Showdown: GT500 Vs LS1-Swapped e30 M3

In our last Showdown the Coronet RT edged out the Marauder, but not by a whole lot. If memory serves correctly, the Coronet went for around $30k on eBay, while the Marauder went for around $9k.
We’re curious how today’s Showdown will pan out. It’s Ford Vs Chevy, with a twist. In one corner, we’ve got a fine example of modern muscle, an ’08 GT500. The other? A mashup of ’80s boxy goodness, ’90s suspension tech and ’00s GM power…

2008 Ford Mustang GT500 for sale on craigslist2008 Ford Mustang GT500 for sale on craigslist
We know the GT500 is not a particularly great sports car in the pure sense of the word. If the S2000 is a trapeze act, the GT500 is more like being shot out of a cannon. With its stark interior, 500hp blown 5.4L V8 and solid rearend, the GT500 hails from the subtlety is for pansies school of automotive design. Being a mere two model years old, our example’s got plenty of life left in it with all the modern stuff that makes daily drivers drivable on a daily basis. Livable brute force don’t come cheap, though. It’s $36k.
M3 LS1 swap for saleM3 LS1 swap for sale
There were 3 other GT500s we could’ve used in place of that last one, but there aren’t any other M3s like this one (at least, that are currently for sale). We’ve long had a soft spot in our heart for the e30 M3, particularly its bulging-box 80s homologation special looks. While the original S14 4-pot was nothing to sneeze at, our seller elected to shed the fussy German motor for more than double the displacement in the form of a warmed-over LS1 from an ’02 Vette backed up by a T-56  6-speed. Before we start grousing about weight gain, it should be noted that the all-aluminum LS1 weighs only 50lbs more than the iron-blocked BMW motor. Overall curb weight is 2850lbs. Suspension and brakes are upgraded all-around.
We’re conflicted with the Bimmer, as the $35-large minimum bid is pretty ridiculous if we’re talking about a decent motor-swap. To us, a decent swap of this kind is more of a $15-20k kind of job. The sky-high price might be realistic if the work is A++ professional-grade with every.last.issue. is sorted out.
[poll id=”16″]

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  1. njhoon Avatar

    I'll take the GT500 and the less cliff like resale value in a few years. Sorry but I just love the GT500's, I feel the need to own one at a primal level.

  2. Kogashiwa Avatar

    I like the M3 better, but let's face it, the engine swap has reduced its value not increased it. The Mustang doesn't really interest me much.
    Guess I'll abstain.

  3. BrianTheHoon Avatar

    Both are awesome but the seller of the M3 needs to put down the glass pipe. The Shelby wins based on both awesomeness AND a more realistic price point. I'd honestly much rather have an unmolested e30 M3 than that crack rocket.

  4. Paul Avatar

    I'm a huge fan of the e30's but obviously no one has told the owner that he won't get back all his money

  5. muthalovin Avatar

    GT500 for the winz. I like that M3 a lot, but not nearly that much. If it was that easy to add value to a ride, my house would be littered with Vette motors and the drive littered with Bimmers.

  6. P161911 Avatar

    For $35K the AC better work. I love the E30 to Chevy V-8 swap but this seems outrageously high. Also to the people doing this, PLEASE DON"T USE REAL E30 M3s. There are plenty of tired or even really nice 325e, 325i, and even 318i cars out there. Nobody cares what you do to those, most have already either been modded heavily or are about 20k miles away from the boneyard. Plus when you use a real M3 you have to pay M3 insurance rates.

  7. skay¢og Avatar

    The GT500, hands down…….because that's how I roll.

    1. engineerd Avatar

      I'm shocked!

      1. skay¢og Avatar

        I know it's shocking. Sorry to spring it on you like this.

  8. lilwillie Avatar

    I like the M3 but think the Mustang would be a better choice in the long run.

  9. Tripl3fast Avatar

    A V-8 BMW cracks me up. I love it. Way too much money for someone elses home build no matter how well it is crafted. Is the GT500 stock? Why not have a Ford motor transplant as the other car? How many 302cid MX-5's are out there? that seem like a fair fight.

  10. rocketrodeo Avatar

    Neither of these vehicles is my style, but if forced to buy one with someone else's money, I'd rock the LS BMW just to make a few purists' heads explode.

  11. engineerd Avatar

    E30 M3 make my pants tight almost to the same degree as Ford GTs. However, that's no longer an E30 M3. It's a shell of its former self possessed by the evil that is General Motors.
    So, I had no hesitation hitting the Shelby vote.

    1. skitter Avatar

      The GT500 is much closer to being worth the asking price. $35k is a very nice, unmolested original-gangster M3, AND an Alfa Romeo 75 Verde for it to play with, and a running budget.

