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Unread 06-07-2017, 12:28 PM
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Default HARD Motorsport flares for E46 non-M

We installed a set of HARD Motorsport flares onto our 2001 BMW 330Ci coupe in May 2017. The images below should help show you what you need to do to install this kit onto a E46 non-M Coupe. We will update this thread soon when we install a kit onto a Sedan but they go on in a similar fashion.

NOTE: In this installation we did not use the included rear bumper cover spacer brackets, nor the included rivets. Instead we added threaded inserts (nutserts) to the body panels then used countersunk stainless bolts and Tinnerman washers to fasten the flares in place.

FLARE INSTALL ON VORSHLAG E46 330 COUPE

Vorshlag fitted a set of really wide 245/40/17 Hoosiers (which have a measured 9.7" of tread width) onto custom spec'd 17x10" wheels early on in our TTD build (read more here). The TTD class points pretty much limit us to a 245mm tire and this one Hoosier was the widest 245mm option in a competitive compound.



For the last season and a half we have been seeing tire-to-fender rub when the car takes a bump on track or if I rub the FIA curbing. Sometimes it does it on flat pavement - like when I have the car loaded up transitioning into a corner, the rear fender can sometimes grab a tire and make the car rotate violently. This has kept us from pushing the car to 1.25 - 1.3g corner entries, but it can make that level of grip in sustained corners with a gentle entry.



Because this issue is holding the car back, the fender interference had to be addressed. We never suspected I'd need to flare an E46 with only a 245mm tire, but this is really wide when mounted on a 10" wide wheel. The front fender is rubbing also, just not as badly as the rear. BMW makes the fender lips lower on rear fenders of a lot of their cars, so the rear tire "tucks" under the lip much sooner than the fronts (see above). The rear is harder to flare... we'll get to that below.


HARD Motorsport E46 flares, which come in 4 door and 2 door versions (Left = Sedan, Right = Coupe)

The ready made flare option on the market are these thermoformed ABS plastic flares from HARD Motorsport. Vorshlag is a HARD dealer and we wanted to try them out. We purchased these kits for both a 4 door E46 Sedan as well as a 2 door E46 Coupe, and I'll show the sedan kit being installed on a 1999 328i we're building for a customer in a later post. These are pre-formed to fit really well around the stock body panels of the non-M E46 chassis, even the factory trim, yet provide clearance similar to the E46 M3 fenders. They are 1000 times nicer than the generic and cheap, generic eBay flares people use and well the cost ($475 for USA built HARD Motorsport flares - that fit these cars!)



We had already hammered out the rear fender contours more than we wanted to on this red 330 - this was done in stages, and each time we had to push the fenders out more I was worried about the bodywork bill that would inevitably come when we had finished the clearancing and committed to a tire long enough to get this car to paint.



Up front the fender lips were cut off to add more room for bump travel for the tires. Ryan then added the HARD Motorsport front flares, which were mocked up, marked, then drilled for bolt holes. Normally folks will rivet these on but we wanted something that made them removable, so in the shot above Clecos were used to temporarily hold them in place before we added threaded inserts to the sheet metal.



The fit and finish of the flares was remarkable with only minimal trimming needed around the door trim. I suspect they molded these off an actual E46 M3 fender - they look the same and should fit the same amount of tire.



After the front fenders were cut it was time to cut the rears - no more hammers. After briefly mocking up the flares out back, Ryan marked the cut line (blue tape) and then cut the fender lips off again. This left a gap in the rear fenders that needed to be patched and welded back together.



The rear fender clearancing and patch work is by far the hardest part of any flare job, but one most folks gloss over. The images above are from the E46 M3 we're building around a 345mm rear tire and shows the details better. The fender is cut WAY up and away from the protruding tire - adding enough bump travel to keep the tire from rubbing. The 3 layers of sheet metal are then patched and welded together. Then the area is primed with paint suitable for raw steel. Removing the paint and undercoating beforehand is the messiest part of the job, of course.



