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BMW Tech Letters

Dec 11, 2002

BMW Hatch Help
I'm a long time subscriber to your magazine, back when it was VW& Porsche. I have a '95 318ti, I like the hatch back, but it needs more power.Is there any turbo kit for this motor. I didn't want to do a motor swap.
Thanks,
Jeff

2017 BMW 3-Series
$33,450 Base Model (MSRP) 23/35 MPG Fuel Economy

Jeff, Mosselman makes a turbo kit. The problem is finding a place to buy one. Turner Motorsport used to carry them, but not anymore. There was rumor that Wheel Power (www.wheelpower.com) had some, but we couldn't determine that from their website.

We'd recommend navigating the company's website--www.mosselman.com to find a source. The Mosselman turbo for the 318ti produces 182 hp @ 6000 rpm and 187 lb-ft torque @ 4500 rpm. It's 6-7 psi boost starts at 1200 rpm.

There is also a supercharger kit, which is the choice of most enthusiasts seeking forced induction on a 318ti, E36 318iS, or Z3 1.9. Downing Atlanta (www.downingatlanta.com) makes and excellent Eaton blower system that is worth every penny of $3,395. For anyone with a good mechanical skills, it's an easy install that produces over 200 hp @ 6500 rpm. And it's smog-legal in California.

Unfortunately, the Downing Atlanta supercharger does not work on the E30 318is, due to that engines belt drive configuration and lack of knock sensors.

The 318ti is an excellent car, and the utility of the hatchback is clear. It is unfortunate that U.S. car buyers seem to equate the hatchback design with "economy cars." This, the 318ti's lack of thrust, and basic trim level were subjects of derision for some car magazines. Too bad, too; the 318ti is an E36 3 Series without all the E36 problems--less electronic failures, and the semi-trailing arm rear suspension means the rear suspension carrier will never rip out of the floor as sometimes happens with the multi-link design on other E36 models so equipped. --Mike Miller


About My E30
Hi, I have a 1985 325e. I want to give it a more updated look, and I am having a hard time finding body kits and headlamp up grades (blue halogen or xenon). I did find some stuff from BMP design and from BMW Car magazine, but is about it. Could you tell me where to start looking. It really does not matter where the place is as long as ship to me in the states.
Thank you for your help,
Alex Wolf

You might also try Bavarian Autosport (www.bavauto.com), Korman Autoworks (www.kormanfastbmw.com), Racing Dynamics (www.racdyn-usa.com), and Erebuni Corporation (www.erebunicorp.com). Be advised some of Erebuni's parts will get you in trouble with the BMW fashion police at www.jimmy540i.com, but most of their stuff is in good taste. Steer clear of grilles that impede airflow to the radiator, though--at least one is posted on their website.

BMW also has front air dams and rear spoilers available for the early and late E30 3 Series, as well as many other models. Some of these are only found in accessories catalogs of the era, but others can be seen in the BMW Mobil Tradition parts CD, part # 72 00 0 018 258, which covers many vintage BMW cars and motorcycles.

For headlights, the best performance set up is a simple conversion to European-specification Hella H1/H4 halogens, with the regular bulbs that come with the lights (55/60w low, 55w high). Larger bulbs are available, which, at a minimum, require use of 15-amp fuses in place of the original 7.5-amp fuses. The E30 wiring can take it, but the fusebox can't always take it--it's a good idea to use relays for big bulbs, and that's really getting into it on a car with an electrical system best left alone.

Hella also has ellipsoid halogen conversion kits for the E30, but they are pricey and, in our opinion, not as good as the regular old H1/H4 setup.

Various manufacturers are coming to market with xenon conversions for older cars. Not only do we not have experience with these, but again we think functioning BMW electrical systems are best left alone. In any event, we haven't seen any for the E30--yet.

Blue bulbs are not a good idea from a performance perspective, and they tend to make you look like something from The Fast and the Furious. Again, the best headlight setup is the oldest one--Hella H1/H4's. --Mike Miller


Detecting Radar
Hi. I was just wandering, I recently bought a precision navigation rx5000. I have been trying to do a lot of research on it, but am having trouble finding information on it. Some of the customer reviews I found were good, but I ran into radartest.com and they gave it the poorest rating. I went out and found the Bel Express 916, and found it came with a performance guarantee. I went on the website and noticed the tests showed the Bel express 916 outperformed many other radar detectors of the same price, and many others that were more expensive, I was just wandering your opinion about this product, and if you know of any other detector that can outperform the Bel Express 916 under $150.00.
Sincerely,
Brian Heredia

Brian, from the testing we can find it does indeed look like the Bel Express 916 is the $150 choice, however it is also clear that different radar detectors excel at different things, even in the same price range. And bear in mind that every time radar detector test results are published either by radartest.com or a car magazine--as Car and Driver did recently in an excellent article--it becomes abundantly clear that these devices are very much a get-what-you-pay-for proposition. A high-end radar detector in the $300-$400 range may seem like an expensive proposition now, but the numbers for these units--such as the Valentine One, Escort Passport 8500, and Bel 980--simply dust $150 detectors. And if a $400 radar detector saves you from one speeding ticket, it will probably pay for itself when you consider the fine and the resulting insurance gouging.
--Mike Miller


1995 M42 Power
I own a 1995 BMW 381i with the M42, 4 cylinder engine. Since the car is paid off, rather than purchase a new BMW, I've decided to do some performance modifications to my 318i.The problem is, I'm having a tough time locating any available upgrades. I can't find a cold air intake, turbocharger, etc. At 42 years old, I'm not looking for a 10 second car. I'd just like something to at least offset the loss in power I realize when running the a/c. If there is nothing available I may consider an engine swap. Does the 325's six-cylinder swap into the E36 body without major modifications, etc.? Will I need to change the tranny, drive line, rear gears, etc. if I go this route?
Robert Adelfson
Gilbert, Arizona

An engine swap is doable, but not practical. Bottom line: You can probably sell the car and buy a 325i for less than the cost of converting a 318i to six-cylinder power. While the gearbox and differentials are different, you can install a six-cylinder engine and leave the rest alone. The exception is the front shocks and springs--those you'll need to upgrade to 325i application parts. There are performance upgrades available for the M42 engine, though. Initially, you need to decide whether you want a mild performance upgrade to about 150-hp, or go all out with a supercharger. The former involves a K&N cone intake system, a performance ECU chip, and a performance exhaust system. Vendors include www.bmpd.com, www.bavauto.com, and www.turnermotorsport.com for openers. Schrick camshafts are available for the M42 engine, but we'd be wary of doing anything to jeopardize what little low-end torque this engine has.

