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Thread: E36 M3 vs. E46 M3

  1. #76
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    I think a lot of you have never properly experienced the E46. It is rather ridiculous to say you love one and hate the other. They are more similar than not. The E46 is a direct evolution. It carries the same philosophy. Shit, the suspension is exactly the same layout. They are almost the same car. I can see why the E36 might be preferred, but to act like the E46 is a pile of garbage...

    The E46 is heavier, but not that much. Still a fine size for back roads and relatively light and small by today's standards. The extra hundred horsepower makes up for it fine.

    And as for comparing the m3 to a ZHP, that makes no sense at all. You don't compare the E36 m3 to the 328, and meanwhile the e46 m3 has many, many more bespoke parts that it does not share with the standard car.

    They are both fantastic cars.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve1998 View Post
    I think a lot of you have never properly experienced the E46. It is rather ridiculous to say you love one and hate the other. They are more similar than not. The E46 is a direct evolution. It carries the same philosophy. Shit, the suspension is exactly the same layout. They are almost the same car. I can see why the E36 might be preferred, but to act like the E46 is a pile of garbage...

    The E46 is heavier, but not that much. Still a fine size for back roads and relatively light and small by today's standards. The extra hundred horsepower makes up for it fine.

    And as for comparing the m3 to a ZHP, that makes no sense at all. You don't compare the E36 m3 to the 328, and meanwhile the e46 m3 has many, many more bespoke parts that it does not share with the standard car.

    They are both fantastic cars.
    yeah ive have had the chance an not just once... , stuck storing an maintaining a POS for 2 years, hated every second.. the only benefit i see from equally prepared cars is the bit of front chassis righty in stock form. in roll cage land this is complete BS. and all the parts swap around so ....... the electronics are better, but again that mk60 abs swaps over there might be soemthing to say abot top teir racing but that was 20 years ago.....

    drive other cars.. the e46 and e36 are so close that if they didnt change the body style the only thing the average person would say is the latter cars had a better engine. thats really it...

    if you own a machine shop everyone and their brother wants stupid car work... there is this thing called a mechanics lean. i hate to sound like an asshole but when an idiot is throwing money at me ill take it. and when they dont pay i simply keep their stuff an sell it. ... i give 2 years...... because i want to do this and i only charge cost for car stuff but every time ive been screwed, but its business i know how to not take losses.....
    Last edited by scoobiedoo2029; 05-21-2022 at 01:58 AM.

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    I only wished BMW had given the M3 more lower offset wheels. Running any decent dished wheels, puts you straight into 'Stance' territory.
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  4. #79
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    Quote Originally Posted by MParallel View Post
    I only wished BMW had given the M3 more lower offset wheels. Running any decent dished wheels, puts you straight into 'Stance' territory.
    Not the first time I've said I wished the e36 M3 got flares.

  5. #80
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    Quote Originally Posted by scoobiedoo2029 View Post
    ...the e46 and e36 are so close that if they didnt change the body style the only thing the average person would say is the latter cars had a better engine. thats really it...
    Actually, it's all the significant bits from the water pump all the rearwards to the 210mm diff which are more robust.
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  6. #81
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    Quote Originally Posted by MauiM3Mania View Post
    I'm not taking either side of the discussion... see my sig.



    Actually, it's all the significant bits from the water pump all the rearwards to the 210mm diff which are more robust.
    Most definitely true but the 210 diff was not installed in the evo M3 because they needed it to be more robust. There's another reason they did that. The 188 diff is nearly bulletproof with the exception of maybe some all out FI setup with crazy torque.

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    BMW's rule of thumb back then was 210 diff for anything over 300hp or 300nm of torque.

    I'm not 100% sure. It's been ages since I read that info.
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  8. #83
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim E. View Post
    ...There's another reason they did that.
    What was the reasoning?
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  9. #84
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    Ok AR then..

    Wouldn’t the US E36 M3 be more comparable the the E46 ZHP, and the Euro E36 M3 be more comparable to the E46 M3?

    I’d think so..

    Bet some E46 folks would prefer a ZHP over an E46 M3, as I’d say many E36 actual daily drivers may prefer a US E36 M3 to a Euro E36 M3..

    The US E36 M3 and E46 ZHP are both very practical, reliable, and generally affordable cars to really put miles on into the 200ks..
    Not weekend cars, real daily driver cars..

