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Tech Article

BMW E30 3-Series Control Arm Bushing

Last Updated: 07/28/2018
   
Parts Group: Suspension control arm bushing
This article discusses the rubber bushing (a.k.a. mounting) at the rear of the front suspension control arm for the E30 as sold in the US. If you're not here for the technical analysis but would rather buy a used unit from us, then we would like to talk you out of it. This is one part that's best purchased in new condition, not 30+ years old. The information herein is based on a deep online dive into part numbers, plus some hypothesizing.

This bushing fits inside a bracket (a.k.a. lollypop, so named due to its shape) that is bolted to the body of the car, near the rear of the sub-frame. Inside the rubber bushing fits the lower front control arm (a.k.a. wishbone, so named due to its shape).

Several variations of this part are used throughout the E30 range.

  • The E30 "ix" models (the 4-wheel drive models) have their own variation.
  • The M3 models also have their own, different, variation.
  • Most of the rest of the E30 range all use the same variation of bushing ... except for the early 318i models.
  • The 1984 318i model uses a different bushing for cars with air conditioning, vs. without air conditioning.
  • The 1985 318i model isn't a clone of the 1985 model as such but it also uses a different bushing for cars with air conditioning, vs. without air conditioning.

My guess is that, early on in the life of the E30, BMW was trying to optimize ride quality vs. cornering ability by precisely engineering the flexibility vs. inflexibility of the rubber bushing fitted to each model, taking into account even the subtle variations in weight that result from the car being outfitted with air conditioning vs. not.

My guess is also that, after 1985, BMW decided they were overthinking it. From then on, BMW used the same bushings for all the "normal" E30 models, whether 4-cylinder or 6-cylinders, and regardless of weight difference.

Aftermarket buyers seem to gravitate to ever-stiffer bushings, such as buying the stiff bushings meant for the sporty M3 models, and then installing these bushings on the less-sporty E30 models in the hope of faster cornering.
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