Downing Atlanta (www.downingatlanta.com) makes a very slick supercharger for M42 engines equipped with knock sensors (1992-on, except the 1992 E30 318i convertible). However, the cost makes us think of the 325i argument again. No turbochargers are available for the M42.


BMW Cam Swap
Do 1996-99 M3 cams work in the M50 engine?
Sadak Rinaldi Leite
Sao Paulo, Brazil

We spoke with Pete McHenry of Precision Performance in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. McHenry is a well-known expert on BMW engine swaps and parts interchangeability. He advises: The M50 2.5-liter VANOS cams are 228-degree duration, while S53 3.2-liter M3 cams are 252 intake and 240 exhaust. They fit fine and give a nice boost to the top end on a 2.5-liter M50. You can use the S52 cams with the M50 lifters and springs. The S52 uses smaller lifters (33mm vs. 35mm diameter) and conical valve springs with teeny retainer washers. Net saving with this stuff is 20 grams per valve. Get the S52 cam trays, lifters and springs if you can but the swap is OK with cams only as mentioned earlier. If you have a 1992 M50, you can switch the intake cam to the exhaust. Timing is 240 on both, but the intake has 9.7 lift vs. 9.0. Buy a 252 Schrick intake cam and you have the same cams as an M3 and only have to buy one camshaft.
--Mike Miller


BMW E30 Ragtop
I own a '92 BMW E30 318i convertible and am always looking for ways to make this car faster but have hit a dead end. I am looking for either a turbo or supercharger kit for this engine; please let me know if you have any recommendations. companies, products, etc.
Marc Braga

There are no turbochargers or superchargers available for early M42 engines, because they don't have knock sensors. Knock sensor detect detonation and signal the digital motor electronics (DME) to retard ignition timing in order to prevent it. With 10.0:1 compression and no knock sensors, a forced-induction M42 would not live very long. Later M42's and M44's did have knock sensors, but there is no economically viable way to retrofit them. You would be better off installing the entire engine.

But if you did install an M42 from a 1993-1995 E36 3 Series, you could install the spiffy supercharger sold by Downing Atlanta (www.downingatlanta.com), which also takes advantage of the later M42's poly-ribbed belt drive configuration. We've driven a 1997 Z3 1.9 with the Downing Atlanta supercharger, the can give it a ringing (whooshing) endorsement. On the other hand, if you're doing an engine swap, an S50 from a 1995 M3 would be a better choice. Mosselman used to make a turbocharger kit for the later M42/M44, but they seem to have been eclipsed by the Downing Atlanta supercharger.

Your 1992 318iC is equipped with a five-speed manual gearbox and a 4.27 differential, so you've got a good start. We would recommend a Conforti chip (high octane fuel will be critical--again due to the lack of knock sensors), cold air intake, and perhaps a Supersprint performance exhaust system. There are fitment issues with performance exhausts on the E30 318i/iS/iC due to the smaller cutout in the rear valance panel. Sometimes slight modifications to this panel are required for tailpipe clearance. Schrick makes camshafts for the early M42, which make more power at high rpm, but that comes at the expense of what little low-end torque this engine has. It's a good little engine, trouble-free except for the profile gasket debacle, but it really needed to be a 2.2-liter.
--Mike Miller


M3 CSL Lust
I am a really great fan of the M3 E46 and BMW in general. I was very excited when I found out about the M3 CSL Everywhere I search, the only information available is the same: The weight/power ratio is 3.5 kg/hp instead of 4.3 kg/hp, meaning an improvement of 18%. I also know that the actual M3 can accelerate from 0-100 km/h (0-60 mph) in 5.2 sec, and if it's forced in 4.8 sec. Or, an improvement of 18% is huge! This means that the CSL can accelerate in 4.2 sec. or even better (3.9)! Could this be possible? If we believe the mathematical calculations, that's true. Please answer my e-mail. I really have to know some other opinions about this.
Somebody
somewhere

Your extrapolations would appear to be correct, but we're not going to speculate on any numbers unless and until the car actually appears at our door. And we need to bear in mind that there's more to acceleration than power-to-weight ratio. Today's cars can by electronically tweaked in one direction or the other. Many marketing departments insist on an acceleration pecking order based on sticker price and/or model range, and the BMW M5 is presently at the front of that line.

That said, the E46 M3 is a powerful car but one that, like most modern Bimmers, could stand to shed a few pounds. In this era of multiple airbags, GPS navigation, and all manner of convenience and safety tchotchkies, cars are getting fatter and that's a fact of life. The M3 CSL cannot give up safety features and still be sold in the U.S., so the weight loss must come from lighter components and jettisoning convenience items. At least the lack of air conditioning should separate the poseurs from the drivers. --Mike Miller


Older 325 Needs Rejuvenation
I want to pep up my '86 BMW 325. Where can I find parts?
Jonathan Rios

Well, Jonathan, you've taken a good first step by reading european car magazine. Our advertisements do a lot more than keep us in business--they are a tremendous informational resource for our readers. If you peruse our ads, you will see that virtually every BMW parts house and tuner in the United States is represented. Their catalogs are often free, and usually very informative. For example, you can learn quite a bit about BMW's and BMW parts by reading the BMP Design (www.bmpd.com) and Bavarian Autosport (www.bavauto.com) catalogs. The later even includes various technical hints. We'd recommend you read through the ads, make a list of telephone numbers and web sites, and start dialing and clicking.

BMW dismantlers also advertise with us, and they can be a good source for certain items. New BMW parts are, of course, available through your local dealership. But sometime dealerships significantly discount parts, and they can be found by searching the Internet. The same is true for the various Internet news groups and message boards dealing with BMW's, on which new and used parts are frequently posted for sale. You may wish to obtain the Bentley E30 3 Series Repair Manual, and a copy of the BMW Mobile Tradition Parts CD, part # 72 00 0 018 258, which covers many vintage BMW cars and motorcycles (yes, BMW considers the E30 a "vintage car"). Last, you may wish to join the BMW Car Club of America (www.bmwcca.org), which will open up numerous avenues of parts and information open to members. --Mike Miller


Rare Import--745 Turbo
Hi, I have been a reader of european car magazine for a while. I have a 1982 European model BMW 745i turbo with intercooler, and I'm restoring it. My question is where can I find a repair or restoration manual with all the electrical schematics and all the other systems for that specific car.
Nestor M. Nadal
P.S. My father bought that car in Germany and bring it to Puerto Rico, that's why is so hard to find parts and information about it here.

