Project E36 M3: Part 3 – Suspension Version 1.0


E36 HVT 6100i strutInstallation is just the reverse of removal.  These bolted up as easily as expected, with only a slight amount of effort needed on the passenger side.  Remember, these are prototypes, so they’re not production models.  That fact makes it even more impressive that we only had a 5-minute slowdown on the job.

Front height adjustment was as easy as the rear, so getting to our 13 inches of ride height wasn’t a problem, although it can be time consuming if you get anal about trying to get to your exact numbers.  The general rule of thumb with the E36 is to have a 1 1/4-inch difference between the front and rear, with the front measurement being 1 1/4” higher based on the wheel cap to fender method mentioned previously.  I went with ride heights that have worked perfectly on my previous cars, and which have usually resulted in minimal to no changes needed for corner balancing.

E36 sway bar end linkSince Version 1.1 of the suspension is going to handle a few other items, we had to bolt the stock sway bar back onto the car for now.  As you can clearly see, it didn’t make much sense to reuse our original end links.
E36 sway bar end link old versus new from Bavarian AutosportWe swapped out the old barely-hanging-on end links for a set of new OEM end links from Bavarian Autosport.  Remember, we have adjustable mounts on our new HVT struts, so adjustable end links weren’t needed.

We had some configuration choices with the springs on the front struts, so we opted for the longer spring with no tender.  The tender wasn’t necessary, and would require lowering our sway bar tabs.  The shorter spring would’ve worked with the tender, but I was paranoid about running that length, even with a tender because of the relatively soft rates we went with.

We decided on 450 lbs/in front springs and 550 lbs/in rear springs.  Some will say this is too soft for a track suspension, and they may be right.  This isn’t a track car, however, so it was a compromise I was happy to make.  More on the ride these provide in a moment, but also keep in mind that this is Version 1.0 of the suspension.  A future version of our suspension is going to be featuring the HVT 6100e dampers instead of the 6100i units.  Note the “e,” which stands for electronic, and all I can say is that it’s going to be an incredible format, although I may need to switch from my current phone bias (Hint! Hint!).

We haven’t bothered with an alignment yet, as we have a few items to replace which will affect that anyway, so Suspension Version 1.1 will be up next.  Because of that, we haven’t had a chance to truly put the car through it’s paces.

With just a couple of brief test drives so far, it’s already apparent that the car is completely transformed, though.  Body roll is at a minimum, and that’s with the stock sway bars and soft settings on the dampers.  The ride is phenomenal, and already the best of any E36 M3 I’ve felt on the road.  Far more compliant than even the stock springs and dialed-in Koni Sports that came off the car.  We went over some rather rough areas to test the reaction of the dampers, and bumps that used to be unsettling are absorbed almost as if they don’t exist, yet the road feel is outstanding.  

We’ll have the remaining parts installed soon for the next article, as well as some before and after data and more serious driving impressions.  The first track day with the new setup can’t get here soon enough.  

Project E36 M3 stock ride heightAesthetics is last on our list of reasons for a suspension upgrade, and if that’s all we wanted, a set of lowering springs would’ve been the extent of our efforts.  That said, the E36 M3 does looks a bit better when the ride height comes down a bit, and everyone seems to like before and after pictures, so the photo above is before the HVT 6100i setup, and…
Project E36 M3 HVT 6100i ride heightThis is about 5-minutes after the installation and prior to setting the new ride heights. The car has been raised, as we wanted to ensure enough suspension travel, and to avoid any negative effects on suspension geometry in the front.

Part 4 will feature a few other upgraded suspension parts, an alignment and, most important, driving!  Stay tuned…



Hanchey Vehicle Technologies

Bavarian Autosport

Achilles Motorsports

Rogue Engineering


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