SOWO Presents: European Experience 2018 – The ECS Tuning Official Coverage

After what felt like a never-ending winter, warm weather finally brought with it the show season and an excuse to leave the office to spend a few days on the beach in South Georgia. While the official debut of our sweepstakes GTI happened last month at Euro District, ECS Tuning attended The European Experience in Savannah, Georgia to show off the new additions to our VW MK7.5 we built with Racingline, StopTech, LIQUI MOLY, and other fantastic vendors. The GTI traveled in style in an enclosed trailer and our video team flew from Ohio to Georgia, but our writer drove his E30 convertible the entire distance to offer our readers a unique experience.

With the GTI loaded Thursday morning, Stephan and Zach seated on a plane, and a 1300 mile road trip ahead of him, this writer made final preparations to drive his 24v swapped E30 Vert. As with any long drive in a vintage car, being ready for anything is key. A fresh oil change with LIQUI-MOLY Molygen 5w-40, new Bosch spark plugs, and Oxygen sensors were all installed as precautions taken to ensure the now twenty-year-old engine would be perfectly happy running at 3500 RPM for nearly 24 hours. KONI yellow dampers, Lemförder tie rods and control arms, and Turner Motorsport Monoball FCABs were also installed, replacing all the same components which had extended their service life. These replacements wound up becoming some of the best decisions for the trip. The ride on the adjustable dampers was extremely comfortable despite the thirty-year-old car’s best efforts to make the trip more inconvenient. Lastly, a fresh set of comfort tires were swapped out for the Yokohama S-Drives on the car to improve the ride quality for the cross-country drive.

The maintenance was hurriedly completed, the luggage stuffed into the compact BMW, and the top was dropped for the longest road trip this E30 had ever taken. A lonely, boring, and extremely loud drive to Nashville went quickly with almost no incident.

Once in Nashville, the real adventure began. A quick ‘driver’s meeting’ at a convenient highway exit, brief introductions between some new friends, and a fresh resupply of energy drinks and gas all took place before we jumped back on the road. We departed around midnight; our troupe of BMWs (and a token W124 Mercedes) rumbled onto the highway for a full night of pothole dodging, bleary-eyed, driving.

The uneventful trip found us in Savannah just after dawn. Ordinary beachgoers would make the sensible decision to unload at their hotel or Air BNB. Because they are car enthusiasts, our intrepid crew thundered over to Tybee Island for beach naps and the impromptu satellite car meets that would happen throughout the weekend.

Possibly more fun than the actual events themselves, one of the more beautiful phenomena surrounding large-scale enthusiast events is the crazy spike in modified vehicle traffic around small population towns. Nearly every corner sported a Porsche or Audi bagged to the ground and every stoplight featured lines of European vehicles causing the disproportionately small number of ‘normal’ vehicles to feel outnumbered. The anticipation for the next day’s European Experience was magnified by seeing the teasers just driving around Tybee and Savannah.

The next morning brought unexpectedly beautiful weather for the show. The line began piling up just before 8:00 AM with the doors to not officially open for another few hours. Either due to excitement or just the knowledge of all the poor air-cooled VWs idling in line, the event staff decided to open the gates early and let the descending enthusiasts pour into the venue. Thanks to the split environment, a distinct divide in atmosphere gave EUEX a unique feeling. Vendor booths were situated in a pit-stop style setup with the other show participants trafficked between them to the pasture-like field adjacent to the main concourse. A relaxed vibe befitting a grassy field near the beach offered shady sanctuary, while the high-energy half of the show took place around the main stage and vendor booths. Our own MK7.5 could be seen near the entrance, parked with the Black Forest Industries crowd.

The personally owned cars tend to have a different feel than the professionally sponsored cars, though they often exhibit equal or better quality. Between classic cars and contemporary builds, the whole EUEX show offered a wide variety. We enjoyed spotting ECS products nearly every time we turned around and loved all the kind words. Several times in conversation we were given a wonderful surprise by someone pointing out all the parts of their build to which we have contributed with our parts or services. It is always nice to see the cars and owners that we only see once or twice a year, but even better to meet new folks who are so excited to be a part of the community and to see faces from the other side of the internet.

The aspect of immediately knowing each other, despite having never met, is an incredible one among the enthusiast community. With the normality of social media and instant communication, the network of European automotive enthusiasts both grows and shrinks. Events like EUEX give us the chance to party together and enjoy our hobbies.

 

The first day of EUEX was exceptional. There were a palpable energy and excitement that hovered over the venue while still feeling relaxed. Our group had the opportunity to walk the show and chat with owners and enthusiasts quite informally. The benefit of being by ourselves meant the freeform schedule allowed us to follow what we were interested in and spot our favorite cars rather than be held to a strict requirement for sponsored content.

We did, however, take a few chances to show off some of our products and our vendor’s products featured on several cars who were part of the show.

With the first day closed out, we left the venue for some home-cooked food and a good night’s sleep before the final day of the show Sunday and a long drive North. That evening, downtown Savannah was invaded by all the show cars and EUEX attendees, so the event really just changed locations. Again, more satellite meets, photo sessions, and otherwise unaffiliated gatherings took place throughout the night before the final day in Georgia.

Sunday brought a light drizzle and some cloud cover but was an otherwise pleasant day for more car spotting. The atmosphere of the show completely changed from the previous day. A more sociable, relaxed, and happily disorganized vibe hovered over the show. Since we planned to be back in Tennessee by the end of the day, we arrived at the venue early that morning to load in and enjoy the last part of EUEX.

