Midnight Club 3: Customization Guide

Written by Matthew Norton, Chief Editor of the Division of Game 
Assistance, a division of The Contact Publishing Corp.

---- Table of Contents ----

1. Intro and Copyright
2. Version History
3. Performance Parts
4. Detail Parts
5. Paint Sets
6. Paint Adjustments
7. Body Parts
8. Re-inventing the Wheel
   a. Identify What You Want To Do
   b. Misconceptions
   c. Tires
   d. The Wheelie Bar
   e. Bike Treads
   f. Spoilers
   g. Hydraulics
   h. Airbag Suspension
   i. Menu Tuning
   j. Conclusion
9. Interesting Builds
10. License Plate Musings
11. FAQ
12. E-mail Disclaimers
13. Outro

---- 1. Intro ----

Ah, yes, Midnight Club 3. For any system, it is indeed a marvel of 
entertainment and engineering, melded together to create a great 
driving experience. Cars, trucks, SUVs, and bikes, a greater mix of 
vehicles than anyone can assemble. Oh, who am I kidding, THIS GAME 
ROCKS OUT LOUD!

I created this guide because I found a disturbing lack of knowledge 
about actual parts in the game, and how even small things can be 
changed to contribute to overall performance. Even the official 
BradyGames strategy guide didn't know about these things!

This is cry for help, people: SEND ME YOUR CAR BUILDS! PLEASE, I BEG 
YOU! Ok, I'm done.

... And as for the Copyright?
(C) 2005 The Contact Publishing Corp.
The Division of Game Assistance is a registered trademark of The 
Contact Publishing Corp.
All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or 
in part in any form.

Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition is (C) 2005 Rockstar Games. All rights 
reserved. Rockstar Games is a registered trademark of Take-Two 
Interactive Software, Inc.

---- 2. Version History ----

1.00 - All sections filled to the best of my knowledge, no FAQ, yet...

1.10 - Added some FAQ e-mails and the Menu tuning section.

1.20 - Changed some grammatical and spelling errors.

1.30 - Added some more info on the Tires section of "Re-inventing the 
Wheel", and detailed descriptions about Vinyls, unlockable 
customizations, and the Engine section of the Performance Parts section.
Also added the License Plate Musings section.

---- 3. Performance Parts ----
Engine:
Turbocharger/Supercharger: Forced air induction/Increased power 
through the pulley.
Intake: Air intake for combustion. Consists of the intake manifold, the 
plumbing from the manifold to the engine (or through the turbo, when 
applicable).
Headers: Exit pipes from the engine to the exhaust.
Exhaust: Releases exhaust from engine.
Engine Upgrade: Changing interior parts of the engine, such as pistons, 
camshafts, and engine vavles. Also involves polishing and buffing 
methods.
Nitrous: Boosts speed when used by injecting Nitrous Oxide (N2O) into 
the engine's intake.
Computer/Jet Kits (Bike): Changes the computer to increase power.

Transmission:
Clutch: The interface between person (or computer) and gears.
Gear Kits: The transfer of power from engine to axle.

Chassis:
Suspension: The springs, shocks and struts connecting car to wheels.
Sway Bars: Adjusts amount of roll (tendency of car to shift weight in 
turns).
Airbags: Compressed air suspension (does not effect car).
Hydraulics: Hydraulic suspension that allow for the movement of the 
distance between wheel and car (not required).

Tires: The rubber that transforms movement of the axle and engine into 
movement of the car.

Brakes: Stops or slows car.

There are three levels for each upgrade (stock, level 1, level 2), 
except the tires, which has four (stock, level 1, level 2, level 3). 
Hydraulics has only two options (on or off), and the airbags purchase 
depends on the way the airbags depress.

Also, some vehicles do not have some of these tuning methods available.
For example, the only tuning option for exotics is the nitrous.

---- 4. Detail Parts ----

Vinyls:
a. Styles:
Modern: Sharp lines and geometric shapes.
Flames: Self-explanatory.
Splash: Liquid-mimicing designs, like mud splashes and thrown water.
Stripes: Race-inspired stripe designs.
Graphix: Drawn images, including animals, people, playing cards, and 
even the Grim Reaper.
Wild: Odd ambient shapes, and other strange styles
Rips: Similar to the looks of teared fabric.
Tribal: Sharp curved lines, usually situated closed together.
Manufacturers: Vinyls made specifically by the car's manufacturer.
Flags (Unlocked by collecting 12 R* logos): Different versions of the
R* logo, including the logo placed on national flag backgrounds.
b. Colors: Most can have their color changed, except the Flags, which 
are predetermined.

