Project E36 M3: Part 2 – Wheel Studs, Motorsport Bracing and… Cup Holders?


BMW Origin Equipment cup holders for E36Note the factory look and fitment of the new cup holders.  More important, notice the fitment of the same water bottle from the first photo with the factory pieces. These haven’t failed to hold any realistically sized cup I’ve come across.  Smaller items still fit fine, too, because of the rubber tabs.

In preparation for the first stage of our upcoming suspension articles, we also received a few other key components in our order from Bavarian Autosport.  Having parts lying in wait is a tough process for me, especially when they’re related to the suspension in any way.  With our main suspension components en route from Hanchey Vehicle Technologies, we decided to use my impatience and excitement to get a slight jump on starting those upgrades—aside from the bushings that is, which we already covered in Part 1.

BMW E36 factory cross braceThe straight brace you see just behind the oil pan helps to tie the frame rails together to stiffen up the chassis a little bit.  Very little.

There is actually a factory-produced part which offers more to stiffen up the feel of the E36 chassis than any strut bar I’ve ever felt, and it produces a very noticeable increase in steering response and overall feel.


BMW Motorsport cross braceThis is the BMW Motorsport Cross Brace, otherwise referred to in the bimwad community as an X brace.  The photograph above shows it with all the associated hardware supplied by BavAuto.

The brace came in the “trunk kit” supplied with the M3 LTW, along with a few other key Motorsport-supplied pieces, and was later installed from the factory as a means to tighten up the chassis on the E36 3-series convertibles.

BMW Motorsport cross brace comparison x braceHere you can see the significant difference between the two braces.  Just as significant as the appearance is the difference in performance that you can feel.

The only hard part of installing the cross brace is the installation of the nutserts needed to bolt the brace into pre-existing holes in the subframe.  Luckily for us, however, M3s delivered in the U.S. already had the nutserts installed from the factory, so this was a non-issue.

M3 factory installed nutsertThis photo shows the factory-installed nutsert.  It’s obviously never been used and had a decent amount of road grime, so some thorough cleaning was necessary before installing the brace, just to ensure proper and safe fitment.

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