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April 24, 2007

More Lowering

The previous generation Audi A6 is a sharp car. I happen to really like the clean Bauhaus style that Audis had before Walter d'Silva took over design at the house of four rings. It was all about form following function and clean aerodynamics. Cars like the Audi TT and the A6 just plain look German with their wide bottomed stance and narrow greenhouses. But, like most German cars taking the trip across the ocean, ride height is increased thanks to various regulations and road conditions, ruining the originally intended design.

And this is where mild lowering springs come in. As I've noted on the Mazda 6 project car way back when, and the M3 project just a few entries ago, sport springs not only bring the bodies down to where the designers originally envisioned, they also aid in handling by lowering the center of gravity.


Above is the Audi at stock ride height. Note the substantial gap between the top of the tire and the fender lip-- it almost looks exagerated.


Here is the Audi after installation of a set of Eibach Pro-kit http://www.eibach.com/cgi-bin/start.exe/eibach/index.html sport springs, (only $245 plus install). What a difference! The stock ride height in the front was 26 7/8 inches before and 25 3/8 after. At the rear the stock ride height was 27 inches before and 25 7/8 after. These measurements were taken right after installation, we expect the springs to settle maybe another 1/4 inch before all is said and done. But even at an inche to inch and a half, the car is transformed from good looking to great.

DSC00033a.jpg DSC00077a.jpg

Here is a closer before and after view.

The owner called back a few days after picking the car up and mentioned what an improvement the springs made in ride and handling-- taking away all of the float that was part of the old OEM springs.

Along with the springs, we did a quick ECU reprogram. Thanks to the turbo engine, Powerchip http://www.powerchipgroup.com/index.asp was able to find a reliable 40 hp and 40 lbs-ft of torque extra. Now the A6 has the benefit of 290 hp versus the standard 250 hp, which we don't need to say is a big improvement. Added power from the drivetrain and better handling for the sport springs have turned this standard issue Audi into a real sports sedan.

April 16, 2007

Let the Driving Season Begin

The weather Gods conspired to give us a nearly perfect Sunday afternoon here in the frigid as of yet Midwest. Though windy and a bit cool, the sun was out and so were the BMWs. Organized through messageboard word of mouth (like here: http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=455940 ) E36, E46, and E90 BMWs gathered for a meet and greet.


As you can see there were some really nice rides there, including a small cadre of performance tuned M3s.


It was also nice to see E90s getting into the act.

Hundreds of these types of meets go on around this country every weekend. Thanks to the internet and messageboards, like minded enthusiasts can find each other and put on impromptu shows like the one described here. And for us folks living with four distinct seasons, summer can't come too soon.


For more great pictures of this event, check out here: http://www.m3forum.net/m3forum/showthread.php?p=2159479#post2159479


April 14, 2007

Lower Ride

We've talked before on the subject of springs and how they can dramatically improve not only the performance of your car, but the stance and presence as well. One of the best upgrades you can do on an E46 BMW (last generation BMW 3 Series) in particular is to swap the original springs for a set of after market coils.

Almost all European cars come across the ocean with a bit of a lift thanks the the different government regulations between the two continents. Be it bumper height regulations or headlamp positioning, BMWs, Mercedes, VW and Audis all tend to be raised up about 20 mm to 40 mm. A typicle sport spring from Eibach or H&R lowers the ride height by at least that much and then some-- 1 to 2 inches total.


The already gorgeous Laguna Seca Blue M3 above is a good example of how moderate lowering can significantly improve the overal stance of a car.


The key to a proper spring swap is in the hundreds of little details. For example, we clean all the mating surfaces once the old springs/struts are removed. If dirt or grit were allowed to get between the springs and spring pads, or the struts and the strut towers, the suspension could nott be properly aligned and tightened. While this can be done at home by an experienced do-it yourselfer, it is an extremely dangerous proposition if you don't have the right tools (sturdy lift, spring compressors, offset wrenches, etc).


Also, the car will need an alignment, which again is nearly impossible for the home mechanic to do properly without the right equipment. The amount of adjustment required after sport springs have been installed depends upon the geometry of the specific suspension. Toe tends to change the most, along with camber and then castor to a lessor degree.

Bottom Line:
A sport spring upgrade that lowers the ride height is a inexpensive way to upgrade the handling and looks of your car. It is a straight forward job that is best left to a shop you trust. The springs are inexpensive , typically running between $200 and $400. And the shop time is minimal 4 hours on the low side but up to 8 hours on more complex suspensions.

Check out the opinion of the owner of the above pictured M3 here: http://www.m3forum.net/m3forum/showthread.php?t=156405

April 02, 2007

Fun With Polo

Okay, so we're an easy mark for this, but these three little ads had us rolling in the aisle (okay, so it just had me, your humble reporter, rolling but dammit! man they are funny). Check out what we're (I'm) talking about after the jump.