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Thread: PSA: Bilstein B6 (34-181553) Availability

  1. #1
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    Post PSA: Bilstein B6 (Front Struts, 34-181553) Availability

    Hi all,

    I've wanted to do a shock/strut upgrade/refresh for a while now, as mine are 30+ years old and starting to show their age...

    The only problem was Bilstein HDs (sportier, but for use with stock springs) for our cars have been NLA/Back-ordered on every website for MONTHS (maybe even longer? idk)

    I decided to call up FCPEuro, along with some other parts stores that had them 'out of stock'. Every single one of them told me they were NLA - I was "out of luck."


    ....but I became inspired again today and hopped on the phone with Bilstein's USA headquarters and lo and behold... they ARE available!!!
    There's just such low demand, it doesn't make sense to keep them in-stock in the USA. BUT, if you submit a purchase order, Bilstein will make them to-order at their factory in Germany for no extra cost!! You just need to have a distributor/wholesaler place the order for you.

    Now I've finally managed to order them after calling shockwarehouse and explaining all of the above! I'll update on delivery speed.
    Hopefully this PSA will help out my fellow-enthusiasts who are looking to upgrade/refresh but don't want pure-stock.

    Happy to answer any questions! Would also love to hear y'all's opinion on the HDs vs stock (tired subject on the e38 forums, but I'm not finding as many anecdotes on ours)

    EDIT: part in question is the front B6s - the rears (24-011488) are readily available.
    The tough ones to find are the fronts (34-181553) and apparently Bilstein thinks they're only for E32s produced from 87 - 02/88, which is luckily what I need.
    Last edited by CamE32; 05-20-2020 at 10:38 PM.

  2. #2
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    Good info

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    Good stuff, thx for letting us know. I had Bilstein HD struts with Hartge lowering springs and that was an excellent combo. Firm enough for spirited driving yet compliant enough to be smooth over rougher roads.

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    Quote Originally Posted by whiteghost1 View Post
    I had Bilstein HD struts with Hartge lowering springs and that was an excellent combo. Firm enough for spirited driving yet compliant enough to be smooth over rougher roads.
    Thanks for sharing! Question: you mention lowering springs, so I'm assuming you had the "B8 Performance Plus" HDs? Part #34-030189. I specifically chose the B6s because they are designed for use with factory springs.

    I'm glad you described them as 'compliant enough to be smooth over rougher roads', as I live on Cape Cod and the roads can be pretty rough - I was worried maybe the B6s could be too harsh, but hearing your anecdote about B8s on an E32 restores my confidence.

    EDIT: the B8s are only for 3/1988 to 6/1990 E32s (production date) - mine is an 11/87, so I needed to go with B6s anyways (according to Bilstein's website - but who knows)
    Last edited by CamE32; 05-20-2020 at 07:30 PM.

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    Was just checking for you this morning. Parts Geek https://www.partsgeek.com/ymm/1990/b...?search=struts has what you're looking for. B6 for rear, they have I think 11 in stock, and B6 strut they have 4. You need to make sure you order the correct front strut as they changed in July of 1990. So the front struts they have end at 6/90 and they would be for your 1987. I had these on my car at first shock and strut change about 20 years ago, and then 5 years ago went with Sachs. The one step up from factory ride with them seemed to be the same ride for me. Good luck with your search. I have a 1990, and never knew there was an E32 strut that was for 87-88, thought there were only two choices. Before July of 90 and after.
    1990 735I (Auto) E32 Feb 1990 to Present
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    That's really interesting! I haven't used Parts Geek in years and didn't think to check, and my google searches didn't work because of their weird part numbering system (you can't see real part #s).

    I went by this RealOEM diagram for my 11/87 735i and it does show some there are 3 different variations for non-LAD, depending on model year. I cross-checked the part # for the first one with the B6 part # featured in the title and supposedly they are a match. We shall see, I guess!

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    Well I'll be darned. The B6s for my car ARE NOT currently available. They are slated for production but will not realistically be available until August or September, according to the Bilstein rep I spoke with for a 2nd time today.

    Pretty demoralized. I've sent more messages to small-time parts stores on the 3rd, 4th page of Google results - basically trying to see if they have them physically in-stock, but I suspect their websites just haven't been updated. Holding out a small amount of hope and will update you guys next week when/if I get responses.

    In the meantime, I'd love to know your thoughts on:

    Is it a good idea to replace the rear springs when doing the rear shocks?

    Here's my cart so far, with everything I think I'll need. Would love your opinions on the parts list.

    And:

    Is it a bad idea to replace only the rear shocks if I need to wait until ~September to do the fronts?


    Thanks!
    Last edited by CamE32; 05-22-2020 at 07:35 PM.

