See, hear and read what they’re saying about SuperPro
SuperPro is always developing new products and needs your help for the final test.
Contact us if you are located in Brisbane and willing to be involved with our R&D team.
All we need is your car for up to 5 days in our R&D facilities in Moorooka (QLD), then we only ask you to provide feedback (you keep the products installed in your car)
This great new product from SuperPro is the ideal, cost effective way to obtain more ground clearance from a newer model 4WD utility. Designed to work only with standard suspension, these new kits have been carefully designed to meet all vehicle modification requirements set down in current legislation, in all states and territories.
READ THE FULL ARTICLE
For more info on the compliance with the current Australian legilation, check out this article
Extensive testing conducted by the Performance Racing & Tuning Council (PRTC) in the United States earned acceptance from Federal, State and Territory Governments for modifications made under the owner certified section of the National Code of Practice covering alterations to vehicle height.
The PRTC is a specialist section of the Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association (AAAA), the national body representing the automotive aftermarket, including manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, importers and retailers of automotive parts and accessories, tools and equipment.
Modifications to suspension are designed to improve safety and enhance dynamic performance of the vehicle. The successful test regime on two popular vehicles using suspension kits from Australian suppliers proved that lowering vehicle height by 50mm has no adverse impact on the operation of the Electronic Stability Control (ESC) unit.
The modified vehicles – 2013 Toyota Camry and 2015 Chevrolet SS (Commodore) – were benchmarked against identical non-modified units and no modifications were made to the vehicles’ original equipment ESC systems.
PRTC adopted the same test protocols used by all vehicle manufacturers and major component suppliers around the world to simulate vehicle dynamics for the development and testing of new chassis system components, engines, power trains, drivelines, suspension and vehicle electronic control systems.
Technical reports from the PRTC tests presented to Federal, State and Territory regulators showed the test vehicles all met Australian Design Rule (ADR) 35 requirements for ESC operation.
PRTC Chairman Graham Scudamore-Smith said the industry program to dispel the notion that small changes to the ride height of a vehicle have a negative impact on ESC operation is a win for common sense. “We worked closely with the regulators and thank the Federal, State and Territory authorities for their input to this successful project,” said Graham Scudamore-Smith.
Aftermarket displays due diligence
In all cases the test results were well within the normal operating capabilities of the vehicles’ ESC systems and ADR 35 requirements. All modified vehicles:
· Easily passed the performance requirements of ADR 35.
· Demonstrated compatibility with the control authority of the OEM electronic stability control system.
· Worked in harmony with the OEM ESC system to prevent rollover potential in the extreme test conditions.
· Did not demonstrate any “nuisance activations” of the ESC system during any test manoeuvres.
We ensured complete transparency for the test regime by using the ADR as the standard, and using internationally recognised test procedures and testing facilities,” said Graham Scudamore-Smith.
“As a result of this PRTC initiative, the National Code of Practice has been amended to remove reference to ESC testing requirements from Section LS of Vehicle Standards Bulletin (VSB) 14.
“Thus, we have eliminated the need for additional and redundant testing and cut red tape for Australian businesses and vehicle owners. This is a great outcome for private car owners who want to improve the on road capabilities of their vehicles.
“This successful modified vehicle ride height test program is a result of the AAAA’s commitment to due diligence in ensuring the engineering integrity of the products sold by members” he said.
A 2015 Jeep Wrangler with Australian made 50mm suspension left equipment
easily passed ADR 35 requirements for the vehicle’s original equipment electronic stability control system.
It is pictured here with test equipment fitted at Link Engineering in the USA.
To ensure precision for the electronic stability control testing of
the altered ride height vehicles, Link Engineering used a computer
driven steering robot to guide the vehicle through the test process.
