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E90/E92/E93 M3 (2008 - 2014)
4th generation E90 M3 sedan, E92 M3 coupe and E93 M3 convertible. The last of the naturally aspirated M3s, powered by a 4.0 liter V8 making 414hp and 295 lb-ft of torque.

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  #1  
Old 11-18-2011, 03:20 PM
pkith pkith is offline
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M3 higher quality construction?

I keep reading comments indicating that the M is hand made, or semi-so, that construction is better etc etc.

I'm aware of the difference on engine, drivetrain, suspension etc, but thought they were made on same production line?

Does anyone know actuality of this? Also, I've read that the M is 80% different parts than standard car, but don't see this as being possible.

Interested to know more...
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  #2  
Old 11-18-2011, 04:45 PM
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Originally Posted by pkith View Post
I keep reading comments indicating that the M is hand made, or semi-so, that construction is better etc etc.

I'm aware of the difference on engine, drivetrain, suspension etc, but thought they were made on same production line?

Does anyone know actuality of this? Also, I've read that the M is 80% different parts than standard car, but don't see this as being possible.

Interested to know more...
Excellent question. Have always wondered about this. Figured a BMW is a BMW. Hope somebody comes up with an answer.

Last edited by ProRail; 11-18-2011 at 04:47 PM.
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  #3  
Old 11-18-2011, 10:45 PM
Mace14 Mace14 is offline
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No, it's made on a production line just like all other 3-series. It's a better car than a standard 3 but that's due to a different engineering focus in the design, "higher quality" parts, more hi-tech features and, of course, the M-unique styling but the car can't be considered "hand made." Regarding percentages of parts that are unique to M's I'd have to say 80% could very well be an accurate estimate. The suspension, engine, engine cooling, intake, exhaust, drive train, brakes, seats, trim, almost all the body panels, etc., are all different. The rest of the interior, switches, convertible top, etc., is basically the same with some slight differences in trim. Don't know about the chassis. I suspect there's probably some strengthening added to it.
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  #4  
Old 11-19-2011, 01:45 AM
pkith pkith is offline
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Thanks, that's about what I figured.

I understand the engines get a bit more attention in terms of human build process, but again hungry for more info.

Irrespective, for all of us lucky drivers/owners here the net result is greater than the sum of all parts for sure, but as much as like the idea of driving a bespoke vehicle, I am also thankful for a seriously well tested (German) production process
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  #5  
Old 11-19-2011, 10:03 AM
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I'd guess it's made on "A" production line just like the rest of the 3-ers. But it's NOT on the same line. When I was taking the BMW factory tour in Munich a couple weeks ago, they made a point of listing all the models made on that line - all the three series, blah blah, EXCEPT M3. They MIGHT HAVE said Leipzig for the M3?!
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  #6  
Old 11-19-2011, 10:51 AM
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I'd guess it's made on "A" production line just like the rest of the 3-ers. But it's NOT on the same line. When I was taking the BMW factory tour in Munich a couple weeks ago, they made a point of listing all the models made on that line - all the three series, blah blah, EXCEPT M3. They MIGHT HAVE said Leipzig for the M3?!
Actually in Munich I think they only make the E90 and E91. Regensburg builds the E90/91/92/93 and all M3's. The M3's engine; however, is built in Munich and is one of the last parts of the plant tour. The engine production is still a production line, unlike some exotic builders where the engine is completely assembled by hand in one room by one or two guys. Despite it being a production line there is plenty of "hands on" time because of the numerous small parts (lots and lots of small parts bins along the line) and the testing done at the end of the line. Still, I don't think this is any different than any other engine BMW builds.
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  #7  
Old 11-19-2011, 01:43 PM
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It's a $50K car. There's probably as much hand building as a Corvette or Cadillac CTS-V.
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  #8  
Old 11-19-2011, 02:29 PM
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AMG's engines are hand built. M's are made on a production line.
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  #9  
Old 11-20-2011, 04:20 PM
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Originally Posted by chrischeung View Post
It's a $50K car. There's probably as much hand building as a Corvette or Cadillac CTS-V.
What's a $50k car?

