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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