About the Performance Racing and Tuning Council of Australia (PRTC):
The PRTC is a non-competitive, specialist council of the Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association formed to promote professional and responsible activities within the performance racing and tuning sector, including facilitating growth in the industry through effective communication and education, providing regulatory advice and advocacy, identifying opportunities, future trends and technologies, creating networking opportunities among members, and promoting road safety and sanctioned off-street motorsport events, including drag racing and drifting. Visit:
About the Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association Limited (AAAA):
The AAAA is the national industry association representing manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, importers and retailers of automotive parts and accessories, tools and equipment in Australia. The Association has over 1,900 member companies in all categories of the Australian automotive aftermarket and includes major national and multi-national corporations as well as a large number of independent small and medium size businesses. Member companies are located in metropolitan, regional and rural Australia. The parts and maintenance sector of the $108 billion Australian automotive industry represents about $34 billion. AAAA member companies employ more than 40,000 people and export over $800 million worth of product a year. Visit http://www.aaaa.com.au/
Media Release PRTC 11 January 2016
|APR Stage 2||$3,990|
|Total Mods Cost||$24,972|
|Vehicle Cost (mSrp)||$55,240|
The Volkswagen Racing Cup has gained another top-flight sponsor for the coming season, with leading motorsport and road-car suspension component supplier SuperPro signing on to support the championship.
Like the championship’s new title sponsor Milltek Sport, SuperPro has been a key supplier of parts to competitors for several seasons and is looking to raise awareness of its class-leading products through association with the UK’s best-supported one-make race series.
“Being involved with motorsport gives us the background evidence to prove our product is different to, and better than, those of our rivals,” said Richard Fearn, General Manager of SuperPro Europe Ltd, the European distributor of the Australian-made SuperPro bushes.
“Volkswagen group models are a significant part of our business and a market sector which is growing in importance, so the Volkswagen Racing Cup is a perfect marketing fit for us, and of course we have supplying suspension components to competitors for around five years.”
Ross Wylie’s SlideSports Scirocco was among the SuperPro-equipped machines to win in the Volkswagen Racing Cup during 2013.
Welcoming SuperPro to the series, championship manager Matt Walker said: “Volkswagen Racing UK has used SuperPro components in many road and race-car builds and can wholeheartedly recommend them, as we know can many of the championship’s competitors. We are very pleased to be strengthening our links and that SuperPro will be supporting the series.”
The opening rounds of the Milltek Sport Volkswagen Racing Cup are set to take place at Oulton Park on Easter Monday, 21 April. The 14-race, seven-meeting series supports the British GT Championship and is set to be televised across Europe via Motors TV.
Source: Nick Carter
As part of its ever-expanding range of alignment and suspension products, Australian chassis authority SuperPro has released details of its all-new alloy arm upgrades for many 1 and 3 Series BMW models.
Thanks to BMW’s parts sharing philosophy, these new parts will fit all E81, E82, E87, E88, E90, E91 and E92 models. SuperPro has designed these parts in response to significant demand from the tuning fraternity for a set of uprated front arms to cope with the stresses and forces placed upon these cars when driven enthusiastically, and of course, when subjected to tuning. Both the 1 and 3 series ranges have become well-proven tuner platforms, and these new products not only offer a greater level of performance and durability ‘out of the box’, but also the ability to adjust geometry far outside the factory’s relatively timid parameters.
Where the OEM parts use traditional rubber around a ball joint, the SuperPro parts use a vastly superior polyurethane formulation that balances greater precision with equivalent levels of comfort. This formulation is really clever, as it’s not only used by many race teams and reigning motorsport champions, but it’s also approved at dealer level by Subaru UK’s accessory division, Pro-R . Clearly a compound that can be all things to all people! By removing any unwanted movement, or ‘slop’ in the suspension action, the SuperPro arms ensure that chassis geometry is kept consistent and maintained even when the car is driven on the limit.
Both the Front Lower Control Arm and the Radius Arm offer a complete arm replacement and come ready mounted with all bushes for a simple and easy fit. The Control Arm is “on car” camber adjustable and allows up to a degree of extra camber. The radius arms can also be adjusted in situ and allows tuners to obtain an additional increase or decrease of caster. In both cases, this fine adjustment is achieved by the simple rotation of a turnbuckle – and the kit even includes a spanner for this very purpose.
