Suspension – Part 1 of…

Posted: March 2, 2012 in 300ZX Build
Tags: , , , , , , ,

This week I took a break from metalwork to start on the suspension. If you remember from the Racing Is Expensive! (Got Used?) post, I picked up some suspension bits from a Z I stripped a few months back – including Ground Control coilovers, Tokico Illumina (5 way adjustable) struts, and Stillen (gen 2) front upper control arms.

Today we’ll look at installing these along with a new 300 Degree Camber Kit. The rest of the Z’s suspension is on order from SPL Pro Suspension.  Sean over at SPL is a supporter of the project and agreed to become a sponsor! (More on SPL and their top quality suspension products in future posts). But for now, let’s get started!

Pic Courtesy of Ground Control's Website

Ground Control was one of the first companies to offer coilovers for the 300zx (Z32). I remember reading about them way back in the early days of the now defunct Sport Compact Car. Mike Kojima and crew installed them on their Project 300zx (scans of the old articles can be found here).

Since then, there’s been a myriad of companies that have brought Z32 coilovers to market (from budget minded to high dollar race units alike). Because of this, GC’s can be considered “old technology” in certain circles when compared with the newer stuff out there. But after inquiring over on twinturbo.net – most if not all raved about GC’s performance (only caveat being sacrificed ride quality when compared with newer coilovers on the market). Since the Z will primarily be a track car, ride quality is less of a concern for me – and since I had them on hand and picked them up for next to nothing, I chose to install them (saving me $800-$1200 in the process). In the future I may switch over to a more adjustable race coilover if needed, but for now, these will more than suffice to start NASA’s High Performance Driving Events.

 

The Z came to me equipped with Eibach springs on factory 2 way adjustable struts – and if I’m honest, I rather like the feel of the car with this setup (if this were just a street car I’d call it a day). However…

Although the Eibachs/stock struts create a firm yet comfortable ride with improved handling on the street, they begin to show their weakness at the track (and lack the adjustable ride height of coilovers and 5 way adjustability of Tokico struts). I will miss the cockpit mounted switch to go from Touring to Sport mode (with the factory struts), but more so for the “coolness” factor over anything else.

 

It turns out the previous owner had the GC kit installed incorrectly. The bump stops were missing along with a urethane spacer designed to slide over the top strut mount providing the spring a place to seat. In addition, an o-ring/sleeve designed to take up slack between the GC collar and Tokico was missing.

Without these parts, the spring & collar were free to clank around as the suspension articulated. A quick call to Ground Control and they had the parts I needed in the mail.

It’s also worthwhile to mention here that the red plastic adjustable “top” was missing from one of the Tokico’s. I called Tokico half expecting them to blow me off with such a small request (for struts I picked up used no less) – but to my surprise, they couldn’t have been more helpful and sent me out a pack of 4 new tops free of charge! It’s rare to find that type of customer service these days.

Instillation of the poly sleeve and o-ring.

No more room for the spring to rattle!

Urethane spacer before install.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next up were the Stillen (gen 2) control arms. The Z already had a set of Stillen gen 1 control arms (or “slip boxes” as they’re known). Although they were functioning properly, the gen 2’s offered increased adjustability along with a better design.

I like the Stillen’s because they use a poly bushing (vs. a bearing on other brands). From what I’ve read, the bearings articulate better, but are prone to wear quickly. Since these front control arms cost upwards of $350 new, hopefully I’ll get some more life with the poly bushings vs. bearings before replacements are required. They were pretty filthy when I got them (the car they came off of was a daily driver). I used Purple Power to degrease them, but road salt had already eaten some of the protective coating away. I plan to wipe them down with SharkHide at some point to help stave off rust.

Camber plates installed.

Here’s where the 300 Degree Camber Kit comes into play. It allows the upper mount to extend away from the car, thus reducing the amount of length required in the control arms to achieve proper alignment (with just an Eibach drop spring of 1” they compensate without the use of adjustable arms).

With coilovers – the lower you go, the further you stretch the adjustable arms (some have even had failures as a result of overextending). Since the Z will be lowered to help reduce center of gravity, I liked the piece of mind knowing the arms would have less distance to stretch to achieve the correct camber with the camber kit installed.

 

I topped it all off with a master cylinder brace (also picked up used from another forum member). The firewall is known to stretch under hard breaking, pushing the entire master cylinder forward and reducing breaking feel. The brace stops this by locking the MC against the firewall.

If you look closely, you’ll notice I had to shave a bit off the camber correction bolt as it rubbed against the MC stopping it from seating in place against the brake booster. The bolt heads supplied in the kit are much thicker than the factory brackets – However, I believe this is entirely the result of the accident (my strut tower is still pushed in an 1/8″ or so as the frame shop could only do so much), and in no way is a measure of the quality of the 300 Degree kit. This also affected the MC brace and required some grinding/cutting to make it work. Moving forward I’m not concerned as the adjustable suspension parts provide more than enough adjustment to remove the 1/8” difference.

The rear GC coilover install will have to wait till the rest of the SPL suspension gets here. Big thanks to Sean over at SPL for the wealth of suspension knowledge and advice he was kind enough to share with me. I went with SPL’s – TITANIUM Tension Rods, Brake Cooling Deflectors, TITANIUM Rear Upper Arms, TITANIUM HICAS Eliminator Kit, Eccentric Lockout Kit, and Rear Knuckle Monoball Bushing Kit.

Stay tuned for a complete write up/instillation of these parts at a later date. Can’t wait!

Jay

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Comments
  1. Deron Tippins says:

    Nice work sir. Looks like a lot of quality parts. Should make for a very solid car.

  2. Thanks! Can’t wait to get it all installed and hit the track.

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