BMW Origin Equipment cup holders for E36Note the factory look and fitment of the new cup holders.  More important, notice the fitment of the same water bottle from the first photo with the factory pieces. These haven’t failed to hold any realistically sized cup I’ve come across.  Smaller items still fit fine, too, because of the rubber tabs.

In preparation for the first stage of our upcoming suspension articles, we also received a few other key components in our order from Bavarian Autosport.  Having parts lying in wait is a tough process for me, especially when they’re related to the suspension in any way.  With our main suspension components en route from Hanchey Vehicle Technologies, we decided to use my impatience and excitement to get a slight jump on starting those upgrades—aside from the bushings that is, which we already covered in Part 1.

BMW E36 factory cross braceThe straight brace you see just behind the oil pan helps to tie the frame rails together to stiffen up the chassis a little bit.  Very little.

There is actually a factory-produced part which offers more to stiffen up the feel of the E36 chassis than any strut bar I’ve ever felt, and it produces a very noticeable increase in steering response and overall feel.


BMW Motorsport cross braceThis is the BMW Motorsport Cross Brace, otherwise referred to in the bimwad community as an X brace.  The photograph above shows it with all the associated hardware supplied by BavAuto.

The brace came in the “trunk kit” supplied with the M3 LTW, along with a few other key Motorsport-supplied pieces, and was later installed from the factory as a means to tighten up the chassis on the E36 3-series convertibles.

BMW Motorsport cross brace comparison x braceHere you can see the significant difference between the two braces.  Just as significant as the appearance is the difference in performance that you can feel.

The only hard part of installing the cross brace is the installation of the nutserts needed to bolt the brace into pre-existing holes in the subframe.  Luckily for us, however, M3s delivered in the U.S. already had the nutserts installed from the factory, so this was a non-issue.

M3 factory installed nutsertThis photo shows the factory-installed nutsert.  It’s obviously never been used and had a decent amount of road grime, so some thorough cleaning was necessary before installing the brace, just to ensure proper and safe fitment.
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Wednesday, October 23, 2013 11:14 PM
"BMW Motorsport Cross Brace"???

Interesting. I always thought this part originated with the convertible M3. Didn't know it was developed for motorsport before that. I had always known it as the "convertible brace". Neat-O.

It's been fun watching you gear up for this project and wipe out the little detail stuff that should be seen to first. *Really* looking forward to the suspension/brakes/engine 'meat-n-potatoes' part of this build. Great write-up!
Dusty Duster
Dusty Dusterlink
Thursday, October 24, 2013 5:09 AM
A lot of newer cars are featuring braces there. S197 Mustangs, for instance, have a front McPherson strut suspension that is very similar to that of the 3 Series BMWs. Later S197s (2011+) have a brace (colloquially referred to as a "Z" brace), in that same location.
Thursday, October 24, 2013 5:30 AM
Yeah, the brace is a fairly simple concept and design, but it produces a noticeably better feel. I debated before and after testing data, but I think anything which is time- or G-related wouldn't really show any meaningful info. It absolutely produces a more direct feeling, which will inevitably increase confidence, but it's doubtful that proving that on paper would be worthwhile.

What I'm most surprised with is that it's the one part that I've never seen anyone produce in the aftermarket for the E36.
Thursday, October 24, 2013 7:14 AM
No availability for an after-market Cross Brace doesn't really surprise me. The factory solution has been around practically since the introduction of the car. It is effective, easy to install, and incredibly cheap. The only way to improve it would be to make it much lighter, but that would make it *way* more expensive. Even then, the weight savings are on a part mounted so low, the COG would barely be affected so you couldn't feel the difference anyway. Hard-core E36 racers might appreciate reduced weight more, but they're gonna be installing a cage into the car and doing other more extreme things that make a bolt-on brace rather moot.

Can't see any after market company ponying up the design and tooling costs when pragmatic bimmer people are likely to shrug indifferently at their product and just use the factory brace.
Thursday, October 24, 2013 7:32 AM
Awesome project despite the small update, still one of the cleanest project cars for its age.

Uhg, having installed wheels far too many times on BMWs, VW's, and Porsches I can justifiably say that wheel bolts are the worst. Old VW bugs make everything else look easy though. Wheel bolts combined with old age, rust, heavy unbalanced wheels and that rediculous 5 x 205 bolt pattern make it an excersize in futility.

Unfortunately most people seem to install stud kits from either a cheap manufacturer or without proper torque/locktite and came out with the lug nut many times.

Thursday, October 24, 2013 12:34 PM
Seeing as the rotors get really hot (over 1000*F), and the release point of Loctite is 550-650*, do you think you get any worthwhile benefits out of the Loctite on the studs? I assume the temperature at the hub gets pretty high, but I've never actually checked.

Of course, You're unlikely to take the wheels off when the rotors are this hot unless you're endurance racing, so it may work out assuming you can keep cycling Loctite like that.
Thursday, October 24, 2013 12:44 PM
Oh yeah, do E36s use TTY bolts everywhere like VW does?
Thursday, October 24, 2013 9:09 PM
I understand the obvious benefits of a stud conversion, but if the biggest gripe with wheel bolts is getting everything lined up properly when putting the wheels on....
....then you should be using something like this:
I would highly recommend using 2 per wheel on adjacent holes, which makes everything gravy.

And if you're getting the hub hot enough to release Loctite at 550-650 degF, you're going to have some interesting experiences with your wheel bearing grease and lip seals. No, the temp doesn't get that high.
Friday, October 25, 2013 6:23 AM
DrunkenMessiah, I agree… At this point, I can't see anyone ponying up the money to develop an aftermarket brace when one already exists, is relatively inexpensive and does the perfect job.

Protodad, absolutely true! I've seen plenty of backed-out studs over the years, and broken, low-quality ones as well. It's recommended to inspect and change them as needed, but I flash back to the first set I ever had. They were installed by some friends as a birthday gift back in 2003 or so. Those things stayed on the car and went through multiple front wheel bearings, but they lasted the remaining 5 years I had the car. I don't think that's generally recommended, though. LOL

Rockwood, Sounds like a good excuse for us to have some fun with numbers in a future article, but I don't think the hub gets nearly that hot. As for the TTY bolts, I *think* BMW only uses those in engines.

Fabrik8, that is an option for those who may only change wheels out seasonally, but it's really not much different than a factory alignment pin, and doesn't look to me like it saves much time, but would certainly make lining them up a bit easier. If you're in a rush to rotate wheels at the track, or find the source of a noise at home, etc., I don't think you can beat a stud conversion for the one-time effort of installation.
Tuesday, May 06, 2014 3:53 PM
Where did you get that cup holder from? The website that I have found for that part was not active. If you can get me a link I (as well as e36 owners who hydrate while driving) would appreciate it greatly.
Tuesday, May 06, 2014 4:01 PM
Hi Wildcard,
That's the site, and it seems to be up still, although no products are listed. That was the only product listing at the time, and it seemed to still be there a couple of months ago when I checked for someone. Not sure why it's gone, but maybe try emailing them directly at: info@originequipment.com
Thursday, December 14, 2017 5:58 AM
Where did you get that cup holder from? The website that I have found for that part was not active. If you can get me a link I (as well as e36 owners who hydrate while driving) would appreciate it greatly.
Thursday, December 14, 2017 6:00 AM
Where did you get that cup holder car cup holder
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