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|01-25-2005, 06:00 AM||#1|
Alken's UUC-Tuned 323i
My car doesn’t have a body kit. I never installed a spoiler. The windows are not tinted. The black trim has not been painted to match the titanium silver paint. My front license plate is firmly bolted on. Aside from the 17” aftermarket wheels, clear corner lenses, and UUC Motorwerks stickers, my car looks identical to any stock 323i on the road. However, open the hood, the doors, peak at the exhaust or through the spokes of the wheels and the signs of a truly ‘tuned’ vehicle become readily apparent.
This 83,000 mile daily driver takes me to work, hauls lumber on its often installed roof rack, trudges through snow and potholes in the winter, and warms its tires on the autocross course in the summer.
This sleeper may not be the fastest car to pull up next to you at a light, but most people would be surprised by it’s vastly improved capabilities, comfort, and detail. I hope you enjoy the descriptions of this car’s tuning process.
My Car's Story
I’ve been a fan of German cars since I was old enough to recognize the difference - I believe I was eight weeks old… Anyway, I was thrilled when I came across this certified pre-owned 2000 BMW 323i. It was a base model, save the sport package. The car had sat on the dealer’s lot for a couple of months, mainly because it was filthy and was the only one without power seats. They couldn’t move it, and it almost went to auction. Luckily, I got there in time and rescued what has turned into quite the example of tuning and performance.
Truly unaware of the size and influence of the modding community, I stumbled upon this website in search of some information about the car’s stereo. Like most of you, opening this site has vastly altered many aspects of my life. I think that my car and I are now better for it.
Modding began slowly, and with the ever-popular clear corners. I had no intention of making performance modifications, until I began reading about products from UUC Motorwerks. I soon purchased the all magnesium Strutbarbarian. I was not intimidated by this simple install, and hoped I would notice some benefit from it. Almost immediately following this addition, I added UUC Swaybarbarians. This had a major impact on the car’s handling. In conjunction with the strut bar, everything about the ride became more precise. Not long after, I decided the aging suspension components could use a replacement. The UUC/Sachs Stage 3 kit was the logical choice, as I’d already installed the sways and strut bar. This landed my car the coveted ‘Stage 4 plus’ label.
During what became a marathon day of installations, some of the amazing friends I’ve met on this board helped me install the springs and shocks, as well as a UUC EVO3 Short Shift Kit with Double Shear Selector Rod (DSSR), and UUC Underdrive pullies. The car saw it’s most dramatic improvements after that long day.
Handling, suspension, and driver input were now covered, and it was now time to gain what power I could from the 2.5-liter engine. We installed the UUC TSE3 cat-back exhaust. Though I originally was interested only in improving the sound of the car’s exhaust, this was a nice step toward freeing up available power previously bottled up by the 323’s single pipe stock system.
I was then offered the rare opportunity to test a prototypical product - a Cold Air Intake that UUC is developing with a European manufacturer. Though the product is still in its developmental stages, the power gains were quite noticeable to me. As an added benefit, this intake is practically silent. There is no whistle or hiss typically associated with most aftermarket intakes. Look for this product when it is released – I love it!
Most recently, the Brakefest and teamdfl pit crew helped me install the UUC Gen1 Ultimate Big Brake Kit on the front wheels. The difference between this kit and the stock 323 system is quite remarkable.
I am still amazed at the transformation this simple sedan has undergone. It is a thrill to walk up to it, get in, and drive it everyday. I hope you can find this satisfaction from your own project!
The vast majority of the work done on my car has been at the hands of a special group of fanatics here in NJ. We call our installation events ‘Brakefests’. Ed (teamdfl) began using this term a few years ago when he hosted a day of brake maintenance work. Since then, Brakefest has become the generic name for any work we get together for.
The heart of the Brakefest pit crew is comprised by Ed (teamdfl), Brian (bbh03), Dave (dboffa), Mike (Elwood), and myself. Several other fanatics have joined in on our events from time to time as well, including Colin (r0x) and his scary photographic talent, Jared (JCz04Bimmer), Jairo (JFS), and sometimes the elusive and waif-like Brent (B).
This board has introduced me to some of the most helpful and good-natured friends I have. I’ve also learned more than I’d ever anticipated. I’d never even done an oil change before attending my first Brakefest less than two years ago.
Also, I need to thank and mention UUC Motorwerks for their support along the way. Rob Levinson took special interest in my project, and has been there to answer my call for any question or concern I’ve had about the products. Sunny, Arjun, and Mike have also gone out of their way for me many times. I can’t say enough about their products, customer service, and dedication to superior quality.
Thanks to everyone I’ve mentioned, and to my Fiancée Donna for her patience throughout this project. Finally, thanks to Tim and E46Fanatics for introducing me to the possibilities.
