Skip to main content

Replies sorted oldest to newest

@Todd Dean
Most likely, you now have KYB GR2 Gas shocks on your car.  They are white and tend to be popular, especially among the VW sedan set, but they also tend to be kind-of stiff on our little cars.  I would suggest a set of Cofap oil shocks.  They are about as cheap as they come (around $35 each) and take a lot of the harshness out of the ride.  I just went to a set on my IRS car and I like them a lot.

Here is just one of several places that sell them - I got mine from Bug Stuff in PA.

https://socalautoparts.com/?s=...wNwZzwRoCjAYQAvD_BwE

You don't mention much about your car, but there are two different front suspensions  on these cars - older, Link Pin style and newer, Ball Joint style and the shocks are different for each so find out what'cha got and order accordingly.  The rear shocks should be the same for IRS or Swing arm, but "Swing Arm" is a chassis before 1969, while the "IRS" rear is 1969 and after.  Know what you have before ordering.

Happy shopping....

Last edited by Gordon Nichols

Gordo: I have been wondering about my shocks, well, just because. Not complaining, just wondering.  My car is pretty stiff with large diam sway bars front and rear.  Ball joints and IRS. 20,000+/- miles. What is on there now are "whatever JPS put on" after I explained that i was looking for performance vs comfort, hence the hurky sweay bars. My car corners pretty flat.  Anywho . . . the ones on  there are white. Mayhap I'd like some of these new shocks, as you suggest.  You say you like yours  fine, and so I ask for a driving impression vs whatever you had before, and why the change?

I totally agree with Lane’s advice, too - start out by trying tire pressure around 18-20 up front and 20-22psi rear.  You might be amazed at the change in ride.  

I started out with KYB GR2 gas shocks all around because that was what everyone recommended back in the 1990’s.  I also have 3/4” front and rear anti-sway bars.  It cornered flat on the track, but felt like it could do more.  So I went to a set of adjustable KONI shocks for a VW Sedan and set them medium-low/soft, and that made it corner like a Go-Kart, no matter how hard I pushed it.

BUT….  It rode pretty stiff on most roads, even set to full soft.  Potholes were to be avoided, railroad tracks were slowed for and pavement cracks were always felt.  Whenever I hit a pavement crack I could feel it in my Geriatric butt and this Geriatric is getting too old for that stuff.

So, I went to a set of Cofap oil-filled “stock VW” shocks which seem to take me from a harsh ride to something much softer.  You still feel pavement irregularities, but they are far less harsh, now.  I still have those moosey anti-sway bars installed so it is still an aggressive ride, but minor potholes now gently thud rather than a teeth-rattling Wham!  I’m very happy with that new road feel.  I run tire pressure of 18 front and 22 rear.  

How’s that for yah, Kelly?

Last edited by Gordon Nichols

I'm hesitant to say anything, because what I'm going to say runs counter to most advice you'll hear on the subject, and I don't want anybody to get hurt.

I've got a 2005 IM speedster with IRS and a VW ball-joint beam I bought as a "coach" running a full stack of torsion leaves, a drop axle, Koni shocks set on full soft, and a 3/4" sway bar from new. The car corners very flat, but it rides like there isn't a front suspension at all.

I'm a motorhead from the flatlands. When I bought my first speedster 24 years ago, I knew nothing about alignment, springs, drop spindles, or sway bars, and I didn't really start learning about them until I starting taking trips to the mountains to cosplay Phil Hill.

I had Mike Fincher from Beck remove all the small leaves from my top tube when I broke the rear suspension in the mountains in '22 and had the car towed back to Breman (Mike had a trailer down in NC and I didn't). It didn't help much. This winter, I put a stock VW Type 181 "Thing" sway-bar on the front, rather than the 3/4" Empi bar I've run since new.

For reference, the stock VW Beetle ball-joint bar is 12 mm (just under 1/2"), the EMPI is 19 mm (right at 3/4"), and the Type 181 bar is about 15 mm (.59"). A 5/8" bar (which this isn't) is purported to be "Goldilocks" -- not too hard, not too soft.

I found a decent used OG VW Type 181 bar (VW P/N: 181411309) at thingparts.com for about $75. BugCity has them as well, but the freight was more. CSP makes new ones -- (P/N: 411 309 166-15) in standard width and for 2" narrowed beams, which would be excellent., but they're 199 euro, FOB Germany, which seemed like an awful lot just to try something. If you use an old VW Type 181 bar, you'll need new sway-bar bushings (thingparts.com sells them) or to drill out the 12 mm ones for 15 mm.

I've also got a set of dropped spindles as well, and intended to put them on this Spring but ran out of time.

I've still got a 3/4" EMPI rear sway bar to go with this smaller front bar, which runs counter to what almost everybody will tell you is the one true path. I decided to try this oddball combination when @Teammccalla was corresponding with me and reported that he really liked the stock 12 mm front bar with an EMPI 19 mm rear bar. He talked about being able to rotate the car with the throttle more easily, and said the car felt more "Porsche-like".

