BMW E36 M3 Euro-spec engine

This one is directed primarily at the forum members in Europe. I'm considering the purchase of a 1997 or 1998 BMW E36 M3 sedan as my daily driver. The M3 is a great car, handles exceptionally well, isn't grossly overweight, is reliable and has a bulletproof drivetrain, and the sedan appeals to me because I am constantly chaufering my three kids around town.

Unfortunately, the North American E36 M3 is a little underpowered, IMHO, because us Yanks got the 240-hp engine, while European E36 M3 owners got the 320-hp Euro 3.2 liter evo motor (S50B32). I'm not sure about other parts of the world (e.g., Asia, Australia). Anyway, I've looked into swapping in the Euro engine and it is certainly feasible, but the cost is outrageous; it could exceed half the value of the car even after the existing engine and transmission are sold. The US shops who offer this swap claim an established network of European dealers who supply them with used 3.2 liter engines in good condition.

Is there anyone on this forum who may have a good source for this engine (and the 6-speed) who might be willing to help out a fellow GT40 enthusiast? I'm not in a hurry to do this (won't be into an M3 for a month or two anyway) and can bide my time until a good deal comes along.

Thanks in advance for any help or advice you may be able to offer.

[ March 07, 2003: Message edited by: Mark Worthington ]
Have you considered trying to ship one from say Germany? That way you'll have a left hand drive and a full Euro Spec car.
The reason I looked at a LHD in the UK, is that they have to have MPH speedos and double check on the emissions regs on the CO2 on what the M3 pumps out in Europe, you never know you could get away with it?
Thank you for the response, Brett. As I understand it, the federalization process associated with bringing an entire car into the USA is time consuming (up to six months), expensive (up to $15,000) and onerous. Items which must be modified for the US market are DOT low and high beams, propoer color running and brake lights, a m.p.h. speedometer, seat belt warning buzzer, and a bunch of idiot stickers ("objects in mirror are closer than they appear"). I hear that the big problem is the cold start test, necessitating new cats (2K alone!). Thank God I don't live in California, as CARB testing is another $2,500.

Maybe the horror stories of bringning a Euro-spec car to the US are overstated. I'll do some checking around.
I forgot to add: The M3 engines are quite bulletproof provided you let them warm up properly before you put the pedal to the metal. Those who have engine poroblems usually drive them only on short trips and dont pay attention to the temperature gauge.The M3 engines are really top class normally aspirated engines.
Thank you for your reply, gweitzel. Unfortunately, I am afraid your friend may not be aware of the differences between the Euro-spec S50 B32 engine (which develops 321 hp @ 7400 rpm) and the S50us B32 (which develops 240 hp @ 6000 rpm). The Euro-spec engine is almost completely different, with the most notable differences being the cylinder head (same head as a McLaren F1, incidentally), intake (double-VANOS, 6 single throttles) and exhaust. I'm sure there are many other differences, including the block and the ECU.

The following web site illustrates the differences between the US and Euro version of the 3.2 liter engine that went into the E36 M3:

I agree that the M3 engines are bulletproof (if properly operated and maintained) and are top-class normally aspirated engines, but the Euro-spec 3.2 is in a league of its own.

Perhaps we should take this discussion off-line (email or PM)...I would be very interested to find out what going prices are for E36 M3s and/or Euro-spec engines in Germany.
Hallo Mark,
I have made some enquiries at a local BMW dealership which is run by a friend of mine and according to him the european and US engines should be identical. The difference is the electronic control unit.
The same applies to the current model M3's.
If you like, I can try and find out how much a second hand ECU sells for. It may be worth a try.
Usually when you swap the ECU's over, the correct pin number has to be put in to diengage the theft protection. Your local BMW dealer should do this for you.
There used to be a company in Chicago that reportedly did the entire conversion. I can look into it further if you like. You may also want to join the bmwcca. Tons of hardcore bimmerphiles there.
'91 M5

[ March 19, 2003: Message edited by: Scott Buskerud ]

[ March 19, 2003: Message edited by: Scott Buskerud ]