License Plates:
a. States: They consist of every state, including older versions of 
the California, Georgia, and Michigan license plates, and of 
unchangeable special plates, including TIS, DUB, and R* logos (The 
Rockstar Logo license plates are unlocked after collecting 24 R* 
logos). 
b. Letters: All states' numbers can be changed except the special 
plates.

Decals:
Front/Back: Consist of writable, Manufacturer and After-Market logos.
Side: Only after-market companies are available. Can place up to 10 
logos.
Standard Color: Stickers are pre-colored (except for custom), and are 
flat in finish.
Chrome Color: Stickers are colored by the same methods as the rims, 
exhaust, and trim of a vehicle.

Badges:
Side: Consist of the DUB logo and 20-28 inch labels that signify the 
size of the rim. Placed near the front wheel well.
Rear: Same as the Side badge, except placed somewhere on the rear of 
the vehicle, usually near the name of the vehicle on the trunk.

---- 5. Paint Sets ----

Matte: A flat, no-shine paint job. If time is taken in the custom 
settings, one can make a jet black "secret-agent" type color that is 
totally black and unreflective.

Gloss: A flat, shiny paint job, but without reflective flakes in the 
paint.

Metallic: A deep, shiny paint job with specially designed flake in the 
paint, causing a much shinier reflection.

Pearlescent: A pearl-looking paint job, in which the two chosen colors 
meld together into a unique color pattern.

Color Shift: Also called chameleon paint, when viewed in different 
lights, it reflects different colors.

---- 6. Paint Adjustments ----
Note: All color changing options have a custom setting (costs $1000), 
which allow the user to change the color from a palette.

Paint Job: The paint that covers the exterior of the vehicle.

Window Tinting: Replaces the tint color of the windows.

Rims: Changes the colored metal plating of the rim.

Brake Calipers: Changes the paint color of the calipers of the brakes.

Exhaust: Changes the colored metal plating of the exhaust.

Neon: Allows for the addition of neon, along with changing the color 
of the glow, and speed of the flash on the neon.

Nitrous: Changes the flame color of the nitrous exhaust when 
activated.

Trim: Changes the colored metal plating of any other metal components 
(badges, one shot kits, tower engines.)

HUD: Changes the color of the Heads Up Display (speedometer, time, 
directional arrow).

---- 7. Body Parts ----
Note: Not all parts are available on each vehicle.

Front Bumper: Replaces the front of the vehicle.

Rear Bumper: Replaces the rear of the vehicle.

Side Upgrades: For Tuners, SUVs, trucks, and sedans, it replaces the 
lowest part of the vehicle's side panel. On most muscle cars, it puts 
a side scoop or cover over the rear wheel well.

Hood: Replaces the hood, or changes the hood's material.

Spoiler: Places or replaces the wing on the rear of the vehicle.

Taillights: Changes the style or material of the taillights.

Exhaust Tips: Changes the end of the exhaust. On bikes, it changes the 
material of the muffler. On muscle cars, it can change the muffler 
from the rear of the vehicle to the side (Useful if the muscle car in 
question needs a side panel to match the low front and rear of the 
vehicle.)

Front Grills: Changes the front grill pattern of your vehicle.

Chop Top: Lowers the roof of your vehicle.

One Shot Kits: Changes the smaller parts of your vehicle (door 
handles, other molded parts) to chrome or painted.

Brush Guards: Adds a protective bar to the front of your vehicle, 
meant for removing obstacles from your path.

Wheelie Bars: Meant to control rear ups (see Re-inventing the Wheel, 
d. The Wheelie Bar for more information).

Mud Flaps: Adds mud flaps to protect vehicles behind you from getting 
hit with kicked-up objects.

Louvers: Adds a series of flat, metal bars connected down the 
windshield to contour the air.

Riders: Changes the driver of the bike. (Note: Race Starters and Police 
riders are unlocked after collecting all 36 R* logos.)

Rims: Changes the rims of the wheels to a different style.

Tires: Changes the style of the tires. On bikes, this changes the 
visible tread of the bike.