I'm working on it, but I'm not a smooth driver -- I can be pretty ham-handed, and I tend to have big inputs. Even so, my car always felt like it had more of a tendency to push than to get loose, which runs counter to everything "everybody knows" about a rear-engine car. I'm not sure if this is the result of the engine and transaxle being a couple inches further forward in an IM or if it is because I run a lot of negative camber in the back or if it is the result of the spring/sway-bar package, but I've never had the car come around on me-- not once, even driving like an ape (see above).

The thing is: I want to be able to steer the car with the throttle -- and even with a fairly hairy engine (200 hp at times), there's not a lot of excess power (with sticky tires, lots of negative camber, and a fair amount of weight on the rear tires) to break things loose without ridiculous inputs guaranteed to make the tail wag.

Everybody is rightly afraid of snap-oversteer, and I get it... with a swing axle and skinny tires. Snap oversteer has killed guys. But with 195/50R16s and IRS, my car slides pretty predictably (when I can get it to slide at all). The back end sticks amazingly well. However, I have been in situations where the front end broke traction with fairly terrifying results. You may feel more comfortable with a car that understeers than one that oversteers (most people do, and most OEMs build them that way)... but I don't.

My personal theory regarding my car (and again-- I'm not a suspension setup guy) is that the light front end, coupled with a stock spring and a very heavy bar up front conspire to make the car understeer. There's just not enough weight up front for a really big bar, unless you're carrying ballast or have really, really sticky tires (and my tires are summer-only Firestone Indy 500 tires with a treadwear rating of 300 or so). With the oddball bar sizes, the car feels more neutral. Again -- this is my car, and probably nobody else's.

... but what would be the same for everybody is how the car rides. The difference between the 19 mm bar and the 15 mm bar is stark. The front end, even with standard spindles and a beam dropped into the weeds is quite a bit more compliant than it was. It's still not enough (and may never be) to feel "normal", but it's a lot better. If I can raise the adjuster as high as it will go and install the drop spindles and not have the car be too low, I'm thinking it'll be even better yet. We'll see. The shocks will be the very last thing I change.

I've never used them, but if I was staying with the car being lowered on the beam, I'd probably get a set of these shorter shocks from CIP1 (< click on that blue text- it's a link). They're purported to be stiffer than stock VW oil shocks but softer than KYB Gas-a-Just. Regardless, stock-length shocks (like my Konis) are really too long for cars lowered on the beam. They'll bottom out.

I've got no experience with the shorter CIP1 shocks, nor am I making an endorsement. I'm just asking you to take a sip from the firehose with me.

Professional driver on a closed course. Your mileage may vary.

Last edited by Stan Galat

Thanks for the mention, @Stan Galat

I still think mine is dialed in perfectly.  Stock front, and 3/4 rear bars.  I keep expecting some unpleasant oversteer, and it just turns in perfectly.  I love it.  I can’t take full credit.  A long time Porsche racer and master mechanic recommended that direction.  I don’t use “master” lightly.  

I would mention that the Koni shocks are a huge part of the picture … as is an upgraded steering box.

Last edited by Teammccalla
@Stan Galat posted:

I'm hesitant to say anything, because what I'm going to say runs counter to most advice you'll hear on the subject, and I don't want anybody to get hurt.

I've got a 2005 IM speedster with IRS and a VW ball-joint beam I bought as a "coach" running a full stack of torsion leaves, a drop axle, Koni shocks set on full soft, and a 3/4" sway bar from new. The car corners very flat, but it rides like there isn't a front suspension at all.

I'm a motorhead from the flatlands. When I bought my first speedster 24 years ago, I knew nothing about alignment, springs, drop spindles, or sway bars, and I didn't really start learning about them until I starting taking trips to the mountains to cosplay Phil Hill.

I had Mike Fincher from Beck remove all the small leaves from my top tube when I broke the rear suspension in the mountains in '22 and had the car towed back to Breman (Mike had a trailer down in NC and I didn't). It didn't help much. This winter, I put a stock VW Type 181 "Thing" sway-bar on the front, rather than the 3/4" Empi bar I've run since new.

For reference, the stock VW Beetle ball-joint bar is 12 mm (just under 1/2"), the EMPI is 19 mm (right at 3/4"), and the Type 181 bar is about 15 mm (.59"). A 5/8" bar (which this isn't) is purported to be "Goldilocks" -- not too hard, not too soft.

I found a decent used OG VW Type 181 bar (VW P/N: 181411309) at thingparts.com for about $75. BugCity has them as well, but the freight was more. CSP makes new ones -- (P/N: 411 309 166-15) in standard width and for 2" narrowed beams, which would be excellent., but they're 199 euro, FOB Germany, which seemed like an awful lot just to try something. If you use an old VW Type 181 bar, you'll need new sway-bar bushings (thingparts.com sells them) or to drill out the 12 mm ones for 15 mm.

I've also got a set of dropped spindles as well, and intended to put them on this Spring but ran out of time.

