The SEMA Show exceeded 100,000 attendees in 2003, the first time in its 37-year history. As usual, european car spent a week combing the 9,000 exhibits for good stuff we hadn't seen before. Obviously, we missed a few things. Of those we found, some were from the usual suspects and a few were from tiny new upstarts we hadn't heard of. We thought the items here were especially interesting.
Eibach displayed Pro-Tronic modules for Mercedes vehicles with ABC active suspension. Pro-Tronic is a simple, plug-in module that lowers these cars about 1.2 in., similar to the change provided by Eibach's Pro-Kit lowering spring sets. Pro-Tronic also adjusts the damping characteristics of the ABC system. It is available for W220 S-Class, C215 CL-Class and R230 SL-Class. Eibach also launched Pro-Spacers, made from high-strength aluminum alloy and precisely machined for perfect hub-centric fit. They are TV approved.
Eibach Springs Inc.
Michelin's new Pilot Sport 2 tire is original equipment on the Porsche GT3 and Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren. It will be officially introduced to the press about the time you read this, so look for in-depth reviews soon.
H-Sport engineers complete vehicle suspension systems. Its Sport TVS kit for MINIs includes springs, anti-roll bars, camber plates, camber links and a strut tower brace. At SEMA, H-Sport introduced tubular, adjustable anti-roll bars for the 2004-up Audi S4, with diameters of 35mm front and 24mm rear. Roll-resistance rate increases versus stock are 60% front and 140- or 169% rear. To strengthen the rear subframe area, H Sport developed a billet aluminum reinforcement bracket that bolts from the subframe to a hard point on the chassis. H-Sport also showed 1-in. lowering springs and tubular, adjustable anti-roll bars for the BMW Z4.
Hotchkis Performance LLP
Jon K built a string of serious Porsches in Japan before founding Ziel Motorsports in Downey, Calif., and is quietly building more very fast cars. With suspension partner JIC, Ziel has developed the Cross suspension line for European vehicles, Porsches in particular.
Sport systems are street performance suspension, with adjustable ride height and fixed-rate damp-ers. They include pillow ball upper mounts, which allows MacPherson strut designs to benefit from front camber adjustment.
Competition systems use a lightweight, 15-way adjustable monotube damper. Height is adjustable separately from the spring perch, providing maximum suspension travel at any setting and corner weighting without affecting spring preload settings. Custom-tuned setups for any type of racing are also available.
Ziel Motorsports Inc.
Specialty Products Company introduced adjustable lower rear lateral links for 2002-up MINI Coopers. The links allow +/-4 degrees of rear camber change, to either reduce unwanted negative camber from lowering or add a bit more for maximum cornering power. They are machined from billet aluminum and anodized silver, with red lock nuts.
A similar product is available in steel for BMW E36 chassis BMWs.
Specialty Products Company
KW showed three-way adjustable twin-tube competition dampers for the BMW E46 and Porsche 996, with an external reservoir that allows low- to mid-speed rebound and low- and high-speed compression damping to be adjusted independently.
KW's tuning philosophy embraces degressive valving, with more low-speed damping to control vehicle body motions, but less high-speed damping and softer springs and bars to allow large bumps to be absorbed without drama.
All KW race dampers are hand-built in KW's competition department.
KW Suspensions North America
Stoptech announced the second generation of its ST-40 caliper. It is produced using a squeeze-forge process, resulting in a more consistent product with greater strength and durability. Fatigue resistance and seal life are also im-proved. Stoptech's test of 25 leading caliper models show that the ST-40 Gen-II is the stiffest caliper available. The refined shape of the new Gen-II caliper has increased clearance to the wheel hub and spokes. The ST-40 Gen-II can use 11 different piston diameters. StopTech can ideally match the target vehicle's master cylinder for optimum force application and brake modulation.
Billy Boat showed a T-304 stainless-steel performance exhaust system for the all-new Audi RS-6. B&B claims documented horsepower increases at the wheels and a sound that complements the big-hammer nature of the twin-turbo, V8-powered luxury sedan.
Billy Boat Performance Exhaust
ATE introduced high-performance brake kits based on a 326x30mm two-piece disc and four-piston caliper, the first big-brake systems we are aware of having attained TV approval. Approved applications at the time of this writing include Golf IV, Mercedes W 203 (S and CL), W209 (C-Class and CLK), BMW E36, E46 and Z3. Pending approval are systems for the MINI, Passat platform, Audi TT and A3 Quattro, and Volvo V70.
Continental Teves AG & Co. OHG
Garrett announced a new feature on its Web site that processes retail orders for turbo kits for vehicles ranging from 2.0L and 1.8T Volkswagens to the Huyabusa motorcycle.
Almost as exciting is that Garrett's GT28RS turbocharger is finally in production and available. It has come to be known as the Disco Potato, named for the psychedelically painted SEMA Show car it was developed for a few years ago. The GT28RS is a modern, dual-ball bearing turbocharger with the advanced GT wheel design, providing improved turbo efficiency, throttle response and overall performance versus other turbos. Most importantly, it's perfectly sized for a streetable, 1.8- to 2.2L engine, such as a big 1.8t. european car has witnessed a reliable 275 hp at the rear wheels on 91-octane gas with a GT28RS on a modern, 2.0L engine.
Remus introduced a 100% stainless-steel exhaust for the Porsche Cayenne, offering fit, quality, performance, looks and sound. european car has procured a Remus exhaust for one of its project cars, so look for more on this respected Austrian company in these pages soon.