 

 

 

The chill ambiance was amplified by the lack of structure to the parking free-for-all that became of the infield. Groups parked where they pleased and no one seemed to mind. The final day offered people opportunities to set up photo shoots with their crews, saw the low car limbo contest, and finally the awards ceremony. Since the judging was already complete, the second day saw more tomfoolery.

Our own E30 took part in the limbo contest. Though we did not win, the fun and excitement of piling everyone in arms reach of the car onto the hood, trunk, and anywhere with space for them is always a hysterical misuse of automotive technology.

Finally, the awards ceremony brought the best of the best European builds to the front and center. To be chosen as an EUEX Top 50 car is an honor in itself. To be selected for best of categories is an even more exclusive experience and justifies the hard work that brought you to that podium.

 

 

 

 

 

Though we had to leave fairly quickly during the awards ceremony, the whole weekend offered an incredible experience. Both in driving a vintage car further than it had ever been driven and in having the weekend to explore and observe completely unrestricted by schedule or obligation. We look forward to taking part in more shows throughout the season and hope to see everyone in Gatlinburg, TN for Slammedenuff Gatlinburg 2018!

Genuine OEM Parts Are Best: You Can’t Change Our Minds

Car enthusiasts are just as concerned with keeping their vehicles maintained as they are with adding power. If your car is broken down, it doesn’t matter how much power it makes! The biggest hassle with maintenance is needing to do the same job twice or more. How do we ensure the parts we are using will stand the test of time and keep our cars on the road? The answer is simple: by using Genuine OEM parts or OEM suppliers, you know that each new part is going to function and last as long as the manufacturer intended for the best results.

ECS Tuning offers myriad aftermarket components and upgrades from nearly all the top vendors, but we also pride ourselves on our inventory of Genuine OEM parts for the true enthusiast who is concerned with keeping their car running with the top-shelf parts trusted by the manufacturer. Genuine Audi, BMW, Porsche, MINI, and Volkswagen parts give you the peace of mind that your replacement components are exactly right for the car.

Many times, reproduction parts are not held to the same standards or do not account for the same parameters the OEM manufacturers knew would need to be addressed for the perfect function. To quote quite possibly the only profound line from an otherwise terrible movie, “its one thing to understand how to bolt (aftermarket) parts to your car, but its another thing entirely to understand how they all work together.” (Born To Race, 2011).

The research, development, and stringent tolerances of Genuine OEM parts absolutely guarantees that each part will function as intended and last for the full duration of the expected and necessary lifespan of the component. Make sure your next maintenance project includes only Genuine parts for the best fitment, perfect function, and assured durability. Check out our selection of full parts catalogs for your European vehicle!

Genuine BMW

Genuine Audi/Volkswagen

Genuine MINI

Genuine Porsche

Vendor Spotlight: Rennline Performance Porsche Parts

An amazing aspect of the aftermarket car community is that as new generations carry the torch for enthusiasm. We are given new products and manufacturers provided by a number of new enthusiast innovators. These enthusiasts, like the folks up in Vermont at Rennline, are the next wave of household names to emerging in the European aftermarket industry. ECS Tuning is now proud to offer Rennline products and is excited to add yet another enthusiast-driven company to our roster of supporting manufacturers.

Rennline offers several specialty products they design and manufacture for performance and competitive use. They are well known for their fire extinguisher mounting systems and various Porsche parts, but their catalog extends to cover several applications over a wide range of European vehicles and is constantly expanding.

Perhaps one of the more universal products, Rennline offers competition wheel stud conversions, which is designed to replace your inconvenient lug-studs with sturdier and more agreeable wheel studs and lugs. This upgrade is required by some racing leagues for its durability and additional safety, while it is also the perfect way to make removal or installation of wheels a breeze.

On the topic of regulations and requirements, Rennline also provides folding tow hooks, tow decals, their well-known fire extinguisher bracket, and RS-style door pulls for the track enthusiast. Make sure your competitive vehicle meets all the rules with Rennline products while ensuring quality, durability, and style are congruent with the rest of your build.

Of course, there are protective parts as well. The Rennline skid plates protect your car from road hazards that would otherwise spell disaster for your exposed underbody components. These durable shields are the best protection for your car and absolutely necessary for any lowered vehicle that sees rough roads or hard driving.

Rennline is a wonderful addition to our roster from whom we look forward to seeing new and exciting products in the near future. As the Rennline catalog grows, stay tuned for more information about new products that might be for your Audi, BMW, Mini, Porsche, or VW.

DIY: How to Bleed Your Brakes the Right Way

Introduction:

This article will give you all the information you need to successfully bleed your brake system. The following topics will be covered:

  • When and why you need to bleed your brakes

  • The different methods you can use

  • The different tools that are available

  • The different types of brake fluid and why it is important to keep it sealed

Bleeding the brakes on your car is quite often thought of as one of the most annoying and confidence-shaking tasks that you can face. The fact is, it is actually one of the most misunderstood processes. All it requires is a little bit of patience and you will find that it is rather simple. Once you read and understand these processes, you will be able to successfully bleed a brake system with ease.

Brake Fluid Warnings

Brake fluid can be extremely dangerous. Always use caution and wear safety glasses when working with brake fluid. All brake fluid containers will have safety and emergency information printed on the label.

Brake fluid is hygroscopic which means it will absorb water from the atmosphere. This absorption will alter its chemical characteristics and reduce its effectiveness. It is critical to keep brake fluid containers sealed at all times and only open them when adding fluid.

