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E36 3.0 ITB Race Build

Started out with a factory ///M Sport in solid condition after my other had a split rear subframe-chassis mounts and various other patches of rust. This one needed to be done right from the start.

First.. HSD's, E30 lower arms with PowerFlex bushes and Powerflex'd M3 Front ARB. Sourced 10x E38 wheels, 16x8J, to replace the OEM 17" splits that it came with.


Gear linkage bushes were 15 years old. So replaced them all and fitted a Z3M shifter at the same time. Managed to find it on eBay at 1/4 the cost of BMW dealer. 60% reduction in change length, or thereabouts. How a BMW should be.


Z3M Shifter, new bearing and circlips.




If you've ever driven a car with an M52 you will know how strangled they are, due to the stupid restrictive inlet manifold. Removed the cruise control and ASC/Traction control unit. Looped back the throttle body coolant circuit. Removed M52 manifold.



Comparison M50-v-M52


Decided to stick with M50 throttle body (Near identical to M52). Cleaned it up properly.


Removed M50 inlet air temp sensor, swapped for M52 item to keep the ECU happy. This was ran through a die to create a thread, then sealed into place on the manifold.


Fitted a new genuine throttle cable for the sake of £15, hate the usual E36 resistant pedal that most seem to have.

Removed the M52 (PCV) oil separator setup, want to keep this simple. Crank case breather now loops back to a catch tank, which then runs to the inlet elbow.

Low down torque was missing before the manifold swap, along with a rough idle, and sometimes hesitant upto 4k. All common signs of the Vanos seals having gone.

I got INPA running on my laptop and hacked together a diagnostics cable from an old VAGCOM lead. Read the codes and got the ever famous VANOS JAMMED/STUCK code.

BMW only sell a compete Vanos unit (typical), using the old design seals still inside (rubber compound goes hard).

Bought replacement seals from USA ( and a set of M52 timing tools.

Took it apart.


Vanos unit off.



There should be quite a bit of force required to pull/push the piston in/out of its housing when the seal is good. This was loose, rattling and literally fell out of the housing when the cover was removed. Video:

Piston seals removed.


New seals fitted, piston inserted and unit fitted back onto head.



New rocker cover gaskets, replaced spark plugs, tested coils (all good!) and did an oil and filter change.


Runs sweet, much smoother. Low down torque returned, pulls very hard all the way to the red line. Diagnostics read again, no VANOS codes returned. :)

Gearbox felt really stiff, put it down to BMW claiming the box oil was 'lifetime'. Recommended MTF-LT-1, but I'm not putting expensive oil in a high mile box. Dropped it and filled with 75w80 GL4. Much better, but not perfect by any means.

Exhaust was hanging low, tips were scabby and old. Removed the back section, lobbed the tips off and welded some 2.5" straight pipe on there the same as a stock M3.



Brakes were shocking when I got it (cheapest of cheap factors pads). Got hold of an M3 Evo setup. Hubs/Calipers/Discs/YellowStuffs. Popped an Evo MC and Servo on at the same time. Nice upgrade and plenty of stopping power to suit the car, only just fit under the 16s mind. Front discs will need replacing at some point, but they are ok for now. Rears will be getting overhauled some other time.

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Re: E36 v2

E36s have a pretty complex setup on the rear, with various balljoints, bushes and bearings. I wanted to overhaul all of this on the previous one, but never got round to it. Tell tale signs are the rear end feeling wayward, no precision in the handling poor ride quality. Everything is 15+ years old after all.

Been slowly stripping down and removing all the bushes from a complete spare rear subframe which is due to go to the family powdercoaters soon. Nightmare of a job with 15 years of rust and grime.



It included a few evenings of..


Finally ending with a complete rear setup, front subframe, front ARB and gearbox mount ready to be powder coated. I also welded in some plate to reinforce the rear anti roll bar mounts.


I had been getting a really annoying creaking/squeeking from the front end over the past few weeks, which I thought was suspension. So I spanner checked it all and marked up all the bolts, a week later nothing had moved and the noise was still there.

Moved onto the ARB, replaced the drop links with some new spares I had, re-greased the polybushes and refitted it all. Noise was still there.

This evening I decided to check the engine mounts, only to find the passenger side in two pieces. Exactly the same as what happened to the drivers side on my other E36.


The stock mounts are oil filled, and £40 a piece from the factors. Probably a whole load more from BMW. Polybushes are more expensive again so I went looking for an alternative.

Came up with E34 (M52) mounts, which are solid rubber and the same stud offset for the sum of £10 a piece.


Fitted a pair earlier and what a difference. Much more solid engine mounting, feel and the noise has gone. Happy days.
Re: E36 v2

Everything was turned round quickly, and the result being the same as the Mk1 days for those who remember..


..and I decided whilst it was apart I'd do the same stud conversion as I did on my Clio/E30. Milled the threads out to 1/2", then pressed in extended Ford studs (M12) and open ended nuts (60deg taper), which is basically the same as a BMW anyway.




