you need a spring compressor, but its not that expensive of a tool. the job is pretty straight forward, but IMO the hardest part is getting the shock out! lol.
Theres a little article on bmwe34.net that tells about shock lenghts, etc. and it basically says that a shorter shock for a lowering spring is a myth. I believe it too, because i've been in quite a few cars with stock shocks and REALLY low springs, and they ride just as good and less stiff than the cars with 'sport' shocks. I think the sport shocks just keep it super firm.
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