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suspension upgrade

Hi all, due to rattling and squeaking suspension I'm thinking of upgrading.I have a 156 2.4 jtd 20v sw so as the gta suspension is compatible would this be a worth while upgrade? I was thinking gta shocks and roll bars with new eibach springs and polybushes. I'm sure the roll bars would be an improvement but would I see an improvement from gta shocks?
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Given the GTA struts have firmer damping, yes, it would be useful.

However, you said new Eibach springs. Beware that Eibach Pro Kit or Sportline are really only for the saloon. The extra weight of the SW will make the rear ride 15mm lower. You can either use standard springs for a SW (rear springs are very reliable because they use so little pre-load in is in opposition to the modern thinking of weedy, overloaded springs), or get Pro Kit springs and fabricate spacers to fit under the springs made out of glass fibre chop/paste to raise the spring 15mm, or opt for coilovers.

Rear ARB would work well with Pro Kit or H&R springs to reduce understeer.

There is a couple of caveats though. Eibach Pro Kit and Sportline are really the same ratings. The only difference is the spring free length for different ride heights or engines. They are really focused for a TS with Pro Kit ride height. I imagine H&R are the same. For that reason, standard GTA front springs may actually be better. All the front springs I've seen have linear rating so the 7.8 coil GTA springs may actually work out firmer than 9.8 coil Eibach or H&R springs. I am not certain about that though. That said, 8.8 coil Veloce front springs seemed to be more pliant and more reliable than earlier 9.8 Sportpack/Veloce springs. I cannot explain why though. I suggest searching the GTA, tuning and 156 lounges very carefully to see if anyone has changed GTA from springs for Eibach etc as it may not be an upgrade and may cause excessive pitching. I don't know for sure though. I' sure the Eibach/H&R rear springs would be excellent if spacers were used because the are a progressive spring rather than the standard or coilover linear rated springs. You may even find these springs with GTA rear ARB makes it a bit too rear-endy though.

Other than that, you may even consider bespoke springs. The aftermarket front sport springs are possibly a bit weak and the rear springs will ride 15mm too low on a SW. This is not what you wanted to hear but there is no point in wasting money. My own experience is that the Eibach Pro Kit is even slightly too weak for TS/JTS and it would be noticeable on a 2.4. Firmer dampers could help but I've already got Koni Str.T on the JTS and it is hard to get dampers with more low speed compression and rebound dialled into them. Hence my suggestion of bespoke springs.

Finally, go for a minimal drop. -30mm is absolutely as low as you should realistically go to minimise sump scraping (which I managed 3 weeks ago at speed on some undulations with sharp inclines.)
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...and fabricate spacers to fit under the springs made out of glass fibre chop/paste to raise the spring 15mm, or opt for coilovers.
Fruity,
I recently needed to raise one of my rear spings (as part of my project to correct uneven ride heights on my 147). I made a spacer using the lower spring seat from an old discarded damper.

I detached the lower spring seat by cutting through the metal just next to the weld on the damper body (being careful not to cut through the damper tube wall, keeping the pressurised oil inside...). With a wooden drift I forced the separated spring seat upward along the damper tube until it came off (it was fairly tight so some force and lubrication was needed).

I then enlarged the central hole of the removed seat, which turned out to be a mistake. The central hole should only be enlarged just enough that the 'new' seat can be slipped over the damper tube, which means the hole can locate the 'new' seat relative to the damper tube axis. Since I made the hole way too large, I had to locate the 'new' seat by other means (three tabs around the circumference of the stock seat on the damper).

So, clean up the removed spring seat, and trim the internal ID until you can just slip it over the OD of the new damper, without having to force it (I'm assuming a new damper, but of course this can be done with any servicable damper, new or not). Now you have a 'new' spring seat which can be fitted onto the new damper above the stock spring seat (still welded to the new damper, unmodified). The 'new' seat is of course correctly shaped to fit the bottom of the spring, so the coil is properly supported.

