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From Tue Jan 2 10:58:17 2001
for <>; Tue, 2 Jan 2001 10:58:16 -0800
To: "Suzy's List" <>
Cc: "Conforti's Digest" <>,
UUC List <>,
BMW Automotive Tuning <>
From: R Hatrak <>
Subject: Am I destined to hate my car? [long]
Date: Tue, 02 Jan 2001 10:57:42 -0800
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For anyone that might be interested, here's an update of my suspension saga:

Car: 1995 M3

Setup #1 -

Nice ride but the car understeers way too much and leans way too much in the corners. Time to upgrade. I drove the car with this setup for 6 months.

Setup #2 -
Factory with rotated strut hats.

Added tons a negative camber in the front. It destroyed the insides of my tires, decreased understeer somewhat, and made the car scary to drive at high speed. VERY darty and unstable. I might have had a bad alignment, but wasn't interested in keeping this setup for more than 6 months - went back to setup #1.

Setup #3 -
Factory w/ X-brace and LTW strut bar

Gee those parts look real cool but don't seem to have done much. The front end does feel a bit stiffer though. Not better or worse, just stiffer. I drove the car with this setup for a bit over 2 years.

Setup #4 -
Billstein Sports with H&R OE Sport springs

The car still plows just as badly, rides nearly 3/4 of an inch higher than before, and now it hurts when you drive over the smallest bumps. The car stays much flatter in the corners and lets me carry more speed into, through, and out of a corner. Cool. I really like the improvement in handling, so I'll live with the harsh ride for 2 1/2 years.

Setup #5 -
Change rear way bar to that of a 99M3

Snore. Slight handling improvement (like .0002% better). I still like the handling, but I also still hate the ride.

Setup #6 -
Replace H&R springs with stock units, and added Eibach sway bars set to soft

I have hated my car for the last two years. The ride is killing me, and we now always take the E320 for drives that include anyone but me. It's time to put the brand new stock springs and struts on the car. A miscommunication with the parts supplier sent me the wrong front struts. So, we put the Billsteins back on the car, put the stock springs on, and installed the Eibach swaybars. This is when I sent my last email to the group(s) singing the virtues of the Eibachs. The car was flat-out awesome in the corners. I was very excited about the handling but still hated the ride. The removal of the H&R springs made the car a touch softer, but not much. The initial force of any road impact still was miserable. I had fun with the car for 2 weeks with this setup. No corner was too fast, the car stuck to the asphalt like it was welded on, understeer was at a very acceptable level, and did I mention the cornering? I felt like superman in a Kindergarten gym class.

Setup #7 -
Replace the Billsteins with the factory struts

Damn. Another step backwards. The car rides like a dream and we can take it for drives again. Those are very good things, but the handling sucks again (when compared to setup #6). It feels just like it did when I was at setup #4. Huge amounts of understeer. The car now feels like it is going to spin at any moment when taking long, fast sweeping turns. Very skittish. What people had told me about changing swaybars is starting to ring true.

Setup #8 -

I am trying to figure out what to do next. My options are:
  1. Set the sway bars to Stiff/Stiff. I hope this will do the trick, but I doubt it.
  2. Re-valve the Billsteins
  3. Put either Euro M3 or the H&R springs back on the car.
  4. Give up and wait for the 2002 M3, 2002 M5, or a 996.

Does anyone have any other ideas that might help me achieve car Zen?

Thanks for listening and any input,

Rob Hatrak
95 M3 with way too many mods
Sin City Chapter, BMW CCA

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