For parts information, call your local BMW dealership and order part # 72 00 0 018 258. This will bring the BMW Mobile Tradition Electronic Parts Catalog CD for historical vehicles and motorcycles. It covers the E23 7 Series, and many other Bimmers and Beemers. This CD requires the MS Windows operating system. Service information is more difficult. You need the European-specification E23 7 Series repair manual, which is no longer in print. Worse, you also need the factory 745i Turbo supplement to the repair manual, which is virtually unobtanium. You may find a copy of the former for sale on e-bay, at a swap meet in the U.S., or in the classified section of a car magazine. However, the BMW Car Club of America (www.bmwcca.org) has the 745i supplement in its library, and can provide you with it for a nominal photocopying fee, assuming you're willing to become a member of that organization. Membership will also get you their monthly magazine, Roundel, where you're most likely to find a factory repair manual.

Another aspect to your question for information is that BMW has never included all service information about any car in one place. For example, in the paper era, there was a repair manual, perhaps a supplement for unique models, a torque specification manual, and training manuals. The repair manual essentially contained removal and replacement instructions. Only the training manuals tended to include diagnostic information. All were available for sale except the training manuals. --Mike Miller


E36 Mods Wanted
I am the happy owner of a 1999 BMW 323is (e36).I would like to do some modifications to powertrain and suspension. I know that this car has been in a serious collision. It was a side impact to the right rear quarter. The damage was repaired by an excellent BMW dealer in my area. Nevertheless, the frame has been seriously tweaked. My question is whether I should modify this car, or look for one that has never been bent. The car is otherwise in mint condition, never having been out in the salt. The car has only 17,000 miles and has never been driven in anger. Any input you could give would be greatly appreciated. Thank you, and keep up the good work. Your magazine positively rocks.
Doug Robinson

It is possible for even a seriously wrecked car to have as-new structural integrity IF the repair was properly executed. It's good that the work was done by an excellent BMW dealership. Many dealers don't even have a body shop, but those that do tend to have good ones. They have access to all manner of factory BMW repair information, and the company makes sure they have top notch equipment and training. Assuming all this, we would be confident in saying this 323is has as-new structural integrity.

The problem is, when you're talking about an E36 3 Series with the multi-link rear suspension, as-new structural integrity may leave a bit to be desired. There have been very isolated cases of the multi-link rear suspension carriers tearing out of the E36 rear floor in the area of their mounting points. BMW says this only happens on modified cars, but we've heard otherwise. Be that as it may, the factory essentially pooh-pooh'd the entire issue. Sometimes the repair was covered under warranty; sometimes it wasn't. There are no service bulletins on it. However rare it may be, the catastrophic nature of the failure is obvious, and the potential for a collision cannot be ignored. For this reason, we recommend all owners of E36 3 Series cars periodically check their rear suspension mounting points for signs of cracking. Check from under the rear seat and from under the car. E36 3 Series cars with the semi-trailing arm rear suspension (318ti, Z3, Z3 coupe, M coupe) do not seem to have this problem.

How to repair such a failure? The first step is to support the body on four jack stands or a lift, and remove the exhaust system and entire rear suspension. You can't just weld up the floor and spray goopy black tar "undercoating" all over everything. Depending on the breaks, patching may or may not be required, but you'll have to grind the welds, etch the metal with zinc phosphate, use specific zinc primers, seam sealers, factory-specification "underbody schmutz" (we prefer Wurth products--www.wurthusa.com), and then paint the repair area body color. This repair is more in the nature of automotive restoration work than just bodywork or welding. The problem is compounded by the fact that it's a forced purchase--people don't think about or want to use a restoration shop because of cost. Then you wind up with a situation where the welder doesn't do body work or have the necessary products to finish the job, so the car gets flat bedded to a body shop. Chances are the body shop doesn't do restoration work either--just quick and dirty collision repair--and they don't have the right stuff either. It's a tough job.

We doubt powertrain modifications would have any effect on this issue. Should you modify the suspension? We would say that the wilder you get the more you risk the failure. If you're thinking about a set of Bilstein sport shocks and shorter springs, and maybe a set of sway bars, all for street use, that's one thing. But if you're going with slammed adjustable coilovers and massive 18" wheels with R-compound tires, and then you're going to autocross the car or do speed events at the track, you're moving closer to the danger zone. --Mike Miller


Wheel/Tire Fitment for an E36 M3
I have a 1999 E36 M3 and I have a set of 18x8.5 ACS Type 3s and H&R coilovers from Turner Motorsports. I bought 225/40-18, 255/35-18 SO3s for the rims (as was recommended by CEC and Tire Rack) and was having them installed today at Stoke's Tire Pros in Santa Monica. The problem is, the front rims didn't fit well onto the car, even with the included 7mm spacer. The rim/tire was touching the coilover struts and the rim wasn't even fully tightened on yet. The guys at Stoke's told me I'll probably need at least a 15mm spacer and longer bolts to fit them. Has anyone else had this problem with H&R coilovers and AC Schnitzer wheels? If so, how did they handle the problem? Is a 15mm spacer the right size to get? Or do I need to go with a 20mm spacer? Please help. My rims are just sitting on the floor now, and I would like to get them onto the car as soon as I can.

Also, do you know of a good place to do fender rolling in Los Angeles other than CEC? CEC told me that they wouldn't roll my fenders for me, despite telling me that they would previously, due to the fact that I have H&R coilovers. Funny how when they thought I was going to buy rims from them, they were eager to help me roll my fenders. Now, even though I bought ACS Type 3s, they won't do it even if I pay them. I don't know if my rear tires will rub, but I think I should take the precaution, plus many people are telling me that I should. It's even recommended by CEC! Your February 2002 issue had an article on the Project BMW M3, and in it they said that they rolled the fenders, but they didn't mention where they went to have the fenders rolled. If you could give me the name, number and/or address of a good place to go, that would be greatly appreciated.

I've asked around for some of these answers and haven't yet gotten any satisfactory responses. I hope that you can help me. Thanks a lot in advance!
George

Initially, the first thing you should do when you have a problem installing any part is contact the place that sold it to you. We contacted Turner Motorsport on your behalf. Turner did not sell you the ACS Type 3 wheels, and we can't tell who did from your letter. Turner agrees with us that an 8.5x18-in. wheel is too wide for the front of an E36 M3, and too wide for 225/40ZR-18 tires. Optimally, you would want an 7.5x18-in. wheel at the front. However, you don't mention what offsets these wheels are, and that is key. Without that information, we can't speculate on whether you would need spacers or what size spacers might work.