---- 8. Re-inventing the Wheel: Utilizing Wheels and Body Parts for 
Performance and Looks ----

a. Identify What You Want To Do

Many times, people automatically go for "big rims, little rubber" 
because that's what they think looks the best. But many times after, 
they end up heading back to the garage, cursing themselves because 
they slid head on into that wall near the end of the race 50 times. 
Why? Because the tires are the problem. Identify what you need to do, 
is it over steering (easy to spin out or too slick in the turns), or 
is it under steering (too difficult to turn, have to hold the e-brake 
too long which slows you down)?

b. Misconceptions

Myth: The car is impossible to drive.
Fact: No car is too difficult to drive, it just need work.

Myth: But I don't have enough money to work on it!
Fact: Working on small things like tires and body work can improve 
vehicle drivability, and are usually inexpensive or free.

Myth: But then it might not look good.
Fact: Maybe, but do you want to get past this part or not? And 
besides, maybe it will look good.

c. Tires

The more tire width you have, the better. Period. Increasing tire 
width will increase the amount of efficiency the brakes, steering, and 
acceleration have, because all of those things work on the tire, and 
the less the tire has to work with, the less the other things can use. 

The lowest drive height can increase traction to a point, but sheer 
point of contact (the patch of tire on the road when moving) is the 
biggest player.

Size difference in tires of the front and rear can improve speed and 
drivability. For example, large tires in the rear can improve 
stability of the car on acceleration, while small rear tires can 
improve top speed, but only somewhat. This is because when there is 
less radius of a tire, it takes less time for the tire to rotate fully 
on the circumference. 

Decreasing the amount of rubber and increasing the size of the rims 
can improve on the rigidity (strength of the movement of the 
suspension), allowing for much more responsive handling, but can cause 
a car to bounce on the curb. I always leave the tire profile at 2 when 
purposely increasing rim size, and sometimes increase tire profile to 
suit my drift-happy nature. Increased tire thickness between ground 
and rim with give a softer movement. Think about silly putty, and how 
if you flatten it in your hands and move your hand across it in 
different directions. The thicker it is, the more time it takes for 
the putty to roll in your hands. That means when turning, you have 
more play with the tire, giving a smoother turn.

Ride height can be lowered even more than you may think. By decreasing 
the rim and tire sizes, you might unlock up to 3 more inches of 
lowering, plus the decreased size of the rim and tire will add to the 
lowered height! This is because of restrictions placed on the distance 
between the center of the rim (where the axle is placed), and the wheel 
well of the car. By opening up space by decreasing rim and tire size, 
you allow the axle to get closer to the wheel well, which of course is 
what happens when you lower a car.

d. The Wheelie Bar

Many people I've come across during play online laugh at my gaudy 
wheelie bar, saying it makes the car look goofy. But they aren't 
laughing as much when after I let go of the burnout, I don't rear up 
(the car's torque lifting the front wheels up) as easily. Why? BECAUSE 
THE WHEELIE BAR ACTUALLY WORKS! By putting the wheelie bar on the back 
of your muscle car, you can improve start time due to the fact that 
you have more control of your car. 

Think of a teeter-totter. Someone pulls up on the one side (the torque 
making the car rear up). But if something resists the force of the 
pulling up, say someone else also pulling up on the other side (the 
wheelie bar acting against the rear up) the forces balance out and the 
teeter-totter does nothing (the front wheels stay on the ground). If 
the wheels stay on the ground, you have full control of the steering!

e. Bike Treads

Useless? NO! The treads you put on your bike actually affect the 
drivability of the car. The more complex and prominent the treads, the 
more grip, but less steering. The less complex and prominent the tire 
is, the more prone the bike is to over steer.

f. Spoilers

The biggest spoiler will not always be the best. Consider the size and 
shape of the car before you put a spoiler that does nothing but weigh 
down your car.

Trucks and the El Camino have open beds in the back. These open spaces 
are cut off by the tailgate, which creates an air pocket, which 
increases air resistance. Air resistance is obviously not good. Close 
it up to increase top speed and acceleration.

Luxury sedans have a very slick body styling, and do not require 
spoilers, but the performance can be improved by putting one on.

g. Hydraulics

Activating the hydraulics during a race is not a good idea. But 
certain SUVs can be driven with hydraulics during a race when the tire 
width is set to its thickest level, and the tire profile is as large 
as possible. That will require the rims to be as small as possible.

h. Airbag Suspension

The airbag option adds a slight softness to driving, while giving the 
best reliability when driving. This will also lower the vehicle to the 
lowest possible height automatically, unless you already have it at 
the lowest setting, or a special custom setting, in which the airbags 
will adjust the car to a higher setting and lower the car to the set 
height.

i. Menu Tuning
While driving, there is a menu in the pause screen called "Tune Your 
Vehicle." This is the best method of increasing drivability, because 
the effects are immediate. There are three options: Drift Factor, 
Traction, and Friction Bias. 

