Arborguy

E36 Suspension. Which route to take!?

54 posts in this topic

Although this topic has been covered many times i would like to voice my current situations and options.

I have recently purchased a manual 328i e36 msport coupe. After changing springs i found that all but one shocks are pretty much poked :(

My original plan was to buy Bilstein B8 shocks and purchase springs down the line to end up with a quality suspension setup and not require a LVV cert and will great on the road and the occasional track day.

Since i have discovered that my car is actually not factory manual transmission. After checking the VIN online and having a look under the shift boot there appears to be wiring for what i presume to be the automatic trans controls.

As far as i understand the car would require a LVV certification for the manual conversion (even through the car just passed a WOF last week). My car also seems to have a lean to the drivers side at the front and rear which i would presume be caused by softening springs ( not dead shocks as far as i am aware?).

Having weighed up my options i would like some advice from those who have personal experience with the setups i am considering.

I currently have jamex springs in the car (I presume they are of the super low flavor) and a spare set of what i believe are Msport springs.

  • Bilstein B8 shocks. $250 each for rears and $370 each per front strut = $1240 for the set from speed factor
  • Second hand bilstein shocks of a Bimmersport member that i may be able to be rebuilt and re-valved + unknown at this stage
  • Koni sports. Was quoted over $500 each per front strut so a lot more than i am willing to spend on shocks alone! $1600+
  • Brand new BC Gold Coilovers for $1250-$1500.
  • Brand new D2 Coilovers. 9kg front 9.5kg rear for $1000 Brand new.

Presuming i go down the cheaper coilover route i will being getting a certification that i believe i would anyway as the car has been manual converted. Having driven plenty of cars on similar suspension the ride is something i can manage but i don't want to completely ruin my ride as i intend on doing less than 5 track days a year. keeping in mind this car is only driven after work and on weekend. Plenty of spirited windy roads!

I was originally intent on bilstiens but then i would would likely have to buy EWibach springs to have the suspension i desire ending up costing about $1750 for the B8 shocks and springs.... This still leaves me with no certification. I also fear that the end result may be either too low or not low enough!

I did also run re-valved Bilstein shocks and Neuspeed race springs in my old Integra type R and loved it!

Coilovers seem to offer the adjustable ride hide and adjustable damping that i would be after however i don't want my ride to be ruined.

By current setup is standard shocks with Jamex Springs (i have msport springs in my garage), Style 66 wheels (17x8 +20 and 17x9 +26) 225/45 on the front and the same on the rear however i do want to run 245/45 one the rear (i would hate to buy bilstien shocks and Eibach springs only for my tyres to rub around corners i i have to change my wheel and tyre setup to suit whereas coilvers i could adjust the height and rebound.

I'm sure there is wealth of knoledge, opinions and experience so please offer any advise you can before i fork out for a new setup, the the cheaper D2's mean i would be able to spend extra money replacing a few bushes that are worn or on their way out.

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Doesn't require a cert for manual conversion as it uses all factory BMW parts.
I'd say go Bilstein monotube shocks from an E36 M3 with the M3 tophats also, and use some nice Koni springs.

Or do what every single other person does with their 328i and use Koni yellows and H&R springs.

Edited by Rubix

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I have a h and r cup kit up for sale soon

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Wouldn't using m3 shocks require gutting my stock shocks? And then having buy different top hats as well?

Koni sports were very expensive from George stocks. A lot more expensive compared to the bilsteins.

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A few photos.

Drivers side lean

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I'm using motorsport springs and koni adjustables - have had them for 10 years and still good. Stocks are ultra expensive for konis, got mine from Demon Tweeks in the UK with springs for less than Stocks damper only price. Just checked DT's price - a set (without shipping etc.) is $891.38.

If you want it to behave on the road and not ground out at the front all the time, keep to Msport springs. I have finally returned to the Chapman idea - soft springs and stiff dampers. Seems to work.

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have a search on e36 Anti Roll Bars, you'll also find some very useful info that you'll want to consider in the mix.

This thread in particular should give you food for thought.

As to your lean, yes it has a list like the Costa Concordia! If it's still there after all your work, there's always different spring pad thicknesses.

HTH

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Have you checked your subframe mounting points in the rear?

They can be responsible for sagging rear ride heights.

Most E36s have the start of, or significant cracks, eventually leading to complete failure.

13253d1097371651-e36-sub-frame-who-can-c

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Have you checked your subframe mounting points in the rear?

