E36 323, 325 & 328 Tuning & Upgrade Options

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  1. E36 323, 325 & 328 Tuning & Upgrade Options 
    #1
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    This guide is intended to show you the common, affordable modifications available for your cars. Most of the parts required will be OEM upgrade parts (I've bought some of the parts from our forum vendor Quarry Motors) or reasonably priced aftermarket items.

    If you have tens of thousands to spend on your car, or you're planning a major modification such as a turbo or engine transplant, this guide isn't for you.

    Hopefully this guide with prove useful, maybe becoming a sticky thread as this should answer a lot of initial questions on E36 tuning.

    Engine

    Cams:
    US M3 S50 and S52 camshafts can be used. The S52 (3.2) cams provide the highest duration and lift, but will also sacrifice the most low/mid-range power (and you may get idling and emission problems).

    S50 US M3 cam specs - Intake/exhaust
    Duration 252 / 240
    Lift 10.2 / 9.7

    S52 (US?) M3 cam specs - Intake/Exhaust
    Duration 252 / 244
    Lift 10.2 / 10.2

    Schrick cam specs for 328 - Intake/Exhaust
    Duration 252 / 244
    Lift 10.2 / 9.5

    Standard cams - Intake/Exhaust
    Duration 240 / 228
    As far as I've read, the standard exhaust cam has a 9mm lift - but I'm not sure of the inlet.

    Displacement:
    E46 330 cranks can be fitted, upping displacement to 3.0. You'll also need the con rods and pistons otherwise the pistons will protrude the top of the block! Also, you must have a steel or steel linered block.

    If you've got serious money to spend (£7k) check out the Schmiedmann 3.2l, 260bhp conversion:

    http://www.schmiedmann.com

    Inlet Manifold / M50 Mod (and BBTB):
    For 323 and 328 owners, this is THE mod to have (the 325 already has this). It replaces your existing restricted M52 manifold (ever wondered why the 325 makes almost the same power as the 328), with the less restrictive M50 part. It's not a direct replacement, as the manifold requires minor modification - kits are available from eBay, but if you're serious about the mod I'd suggest contacting forum member alpina527 who can supply / fit ready made kits. This is a real 20 - 25bhp for just a few hundred pounds!

    Schrick (and others) provide aftermarket alternatives for the above, but often cost much more. Euro M3 induction parts will not fit.

    Underdrive pulleys:
    UUC provide a good set that just replace water, p/s, alternator and air con pulleys. Don't buy cheap kits that (only) replace the crank pulley - this will reduce your engine vibration damping.

    Induction:
    Fitting a good quality CAI (cold air induction) kit should improve airflow to your engine, potentially adding a few BHP. DaveF kits are quite noteworthy, but any decent kit with a heatshield should provide a similar effect.

    ECU Chip / Remaps:
    Older cars (pre '96ish) will have to have an ECU chip replaced, wheras later cars can be remapped. Either service should set you back less than £300 and return 10-12bhp.

    http://www.endtuning.com

    Clutch & Gearbox

    Clutches:
    328's and M3's use a 240mm clutch. They're not identical setups, but you can swap the complete assemblies (including flywheel).
    323's and possibly 325's use a 228mm clutch setup, so if you're going for big power, upgrade to a 328 or M3 setup.

    CDV:
    Some late-ish 328's and M3's have a hydraulic restrictor fitted to the clutch slave cylinder. This is a CDV (clutch delay valve), that slows the clutch engagement speed to reduce drive-line wear and to make the car easier to drive for novices. Many people remove it for more direct control / to reduce clutch slip.

    Gearbox:
    5-speed E36 six-cylinder gearboxes are interchangeable. 323 and 325 gearboxes have slightly different (higher) gear ratios in first, second, and fourth - presumably to compensate for the lower torque

    Short-shift:
    Replacing the gear shift components from a Z3 is a cheap way to achieve a shorter throw on your gear changes.

    Brakes

    Everyone's initial thoughts here seem to be to retrofit M3 brakes. Whilst a good upgrade, this option also requires fitting M3 hubs and front struts. There are two easier options:
    E46 330 Disc rotors, calipers and carriers - with these parts it's a direct replacement, but due the larger (more pots) calipers, most people recommend upgrading the master cylinder and servo (off an e36 M3) at the same time - otherwise you'll have a long travel pedal. As the rotors are 320mm (IIRC), you'll need at least 17" rims for clearance.
    e46 328 / e36 Z3 3.0 brake rotors and carriers. This mod retains your existing calipers, but ups you to 300mm rotors (so you'll need at least 16" rims) - couple this with some fast road/race pads and discs and this is very good - and very cheap. Here's my guide:

    http://www.bimmerforums.co.uk/forum/...-300mm-t36936/
    Finally, it's often overlooked - but sometimes a good service (free sticking calipers, pressure bleed the system, new pads etc) makes an amazing amount of difference. Most people unhappy with their 328 brakes (unless for track/racing) just having knackered OEM parts...