Source: Easier Cars
Christmas is just a couple of weeks away and if you’re like us, you probably have lots of shopping left to do. In case you need some gift ideas or are just looking for some cool new goodies for your own car, here’s the December Product Showcase from our official suppliers.
Who wouldn’t want to find some of these cool parts and accessories under the old tree this year?
SuperPro have developed and released the front arms for the BMW in response to the need for an upgrade to the standard OEM style rubber bushings and ball joint. The 1 Series shares its platform with the larger 3 Series and both have become popular as a tuner car, particularly the bigger horsepower cars. This has uncovered a few issues with what is a very good chassis.
The front cross member/cradle assembly and control arms are made of rigid aluminium and provide a solid platform to build a well-handling car. Both of these vehicles run fairly aggressive caster from the factory, but with no adjustability. The new SuperPro arms allow for adjustment to achieve caster ‘split’ and allow for tunability to really make this chassis perform. The OEM bushings are fairly soft and the SuperPro bushings minimise the dynamic caster change and increase stability under braking.
The SuperPro Alloy Lower Control Arm is fitted with a camber adjustable SuperPro bushing to complete the package. All the SuperPro bushings are cotton reel style, which allows full articulation and movement without binding and with no increase in noise, vibration or harshness.
ALOY0005K Complete Alloy Control Arm Kit – includes radius and front lower control arms.
• Both the front lower control arm and the radius arm are a complete arm replacement and include SuperPro bushings and a ball joint.
• The control arm is ‘on car’ camber adjustable.
• The control arm allows for up to 1 degree camber change.
• The radius arm is ‘on car’ adjustable.
• The radius arms allow for up 0.8 degrees caster increase or decrease.
• Kit includes a spanner to adjust both lower control arms and radius arms.
I’m known as the hot rod guy around these parts, so I’m guessing a lot of our readers will be surprised to learn that my daily driver is a modded ZN6. I built the car for my employer, Airaid Filter Company, to display in our booth at last year’s SEMA show. I loved it so much that when my company put it up for sale I was the first in line to buy it.
Of course, since it was built as a SEMA car it was designed to grab attention, hence the graphics and logos. The next phase of this fun little car’s life will be as a daily driver and Speedhunters project car, so it will be changing quite a lot over the coming months.
The first project I’ll be doing is installing this SuperPro Master Kit for the ZN6 which includes every bushing you can change out on the chassis.
SuperPro is an Australian manufacturer of performance suspension components like these bushings. I’ve had my reservations about polyurethane bushings, but they use a proprietary blend that not only improves handling and stability, but does so with no increase in noise or harshness. You can read more about this here.
SuperPro also prides itself on precision engineering – something I started to notice as I opened each package. The steel sleeves are machined to tight tolerances and the bushings are knurled and grooved to retain grease and reduce friction at pivot points. The ability to hold grease means you don’t have to keep taking your suspension apart to re-lubricate the bushings.
They also sent sway bars – front and rear.
I had already mounted a set of KW V3s and honestly was plenty satisfied with the set-up as it was. Not only do the V3s handle well, they are by far the nicest riding lowered suspension I’ve owned – a good quality in a daily driver.
The first bushings I set my sights on were those that held the rear crossmember to the unibody. The crossmember supports the rear differential and suspension, so taking up the slop here should make the car feel tighter.
I was pleased to see that this was an insert and not a complete bushing because I knew this would make the installation much easier.
There are four mounting points so I removed one bolt at a time and used a large pry bar to sneak the upper bushing into place.
Here you can see how the inserts are molded to fill in the gaps in the factory bushings.
Moving to the front mounting points I did the same with my pry bar…
… and loosened this bracket to slide the lowers into position.
Here’s the finished installation of the rear crossmember inserts.
While I was under the rear of the car I turned my attention to the sway bar.
The spindly stock unit is apparently 14mm.
I used a ratcheting wrench to turn the end link nuts off. This is helpful in case they spin, as you can use a hex key through the open end of the wrench.
The SuperPro sway bar was in place in minutes. I used the furthest end link mounting position since the instructions recommend you start at the softest setting.
