Project BMW E36 323is, Building the Poor Man’s M3 Part 1



Whiteline front control arm bushings
Here we have one of Whiteline's front caster correction control arm bushings on the left compared to our well-used OE bushing on the right. You can clearly see there are no gaps to allow movement on the new bushings and the difference of where the control arm's rear mounting point will rest.  One of the major and expensive to duplicate differences between the E36 M3 and the standard 3 series is the knuckles which have about a degree more positive caster.  With our series of mods, we will be gaining positive caster with all stock stuff.  It is sorta hard to find an M3 in the junkyard and NOS knuckles are pricey.  These bushing will make a big difference by both increasing positive caster and reducing flex and will need replacing on an old car anyway.


The Whiteline bushings add 1/2 of a degree of positive caster which helps the base car mimic the front end geometry of the M3.  Positive caster gives more negative camber when the wheels are turned, improving turn in and front grip as well as adding a self centering effect that improves straight line stability.

Prior to the installation of these bushings, the steering was dramatically altered every time we would hit any sort of pothole or expansion joint.  The owner of the car referred to it as “self alignment,” or self-misalignment.  Regardless, it was really bad!  The Whiteline front control arm bushings completely remedied the problem.  Both ends of the car now felt much more responsive to driver input and handling was much more predictable, particularly over any sort of road imperfection.


BMW E36 front sway bar
Now that our E36 had it ultimate driving machine feel back, it was time for some sway correction!  And guess who also had more parts in the bin for our E36…Whiteline!




Whiteline front sway bar
It's hard to tell the difference in diameter on the new Whiteline front sway bar versus the old, but it's fairly significant.  Stock was 25.5mm and the new bar is a beefy 27mm with added three-point adjustability.  Not shown is the stiff urethane bushings that reduce flex and make the bar more effective.


Whiteline BMW E36 rear sway bar
OE BMW rear sway bar
In the rear the difference may also not be very noticeable in the pictures, but there is an additional 4mm of girth to the Whiteline unit…hehe.  The rear bar has two way adjustability, stiffer urethane bushings and chromate coated hardware.


The new Whiteline sway bars are not only thicker than the OE units, but also give us the adjustability we need to fine tune our new project's handling characteristics.  The rear is now a two-point adjustable 22mm bar, while the stock unit was a mere 18mm with no adjustability.  The front bar is now a three-point adjustable 27mm bar versus the stock 22.5mm unit, which also did not have any adjustability. 

We feel that bar adjustability is very important for the grassroots enthusiast as it is a quick way to change the handling characteristics of a car for driver preference or track conditions.  It's very easy to adjust swaybars track side to change the roll stiffness to tune the car's balance.  You cannot say the same for springs!



Whiteline sway bar and teflon tape
Anyone who has had aftermarket sway bars with polyurethane bushings and hasn't used enough grease on a regular basis can appreciate this.  Make sure to wrap the bar lightly with Teflon tape where the bushings will be placed.  You'll still need to grease them, but the tape goes a long way in preventing binding and annoying squeaks.


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