By shimming below the 'new' seat and above the original seat it's possible to adjust the height of the spacer. There are probably a number of ways in which the 'new' spring seat can be spaced above the stock seat (you seem to like fibreglass inserts, which should work).

This is what I did; I needed to raise the spring seat by approximately 22mm (!!), so I welded a series of short rectangular section tubes to the underside of the 'new' spring seat. So, there are a number of short 20mm X 10mm rectangular section steel tubes welded to the underside of the 'new' seat, with the 20mm section being most of the spacer thickness.

The thickness of the metal from which the 'new' seat is stamped is about 1.7mm. I also inserted a thin rubber sheet (cut from an old inner tube) between the stock seat and the bottom of the rectangular spacer tubes. So, the 20mm tube section, the thickness of the 'new' seat stamping, and the thickness of the rubber insert adds up to near the required 22mm.

Regards,
John.
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Originally Posted by that70skid View Post
Hi all, due to rattling and squeaking suspension I'm thinking of upgrading.I have a 156 2.4 jtd 20v sw so as the gta suspension is compatible would this be a worth while upgrade? I was thinking gta shocks and roll bars with new eibach springs and polybushes. I'm sure the roll bars would be an improvement but would I see an improvement from gta shocks?
I can save you an ocean of pain here, having endured years of trying to get this right. First up you want GTA front springs and GT 3.2 rear springs. Reason being is that the non GTA SW came with 2 suspension types, a standard, high set up, and a sportpack set up, which I suspect yours came with. This had a nivomat rear shock, self leveling unit, which did the work of shock and spring in one unit. It had a spring but it was merely there for cosmetic reasons, it did no work. The nivomat was set to a ride height that matched the front sportpack spring. The SW was based on the same floor pan as the GT, meaning its front platform was the same as the saloon but the rear was specific to SW/GT. Different to the saloon in other words. This has a difference in the top mounting/inner arch panel of the shock/spring area. As a result the only spring known to man that will give a correct ride height is the GT 3.2 rear. To further complicate matters, the GTA rear shock has a different spring mount on the body of the shock. So a rear GTA spring will only sit right on your SW if paired with the original GTA shock. That restricts you to a choice of only one shock, which wasn't a great shock to begin with. So to summarise, the above spring combination will give you the correct ride height and allow you to fit your choice of shock and provide a really good ride/handling compromise. You will have to fit second hand springs though, as I'm not sure new are available, and if they are, they will surely be pricey. Nothing wrong with second hand, they are very robust. Mine are second hand.
I have had Eibach pro kit springs, 30mm lower than standard, and found the rear too low and the front too soft. Now on GTA front springs and GT 3.2 rear springs its perfect. The factory springs were always brilliant on these cars, it was the shocks that were cheap and nasty. I have monroe reflex dampers which are impossible to buy now and are fantastic. But I would recommend Koni FSD's or Koni sports which are adjustable.
The other option is adjustable coilovers for which a good set such as KW's will do everything you want but at a price.
Regarding Anti roll bars, all you need is a GTA rear bar, saloon or SW, second hand again, lick of paint and its all you need. That was the single most effective upgrade I have fitted to mine, in 275,000 miles. An absolute must have. Your original front is fine being already beefed up for the 2.4 lump. Polybushing, avoid. Stick to good quality new wishbones/rear arms, such as TRW. Polybushing creates noise, vibration and hard ride issues.
Believe me, I have learnt the hard and expensive way, these are the only solutions for a SW.
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Last edited by Hugh Myles; 28-03-19 at 15:35.
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I can save you an ocean of pain here, having endured years of trying to get this right. First up you want GTA front springs and GT 3.2 rear springs. Reason being is that the non GTA SW came with 2 suspension types, a standard, high set up, and a sportpack set up, which I suspect yours came with. This had a nivomat rear shock, self leveling unit, which did the work of shock and spring in one unit. It had a spring but it was merely there for cosmetic reasons, it did no work. The nivomat was set to a ride height that matched the front sportpack spring. The SW was based on the same floor pan as the GT, meaning its front platform was the same as the saloon but the rear was specific to SW/GT. Different to the saloon in other words. This has a difference in the top mounting/inner arch panel of the shock/spring area. As a result the only spring known to man that will give a correct ride height is the GT 3.2 rear. To further complicate matters, the GTA rear shock has a different spring mount on the body of the shock. So a rear GTA spring will only sit right on your SW if paired with the original GTA shock. That restricts you to a choice of only one shock, which wasn't a great shock to begin with. So to summarise, the above spring combination will give you the correct ride height and allow you to fit your choice of shock and provide a really good ride/handling compromise. You will have to fit second hand springs though, as I'm not sure new are available, and if they are, they will surely be pricey. Nothing wrong with second hand, they are very robust. Mine are second hand.
I have had Eibach pro kit springs, 30mm lower than standard, and found the rear too low and the front too soft. Now on GTA front springs and GT 3.2 rear springs its perfect. The factory springs were always brilliant on these cars, it was the shocks that were cheap and nasty. I have monroe reflex dampers which are impossible to buy now and are fantastic. But I would recommend Koni FSD's or Koni sports which are adjustable.
The other option is adjustable coilovers for which a good set such as KW's will do everything you want but at a price.
Regarding Anti roll bars, all you need is a GTA rear bar, saloon or SW, second hand again, lick of paint and its all you need. That was the single most effective upgrade I have fitted to mine, in 275,000 miles. An absolute must have. Your original front is fine being already beefed up for the 2.4 lump. Polybushing, avoid. Stick to good quality new wishbones/rear arms, such as TRW. Polybushing creates noise, vibration and hard ride issues.
Believe me, I have learnt the hard and expensive way, these are the only solutions for a SW.
Thanks for the replies. So Huge would the springs you recommend give the same ride height as i have now, I have the Veloce, doesn't the gta sit lower? I'd like the idea of lowering my car slightly, but not at the expense of handling.Unfortunately money is an issue, so if I did the roll bar first, would it be worth fitting the springs and doing the shocks at a later date ,1 pair at a time? FSD's / koni sport shocks are the biggest expense here, hence why I was looking into gta shocks first. Also are powerflex bushes any better (a lot of positive revues on the AO forum) than polybushes or standard bushes. Thanks all.
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What condition are your wishbones, A/Roll bar bushes/droplinks and rear arms in ? Have the nivomats been replaced or still on the car ? If on it are they sagging/leaking ? What you do first depends on the above. Let me know and I can advise.

