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Z3 1.9 Steering rack conversion

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  • #16
    I have the rack from a '95 M3 in my Mtech II project car which is a '91 318is (air bag car). You can use the rack, but you have to cut the opening in the firewall and change the angle of the column that runs down to the rack. I don't remember the exact details, but it can be done. The car was basically a rolling shell at the time and it was fairly easy to see it could be done.
    1989 E30 M3 Cabrio - Nogaro Sliver / Black - 1 of 786
    1990 E30 M3 - Sterling Silver / Black
    1991 E30 318is - Sterling / Black (Mtech II project)

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    • #17
      Thanks to everybody who's added content. I might pull my S14 this winter, and if I do, I might give all this another go. As L James stated, cutting the firewall seems like a requirement (& a very distasteful one IMHO).
      Here's the long-term basis for my understanding: http://www.rmeuropean.com/bmw-e30-steering.aspx It's all counter-intuitive that a rack from an airbag car would be harder to fit in an airbag E30.

      AlpineRunner: so you have an airbag M3, but you didn't find it necessary to cut the firewall?

      @JP: Your project will be sans power steering, correct? What's the ratio on the Z4 rack? Are the Z4's all the same ratio (unlike the Z3 racks)?

      Thanks again,
      -Dietrich

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      • L James
        L James commented
        Editing a comment
        The rmeuropean link is what we used. It's pretty spot on.

    • #18
      I swapped a Z3 rack into my 1990, airbag M3. Here's a pick that gives you an idea of the amount of trim involved. I wrote a tiny bit more about it here. New plate that was fabricated is on the left. Original plate that was trimmed is on the right. This plate holds in place a rubber close out that goes around the column. The plate is trimmed more than the firewall. Sorry I don't have anything that shows how much firewall is trimmed. I left the plate in place and trimmed the plate and firewall together.

      Brad

      Click image for larger version

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      • #19
        I just looked up the paperwork and it has the E30 inner and outer tie rods on the Z3 rack.

        (2) 32 1 11 125 186

        T
        Last edited by HANDBLT; 01-15-2016, 02:25 AM.

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        • #20
          My stock rack has started to leak so I've been looking into my options. I didn't realize the Z4 was one, on an airbag car there isn't any modification needed to the firewall?
          @slowprogress

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          • #21
            Originally posted by Dietrich View Post

            I too am interested in this topic. I've got an airbag car & have had a Z3 rack on the shelf collecting dust for a decade. It's always been my understanding that to do the swap in an airbag car you had two choices: hack up the firewall sheet metal or swap in a non-airbag column in addition to the Z3 rack. Neither of these options seem practical for me at this point (definitely NOT hacking my firewall anyway). If there's a way to do the swap without the cutting I'd love to know more. Alternatively, if the Z4 rack avoids the hacking or column swap, I'd consider that too.

            Thanks,
            -Dietrich

            Dietrich,
            I looked again and I did have to file the firewall a bit. I would say 90% of the material comes out of the bracket that holds the grommet/seal to the shaft and you need to file an additional 1/4" of the firewall.
            "It is needless to say that self-propelling vehicles, like other machines, will never do as much for one who does not understand them as for one who does."

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            • #22
              Well, I did it. My OCD got the better of me.
              I found a 2004 Z4 rack out of a 60K mile car in a semi local wrecking yard for $125 so I bought it.
              I dont "plan" on implementing this winter,,, but I know its now inevitable,,, that I will proceed.
              I'll let you know how I get on.

              The only downside so far is that I use a double set of Turner rack stops in my current E30M3 rack. Using the DTM92 front suspension with 15" wheels allows you to turn the wheel far enough that the inside of the wheel can contact the thrust rods so I have run the limiters to prevent that contact.

              According to Turner Motorsport they do not offer a rack limiter for a Z4.
              The sales guy I spoke to said the Z4 rack is somehow unique and not the same as an E46 rack as one might think.
              I'll start investigating that to see if it is, or if I can fabricate something similar.
              Last edited by jimmy p.; 01-23-2016, 05:59 AM.
              jimmy p.
              87 E30 M3 Prodrive British Touring Car
              88 E30 M3 Zinnoberot - Street
              88 E30 M3 Lachsilber - Race (#98 SCCA SPU)
              92 E30 M Technic Cabrio - S14 POWERED!
              98 318Ti M44, Base - Morea Green
              04 Ford F350 - V10

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              • #23
                95M rack in my non airbag 88. Used the AKG kit and recently the solid aluminum guibo too. Bought the 95M rack through BMA cheaper than anywhere else. It's a Marval brand. Just tweaked one of the stock lines and mounted with the rack spacer kit. Works great and with offset roll spacers my wheel is just at 1 turn lock to lock. Also using E36 rack limiters from Turner.

                http://www.akgmotorsport.com/catalog...0%2FM50%20Swap
                Photos

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                • #24
                  Originally posted by Dietrich View Post
                  @JP: Your project will be sans power steering, correct? What's the ratio on the Z4 rack? Are the Z4's all the same ratio (unlike the Z3 racks)?

