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  1. #51
    Great findings OP! My sedan still has original stock dampers and springs with an xi rear sway, m3 rtabs, z4m fcabs, and alignment tweaks to get the car as neutral as possible. It worked pretty well for the past year and I'm happy to report the ride quality has not noticeably changed but the car has much less understeer. I am planning to go the next step for a little more turn in and will probably put the stock m3 bar on up front with e36 bumpstops and see how that works because a shorter front bumpstop should promote less understeer since it is engaging later.

    My ultimate goal with the sedan is as neutral as possible balance with a slight oversteer bias while maintaining the factory damper compliance because it really is very good. Even on very high speed canyon roads, the car can just blow through the bumps and not get thrown off the road.

    Now I had some questions to clarify in regards to the damper options for Sachs as of present as it appears from your post that there is no way to purchase original ZHP sport dampers from Sachs anymore as the rears are now a softer unit. Anyone aware if the genuine bmw variant (33 52 2 282 461) is indeed the same as the newly revised Sachs (556-882) unit that none of us want or is it closer to the listed TRW JGT439T? If the genuine bmw unit has been updated as well to match the Sachs dampening, then forget it.

    It appears now that the only option really is E36 M3 rear dampers (unless someone can confirm the findings of the 461 rears from bmw) but I'm curious with ZHP springs, has anyone actually compared the compared the compliance of the E36 M3 dampers on this car vs genuine original units that aren't blown? One of the things so many people love about stock ZHP suspension is how smooth it is on the compliance side. Something i'd prefer not to ruin or chase my tail on when the dampers go relatively soon I imagine.

    Now for the fronts, has anyone compared the 317-541 and 317-542 recommended struts from the M sport E46 to the original Sachs ZHP sport dampers 317-539 and 317-540 and care to comment on ride compliance between the units? I'm just torn why BMW would use worse dampers on the post 9/01 sport package cars than they would for the post 9/01 sport and ZHP models.

    Also can anyone confirm between the two front damper options that the dampers are indeed the same length?
    2005 E46 330i ZHP Imola Red/Sand
    2003 E46 M3 TiAg/Cinnamon


  2. #52
    Join Date
    Dec 2019
    Location
    Raleigh, NC
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    797
    Quote Originally Posted by thegenius46m View Post
    I'm just torn why BMW would use worse dampers on the post 9/01 sport package cars than they would for the post 9/01 sport and ZHP models.
    When the car came out, US journalists did praise the handling and performance of the sports package E46, but they complained about the ride comfort. In response, BMW got rid of the MTech suspension and went with softer sports suspension. Since the preference of the US market is softer suspension (necessary too due to the bad road conditions), the ZHP (primarily for the US market) just stuck with the sports dampers. Regional differences can be quite large, I've also read that the Eibach Pro-Kit is linear in Europe but progressive in the US.

    From what I understand, compliance between the sport and MTech damper is similar. The MTech dampers do offer more performance, but we are talking about differences in the region of 10% here if you believe comments on the German forums, so ride comfort and compliance will take only a very small hit. Perhaps even no hit with the shorter bump stops.

    As for 556 882 and the genuine unit, I can't say for certain. I would just ask BMW directly. If they state that valving has been changed in recent years on the genuine unit, then we can assume they are following the 556 882 part. I can only speak from my experience but rear smoothness really improved the most for me not with damper changes, but with spherical RTABs. The E36 M3 unit will be stiffer, but I find that it absorbs bumps very well while also performing great on track.

    If you are looking for a slight oversteer bias, what you really need are the E36 M3 strut mounts.

    If by front damper length you mean that both the sport and MTech dampers have rebound springs then the answer is yes.

