We do this list every now and again - I really should put them together into a web page that we could just post. . .think I'll do that this weekend.
Okay - first, essential hopups. There aren't many. The car is pretty good, stock. But - here are a few:
[list=1][*]Replace the servo saver spring with the slipper clutch spring from the RC10GT off-road truck. The existing spring is pretty weak.[*]Replace the rear toe-links with Titanium. This isn't an "essential" but the ones that come with the kit are very weak and bend easily. One hit and you're really squirmy.[*]Get The Fix - more on that later.[*]This is what I did and I think it helped - I replaced all the ball cups with RPM's (remember to get the thicker ones for the rear - those toe links are Off-Road sized, not On-Road. . .) - I think it makes things just beefier and better able to withstand boards. . .[/list=1]
Now, TheFix is a device that is, essentially, a loong screw that comes up from the bottom of the chassis, through the diff cases and into a long spacer/nut that comes down through the shock tower. It connects all four elements (tower, upper case, lower case and chassis) together providing a TON of strength, rigidity and reliability. It is WELL worth the $20-30 bucks or so for a set of 4. I've been running the "home-brew" version (not as effective) for at least a year and have purchased and am using the real thing now. Much better. Look on EBay (search for "The Fix" even among closed auctions. . .) for it.
The RDLogics Diff Cases need a lot of work to make them work well - they aren't machined, they're molded so you will have to do some work everywhere that bearings fit to make sure they're snug but not bindy.
On the other hand, the RDLogics pipe has the endorsement of Richey (motorman) as being the hands-down best pipe for the NTC3. A friend has one and the improvement it made is awesome. (I'm still running as close to stock as possible, kinda because of stubborn-ness. . .)
Stick with the stock chassis until you get everything sorted out. As far as quality - I think "The Chassis" (from the maker of "The Fix - do you see a common lack of imaginative names here?
) is probably the best possible chassis, but after that I don't hear much consensus of a difference between all the others.
Aluminum is good in places. I won't ever get alum shock towers because I have seen them bend, even slightly, and then there's bindy problems. . .bad. On the other hand, there are a lot of places where I will go with Alum (after I get over my stock-stubbornness. . .
) - these will likely be in structural places - I'll likely use the RD tower that uses Carbon Fiber as the actual link. A failure point outside of the aluminum. . .