The calipers show the new bar is 19mm in diameter, but it’s actually 18mm plus the thickness of the powdercoat.
SuperPro also has its own aftermarket end link coming, so we’ll touch on those in the next installment.
Moving to the front of the car I pulled down all of the skid plates that cover the belly of the car.
I removed the steering rack bolts and let it hang down a bit so I could get to the bushings. There’s no need to unhook the tie rod ends to swap the rack bushings.
I used a large socket that fit over the bushing on one side, with a long bolt that would draw the stock bushing out as I tightened it.
This worked well and the bushings came right out.
Once the bushing was most of the way out I was able to grab the socket and wiggle it the rest of the way.
The SuperPro bushings are two-piece with a machined steel sleeve, so you just pop one half in each side, grease the sleeve, and slide it in.
While I was under the front of the car I pulled out the front sway bar…
…which measured 18mm…
… as compared to the 20mm SuperPro version.
I applied plenty of the supplied grease to the frame-mounted bushings and again attached the end links in the furthest mounting position.
Here’s the finished product with sway bar and steering rack bushings installed.
There are a lot of bushings left to install on all the control arms, but I thought to finish this story I would give a quick demo using parts that I’ve already removed from the car in favor of more adjustable aftermarket parts.
I have a little five-ton bench top press which I attempted to use to press out the rear toe arm bushing. No dice.
The instructions call for a torch to heat the rubber part of the bushing.
With the press maintaining a stretch on the bushing I applied heat with a propane torch.
Soon I heard some cracking sounds and the rubber part separated from the outer sleeve.
Next I clamped the toe arm to my work bench and used an air chisel to carefully cut away the remaining sleeve.
Now I had the bare arm into which I could install the SuperPro bushing.
Each pack is clearly marked and comes with its own pack of grease.
After applying grease to the inside of the bushing and the outside of the sleeve I slid the sleeve into place.
Another part I had already removed from the car was the stock rear lower control arm (LCA).
Again I put pressure on the bushing…
… and applied heat…
… until the bushing popped out. By the way, it would be wise to clean the factory goop off the arm before doing this. It does make a mess.
Here’s the SuperPro bushing and sleeve installed in the rear LCA. Notice the ridged edge of the bushing – this is the knurling that is designed to retain grease and reduce friction.
So how does it drive? I have to say I thought the car was tight before, but the addition of these SuperPro parts has made me realize there was more to be had. The car corners even flatter, and there is less slop in the chassis while launching and shifting too. Steering feel is definitely more precise and responsive, with no NVH penalty that I’ve felt in the last week of driving with these parts installed. I’m off to buy a bigger press now, so stay tuned for the next story where I’ll install the rest of the suspension bushings.
In the meantime, what would you do if you got your hands on a former SEMA show car? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section.
Words and photos by Keith Charvonia
Scion Racing campaigned three teams at this year's Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. Alongside the Rally xD, was veteran team Greddy racing in their Scion Racing Greddy tC and Pikes Peak newbie, Evasive Motorsports FRS.
Both the Scion Racing Greddy tC and Rally xD were in the Time Attack class and the Evasive Motorsports FRS was in unlimited class.
All three teams successfully conquered the climb and took part in what was a record shattering event for the history books.
Pikes Peak Video Link - http://www.scion.com/racingblog/7006/cars/tc/scion-racing-pikes-peak-full-video/
Scion Racing Rally xD 2013 Event Videos:
Sno*Drift 2013 (1st Place)
Oregon Trail Rally 2013 (3rd Place)
STPR 2013 (2nd Place)
Pikes Peak International Hill Climb
Scion Racing Rally xD Team is supported by:
Scion Racing / Toyota Racing Development / Greddy Performance / Rays Engineering / Super Pro / Brembo / Tein / Sparco / Motul / BFGoodrich / Baja Designs / Exedy / Mechanix / KAAZ / VP Racing Fuels / Ignition Projects / WPC
Follow the team on the team site and social media feeds:
It’s time to turn up the heat on the chassis of our rapidly improving Pro-R demo car with a trip to Time Attack Champions, Cross Roads Garage and a chance to fit some swanky new springs and bushes.