Powerflex are polybushes. My opinion hasn't changed on them, not for a road car. Pud, member on here, runs Autolusso north, 2.4 guru, does not recommend. Thats the only review I heed. Besides the fact that to polybush you will need new wishbones/arms anyway, and to fit the bushes will be more expense.

GTA ride height is a bit lower than sportpack, 5-10 thereabouts, which was standard on your car from the factory. Eibach 30's are slightly lower again on the front, but too low at the rear (don't forget the eibachs are meant for saloon only. So GTA/3.2 GT combo sits as low as is advisable to go on the wagon, its level and looks just right.

If you fit GTA sportwagon springs and shocks, that will work, but depends totally on the condition of the shocks. I would not recommend used shocks, bearing in mind GTA shocks will be at least 14-16 years old. You won't know until you fit them if they are ok. Then you will need new shocks anyway. And the GT 3.2 rear springs.

Last edited by Hugh Myles; 30-03-19 at 22:48.
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What condition are your wishbones, A/Roll bar bushes/droplinks and rear arms in ? Have the nivomats been replaced or still on the car ? If on it are they sagging/leaking ? What you do first depends on the above. Let me know and I can advise.

Powerflex are polybushes. My opinion hasn't changed on them, not for a road car. Pud, member on here, runs Autolusso north, 2.4 guru, does not recommend. Thats the only review I heed. Besides the fact that to polybush you will need new wishbones/arms anyway, and to fit the bushes will be more expense.

