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Unread 12-04-2017, 04:36 PM
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Default Re: Vorshlag RHD E36 LS3 V8 Swap Development

Project Update for December 4th, 2017: We've been working on this development project for the last month and a half, between billable work. We have to keep sneaking in work on this one, since I'm eating all of the R&D hours. Last time we showed the LS3 + T56 drivetrain going into the RHD E36 chassis and since then we have finalized the placement, which included lateral offset from centerline, front-to-back placement, driveline angles and height. We've got some good projects updates to share below.


Not all LS engines are created equal. Sure, the motor mount and bellhousing locations are the same, and the external dimensions are also identical. But the bits that bolt to the "long block" can sometimes differ: starters, accessories, bellhousings, and oil pans. We have to change a few items out to gain the room needed to make this swap fit into any E36 chassis, which we will detail below.

After looking at several OEM and aftermarket oil pans we once again went with the 1998-2002 Camaro LS1 cast aluminum pan. We used the same pan on the LHD swap, We can supply this new, with windage tray, dipstick/tube, and an Improved Racing baffle kit (any autocross, drift, or track car needs that kit). This upgrade applies to both RHD and LHD E36 swaps.

An LS engine (like the 2010-15 Camaro SS LS3 we have for this swap) needs to mate to the T56 (or T56 Magnum) 6-speed via the cast aluminum bellhousing shown above left - which we now supply here. To fit that bellhousing we have to use the correct starter, which we also supply now (here). This applies to RHD and LHD swaps both. Once we sorted out these necessary parts they were ordered and we waited...

With these parts on hand - including the correct starter bolts needed for this starter - we could start bolting together the important bits. At this point we weren't sure if the 2010-15 Camaro LS3 front drive accessories and brackets would fit, so those were removed before the drivetrain went into the car.

Our existing Hydrailic Throw Out Bear/Slave + Remote bleeder kit worked, with a small change to the section that connects to the OEM slave cylinder. This was attached to the LS3 clutch kit, then the bellhousing we supplied was bolted on with the new starter, and it was time to stick the drivetrain into the engine bay. But first - we needed to test our smaller diameter steering shaft.


We weren't sure ANY of the traditional LHD parts we had developed over the last 12 years would fit the RHD chassis. The first part to test fit was our E36 Competition collapsible steering shaft.

The BMW steering shaft is big and clunky, with a nasty rag joint at one end. The packaging of the OEM shaft inside the engine bay makes it tough to wrap a V8 exhaust header through this area, so to gain room (and remove a sloppy rag joint) we created this 2-piece steering shaft a decade ago.

Since then we have sold many hundreds of these shafts to LS swappers and other BMW racers. The length of our competition unit is the same as the OEM shaft, but our's is adjustable within the collapsible portion. We've since created this style shaft for E30, Z3, E46 and other BMW chassis using our unique BMW splined U-joint.

I was fairly confident that A) we would need the room this shaft provides and B) that our existing E36 steering shaft would work on the RHD cars (we had sold many to Aussies over the years). Sure enough: it was needed and it works.


With the drivetrain updated with the proper fitting oil pan, bellhousing, starter, hydraulic TOB and the right steering shaft in the car we were ready to put the 5th gen Camaro LS3 engine and 1998-02 Camaro 6-speed trans into the RHD car for final drivetrain placement measurements.

This may seem like a trivial step but its not only tricky, it can make or break a swap. After having done a lot of these over the last 15 years I've come to know where to look for tight spots, key associations for parts and the car that cannot be moved, and even ways to improve this swap for the RHD version.

One of the first things to mark on any E36 or E46 LS swap using the T56 or T56 Magnum transmissions is the reverse lockout solenoid. The drivetrain was roughly positioned in the car and this interference point marked.

Then the drivetrain came out and this sheet metal was "massaged" at the OEM trans tunnel. This bump was perhaps bit over-done on this Alpha car, but it gave us some leeway on drivetrain placement. We still needed to clear a few other new things.

Next up were some unused flanges / protrusions on this T56 that were in the way of the firewall. I wanted to shift the engine back a bit more than our LHD model, to make up for the differences in length of the T56 vs T56 Magnum (these transmissions have very little in common, and the Magnum is about 1.5" shorter at the shifter location).

Next up the shifter bushing mounted to the underside of the tunnel needs to be removed.

A couple of spot welds are drilled out and this spot welded bracket can go away for good - gaining valuable room at the back of the 6 speed transmission.

Above is the final location for the back of the T56 trans - great clearance for the massive transmission to the tunnel, with the shifter located as close to the factory opening in the tunnel as possible. The T56 Magnum will fit great as well. The lateral offset of the engine was already locked down at this point, too...

continued below

Last edited by mylesloan; 08-30-2018 at 02:52 PM.
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