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I keep hearing how bad our suspension is because of the older design, but how bad is it really? Does anyone here have any autox or track experience with their z3? Is there a huge gap in times between us and other cars in our class?

Secondly, how much do suspension upgrades really help our handling isssues? Could upgrades bring us close to lets say an z4? s2000?

Thanks
 

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My best time this weekend was 41.8, a very well driven e36 M3 did about 40.8 (IIRC), but he had on better tires and has more experience.

Any difference all comes down to driver skill. There are some differences on the lines taken and what happens on throttle lift. The z3 tends to toe out, while the 3 link of the e36 has better toe control.

What it means practically, is that you cannot lift or the back end gets light - HOWEVER, the stock dampers on the M packaged car seam to not have enough rebound damping. Putting on S/A or D/A shocks will fix that behavior.

But then autocrossing, getting the back light can help. :)

At the end, it's all driver skill that matters.

BTW, my times where ~2 seconds better then the few s2000s that where at the same event on similar tires - but they didn't have the experience that I did (relative statement - I'm no expert)

Best sources are Ground Control or TC kline for sorted suspension packages. The basic Bilstein/H&R package is a good one for a non-adjustable and can be picked up at most BMW aftermarket dealers.

The other thing that helps to improve the handling is to get as much negative front camber (~-3*) and a stiff front sway to control camber gain.

TC seams to be a bit more popular with the z3 crowd.

It really comes down to what you want to do with the car. So....

What do you want to do with the car? Cruising? AutoX? Track Days?
 

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Its not the best design by the numbers and camber/ toe curves etc compared to some of the new stuff, but it's not the outdated dog that people make it out to be.

I auto-x pretty much every month and am usually in the top 10% raw times. My car has 250rwhp (weegihing 300#) and a full TC Kline suspension. Most (not all) cars that beat have far superior power to weight ratios. I am at the point where I need more power to keep up in SM2. I am getting beat by a 300+rwhp miata that weighs under 2300#. People flat out say that these cars CAN'T perform at a national level. I say they can't in stock class, but could in SM2 if the right stuff was done to it (and a top driver). I roughed out a price at about $30k more than I have already spent to get exactly what I want done to the car. That's just not gonna happen.

I have only done a couple track events, and I did them on street tires. I was keeping up with cars with much more power because because the car handled like a champ and corner exit speeds were good. My instructor was a M3 driver and said multiple times he was surprised at how well the car handled and the power delivery.

If you are happy with how your car handles, don't let other people's views (who probably aren't at the top of their game either) drag you down.
 

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I started autox this year. I have attended six events and finish about 60% of the field, in other words I am not very good. This puts me about 4 seconds off of the best in my class, and about 4-5 seconds off most any of the clases execpt the extremely modified ones. I run in BS and I thought my car was not competitive, untill someone else drove it.

This driver had never driven my car, he got in the car about 100' in front of the starting line. He drove it with me riding along, knocked 4 seconds off of my time! Second trip he lowered it by a couple more tenths. It was amazing.

I learned a lot that day, including that my car is not near as bad as I thought, in fact it may be quite good in the proper hands.

Hope this helps.
 

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Investigative Tinkerer
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I've embarrassed several Z06 drivers with mine.
 

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I'd say that while the cars are not bad, the M's stock suspension is much closer to where it needs to be than the Z3 stock suspension if you are going to autox. Now, I must admit there is clearly a great deal of operator error which could use improvement but the car not going to be directly competitive right out of the box with other B stock units. With that stated, there are modifications mentioned which will greatly improve handling to the point where you can be competitve in ASP if you so choose.
 

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Dragon Master of TEXAS!
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I autocrossed for many years in NC, before moving to TX. I ran in both ASP and SM2. I was able to win or place many times when I entered. It's a decent car and I know I did not reach the full potential it could have.
I ran with kumho's and modified as much as I could in ASP with the funds I had. When I tried SM2, it's WWWAAAYYY harder, those damn forced induction 2 seaters were hard to beat with my NA.
I havent raced for the past 2 odd years and if I did try it again, I would go back into ASP. But with the Rear Differential Mount modification that I had to do, I might be forced back into SM2, even though a BMW dealer did the work.

Hope this helps and good luck!

What type is your Z3? I do not see it in your Sig...
 

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M Mad
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There is an MZ3 Coupe that is kicking locally in ASP.

I autocrossed out M Roadster a bunch of times and did fairly well with it for street tires.
 

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At a recent SD autocross, Z3's took first (me, thanks very much) and second place in the stock class, and an M roadster took first or second in the M class. Sounds good to me.

Don't forget that the Z3 has basically the same rear suspension as the E30-based M3, which was considered quite the ride in its day.

With proper shocks and tires, a Z3 can do splendidly at the AutoX course, or anywhere else...

-Warr
 

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wernst said:
At a recent SD autocross, Z3's took first (me, thanks very much) and second place in the stock class, and an M roadster took first or second in the M class. Sounds good to me.

Don't forget that the Z3 has basically the same rear suspension as the E30-based M3, which was considered quite the ride in its day.

With proper shocks and tires, a Z3 can do splendidly at the AutoX course, or anywhere else...

-Warr
As I understand it, you can run any shock (bilstein HD) and any non R compound street legal tire that fits a stock rim and still be considered showroom?
 

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jbrannon7 said:
As I understand it, you can run any shock (bilstein HD) and any non R compound street legal tire that fits a stock rim and still be considered showroom?
In SCCA autox you can change the shocks and front sway bar in stock class. I beleive that R comps are also legal in stock, I run Kumho MXs so I'm sure about this.
 

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M Mad
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SCCA Stock allows any DOT tires (including R-comps), shocks and front sway. You can change wheel offset 1/4".
 

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M Mad
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I am not impressed. Last FATT I had a young student in a beater Honda that was embarassing Corvettes. :) Of course he was paying attention and actualy driving the prper line. :)
 

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M Mad
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Exactly, the better driver will win. With equal drivers, then worry aobut handling and power and tires and all the other factors that go into it.
 

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Exactly, the better driver will win. With equal drivers, then worry aobut handling and power and tires and all the other factors that go into it.
I had a friend at a local auto-x say that he probably wasn't going to attend an Evolution auto-x school because he thinks he knows what to do, and is doing well, just needs to do it. His basis for thinking that was he places about top 20% in pax for local events.

The problem with that is that a great driver will be almost top of raw time in almost any car they drive. At that same auto-x therre was a GS mini cooper that was top 10% raw time. That is where a driver needs to be.
 
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