In today’s world of hot rodding, LS swaps are commonplace. It’s become routine to see these modern power plants in the engine compartments of classic Chevrolets, or even other American or Japanese makes. What is rarer is when they show up in European vehicles.
That’s why Michael Richardson’s 1995 BMW E36 M3 stopped us in our tracks. The car is powered by a supercharged LSA engine, meaning we had to get the story.
Richardson hails from Tulsa, Oklahoma, and as it turns out, he previously owned a fourth-generation Camaro featuring an LS1. When he was ready for another car, he began the hunt for something new.
“I had the universal donor for any kind of swap basically since they’re such a good [platform] to start with,” he said during Power Tour’s last day at zMAX Dragway near Charlotte. “So I was just looking for something to put that motor and drivetrain in and kind of stumbled on this BMW. It’s actually pretty easy; it’s not too complicated. You can make all the factory stuff work.”
Richardson, who works as a project manager for a utility company, first added a T56 transmission. He then came across a good deal on an LS3 rotating assembly, purchased a Chevrolet Performance LS3 block and topped it off with an LSA blower.
“I’m brand loyal to Chevrolet Performance engines,” Richardson said. “I know nothing about the BMW stuff unless I need to know about it. But I’m brand loyal to the LS stuff. If it’s got an LS in it, I’m going to like it.”
“I’m brand loyal to Chevrolet Performance engines. If it’s got an LS in it, I’m going to like it."
He bought the E36 four years ago specifically to do a swap, although the BMW was a complete running and driving car. 2018 was his first Power Tour as a Long Hauler, but he and a friend had hit some of the more convenient stops closer to home over the past two years.
“It’s tiring, it will wear you out,” Richardson said of his first Long Haul experience. “We don’t have A/C, but fortunately we’ve got a reliable car. We kind of did the reliability mod with the BMW with the LS in there.”
A complete LSA crate engine or bare blocks can be purchased through Chevrolet Performance.
The current Holeshot mail-in rebate* offer also provides a $250 rebate through December 31 on all LT, LS, LSX and Big-Block crate engines.
Take a look around The BLOCK and @theblockdotcom on Instagram for more from the 2018 HOT ROD Power Tour.
*See participating U.S. dealer or authorized powertrain reseller for details and rebate form, which must be postmarked by 1/31/19. Rebate offer not available with Chevrolet Performance Connect & Cruise rebate offer. Limit 3 per mailing address. Rebate form and details available at chevrolet.com/performance/offers. Allow 6 to 8 weeks for delivery of debit card. Offer valid 10/1/18 to 12/31/18.