Aftermarket seats can be more comfortable, more supportive and lighter than stock seats, but, if installed improperly, they can also be dangerous. Recaro takes the guesswork out of seat selection and installation with seats TV-approved on a by-vehicle-by-seat basis, including bolt-in mounting adapters designed for those seats in that car. Recaro announced a new range of lightweight seats, including "sports extreme," sport and comfort. The "sports extreme" seat uses a Kevlar shell and weighs just 15kg, including hardware and vehicle adaptation. The sports seat has adjustable side bolsters for maximum holding or maximum comfort. The comfort seat targets top-level sedans, and includes heating and cooling in its many adjustable features. All are designed to work with integrated vehicle safety systems
Recaro North America
PIAA, best known for its lighting equipment, has manufactured high-quality wheels for years. Its one-piece, forged X-1F Tanzo wheel was designed specifically for the Porsche Cayenne. The forging pro-cess results in an inherently round and balanced wheel. It reduces variations in aluminum composition and density for high strength and light weight. The 10x22 in. X-1F Tanzo weighs just 33 lb (15 kg). Other 22-in., one-piece wheels often weigh between 55 and 60 lb (25- to 30kg). The X-1F Tanzo also offers an exceptionally fine appearance, with a high luster and true surfaces; there is none of the imprecise waviness that afflicts many large, chromed wheels.
PIAA Corp. USA
Enkei is among the largest builder of alloy wheels in the world, providing everything from original equipment to the forged magnesium wheels used by the McLaren F1 team. At SEMA, Enkei showed the RC5 wheel in sizes just for Porsche 911s. It is not as light as the most expensive forged wheels, but it uses hollow-spoke technology to achieve significant weight savings. A simple, clean design, it's more for track enthusiasts than boulevard profilers; we love the look. A forged magnesium centerlock version is also available for racing. Other Enkei wheels for European performance applications include the RPF1 and NT03+M, which is used extensively in Japan's JGTCC.
Velox Performance introduced the Zeta 8, Zeta 5 and Zeta K wheel designs, a line of wheels designed especially to clear "big brake" upgrades from StopTech, Brembo and Endless. The wheels are also lightweight, no more than 1 lb per in. of diameter, while being high quality, affordable castings. All Zeta-line wheels maintain a 690kg load rating. The Zeta line debuts a bronze clearcoat finish that offers excellent corrosion resistance and the look of bronze anodizing at a much lower price. The Zeta lines are available in 17- and 18-in. fitments for mostly Japanese vehicles at first, but Volkswagen offsets are next on the to-do list.
Velox Automotive Group
Someone was going to be the first to do it, and BFGoodrich decided to be the one, showing a MINI with 225/30-20 g-Force T/A KDW tires. The point was that smaller cars, including Civics and Golf-platform vehicles, can now make this styling statement. The g-Force T/A KDW2's tread pattern has a unidirectional design with awesome water evacuation capability and excellent dry performance, as well as long tread life and excellent ride quality. The latter is key when fitting 24s on large SUVs. The 225/30-20 has a Y-speed rating, good to 186 mph.
Bridgestone's Potenza RE050 is an ultra-high-performance tire with a ribbed tread pattern inspired by F1 tire designs. It is already in use as original equipment on Mercedes, BMW, Porsche, Audi and Ferrari cars, including some run-flat applications. An engineer we interviewed relayed that the Potenza RE050 will offer dry performance near that of the premier Potenza S-03 when new, but that performance will fall off more as the tire ages. This is due to the use of the UNI-T technology family, whereas the much more expensive S-03 has more advanced UNI-T AQII. The Potenza RE050 will be available in 25 17-, 18- and 19-in. sizes, as well as eight 16- to 18-in. run-flat sizes. Bridgestone also introduced the Fuzion ZRi performance tire for enthusiast and tuner markets.
Yokohama introduced a new DOT-legal competition tire, the Advan A048. Available in January 2004 in 225/40-18, 265/35-18 and 285/30-18, it is intended to compete directly with other high-end entries in Porsche club racing events. The Advan A048 is a giant leap forward from Yokohama's existing DOT-legal competition tire, the A032. It offers more grip, longer life and less decay of performance with age and use. Construction draws on Yokohama's competition technologies as well, for improved transitions and maximum cornering and braking control.
Yokohama Tire Corp.
Innovate Technology's LM-1 is a fully digital air/fuel ratio (AFR) meter with capabilities for the professional, but priced for the enthusiast. Its self-calibrating circuitry compensates for changes in temperature, altitude and sensor condition. The LM-1 can record up to 44 minutes of AFR data, 12 times per sec., in multiple sessions. Data can be quickly downloaded into a PC and analyzed in a spreadsheet. With an available auxiliary cable, five additional inputs can be logged. Most low-cost AFR meters use a narrow-band oxygen sensor and can indicate only whether the fueling is rich or lean. The standard LM-1 in-cludes a Bosch wide-band sensor and everything needed to begin using it. Many additional accessories are available.
Innovate! Technology Inc.
(949) 388-4442 x123
Mechanix Wear introduced The Light Glove, featuring a battery-powered light mounted between the thumb and forefinger to illuminate tasks in poorly lit environments. It shuts off automatically after 7 min. of non-use to conserve battery life. The Light Glove will be available in fingerless and full-finger versions.
ProDiag(tm) by Shade Tree software allows VW and Audi owners or technicians to use their PalmOS(r) PDA as a VAG diagnostic tool. The affordably priced software kit allows users to check trouble codes, monitor the engine in real-time and make tuning adjustments. It offers many features found only in expensive factory tools, such as automated testing and data and fault code logging. The ProDiag system includes vehicle adapter, manual and software on CD-ROM.
Shade Tree Software