    The Euro E36 M3 and E46 M3 are getting into the territory of less practical of an every day driver for the average “middle class” person, and quite a bit more expensive to maintain no?


    How about by new base price, and even market prices now..
    Compare E36 base to Us E36 M3 to Euro E36 M3, to E46 base to ZHP to M3..

    I think the US E36 M3 compares more closely to the E46 ZHP, as the highest spec of their generations that are still very practical for the every day person to really use as their primary vehicle.. Even if already on the higher end of practical..


    I’m getting a pretty consistent 22-23 MPG in my last bunch of full tanks.. Feel pretty good about it..
    I drive higher RPMs often in the twisties and taking off, not at all trying to drive efficiently, but I also carry more speed through corners instead of breaking a lot so that improves efficiency and I also cruise 50-100 mile shots pretty often so getting some efficient miles in there too..
    Almost always exactly 100 miler per quarter tank..

    Was testing a spare wideband I have the other day in the 36 trunk on the battery and stuffed the sensor up the tailpipe..
    Catless..
    Idling at a perfect 14.6-14.9..

    She is running beautifully and feels pretty fast, since I haven’t been driving anything faster in a while..
    She IS actually pretty quick and fun compared to most anything anyone else drives..

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    Had an e46 m3 , and I’ve lost count of how many e36 m3’s. I owned a performance pack 330 with no sunroof/no fold down seats.

    The e46 m3 is a maintenance whore. Vanos, rod bearings, interior plastics fade horribly quick, rear subframe basically made of card board.

    It’s an amazing looking car, but the e36 m is just sooooo much more connected . If you’re an N/A guy nowadays you can make some decent power with them as well.

    E46 M3 ITB’s Conversion, cams, intake , and a tune pretty much gets you to 46m3 levels of HP. Except better torques .

    I’m a bit greedy with, and had a turbo kit slapped on with a cutring head gasket. 8 psi 420whp.


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  11. #86
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    Quote Originally Posted by MauiM3Mania View Post
    What was the reasoning?
    Let me preface this by saying that I am not saying that BMW completely didn't take into account that the 210 diff is more robust and that is a benefit they wanted. My experience is that BMW builds things to a specific standard/spec and the 210 is so far beyond that it seems odd. However I believe there may also be another (or additional) reason they would use a 210 diff in the evo.

    The weight difference between the 3.0 euro and evo 3.2 is about 165lbs. The difference in weight between the 5-speed and 6-speed is about 22lbs and the difference in weight between a 188 and 210 diff is about 16.5 lbs. The S50B32 is overall a heavier setup than the 3.0 and if you run the math there is a forward bias of about 125lbs give or take. Now BMW was not always consistent with weights so it could be less than that but there is most definitely a forward bias because of the extra weight with the engine/components. BMW is always trying to achieve a 50/50 or near 50/50 balance so one of the easiest and most effective ways of adding weight rearward is to do so at the lowest CG point which is the diff. I know that doesn't take care of all the forward bias so they'd have to accomplish that with something more and they did. Rear spring heights are lower in the evo vs. the 3.0.

    This is just my analysis and I've been known to spew out some bs here and there so don't take it as gospel.

  12. #87
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    Jim, bimmerforums.com members should appreciate your detailed and knowledgeable input, but on this one... I say, interesting view, but... eh. LOL
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  13. #88
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    As the number of teeth grow to shorten a diff ratio — like from 3.15 to 3.91, the gear becomes weaker. Most of us with big torque forced induction (think turbo) used the 3.15 or 3.23 and it is fine until 500 lbs rwtq. The gear does not break at that point but the output stubs snap and after replacing a few of those we go to the beefier 210 mm diff. With a centrifugal supercharger there is less torque and even shorter gears like a 3.64 don’t break in the 350 lb rwtq range and the 188 mm works fine.

    I also note BMW put the 188 mm behind the S54 in the Z3 M S54 roadster and coupe and it worked fine. But I can’t recall whether those cars had the 5 speed or 6 speed or what ratios they used but think it was the 5 speed and longer ratio bigger tooth 3.23.

    There could be something to the weight balance theory but it is also possible the gear strength was a factor for the most powerful version of the Euro motor E36, particularly given that it was sort of a race spec version.

  14. #89
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    That's interesting that the S54 kept the 5 speed. I had always assumed it was paired with the 6 speed.