Now, on to the rear tires. Just because a given size tire will physically fit on the car, does not mean it's a good idea. If the look is all you care about, that's one thing, but with that much size difference between the front and rear tires, this M3 is probably going to understeer like a 1980 Chevy Citation.

For the benefit of anyone doing it or needing it done, now would be a good time to talk about rolling fender lips: The conventional way to roll fender lips is with a wooden baseball bat--preferably a miniature Louisville Slugger, or with the handle end of a regular bat. A wooden dowel rod from Home Depot will also work, and is actually a better idea as the job may ruin the baseball bat.

First, the tech will jack up the car, remove the tires and thoroughly clean the backside of the work area with a wire brush and solvent. Then, he'll refit the wheels, lower the car, drive it to settle the suspension and use a heat gun to soften the paint in the rolling area. The bat gets wedged in place, and the car is gently rolled forward or back by hand while a helper keeps the bat in position manually. After the roll is complete, a good tech will again lift the car and remove the wheels--this time to apply a coat of zinc primer to the back of the rolled area in case any paint cracking occurred, followed by a bead of caulk-gun type automotive seam sealer to the entire groove created by the roll. A quick swipe with the thumb, wait for the seam sealer to dry, finish with a quick spray of paint and you're done. Failure to do the last steps can result in body rust due to road schmutz laying in the groove.

The high-tech way of rolling fender lips employs a special tool that bolts to the hub and uses a soft roller to effect the modification. The Tire Rack has or shortly will have this tool available for rent or purchase.

Either way, two simple caveats apply to fender rolling. First, if you're not sure whether you have body filler in the fender lip area, you need to have the tech check for it before attempting to roll the lips. Body filler (Bondo) in this area will always crack when you try to roll the lips. Second, although paint rarely cracks during the job if you soften it with a heat gun, no one can promise this. It is a possibility you need to be ready for. The 2002 is the hardest Bimmer to perform this mod on, due to its double hull quarter panels.

For our Project M3, evosport rolled the fenders, as detailed in Part 9 of the series. Contact the firm at evosport inc., (714) 731-6040; order: (888) 520-9972; fax: (888) 520-9972; E-mail: info@evosport.com; www.evosport.com --Mike Miller


Exhausting Search for 325is Performance
I was hoping to purchase a performance exhaust for my BMW 325is, but I'm having trouble picking the right one. I can get a tri-flow that claims to give me an extra 12 hp but cost about $700. if not that I can choose from an assortment of other brands ranging in price from about the cost of the tri-flow to as little as $150. The problem is that it's nearly impossible to find any indication of what kind of performance they will deliver. I know not all aftermarket parts were created equal. if you guys could help me figure this out, I might consider buying a second subscription to your magazine. just in case the first one gets lost in the mail.
Mike Oakes
Damariscotta, Maine

Mike, in order to fully answer your question we would need to know whether you have an E30 325is (1988 to 1991) or an E36 325is (1994-1995). When writing in to us, it's important for readers to include the following information: year, make, model, manual gearbox or automatic transmission, modifications and mileage.

Generally speaking, the restrictions inherent in factory exhaust systems exist primarily in the front part--from the exhaust manifold to the catalytic converter. This is why exhaust headers often provide a noticeable increase in power. But it is not to say that a cat-back system does not provide a power increase. In terms of numbers, we can't help you because we've never tested 325i systems on a dyno--E30 or E36. And even dyno test results can be inconclusive. As a general rule, higher echelon companies like Supersprint will not make a system that does not produce some degree of power increase. But to our thinking, the primary benefits to a cat-back performance exhaust system are lighter weight, better looks, more interesting sound, and in some cases the longevity of stainless steel construction. --Mike Miller


Custom Body Work Wanted
I own a 1997 540 that I have tricked out a little. I have a body kit, rims and a full Hamann suspension. a couple of weeks ago my car got keyed up. I have looked everywhere in the bay area for an honest body shop that knows how to do custom work, but have been unable to find one that has any examples of custom paint jobs that it has done on black cars. I wanted to get some custom work done like smoothing out the moldings. if there is any way you guys can give me some references, that would really help me a lot.
Jerry

We spoke with legendary wrench Bill Arnold at Bill Arnold's BMW Repair in San Francisco (415/459-2697). Arnold recommended two shops: EuroCal in Santa Rosa (707/579-2244), and Vlado's in San Rafael (415/456-7969). He says most shops don't want to get involved in custom work or complete paint jobs anymore, simply because there's a lot more money to be made by allocating their resources to collision work. We can see that being the case, especially in areas where there is a great deal of costly governmental regulation of the autobody repair industry. --Mike Miller


More M Power
I have a 2000 BMW M Roaster that I have installed a K&N cone filter with heatshield and also a up grade on my computer by installing the SharkInjector. I want to install the underdrive pulleys that you offer next. I would also like to know if you have any more ideas for finding a few more horsepower? Would different injectors help? Thank you for your time.
Anonymous

In addition to the Shark Injector and underdrive pulleys, you can bolt on about 18 hp with a Conforti intake from turnermotorsport.com. Schrick camshafts are available. You might also consider a Supersprint exhaust system. But the ultimate S52 bolt-on is Turner Motorsport's Vortech supercharger, which yields about 355-hp. Larger fuel injectors are not advisable unless the engine requires more fuel for some reason--such as supercharging. Check out our Project M3 on europeancarweb.com. The S50 engine in the 1995 M3 is very similar to the S52 engine in your M coupe, and many of the same modifications are available. --Mike Miller


What Car?
I currently own a Honda Accord and am planning on selling it, and buying a BMW...but the problem is I'm not really sure what the differences are between the 1992 to 1998 3 Series. I'm planning on getting a four-door, and I haven't really decided on which trim level (318, 328). I would really be in your debt if you could help me out.
Raphael Jimenez

