06
E36 HVT 6100i strutInstallation is just the reverse of removal.  These bolted up as easily as expected, with only a slight amount of effort needed on the passenger side.  Remember, these are prototypes, so they’re not production models.  That fact makes it even more impressive that we only had a 5-minute slowdown on the job.

Front height adjustment was as easy as the rear, so getting to our 13 inches of ride height wasn’t a problem, although it can be time consuming if you get anal about trying to get to your exact numbers.  The general rule of thumb with the E36 is to have a 1 1/4-inch difference between the front and rear, with the front measurement being 1 1/4” higher based on the wheel cap to fender method mentioned previously.  I went with ride heights that have worked perfectly on my previous cars, and which have usually resulted in minimal to no changes needed for corner balancing.

E36 sway bar end linkSince Version 1.1 of the suspension is going to handle a few other items, we had to bolt the stock sway bar back onto the car for now.  As you can clearly see, it didn’t make much sense to reuse our original end links.
E36 sway bar end link old versus new from Bavarian AutosportWe swapped out the old barely-hanging-on end links for a set of new OEM end links from Bavarian Autosport.  Remember, we have adjustable mounts on our new HVT struts, so adjustable end links weren’t needed.

We had some configuration choices with the springs on the front struts, so we opted for the longer spring with no tender.  The tender wasn’t necessary, and would require lowering our sway bar tabs.  The shorter spring would’ve worked with the tender, but I was paranoid about running that length, even with a tender because of the relatively soft rates we went with.

We decided on 450 lbs/in front springs and 550 lbs/in rear springs.  Some will say this is too soft for a track suspension, and they may be right.  This isn’t a track car, however, so it was a compromise I was happy to make.  More on the ride these provide in a moment, but also keep in mind that this is Version 1.0 of the suspension.  A future version of our suspension is going to be featuring the HVT 6100e dampers instead of the 6100i units.  Note the “e,” which stands for electronic, and all I can say is that it’s going to be an incredible format, although I may need to switch from my current phone bias (Hint! Hint!).

We haven’t bothered with an alignment yet, as we have a few items to replace which will affect that anyway, so Suspension Version 1.1 will be up next.  Because of that, we haven’t had a chance to truly put the car through it’s paces.

With just a couple of brief test drives so far, it’s already apparent that the car is completely transformed, though.  Body roll is at a minimum, and that’s with the stock sway bars and soft settings on the dampers.  The ride is phenomenal, and already the best of any E36 M3 I’ve felt on the road.  Far more compliant than even the stock springs and dialed-in Koni Sports that came off the car.  We went over some rather rough areas to test the reaction of the dampers, and bumps that used to be unsettling are absorbed almost as if they don’t exist, yet the road feel is outstanding.  

We’ll have the remaining parts installed soon for the next article, as well as some before and after data and more serious driving impressions.  The first track day with the new setup can’t get here soon enough.  

Project E36 M3 stock ride heightAesthetics is last on our list of reasons for a suspension upgrade, and if that’s all we wanted, a set of lowering springs would’ve been the extent of our efforts.  That said, the E36 M3 does looks a bit better when the ride height comes down a bit, and everyone seems to like before and after pictures, so the photo above is before the HVT 6100i setup, and...
Project E36 M3 HVT 6100i ride heightThis is about 5-minutes after the installation and prior to setting the new ride heights. The car has been raised, as we wanted to ensure enough suspension travel, and to avoid any negative effects on suspension geometry in the front.
 

Part 4 will feature a few other upgraded suspension parts, an alignment and, most important, driving!  Stay tuned...