  8. #8
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    Sorry to hear they're not available. Sometimes you just need to get things from Germany. Check out this Ebay page, and scroll down. Your Bilstein part number came up on Ebay. Never looked for a part with that number before, but sitting at my desktop and playing this came up. I used 11/87 as the manufacture date. Doesn't hurt to click.
    Jeff

    https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_fro...81553&_sacat=0
    1990 735I (Auto) E32 Feb 1990 to Present
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    1983 733I (5 Speed) E23 April 1983 to Feb 1990
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    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7bNEQoLw-4

  9. #9
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    Thank you Croughton! I did see some (cost-prohibitively-expensive IMO) options on eBay... They’d just be an extra ~$150 minimum that I can’t afford right now
    Last edited by CamE32; 05-22-2020 at 08:43 PM.

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    Has anyone one here tried pairing adjustable Koni struts with Bilstein HD (B6) shocks? I remember reading on some forum that the Konis are better struts for E32's and they're pretty cheap right now on ECS...

    Also, I thought the whole "what is your car's production date" stuff is irrelevant if you're just going to get all new stuff. I thought it was just the strut mounts and diameter of the strut shaft that changed over the years? I was working under the assumption that if I get struts, strut mounts, etc. all new for any E32 they will fit my '89 as long as they are all compatible parts. Is that not correct?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Smoky540i View Post
    Also, I thought the whole "what is your car's production date" stuff is irrelevant if you're just going to get all new stuff. I thought it was just the strut mounts and diameter of the strut shaft that changed over the years? I was working under the assumption that if I get struts, strut mounts, etc. all new for any E32 they will fit my '89 as long as they are all compatible parts. Is that not correct?
    That is a very good question! I need to know if part #31331133659 (the correct front strut-mount for my 11/87) is compatible with part #31331134086 (for 3/88 - 7/90). The -3659 part was apparently only used from 8/87 - 3/88, according to RealOEM.

    This is important to me because it's the difference between $170 for two Meyle HDs (yeah, know I'm crazy after what happened with the rear mounts... but I'm working on a budget here) or $375 for two OEM BMW... that's $75 more than the struts!!

    Last question: how important is it to replace these pricey mounts? I'd imagine pretty important/not something you want to skip when doing struts?
    Last edited by CamE32; 06-21-2020 at 11:16 PM.

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    When I did my 6'88 735i front struts I just used the matching version upper mounts with the matching Bilstein HD. I'm pretty sure I went with the latest version- 92 and up or something like that. Of course I can't what part numbers I used though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by m735is View Post
    When I did my 6'88 735i front struts I just used the matching version upper mounts with the matching Bilstein HD. I'm pretty sure I went with the latest version- 92 and up or something like that. Of course I can't what part numbers I used though.
    Thanks for sharing! I think I might order them and compare to the OEM upon disassembly, just to be sure.

    May I ask how you like the HDs? So far I’m really loving how they feel in the rear

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    I actually found them sort of harsh on my e32. My e34 sedan had HD's in the rear and Tourings up front- loved that setup. I'm currently using the e32 HD front and rear (with springs) on my e34 wagon because I had them as assemblies when I totaled my e32. The front sits too high. I put spacers in the rear because I tow stuff so I wanted more height. Now it sits level, it just looks funny in the front. The ride is pretty good with this set up for some reason. Not too harsh.

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    Update: I've managed to reserve a set of the *8* shocks made during this production batch (PS there are no other batches scheduled..)

    1 big obstacle remains: getting the correct shock mounts. I need to figure out if the later shock mounts (>03/88) are compatible with my 11/87 car and the Bilstein HDs. https://www.realoem.com/bmw/enUS/sho...diagId=31_0131

    I would like to go with these: https://www.fcpeuro.com/products/bmw...9438my#fitment
    They're ~100 cheaper per mount than the original BMW ones. BUT I can't be sure they'd fit.

    @Shogun said on another thread "Also early E32 had different standard shocks, hole diameter of the shock mounts are different. up to 03/1988."

    Which leads me to believe I might be out of luck since the HD shocks are specifically for 09/87 - 03/88. Do you guys think I need to go with the BMW mounts...? Or do I chance it with the Meyles that might not fit?

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
    Last edited by CamE32; 08-07-2020 at 10:46 AM.

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    Also not sure which upper spring pads to use, number 8 on this diagram: https://www.realoem.com/bmw/enUS/sho...diagId=31_0131

    What's with the 3mm vs 10mm?

    I've spoken with Lesjofors and these are the springs they recommended: https://web.tecalliance.net/lesjofor...rgetCountry:AT


    Jeez, what an adventure it is owning an early-production e32...
    Last edited by CamE32; 08-07-2020 at 10:44 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CamE32 View Post
    Update: I've managed to reserve a set of the *8* shocks made during this production batch (PS there are no other batches scheduled..)

