Project E36 M3 – Part 3

The first two parts of the Project E36 M3 articles were about getting some of the basics sorted out, as well as setting some ground work for future changes to the car.  The future officially starts now, with the introduction of Version 1.0 of our suspension upgrade path.  The Hanchey Vehicle Technologies (HVT) 6100i “coilover” suspension you see above is the groundwork for our handling package.  While this is a custom prototype setup at the moment, you’d never guess that by looking at the quality of the components, let alone the actual quality of the internals.

HVT 6100i mountsThe front struts appear almost indestructible in their build quality, and would make for nice pieces of art hanging on the wall of any car guy’s garage or man cave.  The mounting points make those on the original factory parts look like cheap knockoffs in comparison.  HVT took everything they’ve learned from years of experience, including their vast work in GRAND-AM, and poured all that knowledge into this casing design.

BMW E36 M3 rear spring versus 5.5" Hypercoil

It’s always fun to compare a giant (and soft) OE barrel-shaped, progressive rear spring to it’s much shorter and stiffer linear-rate replacement. At just 5.5″ tall for the spring itself, you can still maintain stock ride height with the height adjusters if desired.

 

E36 worn end link

While not that bad considering their 14-years of age, the end links for the front anti-roll bars were in noticeable need of replacement, so it paid to be prepared with our collection of new Bavarian Autosport parts ready to go.

 

BMW M3 HVT 6100i coilover strut body

The newly installed HVT 6100i dampers make everything else on the car look even older. Ride height is easy to adjust with the collars pictured above, and you can see that the bracket for the anti-roll bar end links is adjustable, so there’s no need for adjustable links, and the factory units can work well at just about any ride height.

 

E46 325iT Über Wagon

A fun shot of our previous project car which had a suspension which inspired many of the needed changes on the HVT design. With similar spring rates between the two cars, the ride on our old HPMX ÜberWagon pales in comparison. We absolutely can’t wait to get Project E36 M3 on track to dial everything in.

 

Project E36 M3 "stanced" before ride height adjustment

A shot taken within a few minutes of completing the HVT 6100i installation. The ride height has since been raised to ensure proper suspension travel and to maintain correct suspension geometry, but the Stance crowd should at least appreciate the rear wheel tuck. Yes, the car could go lower, but it would absolutely defeat the purpose of this car.

 We were only able to get the dampers, springs and new end links installed for Part 3, as well as dialing in what should be optimum ride heights for a combination of street and track use.  That height could very well be adjusted depending on the amount of snow we get this winter, as Project M3 has no intention of becoming a snow plow. 

The ride so far is absolutely incredible.  While we opted for a bit of a compromise spring rate, erring more towards comfort and grip, it’s still considerably stiffer than OE springs.  That said, the ride is much better than it was on stock springs, even with relatively new Koni Sport shocks and struts.  The dampers soak up even the harshest of bumps, yet are somehow able to communicate the road surface to the driver with great detail.  Body roll, even with the stock anti-roll bars, is reduced greatly.  Part 4 will include the addition of our new anti-roll bars, which I’ll refer to as sway bars from this point forward out of habit, as well as a few more stock replacement parts and upgrades.

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Project E36 M3 – Part 2

When the “new” M3 came home, it was in dire need of some serious love in the suspension bushing department, so that was taken care of in Part 1.  In the next article, however, it was time to start making life a bit easier while waiting for the go-fast parts to start coming in.  Part 2 of Project E36 M3 allowed some time to resolve a few PITA issues with the E36.

First up was a wheel stud conversion.  BMWs come from the factory with standard wheel studs, which obviously work fine, but leave a bit to be desired in the land  of efficiency.  For the average car owner, it’s not a big deal at all, but if you’ve got seasonal wheels to swap, dedicated track wheels, or if you just happen to use up brake pads a lot, wheel studs can cut your time down significantly, as well as reducing frustration.  Lining up the wheel on the hub is no longer an issue.  Plus, if you’re a racer or track addict, you’re sometimes in need of quick visits to the pits and paddock, and speed & efficiency are often crucial elements.

Cup holders in the E36 BMWS also fall into the PITA category, as they simply don’t hold anything other than a small can of Redbull, or maybe some change. That was also addressed, and the car now has genuine, real-deal cup holders capable of holding… cups!  Even small bottles.  Perfect for road trips to the track, or around town if you’re into that sort of thing. Ha!

P1060883-LWith the PITA files covered, there was still some time to kill whilst waiting for the new prototype HVT suspension to show up.  The quickest and easiest way to start tightening up the chassis and increasing feel was to add the BMW Motorsport Cross Brace, or the less-exciting-to-say “X” brace.  This not only increases steering feel significantly, and adds to an overall crisper feeling in the car, but it also offers a nice level of protection to your oil pan.  It’s a very simple, yet incredibly effective factory part, and it’s just about one of the easiest items to install on an E36 M3.  

 

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Project E36 M3 – Part 1

Project E36 M3 - Part 1

For the full MotoIQ.com article, go here:
Project E36 M3: Part 1 – Taming the Wobbly Beast

I started reading all the hype on the BMW E36 M3 back in 1995, and I was immediately enthralled by what was considered the “Best Handling Car at Any Price” by  many in the automotive press.  In 1997 my obsession got so great that I started stalking the local BMW dealership, and in late-1998 I went on my first test drive.  After a long and painful courtship, my dreams became reality in July of 1999, as I managed to get one of the final production models, and I haven’t looked back since.

Well, that’s not entirely true, as I have had a couple other cars in between, but I keep coming back, and the Cosmos black M3 you see in the photo above is my 4th E36 M3 in the past 14 years, so it’s pretty safe to say that I’m a bit of an addict.  With this one, however, I’ve got the opportunity to take everyone along with me on this project car journey with MotoIQ.com

E36 Rear Trailing Arm Bushing removalWith some new-found strategies for bushing removal, Part 1 – Taming the Wobbly Beast is mostly about the quick and dirty rehab the car needed.  Some much-needed care was given to the bushings of the mostly-stock suspension, as well as upgrading those bushings to something a bit more robust than the regular stock units.  We also got rid of the staggered factory wheel setup and moved to a “square” set of 17×8.5″ factory rear wheels on all four corners, and wrapped them in the ridiculously good Michelin Pilot Super Sports.

Rogue Engineering front control arm bushingsThe Rogue Engineering front control arm bushings (pictured above) and their rear trailing arm bushings helped to put the car back to feeling better than new on the street and on track, but why stop there?  Follow the series of articles to follow the upgrade path.

 

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