I originally wrote the content of this post in 2018 for the FRS/BRZ/86 Enthusiasts Group on Facebook that I help to moderate, which has a little bit more than 35k people in it. There are some common questions that come up and get posted constantly, especially by people who’ve just bought the car and already want to mod.
For this reposting on my website, I’ve gone through and added updates to some sections, but mostly have left it alone. I will follow this up later with a post that covers each topic, but rather than focusing on bang for buck, will focus on quality above all else. Most of the parts I’ve recommended here I don’t use myself and wouldn’t use myself, because I’m more quality focused. As an example, while an OFT tuner with the optimized tunes from WayneROMs or a custom e-tune from Steve99 will certainly do the job, it’s well established that if you want to tune seriously that you should get an ECUTek system and find a tuner that works with it, such as Zach Tucker at CSG, or others. ECUTek has a lot of capabilities that aren’t straightforward or sometimes not possible with the OFT, but it is more than double the cost, so the OFT is more popular in the community and will get you most of the way there. I tune my car with ECUTek, not with an OFT, but in this article I still recommend the OFT because it’s the best bang for the buck if you’re not willing cough up the cash for diminishing returns.
When I originally wrote this I got a significant amount of feedback via comments (more than 200), and I’m going to make an attempt to incorporate some of that feedback in the follow-up post. But for posterity and archival purposes I am leaving this mostly the same. A changelog is below:
- Removed recommendation for Dezod Motorsports exhausts. Dezod unfortunately went down hill after previously producing quality output, and then went out of business.
- Improved the tire section by splitting 200tw section into 3, classifying sticky track day tires, streetable 200tw tires, and putting the SX2s into 260tw class
- Added a mention of the Fortune Auto 500/510 as being an acceptable budget coilover option. I have mixed feelings about them, but I’ve been convinced if they are correctly specced with the available upgraded parts, they’re on par with other usable budget options.
So you love the way the car drives but want just a bit more? You’re not alone. This is where you begin to realize the aftermarket for this platform is huge and your budget is not. So what do you do first? These recommendations are based on highest performance/dollar option, not necessarily the absolute best option without any budget limits. In my personal opinion, anything less than what is recommended here in a particular category is to the detriment of the vehicle.
Gruppe-S UEL Header and overpipe or Tomei 4-2-1 EL Header (includes overpiper) depending on your preferred sound/peakiness + OFT tuner + appropriate tune from WayneROMs or Steve99 on the FT86Club Forums.
No other exhaust components make a significant difference in power output, but covering that next.
Get a high quality catback, depending on the tone and volume you want, and a dual-resonated front pipe. Recommended catback brands are Fujitsubo, MXP, Perrin, Greddy, Tanabe, Tomei, Thermal R&D, and Corsa. Each offer differing models for price, loudness, and tone, but the main thing is the majority of them provide options which have resonated midpipes which will eliminate annoying drone regardless of overall tone and volume.
You can use Youtube to search the exhaust and listen to sound clips. For a louder sound you can look at something like a Tomei 80R, Greddy RS, or Tanabe Concept G single-exits, although these could easily become eardrum damaging depending on your complete exhaust build. For a deep and mature tone you can look at the Perrin 2.5" resonated catback or for more money the Fujitsubo Authorize R. For a louder sound without drone you can look at MXP Comp RS, Corsa 2.5" Sport, Thermal R&D, Greddy GT, or similar 2.5" dual-exits with resonated mid-pipes. For the quietest exausts you are going to need to look at suitcase mufflers like CSG x MXP Touring86.
Nothing will be quieter than stock, the stock exhaust can be used with any header + tune without significant power impact. Unless you’re specifically looking to change the sound, the stock exhaust is fine.
Literally follow the guidelines for SCCA Solo Spec Coupe as a starter: https://www.scca.com/pages/solo-spec-class or modeling from this, I think a better recommendation if you aren’t limited by the class rules is:
Bilstein B12 Pro-Kit (B8 Dampers valved and matched to Eibach Pro-Kit lowering springs) SPC Adjustable Alignment Kit (camber bolts, rear LCA, toe arms) Whiteline Rear Subframe Inserts (KDT922) Whiteline Rear Differential Bushing Inserts (KDT925) Perrin Steering Rack Lockdown
All of the above serve to lower the car slightly with necessary alignment, improving center of gravity (CoG) and aerodynamics, as well as the appearance and steering/handling feel.