    Perhaps @ZHPizza can chime in again about your compliance questions since he owns a ZHP with good suspension setup and has driven my car.
    330i Base | Mysticblau | Slicktop | 6MT

  3. #53
    Good info! I am definitely considering the E36 M3 strut mounts as I came across a set for a reasonable price and wanted to confirm if you have Z4M fcabs and the strut mounts on your car? Trying to determine if that 2.5 degree increase in caster really is true? I have 5.8 degrees now with Z4M cabs and if the 2.5 degree increase really is true, I would be at 8.5 degrees of caster which might be too much steering effort. Ideally would like to be in the low to mid 7s so at that point I may just do aftermarket camber plates. Curious to hear back from you.
    2005 E46 330i ZHP Imola Red/Sand
    2003 E46 M3 TiAg/Cinnamon


  4. #54
    Join Date
    Dec 2019
    Location
    Raleigh, NC
    Posts
    797
    I'm running only the strut mounts and stock FCABs. Currently I have about 7.5į of caster. I'm planning on getting the Z4M FCABs when I replace my control arms again. That should get it up to 8.5į. Many modern cars like the GTI run that kind of caster so I think around 8-9 is a good value to have. Steering effort has stayed the same for me going from 5į to 7.5į, though other people may feel differently.
    330i Base | Mysticblau | Slicktop | 6MT

  5. #55
    Hi @thegenius46m,

    I might be able to help here on a couple points. Iím running the most aggressive setup as described by Galapolis. E36m front strut mounts, Z4m FCABS, e46 M rear dampers (front MSport), rear Turner monoball RTAB, and stock sport springs all around.

    The rear on this car is amazing - supple and buttoned down. The e36m damper feels shockingly well matched. Reminiscent of koni yellows which I have on other cars. I wish the front were as good. Iím going to replace control arms, add a strut bar and assess from there to see if I can match the feel of the rear. Itís also possible that the reinforcements I did in the rear (SME bar, Vince front cups, poly subframe bushings) make the front feel a bit soft in comparison. But the rear is nowhere near harsh even with all that Iíve done. Normally Iím very sensitive to NVH issues.

    On the caster, which Iím in the 8.5 ballpark. It feels good. I donít believe it increased the effort much if at all, but the wheel does self-center faster. This is a positive for me. Itís not drastic either, but subtle.

    Overall, for the money, this combination seems pretty unbeatable.

  6. #56
    Appreciate the responses from both of you guys! I have stock E46 M3 rtabs and M3 ball joints on the sedan atm with plans to do solid subframe and monoball rtabs when I get the reinforcement done. Same setup as my M3 so I know what you mean. The rear on these cars will always make a bigger difference than the front. It's just the suspension design. Properly matched dampers and spring rates is the most crucial though to maintain flat ride (dampening with the same motion ratios front and rear) like BMW built these cars with.

    My M3 has about 7.5 degrees of caster with a ZHP rack and 275s up front so I know what you mean about the self centering. Curious what it will feel like on the sedan because the non-m knuckles have a much quicker lever arm ratio so I'm curious if the steering weight goes up considerably. PS should compensate quite a bit though. For $130 for the E36M strut mounts though, why not? I can always go back lol.

    So I drove my friend's ZHP with similar mileage and the same mods as my car but with Koni yellows and honestly I was not a fan. Hilariously I felt the stock sport dampers on my car felt better. He did have garbage hankook v12s which didn't help though and he's now looking to do this complete setup if that tells you anything.

    I'm very picky and notice everything and one thing that does concern me after talking to my suspension builder on the M3, Shaikh at Fat Cat Motorsports, he says the M3 is rebound biased damping where non-m tends to be compression biased after dyno testing both. Not sure if E36 is also the same as E46 M3 (cars are very similar chassis wise), I'm really curious if this is the reason for your comment on "I wish the front felt as good as the rear" now that I think about it. Rebound bias will give the car a more hunker down feel but will not be as compliant. Now we're still talking stock dampers here so I imagine it's not a lot, and I bought my M3 almost 10yrs ago so I can't remember what that felt like but I recall favoring the non-m sport dampers a little more on a backroad.

    I think at this point for the rear we really don't have an option though given the original sport rears don't exist so E36 M3 rear seems to be the only justifiable option if you don't want to drop 6k on dampers like I did on my other car lol. For how cheap they are, I will most likely give it a go or at least see what my friend's car feels like after so I can assess what I want to do when my dampers need replacement as shockingly my sedan with 90k miles legit saw no hard use or abusive roads. The dampers still work pretty damn well which is hilarious given the age of the shock oil.
    2005 E46 330i ZHP Imola Red/Sand
    2003 E46 M3 TiAg/Cinnamon


  7. #57
    Join Date
    Dec 2019
    Location
    Raleigh, NC
    Posts
    797
    Thanks for chiming in and answering some of the outstanding questions @tlow98! Much appreciated.

