Originally Posted by voxsartoria
Big question: did he let her drive?
Ha ha! Of course not, which makes it all the more miraculous.
Well, I'm counting a bit of DIY, like removing the CDV valve, putting in stainless lines, getting more camber up front, etc. For the $1K, I'm thinking short shifter, underdrive pulleys, and simple software, like the Shark. These won't make the car really faster, but more enjoyable for each minute of driving than what it is stock.
But, yeah: new suspension and brakes will blow the budget skyhigh, as would making the gearing shorter. The one thing I still might do are headers.
I think we have divergent philosophies. Having gone the short shifter route, I would not do it again. You just get used to it, and then think it's too long. It's also noisier. The CDV is a good mod, but stainless steel lines don't really do much, and you add another maintenance item as they fray over time. More camber might help, but if you just pushing the pins out and getting a tiny bit more camber, I'm not sure it's really worth the effort.
As for power mods, it's not worth it for me to add maybe 3 percent more power at the expense of durability. If you don't know how to use 333 HP, what's the use of adding 10 more?
Aftermarket big brake kits also aren't worth it unless you seriously know what you're doing and are willing to futz around with them for a long time. If your brakes are fading at the track, better pad material and maybe more venting is probably what you need. Club racers use stock brake hardware with appropriate pads and venting, and with R-compound tires, they use their brakes harder than any of us ever will.
My mods would be:
1. Driving schools. As many as you can afford. Lots of $$$, but for the $2500 cost of a big brake kit, you can go to 4 or 5 schools which give you skills you can use on any car. Car mods can't do that and are lower bang for the buck in terms of real performance imparted. The fun factor is also much higher than any car mod.
2. Driving books. The Skip Barber book by Carlos Lopez, the Ross Bentley books, and the Carroll Smith books are all good. This is an adjunct to #1. This is super cheap compared to car mods, and once again is transferable to any car you drive.
3. Better tires. Not necessarily R compounds, but don't cheap out on summer max performance street tires. Better tires will improve acceleration, braking, and handling. No other car mod can do as much as a set of really good tires, and they aren't that expensive compared to car mods. Figure $800 out the door for a 17-inch set, and $1100 to $1200 for 18-inch sets.
4. After you've done 1 for a while, and you start learning the difference between your car's limitations and your limitations, you can then start to tune the car's suspension in really useful ways, and you can start playing with different brake pads.
My $1800 budget was for a set of coilover springs and shocks to soften the ride of the M3, BTW. But $1000 works too as you can get a set of springs and regular shocks.