GTA ride height is a bit lower than sportpack, 5-10 thereabouts, which was standard on your car from the factory. Eibach 30's are slightly lower again on the front, but too low at the rear (don't forget the eibachs are meant for saloon only. So GTA/3.2 GT combo sits as low as is advisable to go on the wagon, its level and looks just right.

If you fit GTA sportwagon springs and shocks, that will work, but depends totally on the condition of the shocks. I would not recommend used shocks, bearing in mind GTA shocks will be at least 14-16 years old. You won't know until you fit them if they are ok. Then you will need new shocks anyway. And the GT 3.2 rear springs.
As far as I know wishbones, droplinks and rear arms are ok I think roll bar bushes are shagged, theres a rattling when going down bumpy roads ect. nivomats have not been touch by me, I've owned the car 3 years.It's just past MOT in Feb with no issues apart from front offside ball-joint which has been replaced last week and a new spring on the front. mechanic said every thing was ok .The rattle which i think is the roll bar bushes and a squeaking also from the front was what started me thinking if I have to replace parts why not improve not just replace like for like.The garage I go to as good as they are, told me "best keep it standard and not ruin the ride"
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My advice would be to start buying all the parts as mentioned above, over time, and when you have them gathered up, then have it all fitted in one go. This way you would eliminate paying for duplicated labour. Example being, Shock and spring has to come out to replace top wishbones. But get the front roll bar bushes done now, with polybushes. i know, I said don't use them, but I forgot, the front bar is a major exception to the rule. In fact they are a necessary for the front bar.
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Polybushes are polybushes. Brand is not important, I think. Just be aware the design of these bushes is different to OE Silentbloc type so they will need a regular spray of silicone spray. Sometimes they convey slightly more NHV but it is not objectionable. I have polybushes in various positions. I do not regard them as an upgrade. I fitted them as standard bushes can be short lived or because I didn't want to change the entire anti roll bar. Change front ARB bushes ASAP as the bar itself can become worn.

@Hugh Myles , why not provide ride height measurements so @that70skid knows what to expect. There has been far too much vagueness about ride height on this forum which is why I pointedly measured and quote figures from wheel centre of top of arch. Even the owners' manual lists Turismo, Veloce and GTA ride heights as the same! I try to supply important info when I can and this is not intended to be a personal criticism.


Just to muddy the waters;
https://www.alfaowner.com/Forum/alfa...es-vs-gta.html (156 v6 spring rates vs gta)

As Hugh agrees, aftermarket sport springs are too soft (for front of V6 or JTD) and the post kind of demonstrates why (remember what I posted earlier). Generally there has been a misconception about 156, 147 @ GT springs for years. Many people who should know better said they were too hard. They never were. They are made that way due to front end unsprung mass and coupled to overly cheap front struts, that's why ride /handling of the front can be dire. Unfortunately none of the out of the box suspension kits (coilovers excepted) are focused for the front of a V6 or even JTD.

What Hugh posted is right though. If you are not going for coilovers, GTA front springs are your only option to stop excess pitching and grounding of the front. It should be coupled to the firmest struts possible as the 5 pot JTD is the heaviest of the lot.

His advice on the rear is obviously good too. Given the lack of options, that's why I posted about rear ride height spacers. This may also be of interest. Alfa Romeo 156/147/GT Front Suspension/Ride Height raising Kit (TotallAlfa Production) :: TotallyAlfa
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I would post it Fruity but alas she is in the garage, again. NCT fail, equiv to your MOT. Stupid stuff, internal bonnet pull not returning to position, fog light bulb, dip beam xenon loose connection. Will try and measure next week. Got a hectic week of travel and a slow Suzuki something or other. Going to be a long week.
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Powerflex are polybushes. My opinion hasn't changed on them, not for a road car. Pud, member on here, runs Autolusso north, 2.4 guru, does not recommend. Thats the only review I heed. Besides the fact that to polybush you will need new wishbones/arms anyway, and to fit the bushes will be more expense.
I'd use them on the anti roll bars, no problems there. For everything else, I'd stick with TRW wishbones, but if there was any other location where I would consider powerflex it is the upper wishbones, as they do have a habit of dying quickly, and depending on wheel/tyre combo and suspension used ride may still be acceptable (but not brilliant) even with polybushes.