Unlike Glenda’s dress sense (oi – Glenda), the handling of the STi floor is pretty hard to fault straight out of the box. A combination of symmetrical all-wheel drive, more rubber than the average family planning clinic and the low centre of gravity that only a boxer motor can bring, and you’ve got more grip than a bag of super-glued limpets.
That said, there’s nothing to say that the best can’t be made better though, which is why Pro-R also has a whole range of chassis upgrades up their sleeves for those that like to make their daily commute a little more exciting.
Speedhunters has been actively working with aftermarket parts makers from around the world to collaborate on their project car builds and other projects. Today more than ever, these companies are connecting to the online world to both get feedback for new product development and to share their latest equipment with car enthusiasts around the world, and in their post they’ll be sharing photos and information about their latest products. It’s something that’s been part of automotive media since the earliest car magazines, and hopefully something that will help you in the never-ending quest to make your car cooler, faster and better.
Suspension optimisation and tuning is something I’ve done a lot of on my fast road performance, rally, sprint, track day and other speed-based projects – and always found quite easy. A good set of uprated springs and dampers from a quality brand always helps, as does the less popular, but mightily effective route of upgraded polyurethane bushes, anti-roll bars, strut braces and, of course, an all-important wheel alignment, for optimum geometry set-up.
But this is only my second off-road project car and the decisions and application (as with everything to do with the P38) were more protracted and complex.
The main debate I had to wrestle with was do I stick with the air suspension, or switch to a coil spring conversion kit. Initially, I was all for the conversion to mechanical springs – ridding me of any leaking, sagging, erratic air suspension horror stories and woes. But, I have grown to like the P38’s ride and handling and the adjustability in ride height the air offers (when it was working properly!). As such, I have decided to stick with the air – as Land Rover intended the P38 to be by design – refreshing with a brand new set from quality Land Rover parts experts, Britpart, whose parts range and customer
service I have found to be exceptionally good and useful.
But I do want to improve the standard set-up. As such, I have bought a set of much-respected Bilstein dampers to optimise grip levels and lower roll tendency. And I’ve also opted for a new Bilstein steering rack damper, for added control. Plus, I’m fitting a set of SuperPro polyurethane performance suspension bushes – to future-proof the suspension, whilst simultaneously providing better traction and stability, more responsive steering, increased tyre life (via constant steering geometry) and added off-road capability.
Finally, I learned long ago that a suspension set-up is only ever as good as its wheel alignment settings, so the final piece of the suspension jigsaw was a trip to my local STS Tyre Pros, for a four-wheel laser alignment on its state-of-the-art Hunter rig – to maximise the (hopefully) positive effects of all of these upgrade parts.
Following is a bit more detail on the new suspension parts selected, and the effects they have had on Project P38.
SuperPro Performance Bushes
I’ve had a lot of success revitalising worn out bangernomics cars like the P38 in the past by replacing the worn rubber OEM bushes with uprated, long lasting, durable polyurethane elastomer performance bushes – from Australian suspension gurus, SuperPro.
The rigorously researched, developed and tested bushes make a huge difference to how your car feels, drives and handles – with no negative loss of ride quality or increase in NVH levels. They are great value too (£199 plus VAT for this kit). In fact, the only downside in my experience is fitting them is a bit of a PITA and takes time – especially on the seized up, worn-out, heavyweight P38!
But the huge list of benefits far outweighs the pain/time/cost of the fitment, offering “sharper more communicative and responsive handling (on and off-road) with increased durability and longevity without significantly increasing noise, vibration and harshness”.
In short, SuperPro promises improved handling and stability, much longer life, low maintenance, no increase in vibration and road noise, and increased tyre and suspension life. They are even precision engineered for an exact fit, with no component modifications required for fitting. Plus, these SuperPro bushes are guaranteed for 36,000 miles or three years! The SuperPro radius arm, panhard rod, anti-roll bar and shock bush kit I bought is designed for Land Rover Range Rover P38 models from 1995 to 2001.