We're not exactly sure what you mean by "trim level," Raphael, but here are the major differences between various E36 3 Series four-door sedans: Five basic flavors are available--the 318i, 323i, 325i, 328i, and M3. Let's take them individually. The E36 318i four-door was sold in the U.S. from 1992 through 1998. From 1992 to 1995, it had the 1.8-liter M42 four-cylinder dohc engine, with 10:1 compression and 138 hp @ 6000 rpm. From 1996 to 1998, displacement was upped to 1.9 liters in the M44 engine, but power remained the same due to more invasive emission controls. The E36 323i four-door was sold in the U.S. from 1998 to 1999, equipped with the 2.5-liter M52 six-cylinder dohc engine with VANOS, 10.5:1 compression, and 168 hp @ 5500 rpm. The E36 325i four-door was sold in the U.S. from 1992 through 1995, equipped with the 2.5-liter M50 six-cylinder dohc engine (1993-on had VANOS), with 10:1 compression ratio and 189 hp @ 5900 rpm. The E36 328i four-door was sold in the U.S. from 1996 to 1999, equipped with the 2.8-liter M52 six-cylinder dohc with VANOS, with 10.2:1 compression ratio and 190 hp @ 5300 rpm. The E36 M3 four-door was sold in the U.S. from 1995 to 1999. In 1995, the M3 four-door had the 3.0-liter S50 six-cylinder dohc engine with VANOS, 10.5:1 compression ratio, and 240 hp @ 6000 rpm. From 1996 to 1999, the engine became the 3.2-liter S52 but power output remained the same, again due to emission controls. All models came standard with BMW's excellent five-speed manual gearbox with 1:1 fifth gear, and various differential ratios. BMW's less durable automatic transmissions were optional, as were sport packages on all models except the M3's, which had lots of sport, but optional luxury packages with which most four-doors were equipped. --Mike Miller


Project '95 M3
I would like to know how the evosport pulley set held up on the M3's engine? Most people preach against putting in lightweight pulleys in the M's engine due to the harmonics of it. Not only did Pablo do it, but got 10 more hp out of the engine. Pretty impressive. Anyway, how did all of this hold up.
Todd Ogi
Mountain View, California

The underdrive pulleys do not include underdriving the crankshaft pulley, which we think is what everyone is against doing, especially when a lightweight flywheel has been installed. Project M3 has both and so far no crank problems, as far as we can tell. evosport's pulleys underdrive the other three--water pump, power steering and alternator. --Pablo Mazlumian


Comments on the Project BMW M3
I'm writing about the Project BMW M3 and in particular comments in the April issue and even more specifically "Speed Bumps Along the Way." I guess I come from the old school, which says if you change anything or pull the engine apart, you start checking all the tolerances against specs so you don't end up with things like bent valves or reamed guides. There is a comment about using a specially thick gasket with the AA turbo to lower the stock compression when you start looking at boosts of 9 PSI or higher. But the head has been milled and the old one is reused without mention of where that leaves the compression ratio, which certainly isn't stock even with the special gasket. Valves and guides were replaced but no mention of testing the valve springs either. I'm afraid this whole business is starting to sound questionable, and I hope the younger set don't get wrong ideas about this kind of process.

Item two has to do with the reported discussion with AA and Dinan concerning supercharging vice turbocharging. Fact is that Dinan experimented with the turbo business but he is primarily selling upgrades to cars being used for daily transportation and some weekend fun. All of his mods for the M3 fall into mild upgrades, and the supercharger fit this role admirably with the horsepower rating on the 3.0 somewhere in the low 300s after upgrades of throttle body, injectors, etc. With just a Dinan chip, cold air intake and Supersprint exhaust, I was able to average just over 140 mph down SR 318 for 85 miles from Battle Mountain south in 1999. Rather surprising for that altitude.
Richard Dugan

The valve springs were replaced with O.E. M3 springs. The head was resurfaced, and all of the worn components were replaced. The new compression (with AA gasket) came out to a low 155 psi in every cylinder, which was slightly lower than AA expected--but we were hoping for this low compression. This was mentioned either in the body of the text or in the captions. As to the Dinan comment, all that was mentioned is since the company decided not to consider turbocharging the then new M3, AA started to do its own R&D. But AA has nothing against Dinan. They've driven many of Dinan's cars and think the company's quality of products is excellent. --Pablo Mazlumian


Dynamic Toe Adjustment
As the owner of a new-to-me 1995 BMW M3, I've been following Project M3 with great interest. I noted in Part 5 (suspension) that 1996-and-up E36 M3s adjusted for toe under cornering. This is a capability that the Porsche 928 had and having driven a 928 on the track, I have noted that it provides very predictable handling characteristics. Are the modifications made to the suspension of the '96+ M3s that allow this dynamic toe adjustment able to be retro-fit to the '95 M3? If so, how would it be accomplished?
Patrick A. Stadter
Mount Airy, Maryland

Jay Morris at Ground Control reported to Project M3 owner Pablo Mazlumian that the conversion is possible. In order to bring your 1995 M3 closer to the 1996+ M3 bump-steer specifications, you must swap in the newer lower control arms, the rear lower control arm bushing and the upper strut mount that bolts to the body of the car.

Ground Control Suspension Systems
(530) 677-8600
www.ground-control.com
www.advance-design.com


What's Fun?
I'll be purchasing a new car in about 12 to 15 months, and I was curious as to what you guys would say is the most fun car for the money priced around $25k. I have a growing list of candidates that I plan to test drive when the time comes (1.8t GTI, Mini Cooper S, even considering a Celica and possibly a Subaru Impreza, etc.). The list goes on. I currently have a '95 Golf Sport 2.0 8V, and before that was a 1988 Scirocco 16V--by far one of the most fun cars I have ever had the pleasure of piloting. The car I buy will be my daily driver, so it has to be somewhat versatile. I prefer a car that is tuneable, must corner very well and be fun!
Mark O'Neill
Via the Internet

Fun is a largely subjective criteria and is best determined by your daily needs, since you intend your fun car to also serve as a daily driver.

From your list of fun cars, it appears that a small performance model with some form of rear space is in order. Two of your selections are from Asia, two are from Europe.

The GTI has long been the quintessential hot hatch and is the class originator, certainly in modern terms. With the number of VW/Audi tuners on the playing field, you'll be able to come up with a number of go-fast and accessory mods to fit any bill.

The Mini, although it has received rave reviews, is pretty much unproven beyond the factory offering. By all accounts the factory's effort is ready to run out of the box. Even Alpina (the noted BMW manufacturer) in a recently published article in a European magazine remarked as to the completeness of the new Mini. It will be interesting to see what happens. It is expected the MSRP for the Mini will be about $18,000, with a $3k premium for sport models. This remains to be seen. As with any new/interesting cars, the dealers will inevitably charge what customers will pay until the demand thins out. We know; it's the basic economic law of supply and demand, but it still sucks.

The Celica, while a fun car, does not offer the same level of tuning the forced-induction-powered cars do. Turn up the boost, modify the turbo and you're making power. Small-displacement, normally aspirated engines simply can't compare.

When you mention the Impreza, I assume you're talking about a WRX. The WRX is an awesome car with 227 bhp out of the box and all-wheel drive, and nothing on your list will touch it. The Mitsubishi EVO VII rumors will make things even more interesting and raise the bar even higher. It's nice to see that the Japanese manufacturers are teaching the world a thing or two about affordable performance cars.