Original UUC Strutbarbarian Review - 1-6-04
So, after the exhausting 4 1/2 minute install [/sarcasm], and the application of a couple UUC Motorwerks stickers (10 hp each), I took my 323 powered beast to my favorite exit ramp and jug handle (cloverleaf-type exit to any non-NJ fanatic). I proceeded to pretend I was on an autocross track and pushed the car a little harder than normal through the tight turns. The result? Here are a couple facts to consider first:
1. My car is mechanically stock, aside from the new strut bar
2. 2000 323i (sedan), sport package
3. 16" Stock rims with Bridgestone all seasons
4. UUC Swaybarbarians - still in the box in the trunk - perhaps their mere presence improves performance...
5. In tight turns, I typically can expect some under steer, and some fight from the steering
That in mind, I was pleased to find that the steering felt more stable, and the under steer I normally anticipate didn't occur. Now, I know there is the possibility that, like a placebo effect, I hoped for and anticipated this improvement, and therefore felt it. But I hit the turns in as objective a mindset as I could muster.
I also noticed a difference backing out of the driveway - normally, if I back out at even a slight angle, the car seems to 'twist' as one front wheel hits the street before the other. It felt more rigid with the bar installed - and it should, considering it theoretically ties the front of the frame together.
As for the product itself, it's obviously looks awesome, and it is remarkably light. I knew it weighed just over 2 pounds, but when you pick up an object of that size that weighs so little, it is surprising.
Read the review and discuss on the forum here
Original UUC BBK review - 12-24-04
Thanks to the always-expert help of two of the NJ Crew's finest mechanics, bbh03 and dboffa, we installed the UUC Gen 1 Big Brake Kit last night. The Brakefest took about two hours, including clean up. Aside from some minor technical difficulties with the power bleeder, the install went smoothly. The three of us have become rather familiar with brakes over the past few Brakefest events, which made the process far less scary than one might anticipate.
More thanks are owed to Rob and the rest of the UUC crew. They've been great to me throughout all the recent modding - and my car is a rolling example of UUC's quality and attention to detail. For more information about the Gen 1 brake kit, and the closeout sale of this awesome package click www.uucmotorwerks.com/BBK_BLOWOUT.htm.
Now - a brief review. There's not much more to say than GOOD LORD! For those of you fellow 323 drivers, you know that our cars have very decent, above average braking capability bone stock. Once bigger wheels are added, that stopping power gets a little weak by comparison. With that in mind, to say the difference between the bbk and stock is night and day would be giving the Sun way too much credit. The car just stops - no screwing around, no hoping you'll stop before the intersection. At the same time, they are not overly grabby in city traffic. Once used to the required pedal force, they are very featherable. The addition of the included stainless steel lines makes the pedal action very precise.
The brakes fit with no problem under my 17" O-Z Superleggeras, but will require a spacer for my Sport Edition Fox 6 (thanks TireRack) winter wheels. For now, I'm hoping it doesn't snow before the spacers get delivered.
Read the review and discuss on the forum here
UUC Swaybarbarian Review
Though installed outside of the typical sequence of suspension upgrades – after the strut bar and before springs and shocks – these sway bars offered a dramatic increase in precision and body roll control. Upon inspection, it was easy to see the size difference between the stock bars and the UUC pieces. Clearly, the larger diameter bars were going to be significantly stronger, and I could simply anticipate the improved handling.
After the installation, the car felt far more neutral than before – not too much under steer, not too much over steer. It was most appreciable on the autocross track, where I was able to hit turns a bit faster knowing the former under steer issues wouldn’t send me plowing through the cones.
For everyday driving/cruising, there is little palpable difference when not being aggressive in turns – they do not make the ride harsh in any way. However, do a quick lane change or hit the twisty back roads, and you realize immediately the sway bars are holding you on your intended line.
UUC TSE3 review - 10-6-04
If I didn't see and hear it for myself, I would have never believed my car could sound like this. As you all know or have read, the quality of this exhaust's construction, fit and finish is unmatched. I did not install myself, but I understand they had no fitment issues or difficulties with the installation on my 2000 323i.
When you start the car, it is nearly impossible not to smile and snicker like a mad scientist. As the automatic choke settles in, the exhaust goes practically silent. Gentle cruising again creates no significant volume, though the deeper note of the exhaust is audible. Jump on the throttle and it sings. And, not that fart can Civic exhaust sound we hate... It's nice and throaty, with a fantastic glug glug glug sound when you lift off the throttle and any back pressure releases.
My 'butt dyno' senses the accelleration being a little more 'free' in the mid to upper rpm range. Oh - no droning whatsoever, as has been mentioned before. Quite the contrary - at cruising, it is pretty quiet.