    Differential

    Get a 3.15 ratio rear diff. The E36 325i and 3.0l M3 both had them (though you'll need to swap the output flanges on an M3 diff). The M3 diff has LSD as standard, you may find other models with LSD too. These will all have a "S" stamped on a metal tag on the diff.

    For the 323 and 328 (that have 2.93 diffs),this will lower your geared top speed to 153mph (instead of 165mph). However, if you get your rev limit raised from 6500 to 7krpm, you'll be back to 165mph - if it really matters!

    Note, M3 Evo (3.2l) diffs are not directly interchangeable. Fitting will require the Evo's diff carrier / rear sub frame too.

    Chassis

    M3's and cabriolets have a underbody cross-brace. Other models simply have a straight bar. Fitting the cross-brace will eliminate some front-end chassis flex and improve handling. These are available from third party tuning companies, as well as off the shelf from BMW - retailing for about £160.

    There are also rear floor pan / axle carrier reinforcement plate kits available from various sources.

    Steering

    The E36 M3's and the Z3 having quicker steering (less turns lock to lock). Fitting a steering rack from one of these models will give you a sportier feel.

    Bodywork

    Bumpers / Skirts:
    Bumpers and skirts from the standard, M3, Sport saloon and coupe models are all interchangeable! Swap away to your hearts content!

    Side Mouldings:
    The wider M3 style side mouldings that run along the side of the car will directly replace the older triangle-section style fitted to older cars. Obviously, these aren't swappable between saloons and coupes. Just don't break too many clips removing the old ones.

    Other:
    Bonnets for the saloon and coupe are not the same. Neither are the rear indicators.

    Wheels

    Offset and hub center diameter are key here. Basically most any OEM E36 wheel should be interchangeable along with many Z3 and E46 wheels. E46 M3 wheels won't fit - they use a 5 Series offset.

    Most E36's use an offset of around ET47, so a few mill either way at most are the wheels you can consider. Using a wheel with the correct offset should easily allow 18" wheels to be fitted. If you're after bigger, talk to our knowledgeable forum member RYM.

    5, 6 and 7 series wheels won't fit without hub center adapters they have the wrong offset and hub center size.



    Right, that's it for now. I'll improve and add to this post over time.
    Last edited by mikaveli; 20-08-2010 at 17:22.
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    Thanks Mikaveli


    Worth noting that the S52 cams are not a direct swap into an M50 engine..they'll fit into the M52 but require more work to fit into the M50.....
     
     

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    great post!, thanks

    i've recently bought a '97 323i coupe to play with and parts of this post are now my shopping list! i think with the 323 i need to do exhaust too, my car has m suspension (not sure what difference that makes?) but maybe you could add a suspension section to the post? also i'm undecided between 17" and 18" rims

     
     

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    Suspension - Part Bin Raiding.

    The standard E36 had 3 basic suspension types.

    up to 9/91, only seen on 6cyl saloons was a suspension type where the roll bar mounted onto the shock body, like on the M3. Top mounts were the dome type.

    9/91-9/92
    roll bar changed to the more common wishbone mounting, top mounts were still the dome type spherical bearings.

    9/92 onwards
    the top mount changed to the rubber suspended type seen on most BMWs since. You can not use different type top mounts on the shocks, they have to stick with the type they came with.

    328 Sport
    Larger bilstein shocks used, suspension remains the same, but eccentric wishbone bushes used for more camber and clearance for the larger wheels.
    Rack limiters also fitted.

    M3 3.0
    Rear suspension is essentially the same with a larger roll bar. the trailing arm was changed, but only to accomodate a larger wheel bearing as used on the 8 series. Some balljoints were also used instead of bushes on the main arm.

    Front suspension-
    The top mounts changed to an eccentric type, with the top of the shock further back.
    These should fit other post 9/92 shocks if needed.
    The rollbar now attaches to the shock strut similar to early saloons. The bar is thinner than normal e36 stuff, but the angles and leverage make it stiffer
    The coil springs are a different size, I forget if bigger or smaller though.
    A new wishbone is used also, it has the same geometry as regular e36 stuff, but has larger balljoints which are not replaceable. E36 ones came in a rubber mount and could be easily changed.
    A solid and eccentric wishbone bush is used which pushes the wheel forward by approx 15mm. This adds to the castor with the "set back" topmount.
    Steering rack is variable ratio, getting faster at the edges, and a variable pressure hydraulic pump

    3.0 hubs are a direct replacement for E36 ones if needed, and came with 315mm discs.
    You can upgrade these to 840i Brembos and E46 m3 discs.


