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Old 07-29-2006, 07:26 AM   #1
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M030: Comprehensive Write-Up

a couple of months ago, i upgraded my suspension to M030 / RoW. a lot of people are curious as to the associated performace difference to the stock set-up. as such, i have decided to post a comprehensive analysis; what has this done for my car?

for starters, i drive a 1999 base model with a 5-speed. i just flipped 100K on the odometer Thursday on the race track (perfect celebration for such a milestone!). i also run updated wheels and tires:

Front: 18 x 7.5 w/ P225/40/18 BFG KDW II (35psi cold for the track)
Rear: 18 x 10 w/ P275/35/18 BFG KDW II (32psi cold for the track)

Cost & Equipment

i purchased my set-up from Sunset Imports for around $400. i did not change the dampers, only the sway bars and the springs. this is a bargain considering most aftermarket equipmpent can be had for around twice the price i paid for the M030.

also of note: the M030 front sway bar for a base box is the same as the STANDARD front sway on the boxster S. The M030 'S' sway is stiffer, so i chose it. the rear M030 sway for the BASE box is thicker than the M030 rear sway for the 'S', so i went with it: I'm running the M030 S sway up front and the M030 BASE sway in the rear.

Installation

i performed the installation myself. it took about an hour and fifteen minutes for each of the front springs and about 40min for the front sway.

the rears took about 2.5 hrs each side for the springs and about an hour for the sway (i do have a lot of experience as a mechanic, so expect to spend more time than this if you are unfamiliar with the way of the wrench).

i used a conventional pickle fork to split the ball joints. i tore one ball joint boot in the process, forcing me to purchase a new front control arm ($150 from a salvage yard). i recommend purchasing the proper Hazet Porsche ball-joint separator; it's cheap and will save you time and money if you do this yourself.

Alignment

my alignment was performed by Smyrna Tire near Atlanta. these guys do a great job on aligmnents and they only charge $60 for a 4-wheel set-up (that's REALLY cheap). i brought an alignment sheet with me and they set it up DEAD perfect. also, they allow you to participate in / watch the process, which i really like to see.

the RoW sport alignment is different than the standard in terms of camber. i had it aligned to -0.9 degrees up front and -1.9 degrees in the rear. after a recent track day, it became apparent quickly that much more negative camber is required up front than the Porsche spec recommendation. i'm going to match the rear setting (-1.9) this week.

Driveability

from a comfort perspective, the compromise is minimal. bumps and dips in the road really don't feel any worse than they did prior to the swap (confirmed by my co-pilot / girlfriend).

the only downside for me is that the RoW ride height is about 1" lower than stock up front and i run a GT3 nose. this gives me only 4" of clearance up front for the spoiler. i have to be VERY careful pulling into / out of driveways / parking lots to make sure it doesn't scrape.

the M030 makes a VERY significant difference in steering responsiveness. it feels much more go-cart like in that respect. turn-in is extremely crisp and precise. body roll is reduced probably 70% or so. the car remains much flatter through steady corners. balance is comparable to stock, but understeer is reduced a fair amount. it's a lot easier to weight the nose and bring the rear around than it used to be. i used to find that the car would 'push' a bit more than i'd like into corners and i found it tricky (with only 201HP on tap) to overcome this and rotate the car. this is no longer an issue.

the additional stiffness in the springs makes transient responses a lot sharper as well; the car is so stable at any speed that it just darts wherever you point it. i didn't measure a slalom difference, but i have some lap time differences i'll get to later in the post. the ability for the car to sustain grip is so great that it feels ALMOST impossible to shake it loose, even at VERY high speed.

the nearly non-existent sacrifice in comfort vs. the astounding increases to performance and handling make this upgrade a no-brainer in my opinion.

Performance

prior to this purchase, i got a g-timer. this allowed me to baseline the car prior to modification. the course i ran for both performance test / comparison sessions was Talladega Gran Prix (12 turn road course). i've posted a track map below.

baseline, my car did very well even before the upgrade. of course, it's never been a 'power' machine; it's all about sustained momentum and balance.

my baseline non-M030 track outing was in March. i regularly attained 0.95G's in the horseshoe turn running counter-clockwise; that seemed to be the best i hit in either direction that day (about 80 degrees outside). my fastest lap of the day running clockwise was 1:19. counter-clockwise, i ran a 1:17.

thursday, however, was a whole other ball game. i used to brake before some quick corners followed by tight ones. this time around, i could run flat out through the sweepers, brake hard, and hit the tighter corners at speeds that just blew my mind.

driving the car with the M030 feels much like the regular suspension (except for the reduced body roll) in terms of how i drive the car. the difference is that when i glance at the speedo, i realize i'm going about 10 - 15 mph faster everywhere.