As the subframe is about to be built up I was looking at replacing the three diff bushes (the only three that have not been replaced).

The stock front bush is rubber, does not have a sleeve and many people replace all three with these:

Although, not easy to buy in the UK. Who cares? Just make some...




I opted to use 4 balljoints on the rear hubs. E36s usually only 2 of these, and 2 all-rubber bushes in the rear hub setup. Where as E46s use 4 ball joints, for a more precise setup on the back. Pressed them in with new bearings too..



Then the Powerflex Black rear trailing arm bushes..


..and finally the bargin Powerflex rear subframe set I managed to get for £35..


Also a different one to show the re-inforcement of the rear anti roll bar mount (which usually flex massively on stock E36s) before it was powdercoated..


Re: E36 v2

So after a cold night in the rain removing the complete rear suspension/subframe, we were left with this large empty space..


Cleaned up the surface rust and re-sealed. Fitted the replacement rear disc shields and pressed the stubs into the trailing arms..



Bolted the upper control arms and lower camber arms to the subframe, then bolted it up to the car..


Fitted the trailing arms, diff, half shafts, calipers with new Redstuff pads, new discs and finally the lines..




Finished by fitting the rear ARB, setting a bit of toe-in and camber, and bleeding the brakes.
Re: E36 v2


After a week one of the CV boots had gone so I replaced the joint and boot from a spare shaft I had.

Although when checking over nuts/bolts earlier in the week I noticed the poor 1mm PowerFlex washers they provide were just that, p*ss poor.

They had bent quite substantially in some places, so I decided I would pull the subframe off again and sort it with some 'proper' washers once and for all.

Basically involves using some 75mm/3" diameter steel discs, 6mm thick. You remove the existing studs from the chassis (2 of) and use E90 front suspension bolts instead.

Old washer in place.


Old washer bent.


New steel discs, 75mm x 6mm.


Onto the Bridgeport.


Resulting in a set of 6 washers.


Went and dropped the subframe off the car.


Standard studs.


First one came out easily, as compared to E90 bolt.


The other decided it wanted to be stuck. After a snapped spanner, I went with a deep socket and breaker bar, and ended up shearing it straight off... great!

So, where is the thread? Slight problem. Oh, its captive, hidden, between the chassis.

Cue, a grinder..




After this, made up a replacement plate to sit over the mounting hole, from the 6mm plate, and used a standard M12x1.5 nut instead. Problem is now I have a big hole under the rear seat to patch up, good design? Of course.

Front Subframe Bushes - Washer either side of bush and E90 bolt, upper washer is equivalent to the nut on the stud.
Rear Subframe Bushes - Washer on bottom of bush, standard bolt, bush sits against chassis on top.

Refitted the whole thing with the 6 new 'washers' and bolts. The thicker washers now sit flush with the chassis, no nut on a stud keeping it spaced away, washer sits directly against the chassis. Much better.





Solid differential mounts, with 6mm washers and new bolts. Probably should mention an M3 3.0 LSD was fitted a while back, from the previous E36, which makes the gearing much better. Filled with Castrol B373 when the solid mounted read cover was fitted.


There is a bit of gear whine from the differential with it being solid mounted, but not over the top. Gear changes and power delivery is now much better, and there is no longer any judder/movement when sharply coming off the throttle, or going onto it.
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Re: E36 v2

Various other bits have been done over the past couple of weeks, but not got round to writing them up or getting any pictures yet.

Purchased four reasonably priced 'sticky' tyres for some of the spare 16x8 wheels. I've used the RSRs before on the other E36, so thought I would try them again in 16", considering the decent price. This was the main reason for going to 16s over the OEM 17s, tyres are much cheaper. Running 205/45/16.


Last job was to get it properly aligned. Took it to a local place with a Hunter setup.


After the initial check, it was WAY out, to be expected considering the whole rear subframe has been off the car twice.

-2.8deg camber front, -2deg camber back.
0'0" toe on the front, 0'20" total toe in at the back.

Its transformed the car. Taking it to the track for testing Saturday, should be a good drive with everything coming together.
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Re: E36 v2

Epic thread! What engine is it?
Same as yours. I'l let you know about the cruise control in the next couple of days.

So..... When's the cage going in?

Very good read. Makes me want a bimmer, but the problems that everyone has had that I know puts me off. :(
They do have a lot of common faults to be honest, without having the other one (and E30/E46s) I would have never worked out some of the problems as quick as I have. The VANOS really isn't a huge problem as people make out, they still run fine, just suffer a lack of performance and efficiency. Rusty sills, front arches and tailgates are others.