Brake fluid is extremely damaging to paint, even if it only contacts the surface for a brief moment. We recommend using protective fender covers wherever possible. It is also a very good idea to keep water, a quick detail spray or cleaner, and a soft rag close by. In the event that brake fluid contacts the paint on your car, rinse it off immediately, followed by spraying a detail spray or cleaner on the surface and wiping it clean with a soft rag.

General Preparation and Safety Information

ECS Tuning cares about your health and safety. Please read the following safety information. This information pertains to automotive service in general, and while it may not pertain to every job you do, please remember and share these important safety tips.

Park your car in a safe, well lit, level area.
Shut the engine off and remove the key from the ignition switch.
Make sure any remote start devices are properly disabled.
ALWAYS wear safety glasses.
Make sure the parking brake is applied until the vehicle is safely lifted and supported.
If using an automotive lift, be sure and utilize the factory specified lift points. Lifting a vehicle incorrectly can cause damage to the suspension/running gear.

When lifting a vehicle using a jack, always utilize the factory specified lift points. Lifting a vehicle incorrectly can cause damage to the suspension/running gear. ALWAYS support the vehicle with jack stands.
ALWAYS read and follow all safety information and warnings for the equipment you are using.
Brake Bleeding Tools:
Brake Fluid Catch Bottle

The most essential of bleeding tools, brake fluid catch bottles are available in a couple of different styles. The Schwaben Brake Bleeder Catch Bottle is ideal for manual bleeding or pressure bleeding. It is easy to hold and easy to see through. The 90-degree bleeder nipple is easy to grip and is made of a soft yet resilient rubber which will easily push on and seal to all sizes of bleeder screws. The angle of the bleeder nipple also keeps the weight of the hose off the bleeder screw, preventing it from falling off. The clear tubing allows you to see brake fluid flow, and more importantly, the presence of air bubbles.

The Schwaben Power Bleeder Catch Bottles are ideal for gravity bleeding or manual bleeding when you are working solo. They are easy to hold and see through. The key feature of these bottles is a stainless steel lanyard which allows you to hang them from the suspension, allowing the bottle to remain connected while you perform other tasks.

Pressure Bleeder

The Schwaben Pressure Bleeder is very useful for many brake bleeding applications. They are a quick and efficient way of bleeding brakes, and very helpful when you are working solo. It features a high strength plastic bottle with an easily readable gauge on the side and a built-in hand pump in the

lid. A machined aluminum cap which fits most European master cylinder reservoirs is attached to the flexible brake fluid supply hose.

Vacuum Bleeder

The Schwaben Professional Vacuum Bleeder is also very useful when working solo. It features a high capacity plastic tank with an easily readable gauge on the side and a built-in vacuum pump in the lid. The added value of a vacuum bleeder such as this is that it can be used for evacuating any fluid on your car, which makes it a very versatile, valuable tool.

Bleeder Wrench

All wrenches are not created equal. Bleeder screws by nature are in tight locations, and quite often they are rusty. They are always very small, so it doesn’t take too much rust or corrosion to weaken their structure. Using a 12 point wrench can easily “round” them and give you nothing to grip.

The Bleeder Wrench features 11mm (a very common size for European cars) 6-point boxed ends. The six-point ends will firmly grip bleeder screws, allowing the twisting force to be applied evenly to the threads. A different angle on each end allows for easy access to the bleeders, and on some cars even with the wheels installed.

Pressure Bleeding Kit

Complete brake bleeding kits are also available on our website. We offer different kits which are specifically tailored to your car depending on the brake fluid type. This kit shown here includes a pressure bleeder with a high strength plastic bottle, an easy to read gauge, a built-in hand pump, and a pressure port all on the lid. Two brake fluid catch bottles, a Schwaben Brake Bleeder Wrench, and Pentosin Super DOT 4 Brake Fluid is also included. Look up your car at ecstuning.com to find the complete brake bleeding kit for you.

Here is a helpful video demonstrating these tools and techniques:

Brake Fluid Types:

There are different types of brake fluid and it can be a very involved topic, but for all practical purposes, we only need to concentrate on the
basics. Why are there different types of fluid? The greater the demand of your braking system, the greater the requirements of your brake fluid. As automobile and braking technology changed over the years, brake fluid had to change as well. The most common fluid types are DOT 3, DOT 4, DOT 5, and DOT 5.1. Here is an overview:

Brake Bleeding Theory:

In order to understand why you need to bleed your brake system, you must first understand the basics of a hydraulic brake system. In a hydraulic brake system, the mechanical input force from the brake pedal is converted to hydraulic pressure within the master cylinder. The hydraulic pressure is distributed through the brake lines to the brake calipers or wheel cylinders. Since the brake fluid does not compress, the hydraulic pressure created in the master cylinder is therefore transmitted to each wheel.

In a brake system that has air in it, when you apply force to the brake pedal, the force is converted to hydraulic pressure, however, the hydraulic pressure acts on the air in the system. The air compresses and as a result, the reduced hydraulic pressure is transmitted to each wheel, producing a brake pedal that feels “spongy” and brakes that are ineffective.

It is important to understand the different bleeding procedures and also to realize that it is not uncommon, due to the complexity of today’s braking systems as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each method of bleeding, to have to use more than one procedure to remove all the air from the system.

Regardless of the method you use, the goal of each is the same: Force the air out of the brake system.

How often should a brake system be bled? Your brake system will need to be bled every time it is opened, such as when you are replacing a worn out hydraulic component, or when you are installing performance parts, such as one of our Big Brake Kits.