I'll guess that a FEW 2011 M3 sedans made it to the US for under $60k, if they were ordered by a customer that way. But I'll guess the average price of an M3 is more like $70k.
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I just love how a 4 year old car/design is STILL the benchmark which other automakers aspire to reach. Still winning comparisons . Still very much in the conversation. Is the E9x M3 a legend? You bet your @ss it is.
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Old 11-20-2011, 06:59 PM
chrischeung chrischeung is offline
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You're misunderstanding me.

Labor and customized processes are a large cost of manufacturing. There is only so much manual work and customized process that you can put into a $50K car before you start losing money as a manufacturer. The manufacturing process for a base M3 and a loaded M3 are the same. You cannot expect much dedicated engineering, work and customization in a car that is around $50K compared to the $30K car that it is based on. At the most there is around $20K - which covers all the engineering, tooling, additional profit, etc. That is the point I'm making.

I think BMW puts a large emphasis on the engineering and marketing side, then cranks them out on the production line (with the same assembly time) to make a decent buck. You can see where the corners are cut - things like electrics, electronics, ventilation, a lot of the trim etc. are the same as a regular 3 series. That is why cars like the CSL versions are so much more expensive for relatively little change - and even they don't have a super high level of variance.

At the end of the day, it is still an excellent and well built car. Just don't expect it was made much differently from any other 3 series. Even Porsche cup cars are made on the regular production line - but from memory, they pull them off and on at certain points for customization.
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  #11  
Old 11-20-2011, 07:47 PM
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If and I mean if there is a difference in construction it's "pride" in that your building an "M" car. I've owned both a 3-series and an M3 and have noticed no discernible difference between the two in construction. Which is wonderful news for both cars. Both cars are extremely well put together.
I did read approximately 80% of M3 parts are unique to that car.
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Old 12-01-2011, 05:57 PM
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I'd say this video sheds a lot of light on this topic.

Among the points directly applicable to this thread:

1. M engines are largely hand built
2. The M car is assembled using different tools, due to higher M car rigidity requirements.

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Old 12-01-2011, 07:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Kurt_OH View Post
I'd say this video sheds a lot of light on this topic.

Among the points directly applicable to this thread:

1. M engines are largely hand built
2. The M car is assembled using different tools, due to higher M car rigidity requirements.
I think the statement that the M engines are "largely hand built" is a bit misleading. They are hand "assembled" as are all engines given the large number of small, intricate parts. I saw the S65 production line and it's just that, a production line. To me, hand built implies hand craftsmanship. Things like hand lapping valves and seats, honing a cylinder bore or intake manifold, or hand measuring and matching parts like bearings and crankshafts to maintain minimum tolerances. I saw none of that. I would suspect that the M engines have tighter tolerances, better parts, and higher quality control but the assembly doesn't really require hand crafting by artisans.
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  #14  
Old 12-02-2011, 11:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Mace14 View Post
I think the statement that the M engines are "largely hand built" is a bit misleading. They are hand "assembled" as are all engines given the large number of small, intricate parts. I saw the S65 production line and it's just that, a production line. To me, hand built implies hand craftsmanship. Things like hand lapping valves and seats, honing a cylinder bore or intake manifold, or hand measuring and matching parts like bearings and crankshafts to maintain minimum tolerances. I saw none of that. I would suspect that the M engines have tighter tolerances, better parts, and higher quality control but the assembly doesn't really require hand crafting by artisans.
So you're saying that BMW is lying or being misleading with that claim?

It certainly is presented as if the M engines are assembled differently from non M engines in the video.


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I just love how a 4 year old car/design is STILL the benchmark which other automakers aspire to reach. Still winning comparisons . Still very much in the conversation. Is the E9x M3 a legend? You bet your @ss it is.
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Old 12-02-2011, 12:05 PM
Mace14 Mace14 is offline
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So you're saying that BMW is lying or being misleading with that claim?

It certainly is presented as if the M engines are assembled differently from non M engines in the video.