 

They can be responsible for sagging rear ride heights.

 

Most E36s have the start of, or significant cracks, eventually leading to complete failure. 

 

Posted Image

Wow that is scary! Checked it as soon as I got home. I think I'm safe!

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XYZ Coilers with cert would be less than $2k. don't be put off by the brand name, i was very happy with my set, handled far better than any other setup i had driven on. They are available from Speedfactor as well.

And yes, as above, no cert required for manual conversion presuming that it is all factory parts including unmodified linkages/driveshaft.

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XYZ Coilers with cert would be less than $2k. don't be put off by the brand name, i was very happy with my set, handled far better than any other setup i had driven on. They are available from Speedfactor as well.

 

And yes, as above, no cert required for manual conversion presuming that it is all factory parts including unmodified linkages/driveshaft.

I take it you have done the tried and tested bilstein with h$r/eibach too?

I have liked driving other cars on BC gold coilovers (they can also be reasonably soft too).

At the end of the day I really don't think these is much between the Taiwanese coilovers. With ugly purple d2s being the cheapest at $1000 brand spanking.

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Stocks are more expensive and they are getting close to being bumped off my list of suppliers I will use. However the Koni sport adjustables are better than the bilsteins.

BUT, if you are serious about getting your car to handle put wheels with the correct offset on it first.

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FWIW I run the Bilstein/Eibach B12 setup with Eibach swaybars on my E36 and love it. Factory compliance with even more stability and a lowered ride height. Perfect for me because I was never going to learn/test enough to extract value from an adjustable setup.

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Have you checked your subframe mounting points in the rear?

They can be responsible for sagging rear ride heights.

Most E36s have the start of, or significant cracks, eventually leading to complete failure.

Surely a WoF should pick that up? At least, I'd hope so!!

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I don't know if it's true, but I was told that the drivers side lean on an E36 was a factory body jig error that was never fixed. The E36s I've measured are all about 6-8mm down on that side.

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I don't know if it's true, but I was told that the drivers side lean on an E36 was a factory body jig error that was never fixed. The E36s I've measured are all about 6-8mm down on that side.

Nope, total rubbish -

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Jo, can you elaborate on the "Chapman idea" which Chapman would this be?

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Subframe mounting point looked in reasonable condition. I may be buying a eibach pro kit as well so I presume they will be suited to the bilsteins.

I have the option of buying an old set of front struts. Race shocks will rebuilt them for 195+gst each. (Autolign where $250+gst).

Rebuilding costs seem to be the same for front and rear. So I may just buy new rears and have the front rebuilt if they and bad condition. I'm not sure if the B8s would have different valving though.

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Jo, can you elaborate on the "Chapman idea" which Chapman would this be?

Colin. Check out Elan. Europa, Elite....

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Nope, total rubbish -

I've measured 4 - all the same. You?

It does happen. All NZ built Mitsi Chariots had badly fitting tailgates because the roof panel was 10mm too far forwards. Sometimes it just isn't noticed.

Edited by Jo M

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I've measured 4 - all the same. You?

It does happen. All NZ built Mitsi Chariots had badly fitting tailgates because the roof panel was 10mm too far forwards. Sometimes it just isn't noticed.

Find that hard to believe. It just seems like the glass, doors and everything wouldnt line up either.

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About 20 ( E36's that is) and yes most of them were not in spec , but not for the reason you suggest --- which is the point of the response.

Edited by 3pedals

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I worked on them 30 years ago which is why I asked , good theory but 40 years out of date.

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To elaborate on the above, the theory is appropriate for low powered, light cars running cross-ply tyres and driving on crappy British B roads.

Todays rally cars use long travel softish suspension to maintain traction on poor surfaces but they also run sophisticated set ups to ensure the power delivery does not translate into pitching which is un desirable - something which the Lotus Elite we raced did with its' modest 70kW.

If you re scale every thing to the current paradigm you will be fine - the Bilstein / Eibach combo runs firmer compression shocks and softer springs where as the Koni / H& R combo runs a softer / progressive shock with more rebound control and with firmer springs.

Roll bars also need to be matched to the spring and shock rebound control rate.

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Find that hard to believe. It just seems like the glass, doors and everything wouldnt line up either.

It is the absolute truth. I was working there on body jigs at the time. Not widely publicised for obvious reasons! I think the last month or so of production was fixed.

Edited by Jo M

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