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      07-30-2009, 03:52 PM   #67
lucid
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Originally Posted by AP Racing - Chris_B View Post
I don't necessarily 'get it' either, but the more product people buy, the lower prices can be brought down for people who do have a significant appreciation. If only a few people invested in quality brake upgrades every year, the serious track guy would have to pay a lot more than he would today. Or, the manufacturers would just quit making them due to lack of sales.
I see and agree with what you are saying, but I suspect it might be somewhat more complicated. The people who buy just to be "trendy" tend to belong to a different market segment, and in some cases, might actually push prices up. An example is carbon fiber body panels. I am looking into carbon fiber hoods for my E30 M3. A very well crafted pure dry carbon hood can be purchased from a shop that specializes on racing equipment for ~$1000. On the E92 M3, the figure is closer to $7000. I understand that is because the E92 M3 is a new car and is not being raced extensively, but that is my point. I also understand this does not seem to apply to brake systems, which require extensive R&D, as much, or at all.
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      07-30-2009, 05:30 PM   #68
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Originally Posted by lucid View Post
I see and agree with what you are saying, but I suspect it might be somewhat more complicated. The people who buy just to be "trendy" tend to belong to a different market segment, and in some cases, might actually push prices up. An example is carbon fiber body panels. I am looking into carbon fiber hoods for my E30 M3. A very well crafted pure dry carbon hood can be purchased from a shop that specializes on racing equipment for ~$1000. On the E92 M3, the figure is closer to $7000. I understand that is because the E92 M3 is a new car and is not being raced extensively, but that is my point. I also understand this does not seem to apply to brake systems, which require extensive R&D, as much, or at all.
OK, this is waaaayy off-topic, but....

I spent some time with an Indycar manufacturer in the composites department. There is no way a pre-preg (weirdly marketed as 'dry carbon') hood can be made with acceptable quality and sold for $1000 unless they are making at least 1500 of them. And even at that volume, the figure is suspect. There are shortcuts that can be taken for the lower cost items, but the results are not the same. These shortcuts typically involve vacuum curing (no autoclave), use of black S-glass or E-glass under the carbon face ply (heavier and more flexible) and questionable hardpoints that can loosen up over time. There are other shortcuts I'd rather not mention and more still that I am surely not aware of. Some vendors have figured out how to make the lower cost items acceptable to many, but they do not pass for race-car quality parts. And I've seen many companies that know how to make the good stuff also offer the 2nd or 3rd tier items as the market has demanded them.

On the other hand, almost $7k sounds to be a little on the high side. But unless a manufacturer knew they were going to sell more than 100 pieces, I do understand the pricing. Autoclave-capable tooling (made out of carbon fiber tooling cloth) for a piece that large will easily run $20k or more if you include the 5-axis machined master model. Then add engineering (NRE), materials (all carbon and no glass), autoclave expenses (energy and maintenance), labor, real hardpoints and their pre-treatments, etc. A proper hood has the outer skin laid up and cured first, peel ply removed, then film adhesive, core material, syntactics, more film adhesive, then the inner skin plies. Then bag up and return to the autoclave for another expensive cure cycle. Clearly, this level of component is not for everybody.

Of course, many have found the "average" (?) E9x customer to be much more discerning than the typical E30 M3 customer, who just wants a fast, reliable car and will put up with a little more tinkering to get better parts to fit. Many E9x customers want the parts to practically install themselves, requiring a much higher level of fit and finish. So you get what you pay for. I wouldn't necessarily call this a trend, but catering to the market.

I can't tell you how many "carbon" lightweight hoods that I've seen at the SEMA show that weigh more than the steel hoods they are replacing. These are marketed at $350-500 dollars and don't belong on any motor vehicle ever. I trust your E30 example is a better piece.
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      07-30-2009, 06:17 PM   #69
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No, I am not talking about the $300-$400 "CF" hoods that are all over ebay and other places that will flip on you on a track, but you do raise some good points about the manufacturing costs of a well built composite body panel. I probably browsed over 10 or more different CF hood products in the past couple of days, and "saw" great variation in quality (although my understanding of CF component manufacturing processes are not as deep as yours)--including some reports from people who used them in their race cars. I "think" the racing only hood I saw was a VAC product (they have more than one kind), which is a reputable company as far as I can tell, but I will say that I don't have the details of its construction.

Here is another E30 example that sells for ~$1k, and people rate it highly. Its volume can't be in the 1000s. Not sure if one can tell much about its contruction from the pics. The manufacturer states, "No wet lay up, chopper gun or compression molded parts here. All of our parts are vacuum bagged dry." Is the Ericsson product that much superior in construction to warrant the 7x price difference (not a rhetorical question)? The folks who mounted it on their track cars love them and say fit and finish are perfect (stock mounting points and hardware). There are reputable tuners selling M3 trunk lids in large numbers for $1.5k that don't seem any better than the E30 hood below in quality that are not even true carbon fiber parts--double sided overlays.

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      07-30-2009, 08:39 PM   #70
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Originally Posted by lucid View Post
IMO, if one indeed fully appreciates the engineering effort behind a well designed system and desires to own a fine piece of machinery, that is grounds for purchasing it even if one might actually never be able to really benefit from it from a performance perspective (even if it just secretly sits in your garage). I think there is often too much scrutiny against people who make such purchasing decisions. What I personally do not get is people purchasing such pieces of fine machinery without having any significant appreciation for what they are buying, and buying just because it is trendy, "cool", or something like that. [Flame suit on]
It's good to see people talking sense. 100% on the same page Lucid.

I will say that I did have problems with my E46 M3 that were solved by a 355mm BBK (same SRF and DTC70s on both). Those problems probably could have been addressed with cooling. Ultimately the BBK only provided braking feel consistency, pedal behavior and longer pad wear over the strung out stock setup. No increase in usable stopping power across a 20-30min session.

I've experienced no such issues on the E90 with crappy HT10s, though I will say I am not as close to the limit of the E90's capabilities as I was the E46.
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