- Öhlins advanced Road & Track suspension system improves handling characteristics using patented DFV technology.
- A toe link kit from Fall-Line Motorsport along with fresh Ground Control camber plates accompany the new dampers in this F80 M3.
- Exchanging bushings for bearings upgrades steering response even further.
Welcome to the latest iteration of our Publisher’s F80 BMW M3 project! This car has already received its fair share of modifications in the past, but with a few items getting revamped and a growing used market segment for this chassis, we felt it was time to devote more to it.
First on that list is an essential ingredient of any build: suspension. It’s responsible for processing the curves of the road, your steering wheel’s input, and your tires’ request for more traction. Regardless of the suspension type, a well-functioning aftermarket kit will entirely remaster your weathered factory units.
For the main bits, we turned to the advanced motorsport suspension masters at Öhlins. For over 40 years, the team at Öhlins has been integrated into the highest levels of motorsport, supplying everything from MotoGP bikes and Formula One single-seaters to weekend happenings at local racetracks. The company has pioneered innovations in the suspension market and has worked with some of the most prestigious manufacturers in the world. The USA branch’s Vehicle Dynamics Group even operates a highly-coveted chassis dyno that spends most of its time rented out to professional race teams from all over the globe. All of this background culminates in a high-quality performance product made for the track but suitable for the street.
WHERE WE BE
We visited our good friends right down the street at R/T Tuning in Montgomeryville, PA, for the installation. Since 2004, R/T Tuning has made a name for itself as a full-service dealership-quality performance shop without all of the headaches — they’re pretty darn handy with dyno tuning and alignment, too. Today, they’d be helping us with their vast suspension knowledge.
ROAD & TRACK
While Öhlins manufactures the hardest of hardcore suspension setups for the F80 M3 (the TTX-PRO), we’re dialing this install back a little in favor of a more streetable format: the Road & Track.
The Road & Track system will help us reach a nice balance of track capability and street comfort, which is necessary for this instance. With patented Dual Flow Valve (DFV) technology and an OE level quality of engineering and longevity, these are the ideal solution for this F80 M3.
DFV provides an additional oil bypass when bumps get too severe. The engineers at Öhlins tuned the damper for increased support when turning and braking while maintaining composure over track curbing or any rough pavement. Creating that structure allows the use of linear spring rates, similar to a motorsport application, for further chassis support without sacrificing that precious daily comfort.
NO DEGREE NEEDED
With damping adjustability rendered via a single knob, you don’t need to be an engineer to set up your car correctly. By proportionally increasing compression and rebound damping to suit your needs, this one knob will ensure your dampers are within their best usable range without over-complicating the adjustment process. Good news for all of us who don’t have a pit crew surrounding our car each time we’ve finished driving somewhere.
We’re just talking about canceling BMW’s EDC or Electronic Damper Control system. From the factory, this car came equipped with this operation that automatically or manually adjusts each damper to suit your driving conditions. The only issue is that once the EDC system can’t establish communication between the OE dampers (no longer on the car) and the car’s computer, then your instrument panel starts to light up in all sorts of unfashionable ways. To remedy this, Öhlins makes its EDC Cancelation Kit, which connects via factory plugs and deactivates those pesky dash lights and error codes when its mechanical coilover replaces the OE electronically adjustable suspension.
The front pieces in this kit utilize monotube DFV struts with separate spring preload and height adjustment. However, they don’t offer camber adjustment in the supplied top hats. To position the car precisely how the owner envisioned it over a new wheel setup, we’ll need to increase the negative camber in excess of the standard factory adjustment. Enter Ground Control Suspension and its sport camber plates. These feature over 30mm of total camber adjustment and offer corrective caster changes to equalize side-to-side caster. The plates are anodized, and the hardware is zinc-plated, so it’s sure to withstand our harsh Northeast winters. The only note we felt necessary to make is that the F8x’s famous carbon fiber strut bar should remain removed until all adjustments and alignment settings are dialed in, as the bar in position limits some adjustments.
MONO BALL TIME
Rarely can one modification drastically transform a vehicle’s steering and suspension feel, but that’s what the Fall-Line Motorsports mono ball conversion does. By pressing out the large front rubber bushing on the M3’s thrust arm and switching to a bearing housed in a machined aluminum casing, this one modification eliminates bushing deflection that causes unwanted geometry change and steering wobble under braking. Among the worthy modifications made on the vehicle, this one’s a must for F8x owners.
To allow fine-tuning of wheel fitment and make quick work of car setup, R/T Tuning installed a Fall-Line Motorsports race toe link kit. This toe link inserts stiff bearings in place of rubber bushings and stops the dynamic change in the car’s alignment settings. The track width and toe will remain constant, allowing the toe to be reset after camber adjustments. With the race version, a unique clamp-style fastener system permits tightening of the arm without stretching the hardware or changing the alignment setting.
With suspension handled, that doesn’t finish this F80 M3’s changes, but we’re going to save the rest for another installment. You’ll notice we didn’t go over the alignment process; that’s because there’s a unique set of wheels and tires going on first. Stay tuned as we pick back up with this project in our next part, where we add new shoes and some fancy seating arrangements.