From the factory, cars come in good working order. Your stereo works, the windows roll down, and it starts every morning. While all this is fine and dandy, stock cars, when it comes down to it, are quite frankly boring as hell. Yes, cars like the GT-R come ready to perform stock, but if you’re really into this car lifestyle that’s not good enough. There’s always room for improvement no matter what kind of car you have, whether it’s a POS handed down by your parents, or the car you saved up all summer to buy, there’s something you can do to make it look and perform better.
I’ve had a few cars in my day—a couple of Nissan S13s, a Honda S2000, an Evo X, and even an MKIV Supra. Some of these cars were pretty basic, others I probably did a little more than I should have.
It’s natural to get fed up with tuned cars every once and awhile; I know I have. After running into turbo problems on my Evo X combined with some electrical issues I decided to go back to my roots and get an S14 (see build story in Aug. ’11 issue). While this car was fun, when it came down to it the amount of work I’d have to put into the car to make it something I could enjoy was more than I wanted to do. This is where I hit that low point in a tuner’s life … I decided to get a four-door automatic.
While I didn’t fully go off the deep end and get a Ford Taurus, I went with something a little more luxurious and not so tempting to modify: a ’06 Infiniti M35. I’ll be honest it was refreshing to drive this car at first; I didn’t have to worry about shifting gears. The A/C and stereo worked. I could get in the car everyday, and it’d start up and go—plus you can fit five people and not worry about getting over speed bumps without leaving half of your undercarriage on the parking lot ground.
Fast-forward six months—yeah, the whole luxurious feeling lost its allure. Just walking out to a parking lot and having your car lost in a sea of sameness makes you feel like you lost your soul. I missed knowing my car didn’t look like every wannabe executive VP in Orange County. I even missed having to go into the driveway at extreme angles. It was finally time to modify my car.
Lucky for me, Evasive Motorsports is on my way home, so after work I stopped by to see what kinds of aftermarket parts I could get for my car. Knowing that I wanted to start off with the basics I knew I needed to get some wheels and suspension. Finding the suspension was the easy part; BC Racing has their BR coilover kit that features a mono-tube shock design with 30-way damping adjustment. Being able to adjust the ride height and damping is key to getting the right look as well as the smoothest ride for the street. Another key feature of the BC Racing coilovers is that you are able to order custom spring rates, knowing I wanted a pillow-like comfort ride I elected to go with a softer spring rate of 10 kg in the front and 8 kg in the rear.
With suspension out of the way it was time for the all-important wheel decision. While most VIP-styled cars can fit wheels with a good amount of dish, the Infiniti M35 isn’t as fortunate. I knew that I didn’t want to do crazy fender mods and decided to find a safer setup, stanced-out Oni-Camber might look cool on YouTube but I’d rather not have to get new tires every 10,000 miles. The setup on the wheels I went with was fairly conservative with a 20x9.5 in the front and 20x10 in the rear.
A month after ordering the custom-sized Weds I got a call from Evasive to schedule an appointment to get everything put on. The install of the coilovers is straightforward. Evasive head mechanic JJ took off the stock springs and shocks and threw the BC Racing coilovers right in there. Once those were in Evasive mounted up some Continental Extreme DWS tires. We went with a little stretch on the tire setup just to make sure we didn’t have any rubbing issues, running 225/35R20 for the fronts and 245/35R20 in the rear.
Now was the moment of truth, we put the wheels on and set the car on the ground. Holy sunken battleship! While we were trying to be conservative with the wheel sizing we went a little too safe. Lucky for me Evasive had some 15mm wheel spacers in stock. Since the initial ride height had to be adjusted to even out the front and rear height, we put the spacers on at the same time.
Moment of truth, part two. Putting it on the ground I was happy with how the car sat, but needed to drive it around the block to see if the tires rubbed and if I could make it up and down driveways. For this we loaded the car up with three other dudes, and as soon as we left the driveway it was all too clear that the car was too low. Going straight at 30 mph the under panel would scrape over the slightest bumps, but since the BC Racing coilovers are adjustable it was an easy fix. I stiffened up the damping and raised it up .5 inch.
Third time’s a charm, right? Well it sure is. After making those last minor adjustments, I drove the car around the block and we were good to go.
Adjustability is key. Being able to fine-tune the suspension and wheel setup I was able to get the best mix of form with function. The slammed/stanced/retarded camber cars you see on the Internet are cool to look at, but when it comes down to it I like to be able to drive my car with the least amount of hassles. I was able to get the look I wanted, keep the fenders stock, and still enjoy a comfortable ride.
4x4 Stock Height
BC Racing coilover kit
JJ at Evasive busting off the wheel locks. Note to self: Never lose your wheel lock keys.
Front suspension: stock versus BC Racing
Rear suspension: stock versus BC Racing
Fresh set of Continental Extreme DWS about to be mounted
Rear suspension about to be finished
JJ taking extra care mounting the tires
Measuring the ride height
Always get an alignment when lowering your car
Kel making sure we obtained just the right amount of camber
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