    Quote Originally Posted by thegenius46m View Post
    I'm very picky and notice everything and one thing that does concern me after talking to my suspension builder on the M3, Shaikh at Fat Cat Motorsports, he says the M3 is rebound biased damping where non-m tends to be compression biased after dyno testing both.
    So the new 556 882 part is going to be rebound biased as well. In the case of the E46 (especially when lowered), the rear damper doesn't do much in terms of compression anyway. The compression motion is mostly controlled by the bump stop. They carried over this design into the E90 and 1 series as well. There was a good post about this on the 1 series forums I believe, if you want I can try to dig out that link. I guess that's probably why the Sachs revisions have been going more and more towards favoring rebound stiffness over compression, but I'm no expert.

    Quote Originally Posted by thegenius46m View Post
    Not sure if E36 is also the same as E46 M3 (cars are very similar chassis wise), I'm really curious if this is the reason for your comment on "I wish the front felt as good as the rear" now that I think about it.
    The suspension design on both is very similar (hence why so many E36 parts fit on E46), but that's not the reason for tlow98's front to back difference. I had the exact same issue as him and it was because of the X-brace. It stiffens up the rear so dramatically that the car feels unbalanced afterwards. I fixed this by getting a properly stiff front strut bar. It adds a lot of weight but the cheap and light strut bars simply don't work properly. I had one of those too in the past. If you want cheap and stiff, you just have to take the weight penalty.

    Also keep in mind I am running Eibach springs + matched sway bars with the front bar on stiff. Sway bars make a HUGE difference on the E46. Ask any E46 owner who tracks their car and they will confirm that. In fact, Fat Cat Motorsports has a ride harmonics calculator here and you will quickly see that you need rather massive/stiff front sway bars on our cars. The reason for this is explained in my second post. tlow98 is still running stock sway bars and I did recommend to him to at least get the M3 bar for the front. As it stands with my current setup, my front is as hunkered down as the rear and the main difference between his and my car is really just the front strut bar and sway bars (you can count the springs too but the Pro-Kit is barely any different from stock).

    Just a fun fact too. I've run my car with the rear sway bar completely disconnected and just the front Eibach bar on stiff and it made no difference as far as handling goes. If anything, it almost felt more compliant on mountain roads while maintaining the same balance. Although it does affect how you need to drive the car.

    Quote Originally Posted by thegenius46m View Post
    I think at this point for the rear we really don't have an option though given the original sport rears don't exist so E36 M3 rear seems to be the only justifiable option if you don't want to drop 6k on dampers like I did on my other car lol. For how cheap they are, I will most likely give it a go or at least see what my friend's car feels like after so I can assess what I want to do when my dampers need replacement as shockingly my sedan with 90k miles legit saw no hard use or abusive roads. The dampers still work pretty damn well which is hilarious given the age of the shock oil.
    Obviously I'm biased but you summarize it pretty well. At the end of the day the difference isn't going to be tremendous. It's really all in the title. OEM+ for a great price. Hard to go wrong if you ask me. The only thing I would ask is to prioritize the front sway bar. Our cars really need them. Maybe even invest in a set of Hotchkis bars and run the front on stiff and rear on soft. That and equalize the chassis stiffness if you have a X-brace.
    330i Base | Mysticblau | Slicktop | 6MT

  8. #58
    Friend just got the proposed setup with M sport fronts and E36 M3 rear dampers which I still need to drive for myself, but he did say it is a little stiff compared to his Konis. Whatever that means lol. I will have to evaluate for myself, but honestly there's a strong possibility I will just stay with the stock sport front dampers (Sach 539 and 541) and go with the TRW JGT439T dampers in the rear. I just want exactly what I have for dampers lol.

    Trodo has the TRW rears for roughly $180 for two.

    https://www.trodo.com/shock-absorber-trw-jgt439t
    2005 E46 330i ZHP Imola Red/Sand
    2003 E46 M3 TiAg/Cinnamon


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