2013 Scion FR-S: Adding Camber
June 26, 2013
Our long-term 2013 Scion FR-S recently hit Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca again to exercise a few new bits that were installed recently (previous track trip:Pt 1, Pt 2, Pt 3 and Pt 4). Which bits, you ask? If you recall, the FR-S has no factory provision to adjust camber, which is sort of a mystery considering this car's mission.
In the briefest of nutshells, dialing in additional negative camber helps the outside tires' contact patches stay uniformly loaded against the pavement, which increases grip. And when you've already added mechanical grip like we have with our biggie Yokohama Advan Neova tires on Volk Racing TE37SL wheels, the need for increased negative camber is even greater (this is because body roll increases, overworking the outside edge of the tires even more). Factory front camber is zero degrees. Zero! This is clearly a spec meant to minimize tire wear in street driving, but isn't the optimal setup for maximizing grip.
We saw big jumps in capability just by upgrading the wheels and tires. In the meantime I've been jonesing to see what a bit of camber will do for it. Thing is, I also want to retain the stock springs and dampers to see how much latent capability they can support, while still keeping the stock ride height and street ride they provide (besides, the stock suspenders already provide a decent amount of roll stiffness anyway). Retaining the stock strut assemblies is generally at odds with adding camber due to the large diameter of stock springs. There's the crash-bolt-in-the-knuckle idea, which works fine up until the bolt slips. I've never had good luck with that approach.
So, the bits. Hanchey Vehicle Technologies manufactures camber plates that were designed to accommodate the stock struts. Boom. Done. They also provide other advantages that I'll get into.
Front camber alone is a half-baked idea, so I also added adjustable rear control arms made by Hancha, then gave the car an alignment.
The stock brakes left a lot to be desired the last time I took the FR-S to the track. In short, it took less than two laps before they wilted like week-old romaine. So for this go-round I tossed in some tracky pads, too.
I'll describe how it all shook out in follow-up entries, since it'll be too long to cover it all here. Stay tuned.
Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor