Monday, November 30, 2009

BMW E34 Toyota 1JZGTE Twin Turbo Heart Transplant

Due to heart failure of the original BMW M50B20 (520i) engine and the extremely costly experience of maintaining a Bavarian heart with original BMW parts for the past 2 years or so. As the cost of a used BMW M50B25 was very expensive and likely to cost the same to maintain, I decided to transplant a more reliable Japanese heart into my beloved BMW. I know, I know, BMW purist all over the world will be moaning about purity etc, etc. but hey, its my car and 280hp and Toyota reliability doesn't sound so bad to me after blowing a fortune maintaining my original BMW engine.

Enough about philosophy and on with the show....

BMW M50B20 (520i). Before:

Toyota 1JZ-GTE Twin Turbo. After:

The journey....

A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away.....

Wait, wrong story. I bought the BMW E34 520i in early 2007 and have tried my best to keep to its German heritage by replacing and repairing the car with only original BMW parts. I had just spend a small fortune (to me at least) to fully refurbish the gearbox (which was giving me problems) with the intention of keeping the car in stock condition for as long as possible. Unfortunately, fate had other ideas and my M50B20 engine decided to blow its top and thought mixing engine oil and coolant together would be a good idea.

This was the last straw and after finding out that a good condition M50B20 was difficult to come by and that the more readily available M50B25 (from a 525i) would cost a small fortune (to me at least), I decided that it was time for a change. After much thought and research, I decided to go with the Toyota 1JZ-GTE Twin Turbo as the engine (or halfcut as we call them in Malaysia) were about a third of the price of the BMW and after factoring in the massive amount of labor and fabrication to install a Toyota engine into a BMW, the total cost was still quite similar.

So a date was scheduled for the open heart surgery and the car was trailered to the operating theater and the offending item was removed.

The oil sump of the 'new' engine had to be modified to fit the original BMW engine bay.

The new heart being fitted.
Toyota? Yamaha?
Custom engine mountings being fabricated.

Toyota 4-speed automatic.
Intercooler. I went with a black 'stock' looking intercooler as I did not want to attract any unwanted attention.
Engine installed. Now the hard part, wiring.

The battery also had to be relocated from the engine bay to under the rear seat. Most of the E34's had their battery in this location but for some reason, mine was in the engine bay.

While the car was in for surgery, I decided to get the wheels repainted to an anthracite grey.

I also custom fabricated a panel for the boost gauge and turbo timer. Finished off with a 3M Carbon-Fiber sticker.

One of the requirements I had for the transplant was that I wanted the engine bay to look as 'stock' as possible, like it would have looked if BMW and Toyota decided to get married and have a child. As such, a lot of care was given especially to the wiring and the use of the original Toyota air intake assembly.

Overall, I am really happy with the results and the 280hp that came with it.

Some pictures after surgery.

The Toyota ECU is located in the same place as the stock BMW ECU.
The original rubber seals were reused to ensure the ECU is sealed off and the original routing for the wiring was reused.

The complete Toyota air intake assembly including the cold air intake snorkel.
The front of the engine bay had to be modified slightly to get the cold air intake to fit.
The original BMW brake master cylinder could not fit and was replaced with the original Toyota version.
The front mounted intercooler.

Stock looking front end.

The standard 520i exhaust was used for the complete 'stock' look. I didn't want to go for a custom made exhaust as I wanted it to look and sound like a stock BMW 520i.

The completed engine bay.

The original BMW gear shift was reused and the panel for the boost gauge and turbo timer installed.

Closeup of the 3M Carbon Fiber sticker.

The original BMW instrument cluster was also reused and everything works expect the meter below the rev counter used to calculate the MPG.

Some exterior shots of the car with the wheels. For a full description of the detailing work carried out check out my post on my other blog:

The new Japanese heart is smoother and definitely much, much more powerful than the original German heart but what I'm really hoping for is that it will be more reliable also.

My wallet needs a break...... or I'll be the one needing a heart transplant soon.

Just updated another post with some technical information about the 1JZ:

Sunday, November 29, 2009


Was in Brisbane recently for a seminar. Thought I'd share some pictures of my trip over there. As the seminar was about 1 1/2 hours drive north of Brisbane I flew direct to Brisbane by MAS rather than Air Asia as Air Asia lands in Coolangata which is about an hour south of Brisbane on the Gold Coast. The weather while I was over there was thankfully quite cooling which was a welcome change from the sweltering humidity of Malaysia.

On with the pictures:

They gave me a room on the very top floor. The strange thing was the lift didn't go up all the way to the top floor. I had to get off one floor below and walk up a flight of stairs but the upside was the view...

In Malaysia we keep complaining that our signboards are blocked by tree branches, etc. Well guess what...

Check out this corridor at a shopping mall. One of the longest and narrowest I have come across. Leading to the..... toilet.

One of the MOST impressive things I saw while in Brisbane. A fan at Bunning's Warehouse. Its GIGANTIC!!!!

Some early Christmas decorations on a real tree at Surfer's Paradise on the Gold Coast.

Sculpture of kangaroo's on the streets of downtown Brisbane made from used car parts.

A live band playing on Sunday morning at the Queen's Street Mall. A popular shopping destination in Brisbane.

This was something quite unique. A temporary DJ was setup in an open area and started playing latin music and people were dancing the night away. Quite a sight to see.

This was a 24hr pancake house located in an old church. It made for quite a different ambiance from your usual restaurant. It must work also as the restaurant was packed full of customers.

A statue outside the courthouse.

Day and night. I think this was the government building in downtown Brisbane.


The city of Brisbane itself was quite picturesque with a river running through it and lots of bridges. It was especially pleasant around my hotel where you could walk across a bridge to Southbank which is a park and cultural area within the city. Some random shots of that area.

The bright white color thing is the middle is this.

This bridge was quite unique as the floral print was actually projected onto the bridge with projectors at night.

Highway on the river.

Visited Surfer's Paradise on the Gold Course on one of the days. It was nice and the touristy thing to do but upon recommendations from many of the locals, I took a drive up north to the Noosa Heads National Park. It was really beautiful and worth the journey. Highly recommended! Much better than Surfer's.

Some pictures of the park.

We originally followed the trail that goes along the water and thought we'd turn back at the end but once we got to the end there was another beach on the other side of the hill so we decided to walk over there to take a look.

Once there we saw another trail at the other end of the beach and kept going through the forest until we made it back to the starting point.

Quite a journey but the weather was quite pleasant. In the end we walked on trail 4, 5 and came back by 2.

I left for home the day after. Some final pictures of the International Terminal at Brisbane Airport while waiting for my flight to depart.

Thanks for looking.