    1 big obstacle remains: getting the correct shock mounts. I need to figure out if the later shock mounts (>03/88) are compatible with my 11/87 car and the Bilstein HDs. https://www.realoem.com/bmw/enUS/sho...diagId=31_0131

    I would like to go with these: https://www.fcpeuro.com/products/bmw...9438my#fitment
    They're ~100 cheaper per mount than the original BMW ones. BUT I can't be sure they'd fit.

    @Shogun said on another thread "Also early E32 had different standard shocks, hole diameter of the shock mounts are different. up to 03/1988."

    Which leads me to believe I might be out of luck since the HD shocks are specifically for 09/87 - 03/88. Do you guys think I need to go with the BMW mounts...? Or do I chance it with the Meyles that might not fit?

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
    With FCP’s awesome warranty....if I were you I’d buy both types of strut mounts (and spring pads) to have ready on hand, install the parts you need, and return what doesn’t fit. Then you only have to perform the strut tear down once.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by CamE32 View Post
    Also not sure which upper spring pads to use, number 8 on this diagram: https://www.realoem.com/bmw/enUS/sho...diagId=31_0131

    What's with the 3mm vs 10mm?

    I've spoken with Lesjofors and these are the springs they recommended: https://web.tecalliance.net/lesjofor...rgetCountry:AT


    Jeez, what an adventure it is owning an early-production e32...
    I believe the 10mm pads are for the “Eastern European rough road” suspension option (or something like that) which gives one a little higher ground clearance.
    How come you’re changing springs?
    Unless the ride height or handling is starting to suffer, usually the springs last the life of the car IME.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by whiteghost1 View Post
    With FCP’s awesome warranty....if I were you I’d buy both types of strut mounts (and spring pads) to have ready on hand, install the parts you need, and return what doesn’t fit. Then you only have to perform the strut tear down once.
    That's a great idea - it's probably the safest bet, but then I'd be on the hook for return shipping. Though that would probably be worth not waiting around for the right part...

    Quote Originally Posted by whiteghost1 View Post
    I believe the 10mm pads are for the “Eastern European rough road” suspension option (or something like that) which gives one a little higher ground clearance.
    If someone can confirm this, that'd be great! Then I can avoid buying both sets just to be sure.

    Quote Originally Posted by whiteghost1 View Post
    How come you’re changing springs?
    Unless the ride height or handling is starting to suffer, usually the springs last the life of the car IME.
    Good question. The rear springs were significantly sagged (like an inch) vs new ones I installed a month or so ago, and the fronts looks just as bad by appearance. I know appearance is probably not the best measure, but still, 32 years of abuse + now the front shocks are getting really bad... so they're being put through the ringer even though I'm forced to drive like a grandpa

    I figure for ~$35/each, might as well buy new ones so everything's cherry when the new shocks arrive. Open to further discussion though!
    Last edited by CamE32; 08-07-2020 at 03:58 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CamE32 View Post
    That's a great idea - it's probably the safest bet, but then I'd be on the hook for return shipping. Though that would probably be worth not waiting around for the right part...
    !
    Don’t quote me on this, but I believe if the part doesn’t fit, they will provide a return prepaid shipping label at no cost to you. Maybe ask them this general question before ordering.
    Failing that, the shipping cost for relatively small/light items is not that expensive.
    How much is your time (and potential accompanying frustration) worth?
    Last edited by whiteghost1; 08-07-2020 at 08:24 PM.

  20. #20
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    The Bilstein HDs finally arrived yesterday! Hard to believe I've been waiting over 6 months for these strut inserts, but at least they're brand-spanking-new, straight from the factory in Germany.

    Also confirmed I will need to use the OEM BMW strut mounts (which are 2x expensive) by comparing side-by-side with the Meyle HDs for 3/1988 onwards, but it is yet to be seen if I can get away with re-using the original lock rings (those were ~$50 a piece - would be preferable to return them). I'll update as I start the disassembly/installation process and also post pics of the side-by-side this weekend.

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    E34 and E32 share front strut fitment; only the spring and damping rates are different. Later 525i use, and all E34 and E32 can use E30 two-piece strut mounts, which are cheaper, more comfortable, and easier to find (as are shocks to fit them). They can also fit E9x upper spring perches to lower the car ~7mm. They're meant to be used with 3mm upper spring pads, but can fit E34 9mm and E32 10mm (and castellated) pads. I have that setup - two-piece mounts, E9x upper perch, 10mm E32 pads - on the front of my E34 Touring, and can attest to it riding considerably better than with previous mounts, despite firmer shocks and better body control.
    Last edited by moroza; 10-20-2020 at 01:51 PM.

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