I had a problem the other week where the battery kept draining completely flat in a matter of hours - I replaced the battery to no avail, then the alternator with a new one - even then I wasn't getting 14v+ with the engine running. Turns out the central locking module had a dead short and kept blowing its 25a fuse, draining about 3-4v constantly even with the car running. The dead short took a long time to find, it was in the loom that goes from the chassis to the tailgate. With 15+ years of the boot being opened and closed 6 of the wires had broken, shorted together and were causing the problem. Once I had fixed the wires, everything was back to normal. After Googling "E36 Tailgate Loom" it seems to be a major issue in the Coupes.

Having the diagnostic system to hand is the best thing really, as if you have any issues its a 20 second job to find out whats causing it usually. They are not like a standard OBD2 car, BMW use their own type of system which gives far more detail on each fault. So instead of saying 'ABS Fault', you would get 'ABS Fault, Rear Left Wheel, Speed Below 20km/h for 60+ Seconds' for example.
Re: E36 v2

Fair enough, seems like a fair trade when it's that much easier to diagnose. I'd like a 318ti coupe at some point, such a smart looking car IMO. What's the general mpg for bimmers? (Obviously they're not all the same) My mum had an e36 316 and it was appalling on fuel.


ClioSport Club Member
Re: E36 v2

Fair play to you man. My mates just finished his E36 compact 328 conversion..


ClioSport Moderator
Re: E36 v2

Epic. The coolest thread on here all week!

Be following this. Love the detail of the photos, showing the stages you've gone through i.e. highlighting the manifold differences in size and the use of the engine bay as a table for your McDonalds is inspired :)


ClioSport Club Member
  DCI 175
Re: E36 v2

Fair enough, seems like a fair trade when it's that much easier to diagnose. I'd like a 318ti coupe at some point, such a smart looking car IMO. What's the general mpg for bimmers? (Obviously they're not all the same) My mum had an e36 316 and it was appalling on fuel.
328 gets about 30-35 on the motorway.
  DC2 TypeR / E36 328i
Re: E36 v2

Excellent - I need to get my ass in gear and get INPA sorted.

Have a Netbook somewhere running Windows XP that'll do the trick.
  e91 325
Re: E36 v2

Looks awesome mate, if anyone wants to replicate this thread mines currently for sale ;), just putting it out there.

Djw John

Scotland - South
ClioSport Area Rep
Re: E36 v2

Didn't check who the op was before reading it and was thinking "this is just like a f0xy build" good effort and skills as ever mate!


ClioSport Club Member
  R14 CUP
Re: E36 v2

Looks great Jord, hopefully get to come out for a few passenger laps on Saturday with you.

Made me look at E36's today, think I'll probably go for a M3 3.0 when I eventually come sell the clio. Offer brilliant performance for your cash.
Re: E36 v2

Yeah, I did consider the M3, but for the price (sub £1k) a 328 cant be beaten really. Quite a bit more than that for an M3, even if its still 'cheap'. M52+M50 Inlet+Map is knocking on the door of 230-235hp, with the same torque, when paired with the quicker 3.0 diff its plenty quick enough!


ClioSport Club Member
  Valver, Octavia vRS
Re: E36 v2

Another soon to be massive thread. Defo looks good. As your other 3 threads were.

Short Legs

ClioSport Club Member
  a better one
Re: E36 v2

loving it, you obviously know your way around them.

I do remember the thread on your old one but cannot recall how far you stripped it. What sort of weight could you realistically get it down to - without going daft.

Aren't they about 1300kg in standard trim?
Re: E36 v2

The other one was ~1280kg on the Oulton Park scales with a bit of fuel in it. That was lightweight seats and no interior bar the dash. Generally the bonnet and tailgate are big weight savers, carpets are heavy/thick, plenty of places to save really. Although... add a cage in and you've basically got your interior weight back I guess
Re: E36 v2

Stretched its legs on Saturday over at Blyton Park. Great day, no issues, the car is brilliant.

Before going I dropped a seat in that I've had lying about for a few months, didn't want to be sliding all over..


Fitted some normal wing mirrors you can actually see out of, binned the M3 ones, didn't have time to spray them mind! Fitted the RS-Rs, checked the fluids. Good to go..


Lots of grip and balance, very predictable as to what its doing. Putting that down to having proper alignment and new bushes everywhere. Steering is precise, turn in/direction change spot on. Need to look at damping settings for fine tuning, only had a quick play on the day as I wanted to just drive it! Brakes were great, surprised with the YellowStuffs that I have never rated before.

Really impressed with how it has come together. Lots of fun to drive!

Few minor issues to sort though - After coming in after a session the tappets are VERY loud, the oil is getting too thin. Need to look at an alternative grade really. Wouldn't mind having an oil pressure gauge there too. The limiter definitely needs increasing to 7k+, already had this in place but reverted it for Blyton to see how it went. Ran out of revs at the end of the back straight every time with the gearing its got, but its probably fine elsewhere. Also need 1 x replacement RS-R having suffered a blowout (luckily at the end of the day!), thanks to Whiteley :clown:


Video will be up soon.