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Well, they don't come out and claim the whole thing is "hand built" but yeah, I think they're letting us make the assumption that there is more going on than there is because all engines can be considered to be "largely hand built." As I said, I do believe the parts and tolerances are likely to be of higher quality than a typical engine and maybe the technicians have more experience and/or training and the technology behind the engine is top notch but "hand built?" Sounds kinda like a restaurant that advertises "home made" dinners.
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Old 12-02-2011, 12:31 PM
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Well, they don't come out and claim the whole thing is "hand built" but yeah, I think they're letting us make the assumption that there is more going on than there is because all engines can be considered to be "largely hand built." As I said, I do believe the parts and tolerances are likely to be of higher quality than a typical engine and maybe the technicians have more experience and/or training and the technology behind the engine is top notch but "hand built?" Sounds kinda like a restaurant that advertises "home made" dinners.
What you said previously was that ALL ENGINES are largely hand built. My observation is that the video clearly differentiates the assembly of M engines as"largely hand built". They don't STATE "unlike other BMW engines" but that's the implication I observed.

So, to that point, my question remains: do you believe such an intentional implication is intentionally false?

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I just love how a 4 year old car/design is STILL the benchmark which other automakers aspire to reach. Still winning comparisons . Still very much in the conversation. Is the E9x M3 a legend? You bet your @ss it is.
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Old 12-02-2011, 01:17 PM
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What you said previously was that ALL ENGINES are largely hand built. My observation is that the video clearly differentiates the assembly of M engines as"largely hand built". They don't STATE "unlike other BMW engines" but that's the implication I observed.

So, to that point, my question remains: do you believe such an intentional implication is intentionally false?

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No, I'm not saying they're lying, I'm saying they are leaving it to the viewer's imagination as to what "largely hand built" means. It's called marketing. The statement is completely accurate as far as it goes but it also applies to the assembly of all engines. Would it make an impression on a Toyota Camry driver if Toyota claimed its engine is "largely hand built?" Probably not because Mr & Mrs Camry are counting cupholders, but for performance enthusiasts it implies something special and would lend a sense of cachet that would be attractive. Is the engine "special?" Sure it is, it's a great engine but what does "largely hand built" have to do with it? If someone has some information that does show that there are steps done by hand with the S65 that aren't done by hand with any other engine then the implication matches the facts. Otherwise, it doesn't.

BTW, AMG claims their engines are "hand-crafted". Well, what that means is debatable also although it seems they have a stronger claim than BMW has. AMG's big claim to fame is that one mechanic assembles the whole engine yet they say nothing about where the "craftsmanship" enters in. What does he do that is different from an assembly line? There is the obvious impact on quality control because if there is something wrong with the engine when it's finished it's pretty easy to point the finger at who screwed up so there's alot of motivation to get it right but is it truely "craftsmanship" or marketing? Here again, if there's any information on what steps are taken that are different than on a production line then we could more accurately judge if it's truly craftsmanship or just assembly.

Both BMW's and AMG's claims are more subjective than objective just as "UDM" is. Are either "wrong" or a "lie?" Probably not but both are probably more relevant to the claim to prestige than they are to some special engine building magic.

Just my opinion of course. I watched the S65 line for quite a while (first there, last to leave) but I certainly didn't see every step in the assembly process or have the opportunity for a side-by-side comparison to other engines being assembled.
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Old 12-02-2011, 03:12 PM
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I think almost all engines are majorly hand built. That is because parts are small, you need to work them into very tight spaces, and they are complicated. Similar to auto assembly of the car itself - that is largely by hand as well.

Engines don't lend themselves easily to auomation. The big differences would be an engine built on a production line, vs one assembled by individuals. Porsche do a little of both from memory - the engines move down a line, but the assembling person(s) follows that engine to each station.

It's things like pressings, moldings and welding that lend themselves to automation. Additionally, a process may be done by hand due to low volume - it's cost prohibitive to automate it if volumes aren't sufficient for automation. Another reason for manual labor is the finesse of the hand, judging things like surface smoothness.

Bottom line - BMW (and any other manufacturer) are going to make their cars in a manner that is the cheapest that meets their quality and performance requirements.
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Old 12-06-2011, 07:40 AM
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So, Mace and Chris, you both believe there's little to no difference in assembly from non M to M assembly techniques.

T that IS basically saying BMW its lying, as they clearly imply that "M" engines are MORE hand built than their other engines.

I don't think it matters how it goes together. I also agree that maybe M engines are more hand built because they're low volume.

Still I don't like the idea that BMW would intentionally deceive like that, so I'm coming down on the side that non M engines are "largely" assembled by machines, while M engines are largely hand built.

