Unassuming on the outside, absolutely chaotic on the inside, this sublime 2JZ-swapped BMW E60 sleeper is making a monstrous 800hp thanks to its Japanese powerplant – purists look away now…
Feature from Performance BMW. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Adam Rous.
Die-hard BM fans seem to act with utter horror and revulsion when someone dares to fit a non-BM engine into a BMW. It’s like one of the greatest sins that a BMW owner can commit – why on earth would you dare to sully your BM’s engine bay with something from a different German car manufacturer, or something American, or Japanese?! We are the first to admit that BM makes incredible engines, but we also must be open-minded because the modding scene is so diverse. While we adore originality, we also love to celebrate individuality, and if someone is brave enough to do something mental, you can bet that we will be there, and we’ll be getting hyped over it. So, while the sight of Lewis Little’s 2JZ-swapped BMW E60 might be enough to make many people shudder and turn away, we can’t wait to get under the skin of this insane saloon…
It goes without saying that Lewis is a BM fan, he wouldn’t have built this car if he wasn’t, but the reason he opted for this generation of Five becomes obvious when you start chatting to him. “I’ve always had a soft spot for E30s, but it’s E60s that hold my heart, they are by far the best all-rounder out there,” he smiles, so it’s no surprise that he ended up building one. In fact, he’s got a second E60 project on the go, which started out life as a 520d and is now a manual-swapped 535d with a big top-mounted single setup, which sounds pretty tasty. Clearly, Lewis is a man with a keen eye for modding, and past projects include a selection of Nova and Corsas, along with an E36 316i M3 rep, but it’s fair to say that nothing else has been quite as impressive as the car you see before you here.
“As I said, I have a lot of love for the E60 chassis,” says Lewis as we chat about this 5 Series. “The 2JZ came up for sale first, so I bought it, and then I went to view the car. I’d found her for sale on Facebook; she had a weird grey wrap and an equally weird set of 20s on her and was a non-runner and wanted a lot of love. I spent the best part of a Saturday with the ex-owner trying to sort it and ended up going back the following weekend with a lorry to bring it back,” he explains. So, while many people won’t be happy about the idea of this swap, not only was this E60 a non-runner to begin with, but it also hadn’t exactly been treated right, so this was as much a rescue mission as it was a mad turbo build.
“The first thing I did was to remove the wrap and the 20s, bringing her back to a stock, as I much prefer a sleeper look,” says Lewis, and with that done, it was time to get the 2JZ fitted and have some fun. That didn’t last very long though… “I got 500hp out the stock 2JZ, but she was on borrowed time, and then she lost oil pressure on a bearing on a night out with my mate Dan,” shrugs Lewis. “I rattled her home, and she was knocking then,” he says. The new plan was to build a better 2JZ, and that’s exactly what Lewis has done, and the specs are mighty.
This E60 now runs a fully forged 2JZ with Arias pistons, Manley H Tuff rods, ARP bolts, uprated wrist pins, race bearings, ARP main studs, all the machine work has been skimmed and polished, and the crank and rods are balanced. There’s a GSC beehive valve spring kit with titanium retainers, Kelford D 272-278 cams, GTE head gasket, an ATI crank damper, there are Fidanza cam pulleys and R35 GT-R coil packs. Twin Bosch 044 fuel pumps and swirl pot mounted in the boot feed the 1000cc Bosch injectors in a twin-feed fuel rail, there’s a billet 90mm TB, Otaku inlet manifold and custom intercooler piping for the Supra triple-core intercooler. Lewis has fitted a Turbosmart 44mm external wastegate, a custom Walton Motorsport downpipe leads to a 3.5” turbo-back stainless exhaust with a single box and a discreet downturned tip, and the whole lot is overseen by a Link G4+ Storm ECU with 10” tablet display in the cabin. Phew. And we haven’t even got to the best bit…
“In the pics, it shows a Holset HE400 hybrid, and I was running stock cams with that and making 600hp, but now it runs a BorgWarner S369 SXE,” says Lewis, and that new turbo, along with the other revisions, means this 2JZ-swapped BMW E60 is now pushing 800hp along with 630lb ft of torque, and it’s an absolute monster. “That fat ol’ S369 SXE she be paired with is hands-down my favourite mod on the whole build. The lag gives them NA boys a false sense of confidence,” laughs Lewis, and we’re not surprised because that massive turbo is the cherry on the 2JZ-shaped cake, which is itself unquestionably the star of the
This is another build in this issue that is absolutely dominated by its engine because aside from the necessary additions to go with the 2JZ, the rest of the car has been left almost entirely stock. And, while some people will gladly debate until they’re blue in the face over whether an E60 lowered on 19s could ever be truly considered a sleeper, no one’s going to be expecting it to be coming at you with 800hp. The 2JZ is mated to a sturdy ZF GS6-53DZ six-speed ’box on a PMC adaptor, with a twin-paddle clutch and a custom flywheel, and the rest of the drivetrain has been beefed-up with the addition of a modified M5 propshaft, diff, driveshafts and hubs.