Advice? Keep the GTI, bolt on a Neuspeed supercharger, put on a race-like suspension and use it for a weekend track car. Buy the WRX or Mitsubishi if it's at your price point at the time you're ready to buy, and of course they don't wimp out on it. This could very well be the only time you're going to see Tech Editor Brendan Lopez advocate buying a Japanese car.


Seeking 6er Performance
I'm in a bind. I recently (6 months ago) bought my second Bimmer, an '84 633CSi, and have a complete lack of resources available for tuning it!

So far I've had a custom-fit Reactive (shielded) intake, Hot Hits 8mm silicone spark wires, Bosch Platinum4 plugs and some spiffy clear side markers. But I need all the help you're willing to lend to find quality 633 engine, body, drivetrain, interior and any mods available for this rare model! If you know of any shops or, better yet, websites with performance parts/accessories available for my model, your help would be greatly appreciated!
Mario Barnette
Via the Internet

You're both fortunate and unfortunate depending on how you look at it. Your 6 Series was an expensive car in its day, and for this reason it didn't receive specific attention from the aftermarket.

This said, your 6 Series shares mechanical components with more popular models and the same technologies apply. For a start, you'll want to get a 3.5-liter block and engine. There is no point in starting with a 3.2 liter (called 3.3), as the 3.5 can be bored and stroked to 4 liters. If you can find one in decent condition, you would be well served with a turbo kit from Dinan or Korman for extreme horsepower gains. While it sounds appealing, don't get an M6 engine; they're too expensive to install, maintain and repair. The last time I checked, the lower head casting was over $6k for a hunk of metal.

You didn't say if your car is a manual or an automatic, but you can get a used factory close-ratio five-speed and revise the rear-end ratio for improved performance. A manual can also benefit from a short-shift kit. Since your car is old, you're probably going to have to replace the shift linkage and bushings anyhow.

Performance suspension parts are easily found--just give Korman a call at Korman Autoworks Inc., (336) 275-1494. Korman has been around a long time and knows the old cars inside and out, as does Dinan, but Dinan is less likely to have stuff for older cars.

Body and interior parts are most likely to be the biggest source of trouble in your project car quest. Since the body and interior is unique to the 6, you'll have to find NOS parts. You might want to consider converting the body to the M6 look with the accompanying front and rear spoilers. European bumpers and spoilers from the non-M versions are an obvious improvement over the U.S. rubber buggy bumpers found on federalized models.

Inside the passenger compartment, your 6 already has nice enough appointments. If the leather is good, feed it and be done. Don't replace the leather with vinyl. If the interior is cracked, has missing pieces or is in otherwise bad condition, be prepared to thrown down a big chunk of change.

The most important thing to remember in your project is to celebrate the history and style of the vehicle without changing the fundamental appearance. We've already seen a few pimped-out 6ers that turned our stomachs. Square headlight conversions, Testarossa-look side skirts and mono-chromatic looks have all been done in the past and should never be repeated. Let the '80s Miami Vice look be gone. Check out Ben Liaw's website at www.bmwlinks.com for a comprehensive list of BMW aftermarket vendors.


Rev-happy M42
I have a problem with my 110,000-mile 1992 BMW 318is with manual transmission: The engine idles at a abnormally high rate around 4- to 5000 rpm) for about 5 minutes. I tried warming up the car longer, changed the spark plugs and added dry gas, but nothing works. It only does this in the winter, in the summer it does go up to 4- to 5000 rpm but quickly returns to normal immediately. Please help.
Jaccode
Via Internet

Diagnosing problems in person are difficult, remotely is almost impossible. One thing you'll want to check is the throttle actuation. Does it turn freely? How about when it's cold and possibly moist?

Replacing electrical components as a diagnosing procedure can be expensive; remembering of course most stores do not have returns on electrical components. You'll have to be spot-on in your guess.

Two more things to check are the throttle position sensor and idle-speed control valve. Start by unhooking the throttle position sensor harness and measuring the reference voltage at the terminal 1 (lowermost) when connected to the harness ground, there should be about 5 volts. Next turn off the ignition and measure the resistance between terminals 1 and 3 (bottom and top respectively), there should be about 4000 Ohms of resistance. Using the same procedure on terminals 1 and 2 (middle and bottom), there should be a continuous sweep of resistance from 1k ohms to about 4k ohms when the throttle is moved through its normal range of motion.

To check the idle speed control valve, check the voltage at terminal 2 of the connector (red and white wire). You should have battery voltage there. Also, with the engine running, the valve should be buzzing.

All of these procedures, and many more, are detailed in the Bentley repair manual for your car. You can get a copy of Bentley's E36 repair manual (# B398) for the component diagrams and engine-management testing tips. Bentley can be reached at (800) 423-4595. Otherwise, you can get the same book through any bookstore by using the ISBN 0-8376-0326-9.


Technical Savvy
Since european car gets into much more technical details than others--even more so than specific brand magazines--I wanted to ask some questions about my E36 BMW ('93 325i auto, four door). It has a noise problem that is related to road speed: As the car moves faster, the frequency of the hum goes higher. It started as a small noise that happens occasionally, but has progressed to a loud noise that is there all the time--except, for course, when the car is stationary. I have changed the left side front and rear wheel bearings and it had no effect. The noise seems to come from the back. I also checked the rear axles, but they seem to be okay. So after all the work, I am still puzzled by the problem. Can you help? Is the E36 known to have wheel bearing or driveshaft problems that can cause the noise?

Second question: How do you remove the rear coil springs on an E36? The Bentley manual says to lower the suspension by removing the lower bolt of the shock absorber. But when I did that, the clearance is still not enough, as the spring is still compressed. Unless there is a special tool that can compress the spring in such tight space, I don't think the spring will come out safely. The normal strut spring compressor, or inner coil compressor, has long bolts that will not fit in there. Thanks for your help. I will always subscribe to european car even if it is the only car magazine I can have.
Russ Liu
Santa Clara, California

Driveline noise that increases at higher speeds, and gets worse over time, is usually a function of wheel bearings, CV joints or, in the worse-case scenario, a rear differential. You should also consider your tires and road texture. There are some roads around here where certain tires emanate a hideous noise.

Front wheel bearings are easy enough to check. On an open road, carefully swing the wheel side to side transferring weight (don't crank the wheel at speed, be gentle). The side on the outside of the turn will make more noise when loaded. You can experience the same in the rear, but the feedback is less direct.