    And a little digging suggests it's a 3.15 rear end, though that was from product listings for it - the literature in real oem doesn't show the ratio. It's part # 33101428784 if anyone cares enough to keep digging, but we're deep in the weeds at this point!

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    Quote Originally Posted by pbonsalb View Post
    As the number of teeth grow to shorten a diff ratio — like from 3.15 to 3.91, the gear becomes weaker. Most of us with big torque forced induction (think turbo) used the 3.15 or 3.23 and it is fine until 500 lbs rwtq. The gear does not break at that point but the output stubs snap and after replacing a few of those we go to the beefier 210 mm diff. With a centrifugal supercharger there is less torque and even shorter gears like a 3.64 don’t break in the 350 lb rwtq range and the 188 mm works fine.

    I also note BMW put the 188 mm behind the S54 in the Z3 M S54 roadster and coupe and it worked fine. But I can’t recall whether those cars had the 5 speed or 6 speed or what ratios they used but think it was the 5 speed and longer ratio bigger tooth 3.23.

    There could be something to the weight balance theory but it is also possible the gear strength was a factor for the most powerful version of the Euro motor E36, particularly given that it was sort of a race spec version.
    These are all valid point and just to add to that the Z3M with the S50B32 also had a 5-speed and that used the 188 diff. If it were all about strength/robustness then why didn't they use the 210 diff? That engine had the same torque rating as the evo M3 - 258. That's why the robustness reasoning doesn't make complete sense to me.

    Also take into account that starting 1996 BMW spec'd spring rates for the M3 based on weight distribution. You need to look up a spring table to determine what springs were used. They had 3 part numbers for the front and 2 for the rear. The 3.0 models used 1 part number for the rear (881) and two for the front which were based on a/c vs. non a/c cars. US 3.0 cars used different springs but one part number for the front and one for the rear.

    BMW M engineers aren't a bunch of hacks. They engineer stuff down to the ounce and to think that they don't take into account these kinds of issues just doesn't add up.

    Here is a visual of the difference in height between the euro 3.0 M3 rear spring (white) and evo rear spring (blue and it's the heavier duty one). Note the height difference.



    For me this is a more interesting topic than the which car is better - the E46 vs E36. If you don't know the answer to that then my condolences to you.

    Ok on to better topics....

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    Isn't the reason the Z3's got the 188 diff because of their E30 rear axle setup? Maybe that just wouldn't allow for a 210 diff carrier without major chassis redesign?

    Just some food for thought.
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    Yes that's true but if BMW required a stronger differential like the 210 in order to meet a specification or standard then they would just engineer a new differential carrier and make whatever other necessary adjustments to make it work like they did with the E36 M3. I can't imagine engineers Hans and Franz looking at each other and saying oh well, we'll just "wing it" this time. The only time BMW engineers "wing it" is with rod bearings.
    Last edited by Jim E.; 05-25-2022 at 02:37 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim E. View Post
    The only time BMW engineers "wing it" is with rod bearings.

    i dont think bmw winged this at all. i think everyone involved thought this worked. and it did work, in limited volume with known supply chains and quality control, like inside an R&D dept. when this ramped up, it faced mass production issues, similar to what NASA faced in Apollo. something very interesting happened in Europe in the 90's and that was the opening a whole wide world of questionable machining practices and tooling from our friends in former soviet mud pit. just like what we see in usa with offshore production, this dosnt work without alot of checks an balances and employee empathy.... quality control is nothing but a drain on production. losses based on " opinion"...... and the ability to correct such things might be politically incorrect.

    i think master Jim E. San is probably kind of right with bmw's ideas here. as well as the "expensive" older m cars had a 210, seems a little less toyish then an e30 m3 diff in the bigger 6cly new car. it has the "real" diff from the big cars. (ala 1992)

    that said ive seen a unexplainable death in a 210 and ive only ever killed 188's because had to learn how to set up a diff somehow. took me a few tries. but there are serious power figures in the 188 diff in the after market, and there is also the alpina b7 turbo. i cant remember whats in that car, somewhere i have pics of sia's silver cars underside i cant find. but i swear it has a 188 diff. i might be mistaken, but i think all alpina cars started as el cheepo m30 powerd e28's or similar e24. but im quite positive the earlier e12 b7 turbos should have the sideloader diffs that the 188 diffs are better. so engineering is questionable as the only thing alpina has to sell is proper engineering.