Flushing a brake system should be performed every two years regardless of mileage. Normal wear of the internal components of the brake system will begin to contaminate the fluid, and moisture is also absorbed by the fluid over time, even from opening the cap to fill or check the fluid. Even small amounts of moisture will react with the brake fluid and be very damaging to the expensive components of your brake system. Flushing a brake system can be performed using any of the bleeding procedures described here.

General Bleeding Procedure:

Gravity Bleeding:

Gravity bleeding uses the natural gravity flow of the fluid to force the air through the system.

Advantages of Gravity Bleeding:
• You can perform this type of bleeding by yourself.
• The pressure is so low that it will not affect any metering valves and fluid flow will not be restricted.
• You can let one wheel bleed while you work on another, so it can same time.
• It is a very clean way of bleeding with little mess.

Disadvantages of Gravity Bleeding:
• It can be slow.
• In some cases, it is not as effective due to brake system design.

The Procedure:

It is as simple as it sounds. Fill the brake fluid reservoir, connect a bleeder bottle to a bleeder screw, open the screw, and let the system bleed. If you have more than one bleeder bottle you can bleed more than one wheel at a time. Keep an eye on the reservoir to make sure it does not run dry and watch the fluid levels in the bleeder bottles. You will see the level in the bleeder bottles increase as the fluid flows out of the system, bringing the air along with it.

Manual Bleeding:

Manual bleeding uses the help of an assistant to depress the brake pedal while you open and close the bleeder screws.

Advantages of Manual Bleeding:
• This is one of the most effective methods the majority of the time.
• Your assistant can let you know how the feel of the pedal is improving during the process, saving you from getting in and out of the car.

Disadvantages of Manual Bleeding:
• It requires an assistant (which may not always be available).

The Procedure:

Fill the brake fluid reservoir and have your assistant pump the brake pedal three or four times, then hold pressure on the pedal. Connect a bleeder bottle and open one of the bleeder screws. Have your assistant tell you when the brake pedal sinks to the floor. Make sure they hold the pedal to the floor while you tighten the bleeder screw. Repeat this procedure until no air bubbles are visible in the hose when the bleeder screw is opened, then repeat for the remaining wheels. Have your assistant pump the pedal up and check for pedal firmness in between wheels.

There is an alternate procedure for manual bleeding in which you leave the bleeder screw open while your assistant slowly pumps the brake pedal
up and down. This procedure is equally as effective, but you must make sure that the end of the hose which is attached to the bleeder screw remains submerged in brake fluid at all times or air will be drawn back into the brake system.

Pressure Bleeding:

Pressure bleeding uses a pressurized tank of brake fluid to apply pressure and force the fluid through the brake system.

Advantages of Pressure Bleeding:
• You can perform this procedure by yourself.
• The pressure bleeder will keep the brake fluid reservoir full at all times during the procedure.
• This method is very effective on most vehicles.
• This is an excellent method of flushing brake fluid.

Disadvantages of Pressure Bleeding:
• On some vehicles, the pressure may not be high enough to bypass some metering valves or ABS valving.
• It can be messy where the pressure bleeder connects to the reservoir. Use extra caution not to allow brake fluid to drip on the car while installing or removing the bleeder on the master cylinder reservoir.
• The master cylinder is usually overfull when the procedure is complete. You will have to draw the extra fluid out.

The Procedure:

Connect the pressure bleeder to the brake fluid reservoir and pressurize it according to the bleeder manufacturer’s instructions. Connect a bleeder bottle to one wheel at a time and open the bleeder screw. When the fluids flow with no bubbles present, bleeding is complete. Repeat the procedure for the remaining wheels.

Vacuum Bleeding:

Vacuum bleeding uses vacuum in a tank to draw the brake fluid through the system.

Advantages of Vacuum Bleeding:

• It is a very clean method of bleeding. All fluid is drawn out at the bleeder screws, preventing the leaks that can occur between the bleeder bottle hose and the bleeder screw.
• You can perform this procedure by yourself.
• This method is effective on most vehicles.
• Bleeder catch bottles are not required.

Disadvantages of Vacuum Bleeding:
• There is an increased risk of running the master cylinder dry since the fluid may pull through quicker than you expect. • On some vehicles, the vacuum may not draw the fluid past some metering valves of ABS valving.

The Procedure:

Draw a vacuum in the tank using the vacuum bleeder manufacturer’s instructions. Connect the vacuum bleeder hose to one of the bleeder screws and open it. When the fluid flows with no more air bubbles, bleeding is complete. Repeat the procedure for the remaining wheels.

Proper service and repair procedures are vital to the safe, reliable operation of all motor vehicles
as well as the personal safety of those performing the repairs. Standard safety procedures and precautions (including the use of safety goggles and proper tools and equipment) should be followed at all times to eliminate the possibility of personal injury or improper service which could damage the vehicle or compromise its safety.

Although this material has been prepared with the intent to provide reliable information, no warranty (express or implied) is made as to its accuracy or completeness. Neither is any liability assumed for loss or damage resulting from reliance on this material. SPECIFICALLY, NO WARRANTY OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE OR ANY OTHER WARRANTY IS MADE OR TO BE IMPLIED WITH RESPECT TO THIS MATERIAL. In no event will ECS Tuning, Incorporated or its affiliates will be liable for any damages, direct or indirect, consequential or compensatory, arising out of the use of this material.