 

Sources

Hanchey Vehicle Technologies

Bavarian Autosport

Achilles Motorsports

Rogue Engineering

Michelin

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Comments
Dan DeRosia
Dan DeRosialink
Thursday, November 07, 2013 4:17 AM
Okay, the stiction numbers there for an inverted monotube are interesting. I wonder what they're doing for guide bushings and how robust it is. Interesting stuff, always good to see another damper seller with what looks like it could well be a good reputation. (only reason I'm qualifying that is the, well, newness)
Protodad
Protodadlink
Thursday, November 07, 2013 7:41 AM
Jeeze, these are amazingly constructed. If this is the quality level coming on the production parts I can guarantee I will be looking heavily at these for my next build.

And watch out, Mike Kojima might come after you with that "tucked" look you are rocking.
JonathanL
JonathanLlink
Thursday, November 07, 2013 7:55 AM
Yeah, the constructions really is incredible for a prototype. Aside from the brake line tabs being welded on, these could very easily be production models in my opinion.

Yeah, that last photo of the tuck had me thinking the car looked pretty ridiculous. No offense to anyone who's after the ultra-low ride, of course. ;-) It's 1/2" higher now, which is where my previous M3s have been riding, and where it seems to be the best balance of lower CG, favorable suspension geometry and full suspension travel. It may get a separate winter setting if we get some good snow this year. ha!
mike156
mike156link
Thursday, November 07, 2013 9:03 AM
Those Camber/Caster plates look great. Is that also a prototype they are planning on releasing soon? Looks like a 3/4" bearing (possibly larger) instead of the more typical 5/8"?

It doesn't look like it, but thought I would ask. Is there any kind of bearing built into the upper perch to allow radial motion for isolating the spring during steering motion?

I'm very interested in the linear bearings/bushings and seals they used to drop friction.
Brian Hanchey
Brian Hancheylink
Friday, November 08, 2013 8:04 AM
The bearings for the strut casing were derived from taking the team's cumulative experience in road racing, rally, plus motorcycle fork designs in road racing and motocross. A motorcycle fork sees more possibility for stiction than any "strut like" damper because there isn't a control arm to support it. Also, a bad jump can generate over 100 in/s which translates into significant loads we never see in a car's suspension. So taking what we saw in GRAND-AM plus what TracTive knows from fork design, we came up with this casing design. It really is an entire system that makes it stronger with less stiction.

Camber plate has 3/4" bearings and a separate spring perch bearing included.
Dan DeRosia
Dan DeRosialink
Friday, November 08, 2013 2:40 PM
Thanks for that; from some research I've done before, that's actually a pretty interesting clue.
Steve
Stevelink
Saturday, November 09, 2013 10:09 AM
Great update, and it looks like these might be aftermarket coilovers I'd actually consider purchasing. My M3 is my daily and one of my pet peeves is a car that cannot handle bumps- my favorite roads are rutted, bumpy messes of broken asphalt through water crossings and over oak roots with very little run-off room.

The bump stops that come with the rear of this set of coilovers look like they'd ramp pretty dramatically, but given the spring rates I'm not sure if it matters much as bottoming these on the street would require some pretty hefty cornering speeds.

Please keep us updated on your thoughts on this suspension as you put more miles on it.

Thanks!
JonathanL
JonathanLlink
Sunday, November 10, 2013 7:44 AM
Steve, so far they really are impressive. Bump stops certainly are short, but it's looking like there are still a few inches of travel left, even after some harsh bumps. I'll be under the car today and taking a closer look, but I might find a few curbs that could simulate on-track use… at least until real track use when it warms up.

Went out on a test drive yesterday to go over some roads that were not so enjoyable in the previous car and its setup. There are some expansion joints and nasty, weather-induced havoc on some local roads that would make the previous car feel like the front struts could go crashing through the hood at any moment. I could visibly see the roads hadn't been fixed in the past few months, but it almost felt like those same spots no longer existed. No harshness whatsoever, and not an ounce of unsettling.

This is with the dampers set to 1 click from soft in front and 3 from soft in the rear, and no alignment yet, as I still have a couple of items in the rear to replace first. The car is just screaming for some warm weather, sticky tires and a day full-o-testing.
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