CV-joint failure is most often associated with a torn boot, which allows the grease to escape and water and dirt to enter. The only way to check, providing of course the shafts are knocking and wobbly, is to take the assemblies apart, re-grease them and slip on a new boot. Before re-installing the half shafts, rotate the output flanges on the differential to check for any grinding, clicking or other anomalous noise.

The differential is a little harder to check, but here's something you can and should do: Change the hypoid gear oil with fresh oil. Make sure you use an approved type as stated in your owner's manual. When the oil is draining, look for metal debris, which could come from the ring and pinion or spider gears. Also, measure the amount of oil that drains. You might find that your differential has developed a slow leak that has greatly shortened its lifespan.

U-joints, support bearings and anything else in the driveline can cause noise. Since you've isolated the problem to the rear of the car, you're halfway done.

Finally, to remove the springs, try pulling down on the suspension arm a bit. Also, many mechanics use a large screwdriver-like pry bar to pop out springs that are lightly loaded. If you can't get in the middle of the spring, try one of the compressors that resemble a bolt with two hooks. There are some nice German-made spring compressors that fit into amazingly small spaces. Check and see if your local parts house rents tools. Just be careful, as springs store an amazing amount of energy that can be dangerous if released uncontrolled. Best of luck.


The Art of Stuffing
I am the proud owner of a 1991 BMW 325i. I love the car but would like to modify it more than I have. I was wondering if I would be able to put a M50 2.5 or 2.8 VANOS engine in the car. I would like to know if it is possible to do, what parts I would need to change and the degree of difficulty it would be. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
An anonymous reader
via the Internet

You haven't mentioned what modifications you've already done, but we can assume the usual bolt-ons. As far as engine stuffing goes, the E30 is old enough that we've seen all sorts of conversions. The hot ticket in the old days was to stuff in an S14 engine from an M5/M6. With the smaller and lighter M50-class engines, that's a moot point.

The job of swapping any engine is never a do-it-yourself proposition, unless of course you've suffered through a few. It requires knowledge of engine-management systems, wiring, fabrication (mounts, etc.) and a whole host of other skills that are beyond the scope of this magazine.

A good person to call, and one who has performed these sort of conversions before, is Osh Minelian at Race Marque Systems. Osh has even gone so far as to stuff an E36 M3 engine under the hood of an E30 or two. Race Marque Systems 14418 Oxnard St. Van Nuys, CA 91401 (818) 778-6106.


And in this Corner...
Love the articles! I'm in the process from going American muscle to M3 muscle. I have done my research and searching for a 1997-99 E36 M3. The dilemma I'm having is whether to supercharge or turbocharge it. If I opt for the turbo, I'm willing to have my car shipped to Active Autowerke in Florida. If I choose the supercharger I'd like to have Dinan in my corner. Either way you can't lose! I just need some assistance on which method to use. I believe this could be an ongoing saga even with the American muscle cars. Whenever I make this decision I hope you guys can feature my car in an article.
Gary Smith
Largo, Maryland

The decision to supercharge versus turbocharge is much more difficult than ever before. In the old days ('80s and before), superchargers were loud, cumbersome and inefficient. This is all in the past. Today's modern-design superchargers have enjoyed a resurgence in popularity and, in the case of Eaton, have been used by the world's auto manufacturers to good effect.

That said, don't give up on turbos yet. When it comes to moving air, and lots of it, nothing beats a turbo. Both turbos and superchargers, particularly from the two choices you mention, would be welcome in tech editor Brendan Lopez's garage given unlimited time and resources. Here are some factors to consider.

1) Legality of the conversion in your location; 2) Cost versus performance; 3) Time to convert; and 4) Time to reverse conversion in the event of selling vehicle.

Take these into consideration and good luck on your project. To get your car featured takes a bit of legwork. You'll have to send in a few quality photos, along with an accurate description of your car.


More Power
I bought a 1997 BMW 328is a year ago, and the car is still in great shape with 40,000 miles. But I now realize that I need more power. What performance upgrades would you recommend (without sacrificing reliability, of course or costing a fortune)? Exhaust, intake, chip, turbo? Or should I just sell it and buy a 240-bhp M3? Thanks for your insight.
David Buse
San Diego, California

The decision to buy new versus upgrade is largely based on personal finances. In almost every case, you would be best served with the newest, latest and greatest factory offer, then tweak that. For example, the top-of-the-line offerings from Audi (S4), BMW (M3) and Porsche (Turbo) are good right out of the box. Each of these cars serves a unique purpose and you're likely to buy the BMW anyhow (a fine choice.) You'll probably be so tickled by any one of these cars, you'd want to not stop driving it long enough to do any mods.

Okay, so we didn't win the lottery and now it's time to be practical. If you want to keep the car a year or two, buy those modifications that are: 1) Easily reversed (or have universal appeal); 2) Offer the most bang for the buck; and 3) Offer true performance potential.

While a turbo would be the best performance, it might be cost prohibitive, not to mention possibly illegal for street use. In short, get performance wheels and tires, suspension, chip, brake upgrade and spend some additional cash on a few driver's schools. We can't suggest any one brand over another, but there are lots of quality products offered by company's between these pages.

The last item on our list, more than any of the above, will enhance the enjoyment of your BMW. The BMW CCA holds regular driving events and you're fortunate enough to have a chapter in your home town. The BMW CCA can be reached at

BMW CCA
640 S. Main St., Ste. 201
Greenville, SC 29601
(864) 250-0022
www.bmwcca.org


The (Aluminum) Brush Off
I really enjoyed the June issue of european car! Great job! I have a 1998 BMW M3 sedan, and have been looking for ages for interior upgrades exactly like the ones shown in the silver Active Autowerke turbocharged M3 featured in your June issue. I was wondering if you have any information or possible way I can find such interior upgrades, or any suggestions where I might find something similar. I am looking for the brushed-aluminum look for the shifter console of my M3. Any guidance or advice would be greatly appreciated.
Elliott Hollander
Atlanta, Georgia

We searched ec's advertisers and came up with the following source for billet-, brushed- and plain-look aluminum interior trim:

Legend5
4400 N. Scottsdale Rd., Ste. 149
Scottsdale, AZ 85257
(800) 203-2242
(480) 994-4694
Fax: (480) 994-9124
www.legendfive.com

The following sources also have carbon-fiber interior trim packages available for E36 BMWs:

Bekkers Import Corp.
731 S. Westover Blvd.
Albany, GA 31707
(800) 624-5410
www.bekkers.com

Claus Ettensberger Corp.
16200 S. Figueroa St.
Gardena, CA 90248
(800) 766-0064
(310) 767-1111
Fax: (310) 329-3159


Force Inductioning the Issue
I purchased a BMW 318i a year ago. I want to know if there is a turbo or supercharger for this vehicle. I have changed the exhaust and timing chain. My next step is to upgrade the computer, but I do not want to do this until I am positively sure there is a turbo or supercharger for this car or not. Also, I will be looking at stopping power in the near future.
Stew
via the Internet

It turns out that both are available. You didn't indicate whether you have an E30 with the M10 engine, an E30 with the M42 engine, or an E36 with an M42/44 engine. If it is the first, your options are limited, simply because this engine, especially in the E30 chassis, tends to be treated as obsolete by the aftermarket. Turbo kits were available for the 2002 back in the day. Even assuming you can find one, though, adapting it to this car would be a lot of work and require some custom engineering. Applying some modern engine-management technology would require more work, but also be rewarding in terms of better performance. If we were doing it, we would use some of the old 2002 manifolding but change the turbo and management to more modern systems.

