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that's what i keep saying - upgrade driver first! (archive)

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Posted by dp on September 28, 1999 at 15:15:44:

In Reply to: M Coupe rear shock experiment (long ramblings) posted by Mike S on September 26, 1999 at 23:25:55:

i did a couple of bike track schools recently on my new ducati 748, and half-way through the first one i thought i was getting comfortable with the bike and pushing it pretty hard. that was until some guy came sailing around me on the OUTSIDE of a turn on an old K75 bmw (an upright sport-tourer that was never considered the highest-performing machine, even in its day). he then proceeded to disappear into the distance. it was a very humbling and educational experience, and definitely helped me get more out of the second half of the school and the one after.

it is hard to believe just how fast most performance machines can be in stock form - until you observe an expert using them.

it is experiences like that which convinced me that if you are after performance, the best bang for the buck is in driver training (and you get to keep it after the car is long gone, too - in fact it's like upgrading all your current and future vehicles at once!). now, of course, modifications do change how the car makes you FEEL, and that's a very valid reason to get them. they might allow a given driver to go faster in a given car, but they don't always make the car faster.


: A few weeks back I wrote that the Bilstein shocks are now available for the M Coupe and M Roadster. Since the stock rear shocks are significantly lacking rebound damping, I ordered a set and posted here that I'd report back.

: First, I have no significant car driving experience so take my notes with the usual "it's from the internet" grain of salt.

: The Bilstein rears don't noticeably stiffen the ride, but they do significantly reduce the rear end's tendency to come around when you get off the gas or hit a bump big enough to unweight the car. I could tell this was the case immediately and even my brother commented that as a passenger it is a night-and-day difference. Still I wanted to break the shocks in and test them under tougher conditions before passing any judgement.

: This Saturday the San Diego BMWCCA chapter held an autocross at our local stadium. I attended, and the shocks performed better than I could have imagined. One quick note: another M Coupe was running in the M Modified class. It beat me by about 10 seconds a lap, running about one second off the pace of the fastest car there. The only mods on the car were R compound tires and Koni rear shocks. The driver probably could've beaten me in a Pinto.

: So I'll wrap it up with two pieces of advice. Replace the rear shocks on your M Coupe, and get to any autocrosses in your area. They're more fun than should legally be allowed and you'll learn a *lot* to improve your driving skills.

: Mike

: PS Any M Coupe owners in the San Diego area that would like to drive my car for comparison are welcome to e-mail me privately.

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