with fresh new status each week. You’ll also get a chance to learn all about the inner workings of the LS1 and what makes it so popular in today’s car culture. But most importantly once the build is complete, you’ll have the knowledge to complete this swap yourself.

So here we are, collecting parts, making jigs, stocking up on raw material, and getting psyched to keep you all updated every step of the way!

The 1997-2005 General Motors Engine “LS1” is one of the most popular engines in the modern automotive tuning realm. First introduced in 1997 Corvette and then in 1998-2002 in the Camaro Z28.


Why is it so damn popular?  Well, here’s a start:

  • Lightweight – Aluminum block option, aluminum heads that flow so well from the factory, and don’t often weigh much more than the 4cyl/6cyl iron blocks they replaced.
  • Simple – One Single Center Camshaft w/ pushrods, easy tune-ups. Low end “Y” Block has the fewest main bolts (6 bolts, 4 cap and 2 cross). One piece pan gasket with an oil pan that actually provides structural rigidity to the assembly.
  • Compact Power/lb – +/-350hp and +/-365lb-ft, depending on year
  • Attainable – Almost overabundant! Find it in the Camaro, Corvette, GTO, Firebird. Chevy trucks came with iron-block 4.8L/ 5.3L. And the 6.0L/6.2L engines were aluminum. Most of the car engines came in 5.3L, 5.7L, 6.0L, 6.2L and 7.0L sizes. Not only are there options when deciding on displacement, there are also choices when deciding if you want an iron or aluminum block. More on this below…
  • Reliable – High Mileage LS1’s with tons of field data, Extra Long Head Bolts to reduce variation in mass production.
  • Aftermarket – Replacement parts are cheap, not only because of the inherent mass production, but also that it’s american, making parts produced from hundreds of american manufacturers. Add a performance camshaft, Exhaust Headers, free flow intake and a free flow exhaust setup. just that will source you 400rwhp.
  • Fuel Economy – Could push up to 30mpg!
  • Price/Power Ratio – Off the charts. You can pick it up at the junkyard, do regular maintenance and get yourself an amazing swapped car.

Aluminum block really better? Actually yes…

Aluminum is better because it’s lighter (about 100# less compared to it iron LS1 counterpart), but requires iron sleeves. It cools better, and therefore extracts the heat through the coolant quicker than iron.

Iron is cheap, strong, can take a beating, and is great for turbo-charging over 1000rwhp. this version was primarily used in the Chevy Trucks.

In the end, aluminum is the future and best candidate for most tuners’ applications.

Let’s get technical. Here are the 5.7L Aluminum Block LS1 specs:

  • Block: 319-T5 Aluminum, 90deg, Deep skirt with cast-in iron sleeves. (careful with a stroker kit though)
  • Head: 356-T6 Aluminum, Cross flow, wedge combustion chamber.
  • Pistons: Cast Aluminum, Flat Top, 15.5oz Ea
  • Bore: 3.898 in, 4.4in Spacing
  • Stroke: 3.62 in
  • Displacement: 8*3.14* (Bore/2) * (Bore/2) * Stroke = 345.7 cu in (or 5.7L)
  • Valve  Intake: 2.00″ Dia, 200 deg, 0.5″ lift, 0.05″ duration
  • Valve Exhaust: 1.55″ Dia, 203 deg, 0.5″ lift, 0.05″ duration
  • Head Gasket: 0.052″ Compressed
  • Compression Ratio: 10.1:1
  • Firing Order: 1-8-7-2-6-5-4-3
  • Ignition: One COP (coil on plug) per cylinder. Saturation achieved in only 2 revolutions (4 in predecessor).
  • Crate Weight: ~390#
  • Spark Plug Gap: 0.06″
  • Bearing Caps: 4 vertical bolts, 2 cross bolts
  • Induction Type: One-Piece Composite Intake
  • Throttle Body Dia: 75.0mm
  • Transmission: Borg Warner / Tremec T56 6-Speed Gearbox

Tremec vs. Borg Warner:

TheT-56 was initially developed/built by Borg Warner. They were available in the 93-97 LT-1 cars (iron block). In1997, Borg Warner sold the T-56 out to a company called Tremec. Tremec began building the T-56 transmissions in Mexico out of inferior parts with cheap/weak synchros and gears. Every 6-Speed transmission you find in an LS1 Camaro, Firebird or Corvette is from the Mexican company Tremec T-56. Predominately early failure of the synchros are observed, causing the transmission to bind, grind, and whine.

Rebuilding a T-56 takes specialty equipment, expensive parts, and extremely detailed knowledge base in order to execute effectively.