from a numbers standpoint, the car was regularly pulling over 1G on the track. my max lateral grip was measured at 1.09 time after time in the horseshoe bend. i even saw 1.10G on one lap. this is on STREET tires, mind you.

my lap times were reduced to 1:13 clockwise and 1:10 counter-clockwise. we run three cars on the course at a time and we space them about 1/3 mile apart to keep it safe. one of the guys who used to give me some driver's ed runs a C5 'Vette 2003, stock). in six laps, i made up the 1/3 mile, caught him, and passed him. i was shocked. throughout the day, i was able to run down two C5's, an '01 or '02 camaro with coil-overs, sways, race bushings, etc. i ran down two other boxsters, an R32, and a Superformance Cobra. again, utterly shocked.

some of this is due to practice; i've become a much better driver over the past several months. much of this, however, i attribute to the M030 set-up. this is the suspension the car should have had to begin with. it's one of the best-handling cars i have ever driven.

if anyone has questions regarding set-up, installation, or any other thoughts, please post and i'll give you my opinions. the only thing i'd change right now is my front camber. the factory recommends -0.9 degrees up front. my tire wear shows that this isn't NEARLY enough. my rear tires wore quite evenly at -2.0; i'm going tomatch that setting up front and reduce my front tire pressures a bit for the next go-round in Feb / March (whenever they finish expanding the course).

there's a course map and a couple of pics below. hope you all find this helpful. take care.

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Old 07-29-2006, 07:27 AM   #2
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Old 07-29-2006, 07:29 AM   #3
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Old 07-29-2006, 08:09 AM   #4
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Here's a pic from an AutoX before the M030. You can see the difference in body roll when compared with the two pics above.
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Old 07-29-2006, 08:10 AM   #5
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This is a pic from the same AutoX. Again, note the body roll compared with the first two pics.
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Old 07-29-2006, 08:44 AM   #6
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Nice !!

Great write up and documentation on your M030 suspension....I have this setup on my '98, also Guards Red. Have only driven a 2006 Box with a standard suspension, and I got the same feel on mine.....Its like it rides on rails thru the turns! The handling on the Boxster is what its all about IMHO.....
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Old 07-29-2006, 08:54 AM   #7
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Just to confirm, both compared track runs are on the same tires running the same pressure?
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Old 07-31-2006, 06:43 AM   #8
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yes, same tire pressure. i also took the readings when the track was about the same temp. i'm going over my logged data and other info from the day. it appears my front camber is deflecting a bit (probably bushings) and that i didn't have NEAR enough dialed in.

with the proper camber set up front, i feel confident i will see between 1.1 and 1.2G's on the track.
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Old 09-01-2006, 08:22 PM   #9
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Just to let me get this straight,you changed the springs,sway bars and bushings only? Would the stock shock be able to take the change over time?
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Old 09-02-2006, 08:39 AM   #10
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stock struts are fine. they do make M030 dampers, but from what i understand, they aren't valved any differently. they do have shorter rods, but my car doesn't bottom out w/ stock dampers.
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Old 09-02-2006, 09:08 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blue2000s
Just to confirm, both compared track runs are on the same tires running the same pressure?



Quote:
Originally Posted by insite
yes, same tire pressure.
And tires?
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Old 09-07-2006, 04:01 PM   #12
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same type of tires; i roasted my fronts at the track, so the 1.2 recording was on a new set of the same brand / type (BFG KDW2)
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Old 09-07-2006, 09:00 PM   #13
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interesting this is a must do mod on the U.S. 996 911's never thought of it for the Boxster. Guess this will hold you over untill you go for the full PSS9, adjusting ride height is soooo cool.

with all those g's do you feel any strain the cv's or any other areas?
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Old 11-12-2006, 11:55 AM   #14
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What did you end up using for all you alignment settings?
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Old 11-12-2006, 02:01 PM   #15
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i wound up using stock toe front and rear with -1.6 deg camber up front and -1.9 deg in rear. i generally run 32psi front and 30 - 32psi rear.
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Old 11-16-2006, 03:55 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by insite
i wound up using stock toe front and rear with -1.6 deg camber up front and -1.9 deg in rear. i generally run 32psi front and 30 - 32psi rear.
Stock toe for the standard suspension or stock for the M030. I understand they're different.
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Old 11-17-2006, 09:36 AM   #17
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Yes, the ROW M030 is legendary for improving handling and performance of the Boxster - the 'Rest of the World' is lucky to have it as the stock sports suspension option.

We've got both the ROW M030 - http://www.epiqautosport.com/pro_boxster_row_m030_suspension.php ($999) and the M030 (not yet on the site, but they will be soon, for $850). We've got a review of the ROW M030 from Travis on our site also - http://www.epiqautosport.com/mode/content/category/50 - he experienced about the same thing you did.

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