    M3 3.2 suspension.
    The rear suspension remained the same again, although a different diff carrier was used.
    Some models may have larger hollow driveshafts.
    Front suspension- the topmounts continue with the 3.0 set back, but now include a movement to the *outside* of the chassis. The evo hubs have negative camber built in so the camber remains the same, but the shocks are now in a more upright position.
    The evo springs and top spring plate are made smaller to allow more clearance as they are offset in the suspension turrets.
    The evo wishbone has the larger balljoints as in the 3.0, but has less of a bend in it. It was designed to remove the need for the eccentric bush, and solid concentric control arm bushes are now used.
    The steering rack swaps back to the regular e36 single ratio type.


    If you have early type suspension, you may be limited in suspension kit choice as you'll need that roll bar bracket on the shock. The more common rollbar might be possible onto the wishbones, but i think the mounting points moved.

    up to 9/92 suspension, bin the lot again, and go for any of the more regular shock style, but you will need the new topmount, and various other elements. Check on real OEM as to which extra bits you need.

    For all others, - e30 front wishbones fit, they don't use the rubber suspension, but are cheaper even if you can't change balljoints by themselves. eccentric sport bushes are a quick fix, powerflex are nice and easy.

    you can gain extra front camber by either using longer bolts and washers at the bottom hub bolts to tilt the hub over, or use 3.2 topmount on the opposite sides, ie, right on left side...
    this will bring the top of the shock towards the inside of the car. This might not always work, as sometimes the e36 spring can hit the inside of the turret.
     
     

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheEnd View Post
    Suspension - Part Bin Raiding.
    Excellent information.

    I never knew the RTA's were different on the M3. I'll use some of the suspension info the change the camber on the front of my 328.
    "So give me one more platinum plaque and rap, you can have it back." - Dr Dre

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    Additional 328 to M3 clutch upgrade info for E36:
    (obtained from bitter frustrating experience!)

    The basic jist is that if you upgrade from standard 328 to an M3 clutch you need to change the selector fork for an M3 one or it wont work and will make a nasty grinding metal sound.


    The long-winded explanation why is below:
    The clutches are the same diameter 328/M3, however the M3 one is thinner by a few mm. Not the friction disc itself but the whole pressure plate bolted to the flywheel.

    Because the pressure plate is thinner it effectively makes it further away from the release bearing, meaning the bearing has to move further before it engages with the central splines on the M3 clutch. Therefore, the selector fork has to protrude further (towards the clutch) and the slave cylinder end of the fork just scrapes on the pressure plate making a horrid grinding noise when you press the pedal down far enough to engage the clutch.

    The M3 overcomes this by having a fatter selector fork, bringing the release bearing closer to the clutch so the fork doesnt travel so far. Swapping selector forks solved the problem for less than £10. The same principle would probably apply if you fit an aftermarket flywheel that is thinner than original, so definately worth checking if changing flywheels. However, the M3 single mass flywheel from driftworks is the same width as 328 original.

    Realoem lists the part numbers as:

    21511223302 328i thinner fork
    21511204229 M3 fatter fork

    Additionally:
    1. M3/328 slave cylinders from eurocarparts have different stock numbers (and prices) but the parts are identical. Thanks to ECP staff for highlighting this!

    2. If you are unfortunate enough to have your original BMW slave cylinder self destruct and drop the piston and push rod inside the bell housing then dont dispair. Very carefully undo the cylinder body and retrieve the piston (ours had fallen onto a life saving little ledge under the hole in the bell housing). It is not magnetic so it is essential you retrieve this piston if you are to avoid pulling the gearbox off again. The push rod (pencil shaped bit that goes between piston and selector fork) is metal so can be fished out with a flexible magnet thing and a lot of patience. Doing this we avoided removing the gearbox.
     
     

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    And this is what will happen to your release arm if it does scrape the clutch:


    Nice big hole !
    Thankfully, it didn't cause any damage to my clutch, only put a load of scratch marks on it.
     
     

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    Yep, that looks familiar.

    A picture's worth a 1000 words.
     
     

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    The m3 3.0 has a smaller diameter spring then regular 3 series. It's slightly bigger then the m3 3.2 also but they can still be interchange fine.

    I don't think any 328's got eccentric wishbone bushes. From my little browse on realoem it seems to be that way. But this is a great upgrade for e36's. These cars love castor

    Meyle sell a heavy duty outer ball joint that is a direct replacement for your rubber mounted one. These are as tough as and what you need if you've made any changes to your suspension

    M3's received a reinforced rear subframe. You can purchase the plates to weld in to your non m3. It's also sudgested that you reinforce your rear sway bar mounts as well as these are known to bend.

    On the exhaust side if you can find a euro m3 exhaust system you'll gain some power (more then the m50 intake from what i've read).
     
     

  16. eccentric bushes 
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    The original post about suspention is correct about some 328's having eccentric wishbone bushes, i have a 328 sport and i found out to my cost that it has these.

    fantastic topic!
     
     

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