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BMW History and Engine Technology

fedlawmanfedlawman Posts: 3,118
edited June 1 in BMW
I stopped by TechFest today to drop my car off for the static display, and I met a young woman there who told me she owns an M3 very similar to mine. We talked about our cars for a bit, then she left.

15 minutes later, after my car was set up in the vendor hall and I was wiping it down, she pulled her E30 Spec racecar into the hall and parked it next to my car for the display.

So, tell me more about what a driving enthusiast/BMW owner looks like.
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Comments

  • brightness04brightness04 Posts: 3,151
    She may be enthusiastic, but the four-banger and simplistic rear suspension in E30, even if race spec'ed, is not going to keep up with the current IS350, G or even TL in a real race. There is hardly anything luxurious about E30 M3 by today's standard; not much even when it was made. To its credit, E30 M3 won many road races in its time, but times have moved on. Its 195hp, 6.9 second 0-60 and jumpy rear suspension are just no longer competitive even for regular cars that one can buy off the lot nowadays in this segment. BTW, one of its top competitors in road races around the world was Integra; says something about FWD and not passionate about driving . . . Not! The joke around the time was that E30 M3 won more races than Integra when both were shod with groovless tires; Integra won more races than E30 M3 when both had grooved tires (they had to wear those when road was wet, either drizzling or after rain).
  • fedlawmanfedlawman Posts: 3,118
    "the four-banger and simplistic rear suspension in E30, even if race spec'ed, is not going to keep up with the current IS350, G or even TL in a real race."

    And who ever said it would? We are talking about a 20 year-old car, after all.

    "There is hardly anything luxurious about E30 M3 by today's standard."

    And that's the way I like it. My M3 weighs almost 1000 lbs. less than a 335i. Who needs air bags, traction control, and driver memory settings anyways? A 240HP 4-banger and limited slip diff is all I need.

    Seriously, my point was never to imply that a 20 year-old BMW homologation street car has anything in common with these ELLPS's. My point was that enthusiasts are attracted to BMW's because of the company's continuing emphasis on performance and sport - even if the current crop has grown bigger, heavier, and softer.
  • "And that's the way I like it. My M3 weighs almost 1000 lbs. less than a 335i. Who needs air bags, traction control, and driver memory settings anyways? A 240HP 4-banger and limited slip diff is all I need. "

    Who needs air bags? People who want to increase their chances of surviving a wreck do. (and it doesn't matter how good of a driver you are, idiot drivers can run into anyone)
  • blueguydotcomblueguydotcom Posts: 6,257
    Who needs air bags? People who want to increase their chances of surviving a wreck do. (and it doesn't matter how good of a driver you are, idiot drivers can run into anyone)

    I'd gladly let someone uncheck the airbags box if it meant a weight reduction. Yank a great deal of the sound insulation too. While we're at it, remove the sunroof, auto AC, rear AC vents, tools in the trunk, etc. Still don't get why the 3 series coupe gets light plastic fenders but the e90 is stuck with 1950s-tech metal fenders.
  • fedlawmanfedlawman Posts: 3,118
    "Who needs air bags? People who want to increase their chances of surviving a wreck do."

    Seriously, can we drop the E30 from this discussion? I mentioned it only in the context of seeing a driving enthusiast who didn't "look like" a driving enthusiast - let alone a racer. I don't know why 'brightness04' decided to raise the issue of the performance and luxury of a 20+ year old design, but it's pretty much irrelevant to the ELLPS topic.

    My E30 is a significantly modified sports car that is basically a roll cage and hood pins away from being a race car. It's light, powerful, fast, stiff, buzzy, and the interior plastics are cheaper than a Hyundai Excels. It has nothing in common with the cars of this discussion - except the emblem on the hood.

    OK, back on course... :blush:
  • brightness04brightness04 Posts: 3,151
    Glad you agree that old generation 3's, even if M and race spec, are really no compeition to today's competitive entries from the other manufacturers, even if on race tracks. BTW, if you like the E30 so much on its down to earth ride quality, I guess you must liked the IS300 better than the E46 :-)
  • andres3andres3 CAPosts: 5,343
    I recently test drove a 2003 325 BMW. I was again, as before when I've driven older/smaller 3 series BMW's, left wondering why they put such gutless engines in them for so long. It seems they didn't correct the situation until 2006, and even then only really with the 330 model. I've never had a very positive impression of BMW until I kept reading the forums here on Edmunds, mainly because all the old one's (and even a early/mid 90's model) and now even a 2000+ model, that I got to test drive were all probably the 2.5V6 or weaker models. (And the early 90's model one I drove had an auto....as did the recent test drive in the 2003.
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,400
    I agree. Until 2006, I was not interested except for the M3. That is guts!