However, the absolute most critical thing you can do for better handling is to get better tires and lighter weight wheels. For wheels, you do not need to go any wider than 9" (245 or 255) on NA power, and really 7.5-8" (225) wide is plenty.
For wheels I’d recommend a choice among the following as best price/perf for the budget conscious buyer who can’t buy forged wheels:
Wedsport TC105N and TC105X Enkei RPF1 949 Racing 6UL Apex ARC-8 BRZ Wheel
All of these wheels are inexpensive for their quality level, much lighter than stock, and proven in motorsports. There is a reason why they are so popular among motorsports and canyon drivers.
For tires I’d recommend a choice among the following as best price/perf:
Sticky Track Day Tires:
Bridgestone RE71R (nominal 200tw) Yokohama A052 (nominal 200tw) Nankang AR-1 (nominal 100tw) Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar 3 (nominally 220tw)
Streetable 200tw Summer Tires:
Dunlop Direzza Z3 Yokohama AD08R Hankook RS4
260tw Summer Tires: GT Radial SX2
300tw Summer Tires:
Michelin Pilot Sport 4S (PS4S) Bridgestone Potenza S-04 Pole Position Continental ExtremeContact Sport Firestone Firehawk Indy 500
500tw All-Season Tires:
Michelin Pilot Sport A/S3+ Continental ExtremeContact DWS
Now, a quick word about coilovers since that’s probably the main thing people are going to ask about after seeing my recommendations above. Any coilover that costs the same or less than the recommended Bilstein B12 Pro-Kit is going to perform worse both daily driving (comfort) or on track than the Bilsteins will simply due to having low quality dampers. Dampers are critical to suspension performance. Technically speaking your car already has a coilover, and the B12 is a coilover, but when people use this term they’re generally referring to height adjustable, damping adjustable coilovers.
If you want to get into a coilover, my recommended starting points would be the CSG Spec Tein Flex A, RCE SuperStreet 1, or RCE Tarmac 2. Anything lesser than these is really not worth buying, and anything better than these options gets very expensive very fast (>$3k) and will be diminishing returns for most owners. Another entrant that is acceptable in performance outcomes if ordered with the correct custom settings and all the optional upgrades to higher quality parts (ping Kevin Ket) is the Fortune Auto 500/510 series.
The most critical thing, beyond tires, though, is to get a proper performance alignment. What do I mean by a performance alignment? I mean go to a shop that has properly calibrated equipment and will take the time to do it right, to your specifications, and eliminate any cross-camber or cross-caster, to ensure that you have the best handling car possible. Most chain tire/alignment shops are what I call “toe n go”. They only care about getting the alignment in the green, which is a pretty wide range, and cross-alignment is not a concern at all. A good alignment on good tires will literally make a world of difference in handling, alignment is everything.
Putting it All Together
So you want to see what this looks like altogether and what it’s going to cost? Here’s an example “build”.
Power: Gruppe-S UEL Header with Overpipe and Shipping: $590 OpenFlash Tablet V2: $500 WayneROM tune: $45
Sound: JDL Dual Resonated Front Pipe: $420 Perrin 2.5" Resonated Catback/MidPipe: $1200
Handling: Apex Arc-8 BRZ Wheel (17x9 ET42): $1040 Apex Matched OEM TPMS Sensors: $220 Hankook RS4s 245/40R17: $650 Bilstein B12 Pro-Kit: $1100 SPC Adjustable Alignment kit: $400 Perrin Steering Rack Lockdown: $100 Whiteline KDT922: $50 Whiteline KDT925: $62 Performance Alignment: $150
So for less than $7k in additional parts, you can have a car which has nearly maximized NA power output, sounds good, is lowered to look good, and handles superbly. That’s a goal to shoot for and something to be proud of and enjoy every time you drive.