It includes the following:
SuperPro says: “Worn radius arm bushes can cause adverse handling and alignment problems on Land Rovers. This can lead to premature tyre wear, accelerated suspension component wear and a tendency for the vehicle to follow tramlines and wander. Our bushes provide a positive location for the radius arm; this in turn keeps the axle in the correct position maintaining the correct alignment.
“SuperPro Polyurethane suspension bushes are engineered to provide outstanding performance over any terrain while maintaining reliability. While improving your vehicle’s handling and stability, SuperPro bushes will not cause harshness or vibrations, which are associated with other manufacturers’ Polyurethane products. This is due to the unique design features and materials that are used in our manufacturing process.
“Shock absorbers and their bushes can have a hard life – especially on off-road vehicles. Over compliant or worn shock absorber bushes can transmit unwanted road noise and vibrations into the car giving an uncomfortable ride. SuperPro has designed a bush kit to cope with the extra stresses put on these bushes while maintaining an acceptable ride quality. SuperPro’s unique design features and materials also mean that these bushes will outlast standard or aftermarket rubber bushes significantly.”
Steve at John Kemp and I fitted the bushes in about four hours – with most of the time spent un-seizing old bolts (thanks Duck Oil!) and removing the old stuck bushes (and metal tubes) from the awkward to remove and even more awkward to re-bush radius arms and panhard rods, one at a time (so as to avoid axle movement). Thankfully, the anti-roll bar bush replacement is easy as pie and the shock lower bushes easy too.
The radius arm and panhard rod bushes are a proper fitting mare. Indeed, some of the old bushes would not be removed on the press or in the vice and needed burning out with a blow torch. It’s then a question of greasing up the arms and rods and the bushes, and easing the new (snug, perfectly designed) SuperPro bush into them, using a (strong) press. They are a seriously tight fit, thanks to great design and manufacturing techniques.
With the bushes in place and everything greased up, re-assembling the P38 was easier than stripping it and all the parts slotted neatly into place. And John Kemp also supplied me with new anti-roll bar drop links, a new track rod and drag arm, as these were worn out and knocking. P38’s underneath is now as fresh as a daisy!
I fitted the SuperPro bushes before the new air springs and Bilstein dampers, giving me a chance to test these independently. And the difference is instantly, dramatically noticeable. The P38 is a lot less prone to wandering, feels a lot more accurate, is a lot sharper – changing direction easier and not wobbling while steering and braking – offers greater driver feedback and feels fresher, stronger and tougher. And there’s no increase in NVH levels. It’s all win, win, win fitting SuperPro – if you can live with the minor fitting hassle.
Britpart Air Suspension
Looking at the P38’s service history and cracked, sagging, leaking state of them, three out of the four air springs on Project P38 appear to have never been replaced. As a result, the rubber seals have dried out and the air leaks out of them when the car is standing. I think it’s fair to say they have done their time and are due for retirement.
So, I contacted quality Land Rover parts supplier Britpart, which offers a direct replacement (Dunlop-manufactured, like OEM parts) air spring unit, which claims to halt leaks and firm up the suspension no end. And I’m optimistically hoping (by a strange quirk of fate) the new springs also fix the air suspension’s desire to be in jacked-up off- road mode too, as the air leaks should be eliminated. Maybe the EAS system will go back to working in all four modes properly again. Maybe...
Currently, we can’t communicate with a diagnostics machine and the EAS, as a
relay under the passenger seat appears to have failed. Until that’s bought, fitted and potentially fixed (more cost!), there’s no way of knowing what’s causing the permanent off-road mode. It’s odd, because most P38’s won’t inflate, not won’t deflate: a typically P38 weird issue.
Anyway, I digress. The Britpart air springs arrive (like all its gear) the next day after ordering, in four neat boxes. They look very smart – all fresh, black, tight, whole and new – which is the exact opposite of what the current factory units look like: old, grey, sagging and cracked. And I’d forgotten just how light the air springs are, contrary to every other P38 part – great for unsprung mass.