    Now we are talking some serious power in these ELLPS.

    Regards,
    OW
  • blueguydotcomblueguydotcom Posts: 6,257
    Disagree. The 2003+ performance package equipped 330is would easily stand toe to toe with a a 2006 330i/2007 328i. with 0-60 in the sub 6 second range (most reports showed 5.8-5.9 seconds) and far tighter suspension, they were anything but slouches even compared to 2007 ELLPS.
  • brightness04brightness04 Posts: 3,151
    The 2.5 liter DOHC was a fine engine back when it was introduced in 1988, for cars weighing 2800lbs or so, especially in a market place where family sedans like Camry and Accord took 10 seconds to do 0-60. The 8 second or so numbers from the E36 325i was adequate. The 25i have been non-competitve performance-wise since the day the 200hp 3.0L Accord was introduced about a decade ago. That's why I have been saying BMW's historically (in the last decade or so until the very recent years) were significantly underpowered for the amount of money they charge. The introduction of the 3.0L, especially the 255hp Si engine and then the turbo, plus the heavy discounting through leasing have transformed the bang-for-the-buck balance vis competitors quite a lot.
  • fedlawmanfedlawman Posts: 3,118
    "Glad you agree that old generation 3's, even if M and race spec, are really no competition to today's competitive entries from the other manufacturers, even if on race tracks."

    Well, I'll agree and disagree.

    One look at NASA and Club racing will show that old E30's and 911's finish on the podium as often as their newer, more sophisticated cousins.

    I will say that cars today are the result of a natural (unfortunate) steady "improvement" of the breed. They have aged with us - like us, they're softer, heavier, and more mature than a few years ago, yet they still cling to a part of the "inner party animal" they used to be.

    Personally, I'll pass on the fillet mignon and cabernet, thank you. I want Doritos and a rum & coke.
  • fedlawmanfedlawman Posts: 3,118
    Oh yeah, the main advantage of a multi-link rear suspension vs. a semi-trailing arm suspension comes in the form of compactness, weight savings, adjustability, and ride comfort.

    From a performance point of view, a properly set up e30 rear suspension will perform basically the same as an E90 rear suspension - that is, it will adjust camber with changes in suspension load to optimize tire contact with the pavement.

    BTW, I didn't know BMW made a V6. On what cars does this engine appear?
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    He-he, I was waiting for someone to jump on that. Please note: BMW has not ever built a single production V6 engine. Not that I have any say so, however, IMHO, BMW would be extremely foolish if they ever offer a V6 at any time anywhere in the future.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,400
    Personally, I'll pass on the fillet mignon and cabernet, thank you.

    I want my Cabernet and FM and eat it too. When lighter weight metals and better synthetics are integrated into the formula to get the weight under 1.5 tons in this category, I will get my wish.

    For now, I will need to work out harder to keep up with the extra calories!

    Regards,
    OW
  • pearlpearl Posts: 336
    Me too, I was surprised that there were many responses before the correction. Never been a BMW V6, and probably never will be. Also, they are pretty much at the max on the size of their sixes at 3.0L. Power increases from here on out will be through tuning or turbos.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    IIRC, BMW built some wonderful 3.4 and 3.5 liter I6s back in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Yes, no?

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • blueguydotcomblueguydotcom Posts: 6,257
    Didn't bother mentioning his V6 faux pas. Wasn't worth it; like the people who ignorantly write beemer/beamer, it's just not worth correcting them.

    The M3 had a 3.2 inline 6 and that engine is still considered a beast. the M3 CSL made 350 hp with a 3.2
  • andres3andres3 CAPosts: 5,343
    ;) Meant to say I6... not V6.

    I knew that. I can see the 2.5 being OK for a 2800 lb car, but on a 3,000lb + car it just doesn't say zoom zoom or anything to me. Honda has been making 200+ horses from their V6's for a long LONG time now.
  • brightness04brightness04 Posts: 3,151
    One look at NASA and Club racing will show that old E30's and 911's finish on the podium as often as their newer, more sophisticated cousins.

    Club racings are divided into categories. Cars only race against other cars with comparable performance. If mixed categories are in the same race, higher performance cars have to carry a handicap. In theory club racing is about competition among drivers, not cars.
  • brightness04brightness04 Posts: 3,151
    BTW, I didn't know BMW made a V6. On what cars does this engine appear?