We missed a few steps with pictures but above you can see the clearanced and welded rear fenders then the fender flares being held in place by Clecos. The flares fit remarkably well and are pretty much formed perfectly to self-fixture themselves to these cars. Once they were taped in place Ryan laid out the hole spacing, drilled through the flare and fender, then added the Clecos temporarily.



With the Clecos removed the holes in the fenders can then be enlarged and nutserts can be added. These nutserts are installed with a special threaded rivet gun, which expands the threaded insert behind the sheet metal securing it in place. This was done to the mounting holes on all 4 corners. The front has a hole in the plastic bumper cover so we used a different nutsert for use with plastic or fiberglass.



Once the Clecos were removed the final hardware was installed to bolt the flares in place. total installation time was 11.51 hours, including the welding of the rear unibody and some "follow up" clearance work after the Club Trials event below. Making custom flares can take 10 hours a corner, so this was a much more cost effective use of our time. Plus we can unbolt them for paint, repair, etc. Instead of rivets we used stainless countersunk M4 bolts to thread into the M4 nutserts with countersunk stainless Tinnerman washers to spread the load. With everything bolted in place the car now had much more tire clearance and was ready for a track test.



There are rear bumper relocation brackets that come with the kit, but we left them off initially. We might swap these in if there's still rub happening in the back. On BMW E36 rear flares I've done in the past I did space the bumper way out to match the flares I built, but with these HARD Motorsport rear flares they line up fine now.

Last edited by Fair!; 06-10-2017 at 02:42 PM.
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Unread 06-14-2017, 02:23 PM
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Default Re: HARD Motorsport flares for E46 non-M

FLARE INSTALL ON VORSHLAG E46 328i SEDAN

We did another HARD Motorsport flare install on an E46 this week, this time a Sedan. The process is the same, but I wanted to show some additional details and the slight differences for the 4 door vs the 2 door.



We started with a nearly stock 1999 328i 5-spd Sedan shown above. A lot of weight has been removed (race car interior) and we had stuck some 17x8" Jongbloed 3-piece wheels on the car, which fit fine. We had this car for sale and the customer saw the 17x10" wheels on our red 300 Coupe and wanted the same. So it was time for flares...



The HARD Motorsport front flares are almost identical to the Coupe parts, and they went on the same. These were mocked-up, the upper and lower edges of the flares were marked on the fender (see above), then it was time to cut the sheet metal.



The fronts fenders are easy to cut (see above left), then you need to fit the flare a little to the car. A little trimming of the plastic around some of the door/bumper trim (see above right) might be needed. If the shape is slightly off maybe a little heat gun persuasion to get the flares meeting the contours of the fender better - this one didn't need that. The front is easy.



Then you pop rivet the flare on and move to the next corner.



Then you do the same to the rear, but its a "bit more fun". The flares are mocked up, marked, then you cut the outer sheet metal skin to your marks. You are trying to get the inner fender well to remain "horizontal" at the top and not curve back down the outer fender skin like the OEM. Once you cut the outer skin you can "slice and fold" the inner sheet metal until it meets the trimmed outer (see above left). Add a few tack welds here and then you can cut off the protruding flaps (see above right).



Now you need to fully weld this new seam of the inner fender metal with the outer body skin. Of course you need to remove a little paint and undercoating from the metal to MIG weld them together, and the seam needs to be water tight. Once it is welded and cooled a little seam sealer then a coat or two of self-etching primer is needed on all of the raw metal.



Then you can pop rivet on the main flare pieces to the fender. There's a little "door piece" that integrates onto the leading edge of the flare. Rivit this to the door - there's no cutting needed underneath this. Simply an aerodynamic aspect to clean up the edge here.



Then bolt your rear bumper cover back on and you're done. Of course the optional bumper mount brackets can be added - I'll get some pictures of that and add them here soon.

Cheers,
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