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From digest.v7.n1145 Mon Feb 16 11:47:46 1998
From: Bob Stommel <>
Date: Mon, 16 Feb 1998 09:06:41
Subject: <E30 M3> RE: How should I modify my E30 - M3 ?

>I just bought an 88 M3 w/ 82K miles and it is completely stock. I plan to
take it to CCA Driving schools (as >I've done with past cars) and and slowly turn it into a quasi club racer-type.

>I realize that the car is a wonderful piece of machinery that is already,
ready to go. But I am looking for a >project and I want to slowly transform the car. So please no hate mail telling me to learn to it drive first. >(has actually happend in the past!)

>So my question for the group is what would be the best order of attack and
what are the best bands and types >of components to use? Keeping in mind that a slow steady investment is also desired. I will probably try to >by parts used out of the Roundell.

>I was thinking something like: used chip ($100), exhaust, air box,
springs, struts, cam gear, throttle body >(?), brake ducts, brakes (it has new stock ones). steering wheel, role bar, harnesses. etc.

>Thanks for your help and please e-mail me anything that you might have for
sale too. I am in New York City.


Hi David:

I've owned an 88 M3 for about 5 years. Started out taking it to driver schools and now it's a CCA club racer.

Here are my suggestions:

  1. Check for cracks near the bolts holding the engine mounts to the front subframe. Some of the heavily tracked M3's are showing cracks there. You can see the cracks from the underside of the subframe at the bolt locations. The cracks are in the subframe metal. Shake the engine vigorously and if you hear a squeaking sound, the front subframe is probably cracked. The crack can be welded. If there are no cracks yet, install a washer between the motor mount lower nut and the subframe to help distribute the forces on the subframe near the nut.
  2. Common modifications are a performance chip, Euro exhaust cam gear, and Euro (Motorsport) airbox. The Motorsport airbox was an OEM part on the 1990 an 1991 models. Jim Conforti's chip is the best. You can't replace the throttle bodies without doing the entire throttle intake system because there are four individual throttle plates as part of the housing (one for each cylinder).
  3. If you are going to drive the car on the street, stick with the stock suspension. Most of the aftermarket performance suspensions are too stiff for the street. The OEM suspension is fine for both street and driver schools (but adding Bilstein Sport shocks really improves track performance). There are BMW factory "camber correcting upper strut bearings" that will add .5 degree of negative camber to the front suspension. They make a tremendous improvement in the way the car corners on the track.
  4. If you decide to install a stiffer suspension, the most common combination for driver school use is Eibach Pro-Kit springs, Bilstein Sport shocks, and Suspension Techniques adjustable swaybars. You can get stiffer systems, all the way up to full coilover kits, for these cars. Turner Motorsport is a good source for E30 M3 suspension parts.
  5. If you take the car to driver schools frequently, you should duct the front brakes by replacing the foglights with brake ducts. Without brake ducts, the rotors tend to warp on the track. For the rotors, get the OEM ones from a dealer. The OEM rotors are now the same as the Evolution rotors. Be careful with mail order for rotors -- there's a lot of junk out there that will warp on the track. E-mail me if you want a list of mailorder vendors who sell the OEM rotors.
  6. Plan to buy a new water pump every few years. For some reason, the E30 M3 engine wears them out quickly. The M3 does not have the coolant leak problem of the other E30 models, but some of the M3's experience coolant loss from a worn coolant recovery tank cap. Buy a new cap from the dealer. The new ones have been "updated." There was also a recall for a cooling system update which consists of a special valve that was installed in one the of the heater hoses. You should be able to see the valve in the top heater hose that runs from the cylinder head to the firewall.
  7. The OEM steel lower control arms tend to crack on high-mileage or heavily tracked cars. The lighter alloy control arms can be purchased mail-order for about $179 each (they're close to $400 each from a BMW dealer).
  8. There is a lot of disagreement on the best brake pads to use. The OEM BMW pads (Energit, not Jurid) seem to work fine for street and driver schools. I would recommend using the Energit OEM pads unless you are racing. If you find the Energit pads fading on the track, switch to Performance Friction 90-compound pads for driver schools and racing.
  9. The Bentley manual for the E30 covers most of the same body and electrical as is on the M3, but the engine and Motronics on the M3 are different. The factory service manual (on microfiche only now) is the only thing available on the engine.
  10. Are the swaybars still stock? If there are stiffer aftermarket swaybars on the car, you should take a close look at the mounting locations. The mounting tabs on the front and rear tend to crack with stiffer bars. The tabs need to be reinforced with extra welded metal if stiffer bars are installed.
  11. The next time you take the car to your mechanic, have him remove the valve cover and look carefully for wear in the timing chain, cam sprockets and chain tensioner parts. These parts are wearing out on the higher mileage cars and cause a rattling sound when the engine is cold.
  12. The stock steering wheel diameter is about 370 mm. Momo makes some nice aftermarket steering wheels that fit well on the E30 M3. I have a 350 mm one, which just barely covers up the top edge of the speedometer.
  13. TC Kline makes a beautiful custom-fit rollbar for the E30 M3. I have one in my car. Call me if you want more details.
  14. For harnesses, the Schroth 4-point is fine for driver schools. For CCA club racing, you'll need a 5-point or 6-point harness. I have a black Schroth 4-point harness you can buy -- it was only used for one driver school. Let me know if you're interested in it.

Bob Stommel
Hoosier Chapter

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