    That's the point I was making. BMW never switched from I-6 to V6 like almost every other major manufacturer has done for packaging reason. Using an iron block I-6 that weighs more than an aluminum V8 only makes sense in terms of R&D cost savings (it takes a lot of money to design and build a new engine from grounds up; it took MB more than half a decade to make the switch from I-6 to V6). That in my humble opinion is short-sighted.
  • brightness04brightness04 Posts: 3,151
    Yes they did make 3.2 and 3.4 liter engines, marked as 5/733i and 5/735i, (wonderful or not). Those were "big-six" engines for the 5 and 7 series. I actually had a 535i once. All of today's BMW I-6 engines however are derived from the "baby-six" block from that time. The bore-to-stroke ratios were very different between the two lines. The baby-six allows higher revving, therefore more hp per liter. The big-six 3.4 only developed 185hp or so (later incresing to a little over 200hp). More importantly, the 5 series, even back in the 80's was a car approaching 190", therefore much more length to accommodate a straight-6 engine with bigger bore. The 3 series is a foot shorter even today!
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    An iron block I6? Ummm, can't remember the last time that BMW made an iron block I6.

    As for why BMWs continued use of the naturally perfectly balanced I6 as opposed to selling out and moving to the more ubiqutous V6; one word, smoothness. In their favor, V6 engines offer packaging advantages, however, even with split crank throws and balance shafts up the ying-yang, they simply ain't as smooth.

    In my humble opinion it is very precient that BMW is still using the I6.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    "All of today's BMW I-6 engines however are derived from the "baby-six" block from that time."

    Nope. The only I6 that BMW is still building that has any lineage to the older baby I6s is the aluminum blocked, steel sleeved N54 in the 335i and the 535i. The magnesium/aluminum/silicone composite blocked N52 that is also currently being built for the 328i and the 528i is that "All-New" design you spoke of earlier.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • fedlawmanfedlawman Posts: 3,118
    "Club racings are divided into categories. Cars only race against other cars with comparable performance."

    Exactly right. According to the SCCA, cars with comparable performance in the "B Stock" category include the 4-cylinder E30 M3 (trailing arm suspension and all), and the following more sophisticated/modern sports cars: 6-cylinder E36 M3, 6-cylinder E46 330i w/ZHP, Honda S2000, G35 Coupe, Porsche 911, 944 (16v and turbo), and Boxster - to name a few.

    (BTW, I can confirm from personal experience that my E30 M3 is just as quick around a race track as a Honda S2000 and E36 M3.)

    C Stock consists of the E30 trailing arm equipped Z3 1.9L going up against the IRS equipped 1.8L Miata.

    Interesting note - the E30 318is (with M42) is classified higher than the E36 318is with the same engine (G Stock and H Stock respectively).

    Obviously, BMW did something right with the E30 suspension to make it so competitive against cars with "more sophisticated" suspensions.
  • wale_bate1wale_bate1 Posts: 1,986
    Another word: response.

    IMO, Toyota made a mistake in not developing an update to their I6. Even with its weight and power issues, the Supra's old iron block 3.0L is a more satisfying plant to operate than the 3.5L V6. Yet one more reason not to purchase the G2 IS...
  • brightness04brightness04 Posts: 3,151
    An iron block I6? Ummm, can't remember the last time that BMW made an iron block I6.

    Do you remember the current M3? E46 M3 3.2L has an iron block for compactness. In other words, an aluminum I-6 would be too long to fit in the car.

    As to smoothness, you'd be hard pressed to find fault in the Acura 3.5 or the Toyota 3.5 in terms of their smoothness.
  • brightness04brightness04 Posts: 3,151
    IMHO, the bigger reason is that E30 weigh less. E36 318is is obviously a heavy pig compared to E30 without power increase. E36 M3 for the US market is a bastardized car using a bored out regular engine developing only 240hp, not the 320hp real M3 engine. When output are comparable, the lighter cars have significant advantage.

    The thing is, most performance oriented ELLPS, or even V6 family sedans, have more than 240hp nowadays.
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,400
    In my humble opinion it is very precient that BMW is still using the I6.


    I agree...simple is better. If you look to F1 racing, 4 tubes are the baseline.

    I wonder why that has not filtered into the mainstream? I just can not imagine any reason 300 HP can not be achieved with 4 cylinders.

    Regards,
    OW
  • bruceomegabruceomega Posts: 250
    shipo,

    Is the aluminum block with steel sleeves stronger than the magnesium/aluminum/silicone composite block? Was wondering if that is why BMW uses it for the turbo engine.

    Is the aluminum block with steel sleeves also heavier? The 535i weighs a bit more, and is more nose heavy than the 528i.

    Thanks
    Bruce
  • fedlawmanfedlawman Posts: 3,118
    "When output are comparable, the lighter cars have significant advantage."

    As you have already mentioned, there are minimum weight requirements for each class. Cars that are below minimum must add ballast.
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