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Motorsports & Track Forum
From Auto-X to Trackday to Racing and Professional Motorsports this is the place to discuss making BMWs fast

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Old 05-06-2009, 02:55 PM   #1
murph1379
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Yes, the E46 can autocross

I've been posting more extensive build threads in other forums, but thought I'd post up a quick summary here as well.

I have a 2001 330i that is my daily driver, and due to space limitations needs to be my double duty car. I got sick of the expensive tires and lack of camber in D Stock, so I decided to move my car to STX, not really knowing if it would be a complete waste of money. At least so far, it is not.

For those not as familiar, STX is a class that mandates street tires, but allows basic/common suspension mods, bolt on power mods, seats, and battery replacement. You can add an LSD as long as the final drive stays the same, and as of this year 2WD cars can run up to 265mm wide tires. (to help them compete with the WRX which is limited to 245)

Since the 330 doesn't have much to gain from basic bolt ons power wise I decided to focus on suspension, then weight, then power.

Being a DD, in a field of mostly dedicated autocross cars, I wanted to make sure I could still drive to work with the high spring rates required for a competitive autocross car. I'd heard all the internet hype about the ASTs, and decided it would be worthwhile to spend some money towards streetability.

I sold my TC Kline double adjustable shocks I'd been using in stock class, and picked up a set of AST 4200's with Vorshlag camber plates, 550/650 springs (later swapped for 550/780) and adjustable rear perches.

The car definitely rides stiffer than it used to, but the ASTs have no trouble soaking up and smoothing out the bumps, so even at 780 lb springs in the rear, I have no trouble at all driving this to work every day. It's a night and day difference relative to some of the other STS/STX/STU cars I've ridden in. I'm very happy the ASTs lived up to the hype, call me a pansy but I like to be able to drive around on the street without hating life.

I also knew this car needed an LSD, BAD! I went with a custom clutch-type unit from Jim Blanton of Performance Gearing, who also built the diff that Andy Basham used when he took 2nd at Nats in '05. This thing is brilliant, and puts power down great, while being completely friendly on the street.

I rounded it out with 18x9 ET45 SSRs, 265/35/18 Bridgestone RE-11s, and some powerflex FCABs. So so far we have the suspension pretty well dialed in, but the car still weighs over 3200 lbs, and we've done zero power mods.

I'll skip a bunch of the process stuff, but I ended up at around 12.25" ride height all around, -3.5 deg camber 0 toe front, -2.0 deg camber 1/4" toe in rear. Tires clear all around with a mild roll in the rear and a 5mm spacer up front.

We had our opening double header of the season last weekend, and the car performed well. On saturday I took 1st in STX and 3rd overall on PAX out of 170 cars, while my codriver was right behind me at 2nd in STX and 4th on PAX. Sunday I didn't do as well, but my codriver took first in STX and 4th on PAX, and I took 4th in STX and 17th on PAX out of 157. (including an STX E36 with multiple Tour wins and Nats trophies)

The ASTs allowed us to adjust to changing levels of grip as the rough surface was slowly swept off and warmed up, and the high rates in the rear never turned into a problem through the corners. (neither of us has managed to spin this car, and I don't think we will)

That was a single weekend, just two events, but I think the verdict is clear that the 330 can hang with the E36s in STX. Looking forward to dropping some of that weight!
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Old 05-06-2009, 03:33 PM   #2
eek142
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Sounds awesome. I really hope to pick up a set of AST's as my next coilover setup.
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Old 05-06-2009, 04:57 PM   #3
aggieE46
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Hey, very nice. Good reviews on the ASTs. Vorshlag carries great stuff. Keep up the good work.
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Old 05-10-2009, 08:34 PM   #4
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nice!
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Old 05-13-2009, 01:10 AM   #5
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Great news Murph!

I'll be trying mine out at a BMWCCA AX with just the wheel/tire combo on.
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Old 05-13-2009, 05:34 PM   #6
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M3it = Richard?
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Old 05-13-2009, 07:34 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by murph1379 View Post
M3it = Richard?
Yup, I got my e-throttle working, bad connector on top of the MAF.

Glad to hear the e46 is competitive in STX.
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Old 05-07-2013, 04:13 PM   #8
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Just curious, any updates? Been thinking of moving from DS to STX as well.
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Old 05-07-2013, 06:49 PM   #9
murph1379
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Yes, the E46 can autocross

Hmm, lots has changed since then...

- sold the sport package, bought a non sunroof ZHP I found
- custom Moton dampers
- custom seat mounts
- custom headers/exhaust
- custom sway bar mounts
- different ECU tune
- two LSD iterations of different ramp setups
- different wheel/tire package
- I own four intakes, two diffs, two suspensions, three front swaybars, and three rear swaybars for this car now

It's been a fun journey, but lots of work and expense, for a car that's still 200 lbs heavier than the competition.

Especially with the new allowances coming to the street class in 2014, if I were contemplating the switch today, I think I'd be happier there, but with a lot more money into fancy shocks, front sway, and exhaust package. (And Rivals!)

Matt


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Old 05-07-2013, 10:14 PM   #10
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lol... that's quite a lot. I think I may be following another thread of yours somewhere where you're sharing your build.
I share you're frustration with the uncompetitive E46's. I did however manage to our local BMW autox in my 325ci. Not as competitive here though.

Part of my reason to go to coilovers it to enjoy tracking/autoxing the car more, as the stock sport is pretty soft understeery. Do you think camber plates and dampeners alone be nearly as enjoyable as a full coilover kit? I suppose massive sway bars could control the roll, but you'd still have lots of front/rear weight transfer.
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Old 05-09-2013, 07:28 AM   #11
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DSP is a fun option too...
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Old 05-09-2013, 11:24 AM   #12
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Nice to hear.

I'd love to see the changes you've made.

I'm doing an event at DCTC this friday, did one a few weeks ago when I first got the car and fell in love.
I'm also signed up for novice school on the 2nd.
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Old 05-13-2013, 09:01 AM   #13
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Found this topic while googling trying to figure out what class my car would be in and it seems relevant to ask this question.

I have an 01 325xi with H&R sport springs and Bistein Shocks. Would I be in STX due to the springs or something else?
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Old 05-13-2013, 09:07 AM   #14
SoloII///M
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You're in STX with those mods, assuming you're running street tires with a treadwear of 140 or greater.
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