Handling Mods

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                of my front suspension... My suspension setup has been quite a journey! I am currently on my fifth suspension system. CLICK HERE for more information about each setup. I like a relatively stock appearance for my car and have never wanted "moar low" as the "cool kids" say today. Although my suspension has seen progressive improvements over the years, I finally decided it was time for a change in the other direction. I stopped autocrossing in 2010. Although I still enjoy some spirited driving from time to time, I was mostly tired of the harsh ride on my local commute or on anything but smooth pavement. I considered returning to stock. But I don't think I could stand the 4x4 look of the stock Mk3 stance. HAHA! Therefore, I decided to try H&R OE Sport Springs and KONI STR.T shocks (not pictured). The springs are only a little firmer than stock and lower the car about 0.5-0.75" from stock. The shocks are marketed as slightly stiffer than stock and designed for a lowered ride (unlike the Bilstien TC's I wanted). They're also less expensive than the Bilstein Sports (also designed for lowered rides). So far, I'm pleased with the ride. I suspect this setup would be mediocre on the autocross course. But it's great on the road. Time will tell how long they last. I use EUROSPORT upper stress bar (connects strut towers) and lower stress bar (connects control arms). I removed my front swaybar as recommended during my Shine days. Overall, the setup is more firm and controlled than stock. Pushing the car beyond its limits on the autocross course reveals mild oversteer. Read more about sway bars here.


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                transmission upgrade... My poor stock clutch finally started to slip after 160,000 miles. I upgraded to a VR6 Clutch by Sachs. The clutch is buttery-smooth, a nice change from my old clutch. Since the transmission was removed, I went ahead and had a PELOQUIN Torque-Biasing Differential (TBD) installed. CLICK HERE to read more about differentials. The TBD ensures I have power to the ground in most situations without wheelspin. The car's behavior at autocross events is wonderful! The only time I get the inside wheel to spin is when it is almost completely of the ground; and it happens when driving at the limit! The additional traction is nice in dry snow as well. But be careful on the ice!!! Power to both front wheels means there's NO TRACTION during wheel-spin scenarios. Back to the clutch, time eventually introduced me to more power and torque. The Sachs clutch is barely adequate and tends to slip at low RPMs during the winter (holds fine in the spring-fall). I plan to upgrade to a South Bend Stage II Endurance clutch in the future. It will hold 425 lb/ft, a limit I do not expect to reach.

Wheels and Tires

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                current wheels...I went five years before getting my first set of alloy wheels. And they were just 14x6" VW Rondos. I then drove on several sets of 14x6" VW LeCastellets for five years or so. I like having several sets of factory-like hub-centric wheels which allow me to maintain the same look on the street, on the track, and in the winter. I have tires for every occasion. :-) I eventually acquired sets of 14x6.5" BBS RZ Crosslaces, stock on the BMW E30 and sometimes called "Basketweaves." I also have sets of 15x7.5" Ronal LS's by ACT. It only took 13 years for me to try an alternate size wheel/tire. HAHA! Here's the kicker: The Ronals have a 25mm offset. That's only 10-13mm more negative than stock. But it's just enough to cause minor steering issues during aggressive driving. Be sure of your decision before you purchase wheels with non-factory offset. For tires, I use whatever my day requires: 195/60R14 (street), 185/60R14 (winter), 205/55R14 (drag), 225/50R14 (race), 205/50R15 (street), 225/45R15 (race). Since the RZ's and LS's look similar, the car will look essentially the same regardless of whether I'm on my summer, winter, or race rubber. The smaller 14" wheels also allow me to maximize fuel economy. :-)

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