  12. Tim Odell Avatar
    Tim Odell

    The Hooniverse in me sees the GT500 as just too expensive and too easy. Any a-hole can cut a big check and get a big, loud Mustang with Shelby's name on it (in a couple of places).
    I really want it to be a no-brainer for the M3, but the price an the beige color make it tough. That's not a $35k car by any stretch of the imagination. If it were cheaper, white, black or orange, I'd be all about it.
    I think what really want is the GT500 with the black BBSs from the M3…

  13. ptmeyer84 Avatar

    Sorry, I'm a sucker for a LS1.

  14. dculberson Avatar

    I voted M3, but it was purely based upon "which would I pick up if they were priced reasonably." Because there's no way I would buy either one for 35 large. I would pay $10k for the M3, and $15k for the GT500. Sure that's not anywhere near book value on the GT500, but that's what it's worth to me.
    Before I dropped anywhere near $35k on one of these, I'd go for a used C6 Z06. And long before I dropped that much money on one car, I'd have a 540i Sport (6-speed manual BMW sedan? yes!), V70R wagon, NC Miata, and K2500 (3/4 ton Chevy pickup, 8ft bed and standard cab please). All for, what, $30k? (and about $15k of that is the Miata.)

  15. SSurfer321 Avatar

    Voted M3 because it's more subtle. I don't want as much "look at me!" as the GT500 provides.

  16. dmilligan Avatar

    GT500 fer sure. I want one bad, but I've got no place to put it (or money to buy it). The FrankenMudWagen doesn't do a thing for me, especially for 35 grand. Sure, it's got an LS1, but the rest is BMW which means big bucks for upkeep.
    I wanna go pound gears in the GT500.

  17. soo΄pәr-bādd75 Avatar

    Ordinarily I hate taking a cool, rare set of wheels and ruining it with an engine swap, but I don't hate this LS1 powered M3. I don't know why, maybe it's because I'm kind of a GM guy, but love BMWs. Maybe it's because now this little E30 now has power worthy of its sweet chassis. Maybe it's because 8 cyl/6spd > 4 cyl/5spd. Seriously, I don't know why I dig it, I just do. I would only request that the Corvette engine covers be removed, and the windows be tinted to the maximum darkness allowed by law.

  18. Smells_Homeless Avatar

    Gotta remember, LS engines are expensive. 10 year old LS1s from F-bodies are still $4k-ish, and they've been beat to death. That doesn't excuse the price on the Bimmer, but it is something to consider.

  19. Black Steelies Avatar

    Oh every last detail is sorted out for sure. I saw the build up of this car a couple months ago on another blog. I'm having a bitch of a time finding it now. I swear I saw it. Shoulda bookmarked it :- \\. There are a few LS1 M3's out there but this one is different cuz i remember seeing how they fab'ed the fender flares on the raw body. They totally stripped it and took care of every last thing. If i find it u can be sure I'll pass it on.

    1. Tim Odell Avatar
      Tim Odell

      There's a V10 e30 thread out there that's truly mind blowing.
      So mind blowing, in fact, that we forgot to do a post on it.

      1. Black Steelies Avatar

        Damnit! Yes that's it. I was wrong, it was another car. But that V10 build is pretty good, and i found it instantly. Anyway, my vote for the LS1 E30 remains…

  20. Tomsk Avatar

    Any yobbo can go out and plunk down the cash for a GT500; LSX powered E30 M3s, on the other hand, are certainly not dime a dozen. However, that doesn't make them worth $35k plus (really, really nice stockers can be had for under $25k).
    My pick? An '04-'06 GTO and $15k for upgrades, of course!

  21. JeepyJayhawk Avatar

    The LS1 really is becoming the duct tape/bubble gum of the auto world. Need an engine? Cheap? Lots of go fast bits? Throw an LS1 at it! Need some PAH! LS1…
    So yeah the M3, in three months when the seller relocates sanity. It's just too sleepy looking, until you hear the burble and the squeal of the tires.
    On second thought the price might be a sign of how much sanity the seller has left…

    1. Black Steelies Avatar

      So the LS1 is cheap and easy to throw into almost anything and that's a bad thing because…

      1. JeepyJayhawk Avatar

        Just musing on the malleability of the swap. Fits almost anywhere, goes for maximum PAH!

  22. IntendedAcceleration Avatar

    I'd go for the Beemer. If I had $35k to spend on a car, I'd want it to be something unique. However, as others have said, that price is crack. Still, I'd rather have an LS1 M3 than a Mustang. I'd rather have a new Mustang 5.0 than that GT500.

  23. Shriber Avatar

    Ill take the e30. I can take it to the street and make my money back on it in a weekend !