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The classic BMW 3 series platforms hold a special place in motorsports history. The coupes and sedans were commonplace around the globe as commuter cars and yet they were also true giant killers in touring and sports car racing. The pedigree runs deep and that same enthusiasm that built touring car legends is still alive today amongst BMW enthusiasts of all kinds. It’s exciting to know that with some relatively simple modifications you too can have something similar to the cars that raced and conquered. Most of those modifications include suspension improvements, but chassis reinforcements are commonly overlooked and that is where Condor Speed Shop comes into the conversation.
As these BMWs age, their inherent weaknesses naturally become more apparent, especially when utilizing them for more intense forms of motorsport such as drifting, rally and endurance racing. Some of the more common weaknesses tend to be the integrity of the rear chassis, rear shock towers, sway bar mounting areas and front subframes. This can be due to many factors including rust, stress from high power applications and in some cases, less than ideal build quality from the factory. With this in mind, Condor Speed Shop has developed chassis reinforcements for all classic 3 series generations. In this article, we will discuss the areas on these cars where reinforcement is key for both performance and reliability and how their simple applications can instill motorsports inspired performance applicable for both road and track.
Rear Shock Towers
One of the most common and well known areas to reinforce on the e30, e36 & e46 are the rear shock towers. When swapping in new dampers, it is a great idea to install our shock tower reinforcement plates which can be bolted on or welded in (we recommend welding for track focused builds). The increase in rebound and compression of upgraded shocks will add stress to this area of the car, especially on track. Installing these reinforcements is a great way to prevent any unnecessary damage and will maximize performance at the same time. This modification is a no-brainer and will enhance the driveability of all builds from an everyday street car to a full on time attack track build.
This area could be considered one of the weakest points of the chassis, especially on E36 and E46 platforms. Added stress from turbo installs and high-powered V8 engine swaps can make the matter even worse as the chassis tends to crack at the subframe mounts due to the torque that’s being pushed throughout the driveline. Fortunately our reinforcement plates are designed to both repair and prevent these issues. Available for E30, E36 and E46, they are a must have in terms of performance, reliability and safety.
It is very common to upgrade sway bars to help mitigate body roll when cornering. That additional stress however, is still absorbed by the chassis creating a need for reinforcement at the sway bar mounts. Our front & rear sway bar reinforcements focus on strengthening the mounting points where it is needed the most. Additionally, it will only complement other reinforced areas and help maintain and enhance driveability and power delivery.
The same concepts we have discussed previously can be said of the front subframe where the engine is mounted. The engine mount pads are prone to stress cracks under high load, so this is another area where reinforcement is key. When coupled with the aforementioned subframe and shock tower reinforcements, the chassis as a whole will go from being a potential weakness to a true strength.
As well built as many of these cars are, they were not designed necessarily to handle upgraded engine mounts, increases in horsepower and withstand heavy driveline and chassis abuse on a routine basis. When applying our steel reinforcements to these key areas however, these cars can be made to mirror the touring car and endurance racing champions from their family tree and perform brilliantly both on the street and on track.