Fitting is a simple enough task – for the highly experienced, super-nice Steve at John Kemp Land Rover. It takes just four hours to do both the Bilsteins and dampers together, with most of that time struggling with seized bolts or the awkward air spring retaining clips. But this is a very specialist job (like many on the P38), requiring real know- how, care and skill. Things can go very badly wrong if you do things in the wrong way, or wrong order and there are certain tricks of the trade to make life a lot simpler. Leave this to the professionals I’d say – especially the front, which is a far more complicated job than the rear.
The new air springs have really livened up the feel of the suspension (in conjunction with the Bilstein dampers and SuperPro bushes), with bumps smoothed out faster, body roll reduced (even in off-road mode), body control vastly improved and a fresh, youthful feel to the ride and handling. They’re also quicker to inflate and the air does not leak out of the P38 system anymore either, thanks to the new solid Britpart units, which will give the air compressor a happier life.
Sadly (and predictably), the new air spring fitment did not remedy the EAS system fault. It’s still stuck in high mode, but the handling is radically improved and future-proofed. The new springs will really extend the life of the P38 – which was due a catastrophic failure judging by the state of the knackered old units. Another job well done, perfectly aided by the superb Britpart and John Kemp.
I have rated Bilstein dampers (and its spring and damper coilover kits, which I have on a track day Audi S4) for decades – having been around its factory in Germany years ago, test driven and rallied countless cars with them fitted and having watched countless Bilstein-equipped race, rally and off-road vehicles win in motorsport around Europe. Bilstein is also the OEM damper brand for countless top name car manufacturers – hence I had no fear about ordering a set of uprated B6 off-road dampers and a steering damper for Project P38, 99.9 per cent sure they would radically improve the car’s handling ability – on and off-road.
Bilstein claims its B6 suspension dampers “add precision, reducing unwanted and uncontrolled suspension movement and offering increased steering precision, greater suspension load carrying ability, improved vehicle control and ultimately more grip and manoeuvrability”. This should manifest itself in sharper turn-in, less understeer, reduced body roll, better change of direction and safer, more stable handling, crucially with no loss of ride quality.
Bilstein has a different approach to damping from other suspension brands, using gas pressure technology (not oil) to fill the dampers and using mono-tube, upside down internals (not twin tube and upright). It says: “The gas technology involves keeping the oil in the absorber under pressure, which prevents it from foaming when temperatures and loads are increasing. As a result, full damping power is retained even when the system is placed under extreme stress, a feature that can be observed in the self- lowering piston. This ensures a high level of traction and more precise handling, is a must-have for powerful sport suspensions and provides added safety in all dynamic driving situations.”
And referring to mono-tube technology, it adds: “It’s the original and best: the original mono-tube gas pressure shock absorbers bore the Bilstein name, and we’re still responsible for producing the best there is. Bilstein’s mono-tube technology is the number-one choice in motorsports and series-production sports cars: no other type gives engineers the same freedom to choose the perfect installation location or position (eg Upside-Down technology).
It offers a large effective surface on the working piston, creating increased damping power and better handling, improved dissipation of thermal energy outwards, enabling a consistently high level of absorber performance and a sturdy structure for added safety in.”
It’s the same damping technology in the Bilstein steering damper, which was a breeze to fit and is another superb product – making a noticeable difference to steering accuracy and control, far beyond my expectations really.
There’s only one real worry about fitting new shocks to the P38 – over-extending the air springs, without supporting the axle enough, which can cause the air bags to rip open. Thankfully, with us fitting new Britpart air springs at the same time as the Bilstein dampers and with John Kemp’s mechanical skill, this was not an issue.
Fitting time is about four hours for the suspension (Bilstein and air) and just a few minutes for the steering damper, with the removal of just two bolts required. The method for fitting the suspension dampers is more protracted and time consuming, but essentially quite simple… again with the rears being easier than the fronts. But again – while not as specialist as the air spring fit – I’d say this is a specialist job, not DIY, as they are best done in conjunction, and always as a set of four.