Best Used European Performance Cars Under $20,000

One major benefit we enjoy at ECS is seeing what our customers prefer to drive and modify. While we only cater to European vehicles, the distribution of makes, models, and trim packages is still incredibly diverse. There are, of course, clear leaders in each brand segment that tell us which cars are most popular by brand. This gave us an idea: with a used car buying budget of $20,000 or less, what used European vehicle is the best bang for the buck for modifying, making reliable power, and having a blast driving. ? What would we recommend right now to consider purchasing, why, and how much you can expect to pay for your next vehicle are all questions we will answer in this article.

Before we explore each of the cars preferred by our customers within each brand manufacturer, we need to set some parameters on the vehicle search. While anyone with enough money can go find the newest, fastest, highest-trim level enthusiast vehicle, finding a specific vehicle with the express purpose of driving and modifying can be a long journey. Ideally, the second-hand car we would suggest should be reliable enough to get in and drive daily, handle some light modification, and give you nearly instant gratification in your purchase.

Audi

To start our list we chose to look into what our Audi customers’ favorite car seems to be according to our records. The clear winner was the B8 A4, which was produced from 2008 through 2016. There was in 2012 a facelift to the nearly four-year-old B8 which made some aesthetic and safety changes but otherwise left the vehicle untouched.

Due to the eight years of production, the sheer volume of B8 A4s, and the incredible range of pricing and condition, we have narrowed down our search to the 2010 B8 A4 Quattro for our recommendation. We found an average price of $9,400 in an automatic Quattro or $11,000 for a manual Quattro, which allows you to jump into a well-sorted car without dropping serious cash. With the added benefit of AWD, availability in a manual transmission, and the incredibly popular 2.0T TFSI engine, the 2010 B8 A4 easily proves why our customers tend to gravitate towards the platform. If you are looking to make serious power for less than $12,000 in a second-hand Audi that will be a relatively worry-free, daily-drivable, and well-supported vehicle, we entirely recommend the 2010 B8 A4 2.0T Quattro with a manual transmission.

(Our figures were based on sixteen individual sales of 2010 Audi B8 A4 2.0T Quattros across the United States. All information on pricing and specific vehicles was found on www.cargurus.com, www.cars.com, and www.craigslist.com)

A popular modification our B8 A4 customers usually make is to upgrade their intake to our ECS Luft-Technik Induction System. With this intake, you can expect awesome induction sounds and power increases while adding a tastefully styled aftermarket performance component to your 2.0T TFSI engine.

Shop our entire catalog for the B8 A4 right here on our site.

BMW

Our Bavarian segment was fairly surprising, especially for me, a BMW enthusiast and owner myself. While many would consider the E30 or the E36 to be the most popular platform, our data not only shows otherwise but points toward a more realistic daily drivable option. Our BMW customers generally prefer the E46 M3 over all other models. The E46 M3 was BMWs third generation of the incredibly successful //M division’s road-going race car. With a screaming S54B32 straight-six, 6-speed manual or SMG transmission, and availability of either coupe or convertible models, the E46 M3 is what we would call the quintessential BMW performance car.

The E46 M3 in recent years has dropped in price considerably, especially SMG-equipped examples. The well-known crank bearing failures and SMG pump failures have driven prices down to nearly E36 M3 money. While ideally, your second-hand performance car is ready for daily driving, the E46 M3 is too tempting to overlook even with these issues. Fortunately, the main crank bearing fix is a simple procedure, and parts are available here. For the SMG pump failure, we actually suggest purchasing an SMG car with the intention of manual transmission swapping for a true 6 speed. This method can actually grant you a well sorted, low-mileage, reliable M3 for far under what a factory manual transmission example would be priced. However, driven conservatively and serviced regularly, in our experience, the SMG transmission is reliable and incredibly engaging to drive.

With prices starting to become relatively affordable, even for clean ‘low-mileage’ M3s, the time to buy one is now. An SMG example will sell in a decent condition somewhere between $11,000 and $15,000, while a manual transmission version is going to sell between $16,000 and all the way up to one incredible sale found on Bring A Trailer, which went for $50,000. Realistically, budgeting $20,000 for a manual transmission E46 M3 coupe still yields the buyer what we consider to be BMWs ultimate M-powered car available stateside, and what is clearly the preferred model among ECS BMW customers.

(Sales Data sourced through www.bringatrailer.com)

The Turner Motorsport Performance Engine Tuning Software for your E46 M3 is an incredibly popular choice to grant extra horsepower with little effort. Many of our customers equip their M3s with this performance upgrade.

Shop our entire catalog for the E46 M3 here on our site.

Porsche

I know we are going to hear a lot of hate from Porsche purists, but we have noticed the 996 generation Porsche is not only one of the more popular generations our customers choose to modify, but also an unbelievably good idea to consider. This is especially true if you are in the used performance car market. Produced between 1998 until 2004, the 996 offers the usual range of Turbo, AWD, NA, and special packages seen on nearly every Carrera. The twist here is the unbelievable affordability of these amazing vehicles.

While the ‘cracked egg’ headlight design and bulkier body turned several collectors and enthusiasts away when the car was new, the 996 has become one of the best examples of an excellent ‘bang for your buck.’ Average value puts the once super-car expensive flat six Carrera priced right with E46 M3s and Ford Focus’ at a $22,000 average for a manual transmission coupe RWD naturally aspirated model. While cabriolet versions are less expensive and easier to find, we would not suggest owning a second-hand convertible as your only vehicle.