The chassis, meanwhile, has also received a few tweaks. “I run Bilstein B8s on a 50/60mm drop, always like ’em low,” grins Lewis. “I did previously run coilovers, but I ditched them and prefer the shocks and springs personally,” he adds. He’s not lying when he says he likes them low, and this E60 is riding impressively close to the tarmac. The combo of B8s and springs is joined by a set of adjustable front and rear anti-roll bar drop links, Powerflex poly bushes, and PSB poly rear lower arm bushes, as well. The brake setup comes from an M5, and if you’re disappointed that this E60 isn’t wearing a more extravagant set of wheels, well, that wouldn’t fit Lewis’s sleeper vision. “The 19” spiders on these E60s suit them so well, there was no need to change,” he says, adding: “Less is more in my world.”
That philosophy has been applied to the rest of the car, and both the exterior and interior are virtually stock, with just some black grilles on the outside, and a B2D shifter, digital vent gauge and a trio of A-pillar-mounted gauges in the cabin. “There was no need to change the interior,” shrugs Lewis, “the M Sport interior is plush, it’s like skidding an armchair. I drive and all that is bliss,” he grins, and it offers a stark and relaxing contrast to the absolute chaos that this car is capable of unleashing.
Three years of work have seen this E60 go from non-runner to one of the most awesome 5 Series builds we’ve seen in a long time. Even if you’re not a fan of foreign engine swaps in BMs, you can’t argue with the work that’s gone into this 2JZ and the numbers it’s producing. Personally, we love this build – we love the stealthy looks, the insane performance, and just the sheer madness of running this much power in an unassuming 5 Series. And this 2JZ-swapped BMW E60 isn’t just rare because it’s the only one of its kind in the UK – it’s also done, and that’s something we rarely get to say about a build. “I think that’s it for her,” muses Lewis as he casts a loving eye over the E60. “I’ve always said 800hp was the goal, so now it’s time to just enjoy,” he grins, and we get the feeling that’s something he does often and in a big way. Projects like these always divide opinion, but honestly, it’s hard not to like what Lewis has built, so why fight it?
Tech Spec: 2JZ-swapped BMW E60
Fully forged 3.0-litre straight-six 2JZ, Arias pistons, Manley H Tuff rods, ARP bolts, uprated wrist pins, race bearings, ARP main studs, all machine work bored, honed, skimmed and polished, crank and rods balanced, GSC beehive valve spring kit with titanium retainers, Kelford D 272/278 cams, GTE head gasket, ARP head bolts, ATI crank damper, Gates racing blue belt, Fidanza cam pulleys, Mechman 170 amp alternator, Bosch inlet air temp sensor, Focus/Fiesta cam and crank sensors, R35 GT-R coil packs, Bosch 1000cc injectors, twin-feed fuel rail, billet 90mm TB, 2JZ TPS, Otaku inlet manifold, custom intercooler piping, Turbosmart OPR 40 feed to turbo, Turbosmart 44mm external wastegate, Turbosmart 1200 fuel reg, K&N air filter, Pulsar BorgWarner S369 SXE turbo, Walton Motorsport custom equal-length exhaust manifold with T4 twin-scroll single gate, Walton Motorsport custom downpipe, 3.5” turbo-back stainless exhaust with single rear silencer and downturned tip, Bosch wideband knock sensors, LDperformance wideband lambda sensor and exhaust gas temp gauge, MAC three-port boost solenoid, twin Bosch 044 fuel pumps and swirl pot mounted in boot, Teflon an-6 fuel lines throughout, 200SX triple-core aluminium radiator, 2×12” Spal fans, Supra triple-core intercooler, silicone boost and radiator hoses, Link G4+ Storm ECU, Link custom wiring loom and 4 bar map sensor
Power & Torque:
800hp and 630lb ft
E60 530d ZF GS6-53DZ six-speed manual gearbox, PMC gearbox conversion kit and twin-paddle clutch, modified M5 propshaft, M5 LSD rear diff, driveshafts and hubs
8.5×19” (front) and 9.5×19” (rear) Style 172 wheels with 245/35 (front) and 275/30 (rear) tyres, Bilstein B8 dampers, 50/60mm lowering springs (front/rear), adjustable front and rear anti-roll bar drop links, Powerflex poly bushes, PSB poly rear lower bushes in arms, E60 M5 brakes
Stock M Sport styling
B2D short-shift, digital vent gauge, A-pillar gauges for boost, water temperature and oil pressure, Link 10” tablet display