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FEELER: Complete E46 M3 rear suspension swap
11-01-2019, 08:21 PM
Post: #1
FEELER: Complete E46 M3 rear suspension swap
Hi all,

(TL:DR = FEELER!!! E46 M3 complete rear sub-frame inc LSD diff & drive shaft swap for your 330i E46 manual rear sub-frame setup CPT only)

Just a feeler thread, some time ago, our workshop rebuilt my lowly 318i E46 into what my 32 year old 'windgat' brain decided was the best engine upgrade setup for my budget at the time, this setup list included an E46 M3 LS diff for the obvious benefits.

Turns out, the entire E46 M3 rear sub-frame is required to carry the diff, as the mounting points are completely different, and most of the rear suspension parts required to be M3 spec to work, including the trailing arms, dust plates, drive shafts, anti-roll bar, basically everything from an E46 M3 rear had to be installed for the setup to work.

The setup works fantastically, my lowly '170kw 318' was now able to donut around cars with ease (not my thing but so, so easy to do, and the control, wow), and the acceleration due to the gear ratios when mated to a 5 speed manual ZF from an E39, creates a 6 cylinder orchestra of its own.

What I'm basically getting at, is that I'm almost 40, and whilst I love the acceleration and control and track day bliss, mating it to a 5 speed wasn't the smartest choice for daily commuting and long distance, which is 98% of the time.

So this feeler thread is for the Fanatic who knows the benefits of this beefier setup, especially someone who already has a 330i E46 with a 6 speed manual or going for a track setup/drifting.

As I had modified the prop for 5 speed setup, this will be a straight swap into a 330i E46 with a 5 speed ZF box, the only potential additional mod required for would be for the prop to re-accomodate a 6 speed box (the yoke of the E46 M3 diff sticks out considerably further, which is why the prop mod was required).

The car will be going up on the lift tomorrow as I need to do some minor brake caliper cleaning (upgraded the brakes with 2nd hand 330i calipers, the rears arrived in Paintbrush Red) and can't look at them like that any longer, and will take that opportunity to take pics if anyone is interested.

Before I receive offers of 318i or other E46 rear suspension swap requests, this is specifically 330i E46, a 328i E46 setup will work but not ideal, as I know the drive shafts are thinner and prop is still U-joint type but will be considered, and the other auto and 4 cyl ratios are not correct.

As I know you guys love details, the following parts were required for the swap:

M3 subframe (with bushings, installed new 4000km ago)
M3 diff 3.62 (OEM yoke and side shaft bearings and new OEM yoke and side shaft seals / rear casing seal replaced during recon before installation 4000km ago, with original BMW LSD oil, the only one that works properly to those in the know)
M3 drive shafts in great condition (actually acquired from a BMWFanatic)
M3 rear Anti-roll bar (stabiliser or sway bar so many names) with new bushes
M3 trailing arms with dust plates and new bearings installed 4000km ago
Modified reconditioned and balanced prop with 4000km old centre bearing if you want to swap into a 5 speed 330i E46

I'm sure I've missed a few things, but will see tomorrow and make a list and take pics if anyone is interested.

This is a CPT only thing and will be planned correctly to avoid any extended downtime, I'm hoping there is a BMWFanatic out there who will consider this upgrade and use it for its intended purpose! ThumbsThumbsThumbsTyTyTy

PS, I also have a complete unmodified set of good condition E36 S50 throttle bodies, spring mechanism works perfectly, make me a realistic offer.

(Mods please place this thread in the correct section if I messed up, apologies in advance Hammerhead , not sure why I have 0 posts as I have posted before).
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