Yes, the Porsche 996 NA Boxer engines are known for their catastrophic IMS bearing failure, but no, that should not stop you from purchasing one. Clean, well maintained, even IMS-solved examples are incredibly affordable and reliable, being the first year of water-cooled Porsche Carreras. It still has mechanical power steering, a tactile manual transmission, and all the hallmarks of a traditional Porsche that make driving these cars such a thrill. For under $25,000, a reliable, fun, and fantastic investment can be made before the prices begin to climb once more.

(Sales Data sourced through www.bringatrailer.com)

The ECS Luft-Technik Performance Intake adds considerable power to any 996 with a simple and cost-effective modification.

Shop our entire catalog for the Porsche 996 911 here on our site.

Volkswagen

We have been heavily focused on this model in our more recent posts, so it should be no surprise our most popular enthusiast vehicle chosen by customers is the VW MK6 GTI. While we have outlined several popular modifications, upgrades, and services that would be fantastic for a second-hand purchased MK6 GTI, we have not outlined why that MK6 GTI price bubble is at the perfect time to take advantage of as an enthusiast.

With the first models still being under a decade old, the MK6 GTI is an affordable platform capable of achieving impressive power outputs. Not only is it a great platform to begin tuning, it has been a staple in name since its inception with the MK1 GTI in the ‘80s. With average pricing for even newer examples still sitting around $15,000, the MK6 GTI is a low mileage, convenient, and fun car to pick as your daily driver enthusiast vehicle.

In a previous post, we outlined all the necessary maintenance for purchasing a used MK6 GTI so you can be confident in joining the majority of our VW customers in choosing this platform as your car. Since their prices and condition have met that perfect ratio, we honestly encourage anyone looking for a second-hand European performance vehicle to heavily consider the MK6 GTI for it’s all around cost to benefit breakdown. For very little money, the MK6 GTI customer can purchase, customize, and fully enjoy this platform without ever touching close to a $20,000 maximum budget.

(Sales Data sourced through www.bringatrailer.com)

See our post on all the best initial modifications for the MK6 GTI should you choose this car as your ideal daily driver.

Shop our entire catalog for the VW MK6 GTI here on our site.

Take-Away

There are several fantastic enthusiast vehicles aside our selection range. Those alternates include the Audi 8v A3, the Porsche Cayman S, the BMW E36/7 or BMW E36/8 M Roadster/M Coupe, or the MK6 GLI Jetta. Whatever your choice of vehicle is, sticking to this list means you will join several other enthusiasts who have recognized these vehicles as the best options in their classes. All your maintenance and performance needs can be found for this entire list right here at ECS Tuning. Of course, we would love your feedback on our selections as the most popular European performance vehicles by brand, and look forward to your questions, comments, and suggestions.

CRP Automotive: Trusted Replacement Parts for 50 Years

CRP Automotive has supplied OE quality replacement parts to European manufactured vehicles for over 50 years. This longevity and dedication to OEM standards have made CRP and their subsidiaries Rein Automotive, ContiTech, Pentosin, and others, incredibly well known and trusted in the automotive community.

Nearly every restoration or maintenance project features their parts, and for good reason: their quality, service, and trustworthiness has made them one of the largest suppliers to companies like ECS Tuning in order to provide the very best in OE quality replacements to enthusiasts like you.

With their impressive catalog and affiliate companies’ specialties, CRP Automotive can offer nearly every replacement part you might need when it comes time to refresh your favorite European performance vehicle or even restoring that hunk of metal rotting away in your neighbor’s barn.

For more than 30 years CRP Automotive has been the largest supplier of import replacement parts for all European makes. With their time-tested dedication to quality and service, let CRP Automotive help you finish that repair or see that your classic car once again enjoys feeling its tires on the pavement.

All your essential replacement parts from CRP are available right here at ECS Tuning, your trusted source in aftermarket and replacement parts for your favorite performance car.

 

Interested in purchasing?

CRP Automotive

Trusted source in OEM Quality Replacement for 50 Years!

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Dorman Products: New Since 1918

Dorman Products is a renowned supplier of original equipment parts generally “exclusive” to manufacturer dealerships including replacement parts, hardware, brake parts, fasteners, and more to the automotive community. Their high-quality focus and unique components offered as an alternative to “genuine” manufacturer parts makes for a low cost, reliable, and often a more effective replacement for your beloved car.

Often, when we replace components in our cars, it is as a result of a mechanical failure or the part’s lifespan has reached its end. When it comes to mechanical failures, Dorman Products examines the causes of failure and develops exclusive replacement parts which address those faults seen in factory components. Many times they produce the only part that will permanently solve problems seen in failure-prone components across several makes.

With Dorman Products, you can be confident in their OEM quality and exceptional function while enjoying the benefits of maintaining your car with a part designed to outlast and outperform the original piece.

When it comes time to replace that faulty door handle or failing actuator, Dorman Products has the trusted parts with improved designs to give you the peace of mind the job will be done right once and for all. Beyond their meticulously engineered quality, a focus on OEM styling and fitment prevents any sacrifices often seen in aftermarket components that would deter purists.

Make your next replacement easy and permanent with Dorman Products high-quality replacement OEM+ parts, hardware, fasteners, and so much more!

Interested in purchasing?

Dorman Products

OEM fitment and quality with improved durability and reliability!

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Power Stop Performance Brakes: The Right Choice

Similarities between performance cars and everyday commuter cars are incredibly limited. One crossover area that tends to hold uniform importance across all forms of motoring is the ability to brake properly. Put in simple terms, cars of all types need to match their braking force with how much power they produce. In this regard, choosing the right brakes is equally important; whether you are maintaining the grocery getter or improving your track fighter. PowerStop Brakes give you confidence in all situations.