Obviously, it is louder than stock. It makes itself known, and seems to bring the car to life. How much louder than stock? You need to decide that for yourself. We all have different tastes and directions we want to take our mods. I certainly enjoy the way this exhausts has changed my ride.
Read the review and discuss on the forum here
UUC/Sachs Stage 4 suspension/EVO3/Pullies review - 8-22-04
After a killer day, improper tools, and totally unsafe working conditions, we (dboffa, bbh03, Elwood, and I) managed to get all these parts into my car. As you can imagine, the transformation from old - 2000 323i sport pkg suspension with 78k miles on it, with orig. shifter - to new - UUC Stage 4 (shocks, springs, sways, and strut bar), plus the EVOIII shifter with DSSR, plus under drive pullies - is quite overwhelming. It is truly a different vehicle now. Here are some brief reviews, as these items have been discussed at length here before. I'll get some photos once the suspension has a few days to settle, and I can clean my filthy pig of a car.
Read the review and discuss on the forum here
UUC/Sachs Stage 3 suspension
The stage three suspension was added to my existing UUC swaybars and UUC strut bar to creat the stage four package. First reaction - like I'd been given a new car. While my old shocks were undoubtedly worn, the difference goes beyond the improvement of the loss of dampening. The ride is extremely comfortable - at all speeds (had it up to about 95 this morning). So comfortable, in fact, that entering a turn, I found myself thinking I was in a soft riding car that would not handle the roll very well. Obviously, this is not the case. The combination of suspension elements in the stage 4 setup have virtually eliminated noticeable body roll, improved the neutral balance of the car, and just feels awesome as the car hits the apex of a turn. I need to drive a lot more to say anything but wow at this point.
As far as appearance goes, right now the drop is only about 1/2"-3/4", and is actually not terribly noticeable, but it's only been 16 hours or so...
Installation was not a job I recommend you diy. Without the proper tools and/or a death wish (we fall into the latter category, apparently), you will not install the front setup easily. Seriously, it's worth the money to have a shop compress the springs onto the shocks. We tried that route, but our local shop refused the job, basically. I'm sure if we shopped around, we'd have found a willing player, but we opted to buy a cheapo tool to do the job. It is going in the garbage today, as we likely stressed its components beyond safe capacities. The actual mounting of the assembled springs and shocks is easy, though.
EVOIII SSK with DSSR
Again, I'm nearly at a loss for words. First reaction - feels like a racecar. Amazing precision, some increased effort, extremely short throws. Everyone's big question - how much more effort? Honestly, not much. Overall, the amount of work to move the stock shifter through its full travel is the same as the slightest increase in push/pull you exert to shift now. The effort feels like it decreases while driving (compared to sitting in the driveway). The discussion of effort may sound like a big issue, but it is so not. The only reason I'm even addressing it is I know it is always the biggest concern - and I've been paying very close attention to it. I want to shift the car more now than I need to - it feels that nice.
Installation - Difficult, mainly because of the clip that must be released blindly. Huge thanks to Brian and Dave for their heroic efforts on this particular task. Actual assembly of the piece is a simple job.
The DSSR, which replaces the stock selector rod, has taken away the extremely loose feeling of play in the shifter. Everything is nice and tight.
Tough to tell a major difference, given the overload of input from the other new toys. When I try to isolate my attention to acceleration, I can only say the tangible improvement is slight. The improvement I noticed was a slightly faster throttle response, and a quicker swing up to the higher rev's in first and second. As the steering pump is now underdriven, the steering effort at the wheel is slightly increased, but in the best of ways - I absolutely love the way it feels. Just a bit 'tighter' than stock.
Installation - Brian and Dave also did this install without me. Though it was not his first time (and I have a manual transmission, no need to worry about the fan clutch like in an auto/step), Brian did the install in the time it took Mike and me to 1/2 compress one front spring. Brian calls the labor a 'little stupid job', as in, it is filler work while doing other, bigger projects. Pay close attention to torque specs, though - the bolts are small!
UUC Prototype Cold Air Intake Review
Conspicuously absent from the UUC catalog is this unique cold air intake system. It consists of a (real) carbon fiber air box with integral foam filter and a flexible hose that is routed and connected to the brake duct below. The carbon fiber box acts as the heat shield for the ducted cold air being drawn from the brake duct below.
First impression – there is a noticeable gain of power in second and third gear. Specifically, above 3000 rpm, there is more punch and throttle response. As I described it to the UUC team, if you are accelerating evenly in second or third gear, as the car reaches 3000-3500 rpm, it feels as though there is a ‘boost’ in the power being delivered. I am in no way equating this intake with a forced induction system, but that scenario proved noticeably different than with the stock air box.
I have no information on release dates or pricing, but if you are in the market for an intake, I strongly suggest waiting for this system’s unveiling.
What more can I say about all these UUC mods? Improvement all around!
Marathon install day
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