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From digest.v5.n146 Mon Aug 26 07:41:20 1996
From: John Darwak <>
Date: Sun, 25 Aug 96 22:55:49 -0400
Subject: <e30) Recipe for a faster 325e (long)

For those of you who have been following the progress of myquest to make my 325e faster, it is finally done (well sort of...).

To recap. I had an '85 325e with stock LSD, Jim C. chip, Bilstein Sportkit, ST bars, carbon-kevlar brake lines, Repco Metalmasters, K&N airfilter, 155k miles, 50k miles on total engine rebuild (long story only told with a beer in my hand).

Then, one week before the MIS drivers school, the cylinder head cracked. Since this required a replacement head I figured it would be a good time to explore my options for increasing the HP. I considered many options that ranged from; doing nothing and selling the car (good for my already hurting bank account), stock rebuild (boring), doing the 325i cam/springs upgrade (tempting because it looked like a cheap upgrade-ha!) and replacing with an entire e30 or e36 325i drivetrain (more expensive than it looks). I chose to do the cam/spring upgrade. What follows is a list of the things and all you will need to to know to complete this conversion (I hope).


  • - e30 325i cam (year doesn't matter)
  • - 325i double valve springs
  • - holders for above valve springs
  • - 325i cam gear ('84-85 only. Running change made sometime in '86)
  • - 325i gauge cluster
  • - upgraded computer chip
  • - all gaskets and bolts you would need to re-install cylinder head etc.

The Process
Have a valve job done. Drill out the additional oil journals, because the i uses 3 additional bearings for the cam. The main oil pickup is located on the other side of the head as well. This can be done freehand with a hand drill with careful measuring. Re-assemble. Swap in gauge cluster from the 325i. It plugs right in. Pop in new upgraded chip.That is really all there is to it (well mostly).

Parts Sources
I recommend Steve D'Gerolamo at The Parts Co-op (201-262-0412). to buy the cam and the various pieces you need. He had the best prices and service I found of any business. Only drawback is he was only doing cod or mail in your money when I ordered (but I understand he was adding credit card service real soon).

I will buy the gauge cluster in the spring - used probably. Look in the Roundel.

The chip is the "sort of finished" part I mentioned. I have a Jim C chip that I am using now. I would like to sell or trade it in for the upgraded chip that I need in order to use the full power the car is capable of. I'm waiting to hear on this, but I'm not in any hurry as I will be putting the car away for the winter in about October. The car is driveable without the upgraded chip.

Additional Information
Call Pete McHenry. He is a Tips Rep in the Roundel. He knows more about the small six than anyone and has done many interesting mods to them. Also, read the Digest FAQs as it pertains to the eta.

The e crankshaft can't rev reliably to 6k rpms because it is cast instead of forged. Wrong. Pete M states that he has never had a problem with the e crank. He states that this was a story spread by a certain well known shop in North Carolina (starts with a K) as a way to sell more turbodiesel crankshafts. I don't know if it is true, but given the stories I've heard I wouldn't be surprised.

You can put a i head on an e block or use the "super e" head. Wrong. Drops the compression too low. You must swap in i pistons and for what that costs you might as well get a whole i motor. You can't use the i valves either.

Mistakes I Made
I bought the cam from Bekkers before I got a price from the Parts Co-op. Since I already had the cam I decided to keep it. Big mistake. The GTC cam came without the boss for the cam gear milled in and we didn't notice this until it was installed. My mechanic was able to suitably modify the cam to make it work, but for what it cost me I could have had a Shrick or paid dealer list on a stock cam. Buy the real thing.

Other Options
If I had my own garage I would have done most of the work myself and just shipped the head to Pete and had him send me back a complete assembled head to bolt on. I would also have had the intake side ported so that an i intake would fit. If my motor were tired I would have considered an i motor conversion more seriously. Interestingly, Pete says that an e36 motor will fit easily and they only cost a few hundred more than an e30 to buy (used). Plus you start out with about 185 HP. I figure that with the chip and a complete free flow exhaust I should be able to get about that now and over 200 lb-ft of torque.

Any questions or comments appreciated,

John Darwak
'85 325e/i (Many mods.Much faster now ;-)

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