That its, of course, COMPLETELY speculation and hope.

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I just love how a 4 year old car/design is STILL the benchmark which other automakers aspire to reach. Still winning comparisons . Still very much in the conversation. Is the E9x M3 a legend? You bet your @ss it is.
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Old 12-06-2011, 11:00 AM
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http://www.bmw-plant-munich.com/lowb.../en/index.html > Virtual Plant Tour > Engines.
http://www.bmw-steyr.com/ > Virtual Tour > Assembly.

The only automation I see is the engines moving between stations/storage on a conveyor and the lowering of a cylinder head. I wouldn't characterize that as being largely by machine.

Things like milling and machining are probably executed by automation. But I would also expect that would likely be the case with M engines, since accuracy is better and more efficient than human operators.

There may be a day where automation is advanced to the level where entire engines can be made without humans cost effectively, but we're not there yet.
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Old 12-07-2011, 07:28 AM
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They don't STATE "unlike other BMW engines" but that's the implication I observed.
I think this is subject to many interpretations. The video and evidence doesn't suggest that other BMW engines are not hand made. Rather the video says that it's hand made by experts. I'd agree with that - the expertise to build an M engine is most likely higher, as it is more complicated (more things to go wrong), and since the tolerances may be tighter. The group of folks who work on M engines may be a subset of engine builders, whereas a regular builder can do any other engine, for example (just guessing here). I think the fellow is just expressing pride that there is human input (ie soul), and expertise. Nothing wrong with that.

The difference with the AMG approach is that the builder has a greater latitude in time. If an engine is on the production line, the assembler needs to get that part in within a set amount of time, or else that engine needs to be pulled, or the line stopped. So there is definitely a balance of time and care - whereas the AMG approach is more flexible, but also probably a little more expensive. Porsche probably has the best compromise - production line with a dedicated builder(s) per engine.
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Old 12-07-2011, 12:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Kurt_OH View Post
So, Mace and Chris, you both believe there's little to no difference in assembly from non M to M assembly techniques.

T that IS basically saying BMW its lying, as they clearly imply that "M" engines are MORE hand built than their other engines.

I don't think it matters how it goes together. I also agree that maybe M engines are more hand built because they're low volume.

Still I don't like the idea that BMW would intentionally deceive like that, so I'm coming down on the side that non M engines are "largely" assembled by machines, while M engines are largely hand built.

That its, of course, COMPLETELY speculation and hope.

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As far as I know the M engines are built in the same plant as the F1 engines were.

This video shows an E92 (M3 coupe) engine being built.



No sure if regular 3 series engines are built any differently but I imagine a V8 that revs to over 8000 RPM would need to be built to pretty tight tolerances.
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Old 12-07-2011, 02:12 PM
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I wonder if there's any way to get ahold of the build data they're typing in during assembly?
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I just love how a 4 year old car/design is STILL the benchmark which other automakers aspire to reach. Still winning comparisons . Still very much in the conversation. Is the E9x M3 a legend? You bet your @ss it is.
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Old 12-07-2011, 02:27 PM
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Originally Posted by JG View Post
No sure if regular 3 series engines are built any differently but I imagine a V8 that revs to over 8000 RPM would need to be built to pretty tight tolerances.
I would think that the parts need to be machined and built precisely, to an even higher tolerance than normal, with higher quality materials. However, the assembly would not have to be very delicate or exacting in process. Because this engine needs to be tough, operate at high loads, and different environments. It needs to be strong rather than fragile. So if it can't take a little bit of roughness during assembly, how's it going to survive 8000 rpm in 100 degree heat down to freezing temperatures for thousands upon thousands of miles?
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Old 12-07-2011, 05:15 PM
Mace14 Mace14 is offline
Mace
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JG View Post
As far as I know the M engines are built in the same plant as the F1 engines were.

This video shows an E92 (M3 coupe) engine being built.
Sorry but that is definitely not how a normal production M3 engine is built. I suspect this is during the development phase. The standard S65 M3 V8 is built on a production line in Munich. I saw it being done and was close enough I could have grabbed a handful of valves to take home as souvenirs, it's nothing like that video.
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Last edited by Mace14; 12-07-2011 at 05:18 PM.
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