So here we have Ares. Our signature V8 e30 ls1 build, sharing with our fans every step of the build. There’s a reason why they say the LS1 was built by the hands of God; The God of War – Ares.

And that’s exactly what we’re introducing to you. The BMW E30 colliding with the most ubiquitous, powerful, and insanely compact engine: The LS1.


(Image courtesy of

E36/E46 Rear Trailing Arm Bushing Symptoms

It was my one year wedding anniversary, and I decided to take my wife down to PA for the weekend to a bed and breakfast. We decided to take my wife’s 1997 328i because it was the best on gas and has been relatively reliable. On our way down I-81, we hit a medium sized pothole when going through a curve. It was at that point that I felt a somewhat apparent skip, or tug, to the outside of the curve on the e36. The Pennsylvania roadways are known for their never ending road work and I didn’t think anything of it because after all, I-81 is not kind to your suspension. Within the next 250 miles of travel, this skipping got slightly worse. And I realized that it wasn’t simply going over bumps and blips at high speeds. That didn’t bother me. In fact, skips in the suspension while going over bumps on a straightaway was manageable, practically imperceptible. The issue was going over these highway bumps on curves. That’s how I was able to isolate the behavior. But I was still in denial at this point, thinking to myself that it’s all in my head. Not to mention, I didn’t want it to ruin my weekend.

By the time we got to our destination 4hrs later, I couldn’t take it anymore. Even my wife asked, “what was that?”. I didn’t understand much about the E36 suspension at the time, but knew enough to know that it was coming from the rear of the car.

We parked at our bed and breakfast and I did what any BMW owner does first. Kick and push/pull the tires to identify anything grossly loose. Nothing. But I was so concerned that the next day I interrupted our Saturday afternoon activities by bringing the car to an independent shop and having the car put on a lift. And I’m glad I did! It was then and there that I found the glaring problem. And it was the rear trailing arm bushings, only one of them to be exact. Being an E30 aficionado, I quickly realized that the rear suspension design was nothing like the E36 equivalent.

If you take a look below, you’ll see the differences between the E30 and the newer E36 rear trailing arm bushings. And to save you the suspense, the E46 bushings are identical to the E36 style.

e30 e36 comparion

The E36/E46 trailing arm bushings sit inside of a metal enclosure, or “holster” if you will. Connected to the frame by a mere 3 bolts that are easily accessible. Just lift the car, take off the wheel, and remove the bolts as I indicated below:

  • Yes, the trailing arm will easily drop down.
  • Yes, it exposes the main bushing bolt you need to remove the metal enclosure very easily.

But Yes, you must continue to maintain pressure on the trailing arm downward in order to expose that accessibility. It wants to spring back toward the frame. Nothing that can’t be fixed with a piece of wood wedge between the trailing arm and the body.

  • No, it’s not easy removing the old bushing. You must cut the old out with a sawzall, or get lucky enough to press it out like below.
  • No, re-installing the new rubber bushing is not easy. In fact you need a homemade press to get this done.

You see, after this issue came up, I researched the heck out of it, and I determined that these bushings are quite easy to replace. Again, if you want to go stock rubber, you’ll have the added complication of making your own press to get the old bushing out and the new rubber bushing in. This can be harder than you think. Urethane bushings are a popular and tasteful upgrade to your E36/E46 rear suspension, but also are so much easier to install in that you do not need a press!!

e36 rear tab

Hey, at least you’re not dealing with replacing the E30 rear subframe bushings. See below for a quick comparison. It’s no picnic.

E30 E36 rear tabs

Upon closer inspection of my faulty E36 trailing arm bushing, I had mixed emotions. First, I was relieved that I found the part, and that this failure is a probable explanation for the behavior of the car on the highway, especially at highway speeds and on turns. However, based on how bad the old rubber bushing was, I didn’t know how in the world the car was able to function!!

The second discovered the issue, threw the indy shop $40 for his troubles, ordered the Garagistic E36/E46 urethane bushings and replaced them in a couple days later. Good as new. I got the 80A for the comfort version. In no way, shape, or form was my E36 going to be a race car!

garagistic parts

Nevertheless, I crawled home the next day, received the parts soon thereafter, and replaced both bushings in my garage with nothing more than a few hand tools, and the sawzall of course. After that, my E36 drove beautifully!

In the end, the car was repaired, thanks to Garagistics’s quick turn-around of quality parts, and I was able to drive it like I stole my wife’s 173k mile 328i!

Thanks for reading and stay tuned!

– Frank Macaluso



(main photo credit by:BBS Racing/RIH)