If you have a BMW E36, you most likely have already begun to modify it in some way. The E36, which was produced from 1991 through 1999, was the successor to the highly-praised E30 chassis. The E36 featured a range of engines; the most desirable in America being the M5x line or the S5x line. The six-cylinder inline engines have been popularized by their steady power bands, high potential for modification, and incredibly balanced performance. We have devised a list of the best E36 upgrades to get the most out of your E36.
If you haven’t already, taking full advantage of your engine’s potential is as easy as a plug-and-play E36 software chip for your ECU if your E36 was built up to 1994. For OBDII E36s built from 1995, The Shark Injector Performance Software is designed to raise the rev limit, improve throttle response, remove the top speed governor, and improve the overall power output. If you have a stock vehicle or if you have hotter cams and an M50 OBD1 manifold you can select an appropriate software tune to maximize the output of your engine.
We highly suggest addressing the your E36 brakes, especially if you just purchased the vehicle. Our E36 Performance Front and Rear Brake Service Kits adapts your E36 brakes to the floating 2-piece rotors and calipers found on the CSL E46 M3. These lighter weight rotors significantly reduce unsprung weight on each corner, which adds to the handling ability of your E36, while greatly improving your ability to stop effectively. Remember, more power means you need more stopping power, but you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to give your E36 beefier brakes.
The best way to make the most out of your Shark Injector Software is to equip your E36 with a high-flow performance cold air intake and switch your OBD2 Intake Manifold for the OBD1 version, which improves torque and horsepower dramatically. Both the addition of the OBD1 Manifold and the Cold Air Intake are taken into account with a specific tune and allow you to achieve the most reliable and consistent power from your modifications. The overall horsepower gains can be upwards of 30HP to the crank, so these are definitely highly suggested and inexpensive ways to improve your power drastically. We carry a range of intakes on the site as well as offering OEM E36 manifolds and gaskets to ensure you are receiving the highest quality parts. DINAN has been the preferred choice by many to improve the induction capabilities of their BMW and bring years of excellence to the BMW tuning community.
Giving your E36 aftermarket wheels is one of the biggest visual differences you can make that will improve the profile and stance. Our own Alzor Wheels brand offers several BMW fitments for improving the visual appearance of your BMW and lowering unsprung weight. With myriad styles, sizes, and offsets, Alzor Wheels offer a great upgrade to your car’s aesthetics while being relatively inexpensive. Alternatively, Apex Wheels are known for their dedication to providing lightweight and trackable wheels specifically designed for BMWs. The incredibly popular Apex ARC8 wheels are featured on many track and street BMWs and have been dubbed as one of the best wheel choices around to improve your BMW.
Without going into a full exhaust setup that can get incredibly pricey, the best way to gain some power and increase the volume of your engine is to upgrade your E36 cat-back exhaust. UUC, a premier BMW performance company, offers a stainless, true-dual, lightweight dual exhaust that is 2.38 inches in diameter as opposed to the smaller diameter factory exhaust. This eliminates back pressure and allows the exhaust gas to be expelled more quickly, which increases your performance slightly. Paired with software tuning and supporting modifications, you can expect noticeable power gains and a throaty growl to put a smile on your face at any RPM. The System U Exhaust runs from the midsection all the way to the exhaust tips and includes a muffler that mounts identically to your factory exhaust to provide the easiest and most secure fitment.
With the above modifications to your E36 complete, you can expect dramatic increases in both power and driving pleasure while enjoying a unique look with the aftermarket wheels and a more enjoyable exhaust note thanks to that UUC cat-back. The lighter weight components help increase what the performance gains will actually do for your acceleration, and the lower unsprung weight from the improved brakes will improve your cornering ability noticeably. When you’re ready to find your next BMW E36 parts or upgrades, we’ll be here waiting to help.