    also just watched this from the carmudgeon show a bout 45min they both start saying YES E36..
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zc-MqlJMof4
    Last edited by scoobiedoo2029; 05-25-2022 at 06:01 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by scoobiedoo2029 View Post
    i dont think bmw winged this at all. i think everyone involved thought this worked. and it did work, in limited volume with known supply chains and quality control, like inside an R&D dept. when this ramped up, it faced mass production issues, similar to what NASA faced in Apollo. something very interesting happened in Europe in the 90's and that was the opening a whole wide world of questionable machining practices and tooling from our friends in former soviet mud pit. just like what we see in usa with offshore production, this dosnt work without alot of checks an balances and employee empathy.... quality control is nothing but a drain on production. losses based on " opinion"...... and the ability to correct such things might be politically incorrect.

    i think master Jim E. San is probably kind of right with bmw's ideas here. as well as the "expensive" older m cars had a 210, seems a little less toyish then an e30 m3 diff in the bigger 6cly new car. it has the "real" diff from the big cars. (ala 1992)

    that said ive seen a unexplainable death in a 210 and ive only ever killed 188's because had to learn how to set up a diff somehow. took me a few tries. but there are serious power figures in the 188 diff in the after market, and there is also the alpina b7 turbo. i cant remember whats in that car, somewhere i have pics of sia's silver cars underside i cant find. but i swear it has a 188 diff. i might be mistaken, but i think all alpina cars started as el cheepo m30 powerd e28's or similar e24. but im quite positive the earlier e12 b7 turbos should have the sideloader diffs that the 188 diffs are better. so engineering is questionable as the only thing alpina has to sell is proper engineering.



    also just watched this from the carmudgeon show a bout 45min they both start saying YES E36..
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zc-MqlJMof4
    Off topic but I have heard similar theories regarding the prevalent bore scoring issues that are starting to plague M96 engines found in 996 911's and early Boxsters. The cars were produced in much higher volumes than anything Porsche had done at the time and some suspect lacking quality control in the block castings, as well as inferior material used for cylinder liners, has led to the issues plaguing many of those cars today. Making cars is hard. I'm in the business and it's a miracle anything ever turns out 100% right at the end of the line; let alone a high performance sports car.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cos270 View Post
    Off topic but I have heard similar theories regarding the prevalent bore scoring issues that are starting to plague M96 engines found in 996 911's and early Boxsters. The cars were produced in much higher volumes than anything Porsche had done at the time and some suspect lacking quality control in the block castings, as well as inferior material used for cylinder liners, has led to the issues plaguing many of those cars today. Making cars is hard. I'm in the business and it's a miracle anything ever turns out 100% right at the end of the line; let alone a high performance sports car.
    A little more off-topic but check out the build quality of the mcclaren :-)

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    If you want a tractor motor, the Volvo B21 FT was a good one — had an 83 242 Turbo. Probably nothing lasts as long today but there are still a lot of newer cars I’d rather have than my 99 M3 — like the 08 M3 that I had for 11 years or my 18 M5. I still have the 99 M3 but only because it is highly modified including a built motor and turbo.

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    Quote Originally Posted by blckstrm View Post
    Not the first time I've said I wished the e36 M3 got flares.
    +1 Trying to find wheels that will accommodate larger tires and using coil overs like Tc KLine is almost impossible Would be nice to run 10 in rims in the back and with say 265 -275 tires

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    Buy the Hard flares.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pbonsalb View Post
    Buy the Hard flares.
    Oh Boy.

    FYI, 255 on a 17" rim is ~6lbs lighter (per wheel) than a 275 on an 18" rim, and a 275 can be too wide for a stockish HP track car.

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    I agree that if you have stock HP, the stock 245 or a slightly wider 255 is a good choice. But the request was to run a 275 or 275 and I was not questioning the rationale. Just suggesting flares. People have been trying 265s and 275s for 15 years with the same results - rubbing. I think Vorshlag or Hard has posted threads with pictures of the results.

    I have a turbo and use 275/40/17 rears and 255/40/17 fronts. The 275/40/17 don’t fit well. I had to roll and pull heavily, clearance some of the inner fender liner and raise the rear to stock ride height. Flares are the way to go. I have a set to install.

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