Project E36 M3: Part 2 - Wheel Studs, Motorsport Bracing and... Cup Holders?

Project E36 M3: Part 2 - Wheel Studs, Motorsport Bracing and... Cup Holders?

by Jonathan Lawson

We managed to get the handling of our E36 M3 back up to a stock-like feel in Part 1, so the car has been feeling almost new.  With some exciting parts on the way, we decided to keep ourselves busy while we wait by adding a bit of convenience which the Germans didn’t seem to have as a priority.  We also wanted something a little fun to help us pass the time, so we increased the crisp feel of our chassis with a simple but effective part from the BMW Motorsport division...  

Anyone who has multiple sets of wheels, or just happens to wear through tires or brake pads at a higher-than-normal rate, knows that mounting wheels on the car can get to be a hassle.  This is particularly true if you need to get wheels swapped out in a hurry at the track.  With factory lug bolts, the rear isn’t usually too bad, but the free-rolling hubs on the front make things a bit more tricky.  Throw in a set of wheel spacers, and it becomes a lesson in patience.


Achilles Motorsports wheel stud conversion M3We solved that issue by going with the 75mm TUV-approved wheel stud conversion from Achilles Motorsports. It’s not likely that we’ll need wheel spacers larger than the 12mm versions already on the car, so 90mm studs would’ve been overkill at this stage.  Plus, I’m not a personal fan of the Roman chariot look. Both sizes offer the bullet-nose design for easier alignment of the lug nuts, and for less likelihood of any cross-threading issues.
Achilles Motorsports wheel studs bullet-nose hexWe decided to go with the zinc-plated nickel black versions instead of the silver zinc-plated versions.  Yes, our choice was slightly more expensive, but they’ve also gone through an additional Torque ‘N’ Tension process.

That process involves multiple washing and degreasing steps in preparation for final activation, zinc plating, and lubrication.  The final lubrication process serves as a seal which has a protective function, making the studs much more resistant to the effects of weather and corrosion.  With track use on the schedule, and a full spectrum of harsh seasonal conditions for Project E36 M3, it was a no-brainer.  Plus, they just happen to look better in our humble opinion.


Rogue Engineering 12mm wheel spacers on M3Lining your front spacers up is simple on its own, but once you get a wheel on and try to keep everything together, that’s when the F-bombs can start to fly.   Yes, these are the original brake calipers from 1999 with well-worn rotors, but we’ll get to that soon enough.
Rogue Engineering wheel spacer removalAside from the weight-saving design and having the thickness engraved on the face, the greatest feature of the Rogue Engineering wheel spacers is their notched back.  This keeps a lot of the frustration down by allowing you to use a flathead screwdriver tip to pop them off, no matter how long they’ve been mated up to rusty old rotors.
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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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