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Old 11-06-2013, 11:33 AM   #1
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STF ZX3 Build

Guess I'll just use this as my introduction. I'm new to ZX3's, but not to autocross. I started autocrossing in 2005 and have owned/autocrossed a lot of cars since then. My most recent autocross car was a 2005 Scion TC built for RTF (HS index.) Finished mid-pack with it at nationals, which was about where I'd hoped to end up with a non-Mini Cooper. I've considered prepping the car for STF, but after more research I'm realizing there are better cars for the class. I loved the torque of the Scion's 2.4L for corner-exit, but the weight was the real concern for me. In RTF trim, I got it down to 2776 pounds (race weight.) Which isn't bad for a starting curb weight of 2905 pounds. However, I think a full STF build would only get the car down to around 2700 pounds. That's still pretty heavy for a car that can only run 225's on 7.5" wide wheels. Mazda3's have similar power and slightly less weight, but are still a little on the heavy side. Enter the 2.3L Duratec ZX3... 2600 pounds and 149hp, stock. In STF prep, it seems reasonable to think it could get under 2500 pounds and over 160hp, (based on dyno charts I've seen.) 2.3 Liters means the car should have fairly decent torque. Also, the dimensions are pretty good. Somewhat short in height and length, and also pretty narrow. Operating costs for STF should be pretty low, and the car has enough power that it could still be fun on a road course. All of these things together, have really sold me on this car.

I've got a line on a very low-optioned D23 ZX3, and if all goes as planned, I should be picking it up next week. I'm pretty excited to build this car, as I think it could be a very strong contender in STF. Especially on larger, power courses.

I'll hold off on sharing my build plans until the car is actually in my driveway. At that point, I'll probably be asking a lot of questions on this forum. I'll also try to get pictures up once the car is officially mine.


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Old 11-06-2013, 12:06 PM   #2
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the 2.3 focus is a great choice. With some decent suspension, they can be seriously quick. Im not sure what the STF rules are, but the H&R Coilovers on that car is a pretty sweet package.
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Old 11-06-2013, 12:21 PM   #3
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Suspension is pretty open under STF rules. H&R coilovers should be legal. I've always been a fan of the basic Koni/Ground Control set-up. Lots of options with the Koni's. They can be shortened, re-valved, converted to double-adjustable, etc.
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Old 11-06-2013, 06:20 PM   #4
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Down payment has been made. I'll be picking up the car next week.

2004 ZX3 2.3L Duratec
- 5 Speed
- No Cruise
- No Power Windows
- No foglights
- No Sunroof

It does have A/C. Does anyone know if A/C was optional on these cars? If it was, I may have to look into an A/C delete.

My rough math would lead me to believe I could remove 120 - 160 pounds in full STF prep. If starting curb weight is actually around 2600 pounds, that should put the car in the mid to high 2400# range.

I read elsewhere on this forum that 2nd gear goes to 67mph on oem diameter tires. If that's the case, I think 205/50-15's on 7.5" wheels might work best. That would put the top of 2nd at 64mph, which should be more suitable for most courses. If I could somehow get the car down to an even 2400 pounds, (not holding my breath,) I would consider trying the 195 Toyo's, but that's really pushing the limits of that tire.

This is really frustrating for us Minnesotan autocrossers. Our autox season typically starts at the end of April and ends at the beginning of October. So our season is only about 5 months long. The rest of the year is our silly season, which is basically just planning and bench-racing. We do have some indoor kart tracks to help us keep from getting too rusty. Anyways, waiting 6 months to play with my new toy is going to be hard, but at least it gives me plenty of time to prep it.
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Old 11-09-2013, 01:06 AM   #5
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Good to see another STF Focus that might make it to Nationals. Both Chris and I were running 225/45R16's in Lincoln, this year, except I was on Toyos, and he was on Dunlops. I'll probably end up on the ZII's next year, unless BFG decides they want to make the Rivals in that size before next spring.

You should easily get it in the 2400's. I was at 2558 lbs with my SVT at Nats, this year, that has a factory subwoofer in it and power everything (minus the seats which were swapped). The ZX3, on it's own is lighter than my car, so you might even try to shoot for the 2300's if you're desperate enough.
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Old 11-09-2013, 02:16 AM   #6
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You should easily get it in the 2400's. I was at 2558 lbs with my SVT at Nats
That is really good news. Exactly what I wanted to hear. Haven't decided on tires yet, but as previously mentioned, they'll probably be 15's for both weight savings and gearing. Might opt for the BFG's in an attempt to win some tires. However, if I could get the car under 2400 pounds, I'd have to try the 195 Toyos. Assuming all goes as planned, I should be in Lincoln for nationals and also spring nationals.

If you're open to sharing build info, I'd love to hear details on your car. I plan to be pretty open about my build with this thread and hope that others might find it useful.
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Old 11-09-2013, 06:17 PM   #7
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Rivals in the 225/45r15 are 23" OD. That's where I would want to go for Nats 2014. The 2.3 ZX3 can do it. Good luck with the build, Congrats on the finding the rare gem!
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Old 11-09-2013, 10:31 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by STS-focus View Post
Rivals in the 225/45r15 are 23" OD. That's where I would want to go for Nats 2014. The 2.3 ZX3 can do it. Good luck with the build, Congrats on the finding the rare gem!
Thanks! I'm pretty excited, and will be picking it up on Friday.

John Mensch and Todd Freeman were the big STF competitors from our area this season. They actually switched from the 225 Rivals to the 205 Rivals on 15x7.5 wheels. It seems as though the trend this last year has been maximizing contact patch with a narrower tire. It's very specific to street tires, and the idea doesn't seem to apply to R-Compounds. I believe the latest issue of Grassroots Motorsports has an article on this, but I haven't had a chance to read it yet. It's really the idea that a tire that is wider than "ideal" on a given wheel width, is just going to crown and round out more, and probably not be able to use the whole tread width of the tire anyways. So basically, you're not gaining any additional contact patch with the additional width. The other logic seems to be that a slight "stretch" will give additional support to the tire and help limit lateral movement that seems to produce the vague feel that people often complain about. Again, these are theories that I've been hearing, but IMO, the best thing every autocrosser is test what works best for them. There are just too many variables to claim that any one set-up is "the best." Since I own a tire business, I will likely be testing some different set-ups.

On a side note...
My Scion TC made it into the December issue of Sportscar magazine! (FWIW, I ran 215 Rivals on the TC, but could have easily fit 245's.)

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Old 11-09-2013, 10:31 PM   #9
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Rivals in the 225/45r15 are 23" OD. That's where I would want to go for Nats 2014. The 2.3 ZX3 can do it. Good luck with the build, Congrats on the finding the rare gem!
BTW, are you going to run your Focus next season? If so, maybe I'll see you out in Milwaukee.
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Old 11-10-2013, 10:45 PM   #10
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I run an 05 st in ITA, its a full build with H@R coilovers. We have a full 8 point cage, fully gutted, coming across the scales with just under 1/4 tank and a 205lb driver we cross the scales at 2710-2730. We run 16" OZ's with a 215/45 tire.
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