The test post Bilstein (and air) fit reveals a marked improvement in handling ability and ride, a noticeable reduction in body roll, greater direction change ability and a LOT less banging and crashing and chassis shudder over rough ground. The dampers react so much faster than OE units to bumps and surface imperfections – offering far greater control and ability. And the same is true off-road on a quick foray – to an even greater extent actually. Accuracy, poise, balance and ability are radically improved. They may not be cheap, but by God these Bilstein dampers are good gear.
STS Wheel Alignment
Following any suspension fitment – especially a large scale spring, damper and bush overhaul – and after a short period of time to allow the parts to ‘bed in’, a wheel alignment to set up the car (and get it running straight, accurately and true) is essential.
I’ve been preaching about the importance of the right wheel alignment/suspension geometry set-up for decades as a car hack, with various project cars and features. It’s absolutely vital for whatever you use your car for – on or off-road – making the most of the suspension and tyre package you have and setting it up for your car’s specific type of use.
The right set-up – done by the right, talented operative – can literally transform how your car drives and is possibly the best £30-£100 you can spend on handling tuning for your car. You can dial out handling characteristics you hate (understeer) and dial in handling characteristics you like (neutrality, and maybe even a bit of oversteer!), not to mention saving you money on incorrect tyre wear. It’s a total no brainer. And a correct four-wheel alignment (to OEM specification, not just within tolerances) is especially critical to any 4x4’s handling.
While a wheel alignment can be done by a real expert using fishing line and simple measuring equipment, this is a time-consuming process and not really recommended. Geometry experts say that correct adjustment requires an alignment ramp on which all movements can be fully relaxed and an optical measuring rig. And while a laser rig has no particular advantage over a cross-hair mirror rig (the critical factors are the skill and dedication of the operator) it does make life easier. We’ve chosen a brand new Hunter laser alignment machine for the job – at my local STS Tyre Pros (there are branches across the UK).
STS Tyre Pros have a state-of-the-art Hunter Pro Align laser wheel alignment machine and (crucially) a first rate, experienced operator – perfect for Project P38. STS is a great place to go for this service, batteries and tyres (as I recently had fitted to Project P38 here). The lads pride themselves on speedy, efficient, professional service and their smiley customer service and (transparent) waiting room facilities are the best in the business, in my view, especially at my local Wymondham branch in Norfolk, under Kieron’s superb management. They make everything easy, fun and relaxed, and do a great, efficient job, at a great price. What more can you ask for?
Following the alignment, Project P38 is sharper and straighter than ever. All the money spent on new springs, dampers and bushes is fully optimised and brought together by the STS wheel alignment (which was easy, thanks to all the new, greased-up bolts). The Range Rover now drives direct and true, doesn’t track left or right or wander, turns-in much more accurately, changes direction faster and smoother, rolls less and feels a whole load more nimble. Highly recommended.
Wow! Project P38 is barely recognisable to drive now. It always impressed me from the off, given its age and 110,000 miles, but there was a feeling of exhaustion, fragility and a lot of inertia. The difference the bushes, dampers, springs and alignment have made is genuinely astonishing. Project P38 genuinely feels like new – only better as it’s now reaching new (better than standard) heights of agility, ability and reaction on and off-road. It’s stable, happy to change direction, wants to turn-in (even at daft speeds), doesn’t wash out or wander, eats up bumps and bad surfaces and generates massive grip, all with a superb ride quality. Fantastic!
All of these suspension upgrade modifications may not come cheap – at over a grand spent on parts and a fair chunk on labour all in – but they have radically transformed a 12-yearold vehicle into a youngster. Indeed, the tuning has improved Project P38 way beyond its OEM factory-new specification. I can’t rave about these superb products enough, and John Kemp’s labouring skills and expertise. Coupled with the great Marshal rubber, the suspension tuning has made the P38 superbly tractive, given flatter handling on the road – wet and dry – and they’ve all combined to make the Range Rover a lot more capable and controlled off-road too. A truly amazing transformation.
Source: Phil Royle
Phil is a photo-journalist who has been a car hack and editor for over a decade. He loves rallying, track days, the Green Hell and green laning.