I've still got a 3/4" EMPI rear sway bar to go with this smaller front bar, which runs counter to what almost everybody will tell you is the one true path. I decided to try this oddball combination when @Teammccalla was corresponding with me and reported that he really liked the stock 12 mm front bar with an EMPI 19 mm rear bar. He talked about being able to rotate the car with the throttle more easily, and said the car felt more "Porsche-like".

I'm working on it, but I'm not a smooth driver -- I can be pretty ham-handed, and I tend to have big inputs. Even so, my car always felt like it had more of a tendency to push than to get loose, which runs counter to everything "everybody knows" about a rear-engine car. I'm not sure if this is the result of the engine and transaxle being a couple inches further forward in an IM or if it is because I run a lot of negative camber in the back or if it is the result of the spring/sway-bar package, but I've never had the car come around on me-- not once, even driving like an ape (see above).

The thing is: I want to be able to steer the car with the throttle -- and even with a fairly hairy engine (200 hp at times), there's not a lot of excess power (with sticky tires, lots of negative camber, and a fair amount of weight on the rear tires) to break things loose without ridiculous inputs guaranteed to make the tail wag.

Everybody is rightly afraid of snap-oversteer, and I get it... with a swing axle and skinny tires. Snap oversteer has killed guys. But with 195/50R16s and IRS, my car slides pretty predictably (when I can get it to slide at all). The back end sticks amazingly well. However, I have been in situations where the front end broke traction with fairly terrifying results. You may feel more comfortable with a car that understeers than one that oversteers (most people do, and most OEMs build them that way)... but I don't.

My personal theory regarding my car (and again-- I'm not a suspension setup guy) is that the light front end, coupled with a stock spring and a very heavy bar up front conspire to make the car understeer. There's just not enough weight up front for a really big bar, unless you're carrying ballast or have really, really sticky tires (and my tires are summer-only Firestone Indy 500 tires with a treadwear rating of 300 or so). With the oddball bar sizes, the car feels more neutral. Again -- this is my car, and probably nobody else's.

... but what would be the same for everybody is how the car rides. The difference between the 19 mm bar and the 15 mm bar is stark. The front end, even with standard spindles and a beam dropped into the weeds is quite a bit more compliant than it was. It's still not enough (and may never be) to feel "normal", but it's a lot better. If I can raise the adjuster as high as it will go and install the drop spindles and not have the car be too low, I'm thinking it'll be even better yet. We'll see. The shocks will be the very last thing I change.

I've never used them, but if I was staying with the car being lowered on the beam, I'd probably get a set of these shorter shocks from CIP1 (< click on that blue text- it's a link). They're purported to be stiffer than stock VW oil shocks but softer than KYB Gas-a-Just. Regardless, stock-length shocks (like my Konis) are really too long for cars lowered on the beam. They'll bottom out.

I've got no experience with the shorter CIP1 shocks, nor am I making an endorsement. I'm just asking you to take a sip from the firehose with me.

Professional driver on a closed course. Your mileage may vary.

WOW!!! You provided me with great information... Thx

@Todd Dean
Most likely, you now have KYB GR2 Gas shocks on your car.  They are white and tend to be popular, especially among the VW sedan set, but they also tend to be kind-of stiff on our little cars.  I would suggest a set of Cofap oil shocks.  They are about as cheap as they come (around $35 each) and take a lot of the harshness out of the ride.  I just went to a set on my IRS car and I like them a lot.

Here is just one of several places that sell them - I got mine from Bug Stuff in PA.

https://socalautoparts.com/?s=...wNwZzwRoCjAYQAvD_BwE

You don't mention much about your car, but there are two different front suspensions  on these cars - older, Link Pin style and newer, Ball Joint style and the shocks are different for each so find out what'cha got and order accordingly.  The rear shocks should be the same for IRS or Swing arm, but "Swing Arm" is a chassis before 1969, while the "IRS" rear is 1969 and after.  Know what you have before ordering.

Happy shopping....

Thanks Gordon for the info... My car is a super wide body built 2018 by K Duncan Vintage Speedsters

@Todd Dean, The VS super-wide body cars are known for a harsh ride due to the heavy wheels and low profile tires.  There's only so much you'll be able to do.  Try what's been suggested here and accept the remainder as part of the car's character.

So you think replacing the current shocks for softer Koni shocks won't really help? My concern in the long run is the stiff ride will effect the fiberglass body and start the all to familiar cracks

@Todd Dean posted:

So you think replacing the current shocks for softer Koni shocks won't really help?

@Stan Galat posted:

Regardless, stock-length shocks (like my Konis) are really too long for cars lowered on the beam. They'll bottom out.

If you want softer shocks and your car is lowered on the beam (and it is, if it's a VS), I'd get the shocks for cars lowered on the beam--  either EMPI or the ones I linked.

Last edited by Stan Galat

Add Reply

Post Content
×
×
×
×
Link copied to your clipboard.
×
×