It is more likely that you have the newer engine. Korman Autoworks Inc. sells the Mosselman turbo for the M42 engine, which Ian Kuah reviewed in the January 1997 issue of ec. Other anecdotal reviews have been mixed.

Downing Atlanta has an Eaton-based supercharger kit available for the M42 engine as well. Mr. Kuah related his impressions of a Z3 fitted with this supercharger in May 1999. Yet another supercharger kit for the Z3 that was reviewed years ago in ec was that of Bell Experimental Group Inc., which used the Swedish-made Autorotor compressor. It was reviewed by Jeff Hartman in September 1997.

Consulting with these companies should reveal whether their kits were designed for total compatibility with your chassis. Often, there are running detail changes that make installation difficult, and the various 3 Series chassis can be just enough different to cause serious headaches.

Bell Experimental Group Inc.
203 Kestrel Dr.
Spring Branch, TX .78070
(830) 438-2890
Fax: (830) 438-8361
www.bellengineering.net

Downing Atlanta Inc.
5096 Peachtree Rd.
Atlanta, GA 30341
(770) 457-6300
Fax: (770) 458-6118
www.downingatlanta.com

Korman Autoworks Inc.
2629 Randleman Rd.
Greensboro, NC 27406
(336) 275-1494
www.kormanfastbmw.com


Over-revving
I have enjoyed your magazine over the years. Ocassionally some of your articles talk about over-revved engines and it seems peculiar that the problem never occurs with U.S. cars--only with European. I've driven Mustangs and Vettes over the years and noticed I can't downshift into first or second gear at road speeds above 70 mph unless a lot of force is used. This is not the case with my BMW M3. The BMW can be downshifted extremely easily at high road speeds (70 to 130 mph), which puts the engine into an over-rev, causing severe engine damage. (I recently had the misfortune of over-revving an M3 engine while trying to avoid an accident.)

It's my understanding BMW stands alone in providing this senseless downshift. Various mechanics have told me Mercedes, Honda and other Japanese cars utilize synchromesh in their manual transmissions to avoid such engine-shredding downshifts at high speed. Is this true?
John Stoddard
Gonzalez Florida

Yours is a problem we've seen in letters once or twice in the past few years concerning mechanical over-revs caused by downshifting into low gears. Because of this, we will explain some of the technical issues you raise. Over-revving while accelerating in gear is limited by the ignition and/or fuel-delivery systems in most cars these days.

Let's start with the synchromesh system. Synchros in transmissions are not designed to prevent over-revs--nor do they prevent such. The only purpose is to change the relative gear speeds as the shift sleeve slides from one gear to the next. There will be a sleeve for each pair of gears and a synchro ring on either side. A true racing transmission, on the other hand, uses dog-ring arrangements sans synchros. These tend to go "clunk" into gear and require a skilled driver for best effect.

You mention Mercedes as one example of cars with good synchro systems. In all likelihood, pre-DaimlerChrysler cars use manual transmissions from either ZF or Getrag, providing they have manual transmissions, which are rare. BMWs have traditionally used the same O.E. manufacturers. We're not saying your assertion is wrong, but rather the fundamental element in the car is from the same manufacturer.

As far as testing cars for this condition, we'd run out of press cars and manufacturers willing to lend cars in short order once we had destroyed 30 to 60 drivetrains. For all the times we have driven on the track, we've never to the best of my knowledge zinged an engine. But that's not to say it hasn't happened or won't happen at some point.

If one happens to select one gear too low, if you're quick you can stab the clutch in before it's all the way released. This will take some serious life out of the synchros, but it will avoid a big mishap. Selecting two gears too low will probably be bad news if you're at the top-end of the gear you're in. Also, the mechanical over-rev can cause the rear wheels to lose grip and the car to spin. It's like someone pulling the E-brake at speed.

None of this will provide any consolation for you and your situation, but hopefully other readers will remember to be doubly cautious when driving.

Finally, thinking over the first-gear and 100-mph scenario, the only time I would ever purposely select a low gear is when driving a rwd car rally-style in the dirt. Because it's on loose surfaces, the rear tires break loose, allowing the car to rotate. But even so, 100 mph is too high a speed for that maneuver.


5 Series Handling Improvements
I recently purchased a BMW 525i with an M50 engine and, although the car runs great, I would like to somehow upgrade it (mostly suspension). The roads in Colorado are far from perfect, so I am going to need a setup that won't break my neck; yet I'm going to need something that will kick ass in the corners (I live in a small mountain town and there are only two roads out of here: canyon and mountain pass). I need to know who would do an adequate job here in Colorado, as I can't seem to find a shop willing to do just that. Also, are there any power mods that won't destroy my wallet?
Elizabeth Kudasik
via the Internet

Because you live in the mountains of Colorado, your needs will be different from those in warmer climates and you will have different issues. If you drive in the winter on snow and ice, you'll want to run a soft suspension, snow tires and beater wheels.

When you use your car for the good days, you can go stiffer with more roll resistance. You will want to start with anti-roll bars, shocks and mild springs. If your car has many miles, start with new heavy-duty shocks (not sport) and add bars. Since you will have everything apart, you should do the springs, shocks and bars all at once.

You can consult any of the popular BMW tuners. Try Bavarian Autosport, Bekkers, BMP Design, Dinan, Korman, Racing Dynamics, Turner Motorsports...to a name a few. Since you have Internet access, look at www.bmwlinks.com for a list of companies.

For installation, talk to the supplier, as it probably has a dealer network or a trusted installer in your region. You might even get a better price from the installer if you buy the parts and the installation at the same place.

For power mods, try a chip and free-flow exhaust. Beyond that, you'll be spending big money. Your car with the handling upgrades alone will be a nice driving vehicle.

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