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QQ on E36 Control Arms

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  • QQ on E36 Control Arms

    My understanding is that:
    1) The e30 M3 used an offset bushing.
    2) The 95 M3 control arm is the same geometry as the e30 M3, and also used an offset bushing, but a stiffer bushing than the 30.
    3) The 96+ M3 control arm is a different geometry, and used a centered bushing to retain the same castor angle as the 95 M3. When used on an e30 M3 they move the front wheel ~0.75" forward in the wheel well.
    4) The ball joint in the aluminum e30 arms are stronger than the standard ball joints -

    My questions are:
    1) When using a 96+ M3 steel control arm to "center" the front wheels in the front fenders of the e30 m3, should they be paired with a centered or offset control arm bushing? Does the centered bushing move the wheel forward ~0.75", and the offset bushing push it even further forward?
    2) Do centered bushings offer better NVH isolation?
    3) Does the stiffer e36 bushing introduce much more NVH? Or is it a good alternative to the OEM bushing?
    4) Are the e36 ball joints stronger than the stock e30 ball joints?

    I am researching "upgrade" options for when it comes time to replace my bushings. The car is a street car (may see a track day or two in the next few years), but I like the idea of OEM+ parts to enhance the experience. The increase of castor concerns me a little, but for a street car I probably wouldn't notice it. Also I plan to pair it with the Ground Control Touring plate which claims to have adjustable castor, so I should be able to correct it at least a small amount if necessary.

    I am looking for a set-up that has similar NVH as the stock bushing, but that offers a performance advantage (actual or subjective) that I shouldn't pass up while I am replacing them.

  • #2
    Why are you concerned with having more caster? More caster is a good thing. If you want to run the E36 control arms, I'd continue to run the stock E30 M3 control arm bushings with the offset. Yes you might have to have the front end realigned, but that isn't a bad idea anyway. I'd guess that it wouldn't matter what setup you use, you will have about the same ride. In the end, the car was never designed to be a luxury barge. Its not going to be a magic carpet ride no matter how hard you try.

    I run Treehouse racing solid rear mounts and don't notice them at all. The only time I notice extra noise or harshness is when I hit a square edged pothole or railroad crossing and blow through all the travel and bottom the suspension hard. (Yes I need more spring rate).

    '69 Datsun 2000 Roadster vintage race car (Street driven on a regular basis :taz
    '59 Alfa Romeo 101 Sprint (HUGE project :uhoh
    '88 M3


    • #3
      I guess I have read that more castor negatively effects turn-in. I don't track the car enough or know the ins and outs of suspension geometry to come to my own conclusions yet. If I can run the 96+ arms and not have to correct the castor than that is great news.

      And it sounds like there is no real reason to run the e36 arms over the e30 arms for a street car. Since the e30 arms are half the price I might stick with them. I was thinking maybe if the e36 arms had stronger bearings that would last longer they might be worth the money. I believe one of my rear shock mounts is shot, so I am thinking replacing all the suspension bushing's soon is a good idea.

      I am also on Ground Control Race/Solid camber plates, so the ride is extremely clunky and a bit uncomfortable on city streets. When I bought the car it was all set-up for track duty, and I am slowly trying to return it to a feeling of OEM, but I do want enhance the car with street suitable mods as much as possible along the way. I am certainly not after a luxury car feel, my '11 328i Wagon is my daily driver and has plenty of luxury for me, but I do want to be able to drive down the street without hearing clashing and banging sounds, and ideally would like to be able to drive it across the state and back without getting too worn out. Last time I did that I had the Supersprint Race exhaust on and couldn't talk to my passenger without shouting!

      After I get the car back into an OEM+ state, and know for myself what an e30 M3 should feel like, than I will probably set back out into converting it into a track/auto-x car that suits my needs.


      • #4
        Stick with the standard control arms unless you specifically need tire clearance at the expense of excess positive caster. I think a general target range is +8 through +10 (positive) caster. I can only assume the stock E30 M3 front spindle, lca, and offset bushing geometry is designed for optimal caster, I have never measured it myself.


        • #5
          Bumping my old thread. Almost a year has passed, but I have finally circled back around and am replacing suspension bits.

          I got the old front suspension apart, and it ends up the reason the front end was so clunky is because the GC race camber plates were made for Koni struts, but the PO installed them with Bilstein struts. Since the shock diameters are different, the Bilstein was not properly seated onto the camber plate, and the upper strut securing nut was 2-3 full turns off snug, so literally the strut was able to bounce up and down within the camber plate. Funny enough, I have seen a post on r3v from Jay at GC warning that this is exactly what will happen if you try to mix-and-match.

          Long story short, I opted to go with the e30 M3 aluminum control arms (you only live once) with an OEM offset bushing, Koni sport struts, and new Ground Control Touring plates (the bearing in the Race plate was frozen from all the abuse it has seen from the strut pounding on it the last ~6-8 years).