Part 2: But Can This Thing Flex 20’s?

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Ok so maybe it will. But I ask should it because this article has nothing to do with flexin’ yo’ 20’s fo da bling blang. Or in the Spyder’s case, some oversized 18″ rims. Something that I unfortunately witnessed the other day on a MR2 Spyder as it slowly crept through the left hand turn where I sat, mouth agape, contemplating whether or not I would go blind staring at something so inherently destructive to the retina (just like our dear old sun) that it is above all else, not to be witnessed with the unshielded eye. And as the car lurched along, its balance completely destroyed by the monstrous wheels that now sat under poorly rolled fenders, I realized that the meaning of the word flex shares a dual meaning, varying for both the racer and the … well, I don’t know exactly how to classify someone that puts 18’s on the Spyder.

Traumatizing experiences aside, what we are really talking about is chassis flex. Or more importantly, how to remove it. Physics dictates that all cars flex under load and an automotive engineer will tell you that there is an allowable amount of flex in a modern car chassis. Although beneficial for a street car, chassis flex is somewhat of a detriment on a track car. With the MR2 Spyder, the chassis flex not only isolates the driver from some of the amazing feedback that this car offers but it also introduces a degree of vagueness to the adhesion limit which results in some not so entertaining car antics. To address this situation, the addition of several chassis bracing components have been added to the MR2. The results on the car’s handling is nothing short of amazing. The parts and their effect are listed below:

(Note: Click on the (Install Guide) link next to each item to view the installation guide.)

TRD Front Strut Tower Brace (Install Guide)

Image of the TRD front strut tower bar installed on the MR2 Spyder

This brace was the first addition to the MR2 in the bracing department and this piece made the single greatest difference in turning input. Before, the car would sometimes feel adrift mid turn while after, the car feels much more planted during hard corning. With the more substantial steering feel, the rear end is also much more compliant and the car as a whole tends to rotate better.

Che’s Front Lower Chassis Brace (Install Guide)

Che's brace installed on the MR2 Spyder

Che’s front brace replaces the two bars that tie the front crossmember to the frame rails. The new piece “boxes” out this area by placing two parallel bars perpendicular to the factory units. This offers the factory for and aft bracing as well as additional lateral resistance. As a result the steering response is crisper and the car feels more agile, although the power steering now feels a little over reactive. (The power steering will be addressed in the next installment)

Rear Lower Brace (Install Guide)

The rear lower chassis braces installed on the MR2 Spyder.

The rear lower brace, a.k.a. the bars, triangulates the two mounting points of the rear suspension arms. With the new bracing, a little bit of oversteer is introduced to the car but the rear end also feels more responsive.

TRD Rear Strut Tower Brace (Install Guide)

TRD rear strut tower brace install on the MR2 Spyder

The final chassis reinforcement comes in the form of the TRD rear strut tower brace. The TRD piece replaces the factory x-brace with a triangulated unit. I was somewhat skeptical of this part at first but once installed I noticed that the oversteer introduced by the rear lower braces was eliminated by this piece, giving the car have a more neutral manner.

By 240am

Chris Simmons is a race car driver, instructor, business owner and all around gearhead. His passion for motorsport started in the drifting community over 10 years ago and progressed into wheel to wheel racing of all kinds. When off track Chris can be found training and working on a myriad of projects. After a hiatus from writing, he is back to share his passion, knowledge and experience in regard to motorsports on and off the track.

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