                  Thanks again,
                  -Dietrich
                  Sorry Dietrich, did not see this. Yes mine will be manual, which was the impetus for me using the Z4 rack, as its basically already a manual rack, it has no hydraulic inputs on it at all.
                  The Z4 (non M) is a different rack than the M version.

                  I cannot remember the ratio difference between non M Z4 and the Z3 1.9, but its pretty well documented on various forums. There are many forums that users have posted super informative charts of all the ratios. Its only surpassed by the charts of shifter lever interchange and ratio change.

                  I believe they are pretty close, I think the Z4 was the next in line after Z3 1.9.
                  In any case it was close enough for me and I wanted the Z4 manual style rack.
                  jimmy p.
                  87 E30 M3 Prodrive British Touring Car
                  88 E30 M3 Zinnoberot - Street
                  88 E30 M3 Lachsilber - Race (#98 SCCA SPU)
                  92 E30 M Technic Cabrio - S14 POWERED!
                  98 318Ti M44, Base - Morea Green
                  04 Ford F350 - V10

                  Comment


                  • #25
                    Very interesting, as I find that the steering is the weak link of the E30 M3.

                    I have a 1987 euro-spec E30 M3 (non airbag).

                    Coming from a 1970's Porsche 911, I would like faster steering with more detail road feel and feedback. I don't mind the steering being a little meaty (heavier).

                    I like the idea of the non-assisted Z3 1.9 rack.

                    Where do I buy this? From a BMW dealership? Any extra bits required? What do I do with the power steering pump? Remove it and just remove its belt?

                    Zionsville offers 3 options (quick, quicker, quickest), but it says E30 and not "E30 M3"...

                    Which is the Z3 1.9 rack?
                    Kit 1: http://www.zionsvilleautosport.com/s...ring-kit-st-1/
                    Kit 2: (out of stock) http://www.zionsvilleautosport.com/s...ring-kit-st-2/
                    Kit 3: http://www.zionsvilleautosport.com/s...ring-kit-st-3/

                    Can I use these racks manually without power steering? If so maybe, is anything beyond kit 1 not enough mechanical leverage for manual steering?

                    Thanks,

                    Alex Wagner

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                    • #26
                      This article mentions, concerning the E30, the E36 rack and the Z3 2.8L:
                      http://www.rmeuropean.com/bmw-e30-steering.aspx

                      They don't mention the Z3 1.9L rack. How does it differ from the Z3 2.8L rack?
                      Thanks,

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                      • #27
                        So was it confirmed that all we have to do is get a non airbag column for and airbag car to not have to modify the firewall with the Z3 1.9 rack?

                        T

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                        • #28
                          Originally posted by alexwagner View Post
                          Very interesting, as I find that the steering is the weak link of the E30 M3.

                          I have a 1987 euro-spec E30 M3 (non airbag).

                          Coming from a 1970's Porsche 911, I would like faster steering with more detail road feel and feedback. I don't mind the steering being a little meaty (heavier).

                          I like the idea of the non-assisted Z3 1.9 rack.

                          Where do I buy this? From a BMW dealership? Any extra bits required? What do I do with the power steering pump? Remove it and just remove its belt?

                          Zionsville offers 3 options (quick, quicker, quickest), but it says E30 and not "E30 M3"...

                          Which is the Z3 1.9 rack?
                          Kit 1: http://www.zionsvilleautosport.com/s...ring-kit-st-1/
                          Kit 2: (out of stock) http://www.zionsvilleautosport.com/s...ring-kit-st-2/
                          Kit 3: http://www.zionsvilleautosport.com/s...ring-kit-st-3/

                          Can I use these racks manually without power steering? If so maybe, is anything beyond kit 1 not enough mechanical leverage for manual steering?

                          Thanks,

                          Alex Wagner
                          I discussed with Zionsville and am ordering their ST-3 rack for my E30 M3.

                          I'll report back with driving impressions when it is fitted.

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                          • #29
                            I have the conversion done, the car is night and day with the faster steering. I have the airbag car and ended up taking just a tad bit off the surrounding sheet-metal and fabricated a "gromet" of sorts using very sturdy rubber. One thing I still need to do is put bump stops on the rack ends because I can run the front wheels if I turn the wheel to lock (not that urgent since I know that I need to keep it an inch or so away from locking).



                            - Tire is the other control arm bushing.

                            zhpregistry.net

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                            • #30
                              Noro any photos by chance?
                              @slowprogress

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