Drift factor is the tendency of the car to begin drifting (sliding 
sideways) when hand-braking and turning at the same time. 
The effects are changed as followed:
Low-----|-----High

Traction is the grip of the tires on the street. Superior grip can 
increase acceleration, but can decrease your overall ability to drift. 
But since the traction is always set to the highest in the menu, it is 
best that it stay there.
The effects are changed as followed:
Low-----|-----High

Friction Bias is similar to drift factor, but it only increases the 
over-steer/under-steer bias of the vehicle in turns. This is different 
because drift factor tells the car when it will slide, while friction 
bias tells the car how easily it will turn overall.
The effects are changed as followed:
Over-----|-----Under

j. Conclusion

In conclusion of "Re-inventing the Wheel," I must stress that no 
matter how difficult it may seem; any car can become the best car with 
a little work.

---- 9. Interesting Builds ----

Support the Exmortis Competition Garage:
Spread the word about my guide by officializing one of your cars with 
the Exmortis Competition paint job! If you enjoyed my guide, paint 
one of your cars white, put the double line Stripe vinyl that has the 
two stripes on either side, and two of the same style running down the 
front, over the roof and down the back. Color the vinyl with the 
preset blue and red combo color, and ride to support my tuning 
company. No, this isn't to support my race team, my team is the 
Kutting 3dge. :)

The Dragster Muscle Look:
By decreasing the size of the rim and tire profile to the lowest size, 
lowering it as low as possible, then change the rear tire profile to 
the maximum size. Returning the rear to stock height, decreasing the 
front tire width to the smallest, and increasing the rear to the 
largest, you obtain the look of a classic dragster. IMHO, it looks 
best with the '69 Camaro.

Monster Truck:
Decrease Rim size to the smallest, increase the profile to the max, 
and widen the tires to the fullest. Looks even better when you raise 
the truck with the hydraulics. Drives the best in the H2.

Hearse:
The El Camino has a topper back option. Put that on, paint it black, 
and the rest is up to you.

The Fast and The Furious:
Many of the available tuning, body, and vinyl options are similar to 
the cars in the movies. Just look up the pictures on the 'Net.

---- 10. License Plate Musings ----
Suggested by 'Paul.'
This section is devoted to funny, smart, or inspiring license plate 
phrases that you, your friends, your enemies, or anyone you see puts 
on their license plates.

Send me your license plate musings at TheContact23@aol.com!

---- 11. FAQs ----
Questions? Ask me at TheContact23@aol.com.

<Sent by Jake>
>>My 57 Bel Air's height is at stock. You said that the lowest height 
>>setting would make the car slightly more stable. Does a higher car 
>>mean less traction?

By lowering the vehicle to the lowest height, you increase the flow of 
air over the car (the aerodynamics). Since the car is being pressed 
down by the air, there is more pressure on the tires, increasing 
traction. So yes, more often than not, a higher car means less 
traction.

<Sent by atlien>
>>I got the Escalade EXT that you win from the Hotlanta Tournament and 
>>I raced it with the Big Playas car club and won, but it still was 
>>extremely slow. Mainly in acceleration and somewhat in top speed. I 
>>tried the fixing the tires up to how you said but it still needs 
>>work, any ideas?

Unfortunately, I'm afraid that tuning the tires will do very little to 
increase top speed and acceleration. Tuning the tires can often mean 
everything in a race, but should only be a supplement to your overall 
performance. It may be important to fix your tires, but you should 
tackle your actual tuning options first.

---- 12. E-mail Disclaimers ----
Don't ask me for help on a race, how to get the tuning options, or 
where to find any secrets. This is the e-mail acceptance list:

E-mails regarding:
1. how to modify the tires a certain way
2. my opinions about your build
3. any unclear things about my FAQ
4. any (positive) suggestions or comments
5. additions you want to supply to my Interesting Builds section
will be answered and/or taken care of.

---- 13. Outro ----

And so, I hope this guide will help you on your way, whether you 
learned something, or whether you found a new build idea. I have no 
one to thank except Rockstar Games, DUB, and my boredom. Oh, BTW, if 
you want to race, my name is CNTCT23 on the PS2 version. 

Keep rollin'. Can't stop, won't stop.

(C) 2005 The Contact Publishing Corp.