Since 1995, PowerStop Brakes has provided excellent performance brake upgrades for an extensive range of vehicles. With focuses on providing OEM quality, copper-free, improved brake products, their customers can feel confident every time they mash the middle pedal.

When you know you are using quality parts, you experience a difference in confidence behind the wheel. When it comes to brakes, that feeling is expounded by the peace of mind you sense by using components you can be certain will keep your car out of sticky situations. PowerStop Performance Brakes not only allow you to experience that confidence but give you significant ethical advantages over similar replacement compounds. PowerStop Brakes produce their pads consciously of the environment!

PowerStop Brakes give you more than performance advantages in their makeup. All their pads are 100% Copper-Free. Copper and other heavy metals are known to cause major problems for fish and other aquatic wildlife when it is introduced to their environment in the form of brake dust. With the copper-free PowerStop pads, you know every time you hit the brakes you are making a difference by supporting companies who express an ethical drive to mitigate climate and ecosystem disaster.

Make the right choice when you go to service your brakes this season. Make the PowerStop Brakes choice and experience the advantages of quality, reliable, ethical, performance.

Interested in purchasing?

Power Stop Brake Products

Better stopping power, improved lifespan, and no copper!
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Carista OBD2 Bluetooth Adapter

Most enthusiasts will agree that their car is part of the family. We all love our cars and the relationships we are able to build with them, but modification is what we do. The process of customizing, maintaining, and improving the functions and appearance of our cars is cathartic in a way. Just as adding more aggressive brakes or fitting performance suspension changes the driving dynamics of your vehicle, the electrical ‘convenience’ functions hidden in your onboard computer can give you added enjoyment. Carista brings us an OBD2 adapter dongle that pairs wirelessly with your Android or iOS device to give you diagnostic readouts, customizable function toggles, and reset service indicators.

The Carista Bluetooth OBD2 Adapter allows you to customize your car to your liking from the comfort of your own phone with an app available on both Google Play and Apple AppStore. With the in-app services, you can change vehicle specifics all the way from comfort access features to how long you want a one-touch blinker feature to stay on, depending on your car’s make and model.

Carista features more than just comfort and convenience customization: safety access to your vehicle including only unlocking the driver’s door with a first click of the remote button, the duration your doors stay unlocked when you start driving, and remote window access. With the Carista OBD2 Adapter, you have full control of your vehicle’s functions down to your preferences, but it does more than just make your car more enjoyable.

Perhaps the biggest benefit of the Carista Adapter is the access to manufacturer-specific diagnostic information. The app gives you the ability to access ABS, airbag, navigation, and unlocks your ability to reset your warning lights associated with those factory safety features. This, of course, is dependent on whether your vehicle is supported by this function.

Even if you are just looking for something to tell you what may be wrong with your car and save yourself a headache and expensive trip to the dealership, the Carista Adapter is definitely worth having. If you have an emissions check coming up, this tool is perfect for pinpointing the issue so you can quickly and easily pass that registration requirement without the ordinary hassle of chasing an issue or resorting to calling the shop.

This is the perfect gift for the Holidays to drop in an enthusiast’s stocking, or anyone with a supported vehicle, as the app is easy to use and handy for anyone who can use their smartphone with any confidence.

 

Carista gives you the power of a dedicated service shop to tackle maintenance and customization at home with your smartphone. Most of us enthusiasts enjoy the ability to change, improve, or delete what we see fit in our cars. This strengthens the relationships we build over time with the vehicle and make the driving experience more connected and enjoyable. With the traditional options on the market for simply reading CEL’s or the excessively expensive professional scan tools, Carista sits in a comfortable middle ground, giving you an affordable and powerful tool to make the experience you have with your car easy, convenient, and fun.

Interested in purchasing?

Carista OBD2 Bluetooth Adapter

Get the most out of your vehicle and keep those pesky check engine lights at bay.
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Schwaben By Foxwell Scan Tools

Bring the capabilities of a professional scan tool to your personal garage and never have to pay hundreds of dollars at a dealership or shop again!

BMW/MINI Scan Tool

From basic oil service, light reset to the more advanced adaptation and actuation, this scan tool is industry leading. Plug the tool directly into your OBDII/EOBD BMW or MINI and learn all you can about your car!

The Schwaben BMW/MINI scan tool is the most cost-effective professional scan tool for enthusiasts, small garages, independent repairs, specialized garages and technicians by delivering OE-level diagnosis on all the electronic systems. It does not only include basic functions such as codes and live data, but also is capable of advanced functions such as actuation, adaptation, and programming. In addition, it lets you access the most commonly required service features such as oil service light reset, throttle body adjustment, DPF regeneration and much more.

  • Compatible with BMW from 1987 and MINI from 2002 to current
  • Compatible with the latest UDS protocol
  • Compatible with global OBDII/EOBD
  • Works on most systems
  • Reads and clear codes and turns off MILs
  • Requests and records live sensor data
  • Provides live data graphing
  • Merges graphs for easy and intuitive diagnosis
  • Displays freeze frame data
  • Performs most adaptations
  • Does active tests on systems and components*
  • Performs special functions, coding, security access**
  • Retrieves ECU information
  • Supports all 10 OBDII test modes
  • Resets oil service light
  • Sets inspection 1, 2 service interval
  • Sets (non) long life oil service
  • Sets inspection mileage
  • Deactivates and re-activates brake control system
  • Retracts calipers for brake pad replacement
  • Returns calipers to the original position
  • Initializes the wear indicator if new pads installed
  • Diagnoses EPB caliper functionality
  • Code troubleshooters for faster and easier diagnosis
  • Multilingual menu options and code definitions
  • Memory card for data backup and software update
  • Large TFT color screen and menu-driven operations
  • Also does Rolls Royce
  • Multi System Platform capable

Interested in purchasing?

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Professional Scan Tool Tablet Platform

Running Windows 8.1 software on a Windows tablet, the Professional Scan Tool Tablet Platform delivers a faster and easier diagnostic experience than others. Supplied with an array of adapters, you’ll be able to service almost any vehicle.

What Can GT80 PLUS Do?

● Compatible with the latest 2015/2016 models

● Compatible with both OBDI and OBDII cars, SUVs, minivans, light-duty trucks sold worldwide

● Get access to powertrain, chassis and body systems

● Quick Test function to test most vehicle systems

● Read and clear diagnostic trouble codes and resets MIL

● View live vehicle sensors data in a text, graph, and gauge format

● Merge interactive live sensor graphs for easy and intuitive diagnosis

● Live data self-learning and alarm when live data over range

● Record and playback your data logs for offline analysis

● Read and clear freeze frame data

● Run component/system bi-directional tests

● Support adaptations and control module coding

● Key coding for several vehicles

● Support the most commonly required service features like brake deactivation, service resets, and transmission adaptations

● Multi-language menus and code definitions for an international marketplace

● Code troubleshooters provide you faster and easier diagnosis

COVERS MORE THAN 59 AMERICAN, ASIAN, AND EUROPEAN MODELS!

Interested in purchasing?

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VAG Scan Tool

Developed by the most distinguished experts of this industry, this VAG scanner is one of the most powerful aftermarket tools for VW/AUDI vehicles on the road today. It stands out in a variety of similar products by delivering OE-level diagnosis on most available control modules.

  • Compatible with VW/Audi from 1990 to Current Year
  • 1990 to 1996 requires special order cable (ES3136998)
  • Compatible with the latest UDS protocol
  • Compatible with global OBDII/EOBD
  • Works on most  systems
  • Reads and clear codes and turns off MILs
  • Requests and records live sensor data
  • Provides live data graphing
  • Merges graphs for easy and intuitive diagnosis
  • Displays freeze frame data
  • Performs most adaptations
  • Does active tests on systems and components*
  • Performs special functions, coding, security access*
  • Retrieves ECU information
  • Supports all 10 OBDII test modes
  • Resets oil service light
  • Sets inspection 1, 2 service interval
  • Sets (non) long life oil service
  • Sets inspection mileage
  • Deactivates and re-activates brake control system
  • Retracts calipers for brake pad replacement
  • Returns calipers to the original position
  • Initializes the wear indicator if new pads installed
  • Diagnoses EPB caliper functionality
  • Resets the brake pad thickness after AUDI A8 service
  • Code troubleshooters for faster and easier diagnosis
  • Multilingual menu options and code definitions
  • Memory card for data backup and software update
  • Large TFT color screen and menu-driven operations
  • Multi System Platform capable

One of the most powerful aftermarket tools for VW/AUDI vehicles on the road today. Know exactly what is going on with your vehicle with OE-level diagnostics, live sensor data, and even the ability to clear codes!

Interested in purchasing?

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Professional Porsche Scan Tool

The Schwaben Porsche scan tool is the most cost-effective professional scan tool for enthusiasts, small garages, independent repairs, specialized garages and technicians by delivering OE-level diagnosis on all the electronic systems. Not only does it include basic functions such as codes and live data, but also is capable of advanced functions such as actuation, adaptation, and programming. In addition, it lets you access the most commonly required service features such as oil service light reset, throttle body adjustment, DPF regeneration and much more. For the first time ever, an independent enthusiast can diagnose and repair issues on their late-model Porsche, making the water-cooled cars more accessible and enjoyable for hobbyists.

  • Compatible with Porsche from 986/996 and newer, including Cayenne
  • Compatible with global OBDII/EOBD
  • Works on most systems
  • Reads and clear codes and turns off MILs
  • Requests and records live sensor data
  • Provides live data graphing
  • Merges graphs for easy and intuitive diagnosis
  • Displays freeze frame data
  • Performs most adaptations
  • Does active tests on systems and components*
  • Performs special functions, coding, security access**
  • Retrieves ECU information
  • Supports all 10 OBDII test modes
  • Resets oil service light
  • Sets inspection 1, 2 service interval
  • Sets (non) long life oil service
  • Sets inspection mileage
  • Deactivates and re-activates brake control system
  • Retracts calipers for brake pad replacement
  • Returns calipers to the original position
  • Initializes the wear indicator if new pads installed
  • Code troubleshooters for faster and easier diagnosis
  • Multilingual menu options and code definitions
  • Memory card for data backup and software update
  • Large TFT color screen and menu-driven operations
  • Multi System Platform capable

Interested in purchasing?

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*Certain functions may be limited from the vehicle manufacturer due to the requirement of a special factory access code.
*Pre OBDII vehicles will have limited feature availability
This Scan Tool comes with free updates for life..
Schwaben recommends purchasing a Bentley Manual to use with your Scan Tool.
Note: Can only be updated on Microsoft PC’s not with Apple.
You will need to register your scan tool in order to receive update notice’s from Foxwell via E-mail
For support from Foxwell the address is http://www.foxwelltech.com/support/    Make sure you use correct address

BMW/MIN