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Project E36 323is Part 8 - Proper Wheels, Studs, and Tires

by Jonathan Lawson

Project E36 323is is continuing its transformation from the mildest of BMW's inline 6 cylinder options into a well-prepped street car that isn’t afraid of some track time. 

We last changed wheels and tires from the knock-off AC Schnitzers to a nice, albeit heavy, set of BBS RX wheels, and it helped changed the looks and performance of our mild mannered street car. Now with the help of D-Force, we were able to put our wheels on a diet and shed 8.6 pounds of rotational mass per corner and installed proper wheel studs. We called on Achilles Radial again to provide their championship-winning 123s tires to ensure that grip is something we won’t have to worry about.

 

D-Force wheels have been around for quite some time, and their LTW5 model is very popular with the BMW crowd. You can also find their wheels on cars such as the Pirelli World Challenge Roush Mustang. 
We chose to go with a set of 17" x 8.5" with a +40 offset in Anthracite. With these wheels weighing in at 15.5lbs we save 8.6 pounds per corner! 
This beneficial weight-savings is achieved through a unique manufacturing process: The center area of the wheel is first cast in a low pressure mold, then the wheel is placed on a CNC machine where it is pressed, heated, and spun simultaneously. This forces the aluminum in the barrel area of the wheel to be thinner than a cast wheel yet molecularly more dense, resulting in a semi-forged finish that provides more strength with less mass. The outcome is a wheel with the reduced weight and similar load-bearing strength of a forged wheel, but at a much lower cost. 
Our tire of choice is the Achilles Radial 123s in a 235/45/17 size. 

 

Achilles Radial came out swinging in 2012—their first year in Formula Drift US—with two wins and four podiums, eventually winning the 2012 Championship with driver Daigo Saito. While our E36 isn’t a drift car, the 123s also performs well on road courses as demonstrated by JC Meynet during Super Lap Battle.    
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Comments
TLucas
TLucaslink
Tuesday, July 22, 2014 2:49 AM
Awesome man, i daily drive a 323is saloon over here in Brazil and i folow this project closely for some time now. As she is aging, its great to upgrade instead of just mantaining. The M3 only came to my country in coupe guise, its about 3+ times more expensive than a 323 and with 15 to 20 years on rubbish brazilian roads, makes a lot of sense to get a 323, and upgrade the snot out of it with shiny new parts!! Looking forward to the engine upgrade!!
Dusty Duster
Dusty Dusterlink
Tuesday, July 22, 2014 7:59 AM
If I ever have the misfortune of owning a car that uses wheel bolts instead of lug nuts, the first thing I'm doing is installing studs.
Nick B
Nick Blink
Tuesday, July 22, 2014 10:20 AM
@TLucas - thanks for the support! The engine upgrade isn't going to be for a little while so there might be a short hiatus of article on this car but it will be back, I promise.
bigBcraig
bigBcraiglink
Tuesday, July 22, 2014 10:56 AM
Couple questions about the Achilles tires -

-Where did you purchase them? On the Achilles site the only US distributor I could find was American Tire Depot, which is only in SoCal?

-looks like on the packaging for your tires they're treadwear 220. (Not posted on their website?) Can you speak to how they compare to other 200 treadwear tires (Rival, Dunlop Z2, RE11A)? Could be an interesting budget tire for autocross as well as the various race series that use a 200 limit but its been difficult to find information or distributors for them.
Nick B
Nick Blink
Tuesday, July 22, 2014 12:04 PM
@bigBcraig - We get them from Achilles directly for testing and editorial. They are available for competition use through their Racer Support Program for ProAm drifters, SCCA, NASA, and Time Attack, but you'd want to verify that with them. The contact email is racing@achillesmotorsportsllc.com. You can also find this information on their Facebook page. Let them know you saw them on MotoIQ!

I can't really give you a good comparison to other tires as I've never ran on anything else and I'm pretty new to road racing/track days. I can attest that I have greatly enjoyed the tires and have never worried about the 323is pushing the tires beyond their limit since it's not that powerful of a car. I'll see if I can get Mike to chime in as we have them on the FRS as well.
Protodad
Protodadlink
Tuesday, July 22, 2014 12:12 PM
@bigBcraig: America's Tire is Discount Tire outside of CA. You can check with them as well.
Supercharged111
Supercharged111link
Tuesday, July 22, 2014 11:39 PM
Gee that's funny, no mention of Achilles on the NASA contingency list.

http://www.nasaproracing.com/contingency

MIQ is the only place I've ever heard of Achilles. They must be doing a piss poor job marketing their tires to the NASA crowd. As a 200 treadwear tire, it seems to me they'd only be good for HPDE or a class that deems it their spec tire, but if that were the case there'd be a contingency program for it. . . not trying to come off like a dick but I sure am doing a good job of it aren't I?
bigBcraig
bigBcraiglink
Wednesday, July 23, 2014 12:32 AM
Achilles is clearly doing things in Formula Drift, and I didn't mean to cause any controversy, I'm just a little confused about how a non-professional driver could get a set of these.

@Protodad As for America's / Discount tire, they don't distribute Achilles as far as I can tell, only "American Tire Depot" which seems to be a small socal chain with no national partner.
Nick B
Nick Blink
Wednesday, July 23, 2014 10:35 AM
@Supercharged - There's no mention of Achilles on the contingency list because there's no Achilles contingency program. Just because they are available for purchase doesn't necessarily make them the best choice, especially in NASA classes that require DOT tires. However there are teams that run their slicks at NASA events. They've also been used in the 25 Hours At Thunderhill on the CRE "Catfish" car. And of course there's the ProAm drifters that use them too.

The 123s is designed and marketed towards the drift scene so it's really well known there. I think the best use of them, other than drifting, would be for SCCA AutoX and Time Attack that requires a 200+ UTQG

@bigBcraig - As stated earlier non-professionals can get them through the racer support program if you qualify for it, you just can't get them at your local tire dealer yet.

Achilles Racer Support Application: http://www.achillesmotorsportsllc.com/Images/2014RacerSupportApplication.pdf

Catfish Car at 25 Hours Thunderhill on Achilles slicks:
http://photos.motoiq.com/Event-Coverage/25-Hours-of-Thunderhill-2012/i-S4wQqZv/1/L/_MG_7589-L.jpg

Spotted at a NASA Raceday (Achilles slicks):
http://photos.motoiq.com/photos/i-q2rDDNc/0/L/i-q2rDDNc-L.jpg

JC Meynet on Achilles 123s at Super Lap Battle:
http://photos.motoiq.com/photos/i-rfGMWhR/1/L/i-rfGMWhR-L.jpg

Slicks can be purchased through AIM Tire:
http://www.aimtire.com/typ_main.asp?ObjectID=528

MotoIQ G20 Racecar testing Achilles GS-328 slicks:
http://www.motoiq.com/MagazineArticles/ID/3082/TESTED-Achilles-GS-328-Race-Tire.aspx
mike156
mike156link
Wednesday, July 23, 2014 7:03 PM
Great article and a nice looking setup.

The comment about not having enough power to push these tires beyond the limits is odd though. Corners don't take power...just speed. My 318ti easily pushes the limits of my R-S3 tires on a daily basis and it's a little 1.8L. I'm not driving like a maniac. Just...you know...technically the speed limit is still 65mph, despite the posted 15mph suggested speed on a tight on ramp type of thing.
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