I did a full suspension rebuild on my 2.4 and killed one of the new TRW uppers in about 7k miles, the other has done about 20k now and is still OK, the replacement has done 13k and is still OK. But if I was regularly getting sub 10k life out of them, I would polybush them, especially if I was on something like 16" wheels and original or GTA suspension. My 2.4 is on Eibach Pro springs and Koni FSDs. Its a saloon so doesn't have rear ride height dramas like the SW does. In terms of anti roll bars I am using a GTA front ARB which is 23mm, and an Eibach rear anti roll bar which is 18mm.

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thanks for all the advice.I did think used gta shocks may not be the best way to go, but didn't realise used springs was. Now got to try and find used gta roll bars and front springs and some gt rear springs.new poly bushes as advised and thinking koni sport shocks.And yes Fruity\Hugh Myles it would a good thing to get ride height measurements and maybe a photo..?

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thanks for all the advice.I did think used gta shocks may not be the best way to go, but didn't realise used springs was. Now got to try and find used gta roll bars and front springs and some gt rear springs.new poly bushes as advised and thinking koni sport shocks.And yes Fruity\Hugh Myles it would a good thing to get ride height measurements and maybe a photo..?
Ride height measured. Dead center wheel arch lip to wheel center, 360mm on all 4 wheels. I am not certain, but my memory says it was 345 on the eibachs. Working on a picture, have an before pic, just need to line up the car in a similar position at the same spot.
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I get 345-350mm front and 350-355mm rear on Eibach Pro Kit (measured on 2 cars) which suggests that GTA springs are 15mm lower than Veloce springs (which is more or less what I thought).
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Ride height measured. Dead center wheel arch lip to wheel center, 360mm on all 4 wheels. I am not certain, but my memory says it was 345 on the eibachs. Working on a picture, have an before pic, just need to line up the car in a similar position at the same spot.
hi all, manage to source complete package as recommended by Hugh Myles, but can I ask what the difference between GT3.2 rear springs and GTA sportwagon rears as I've been given the option of both . thanks all.
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The GTA sportwagon shock is different to the standard sportwagon shock. The spring perch is in a different position, so should you fit the springs to non GTA rear shocks the ride height will be on the floor. They will work if you fit GTA Sportwagon rear shocks (2nd hand only available), but won't if you fit anything else. The 3.2 GT spring will work with any other type of sport shock for the saloon and sportwagon, which gives you a greater choice of shock and correct ride height.
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The GTA sportwagon shock is different to the standard sportwagon shock. The spring perch is in a different position, so should you fit the springs to non GTA rear shocks the ride height will be on the floor. They will work if you fit GTA Sportwagon rear shocks (2nd hand only available), but won't if you fit anything else. The 3.2 GT spring will work with any other type of sport shock for the saloon and sportwagon, which gives you a greater choice of shock and correct ride height.
hi Hugh, what I asking is the difference in springs not shocks.I will be getting Koni shocks and have the option of, 156 GTA SW springs, front and rear or 156 GTA SW front springs and GT 3.2 rear springs as you previously recommended. I've been told all springs are in good condition,GTA SW are like new.I just wondered what the difference between the to rear springs would be. Thanks for all your help.
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They are a different size, in length. For the Koni shocks only the GT 3.2 springs will fit. You need the GT 3.2 springs.
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ok thanks Hugh,I'll be ordering the GT3.2 rear spring then.Thanks again for all your help.
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As promised for Fruity. 1st photo front GTA springs, rear eibach prokit 30mm springs. Second photo front GTA springs, rear 3.2 GT springs.
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Eibach pro kit coilovers, with modified front springs per my Dogwagon thread in the image lounge. Then the ride height can be whatever you want it to be. The standard springs are too low and soft.

Eibach front and back ARBs, and an LSD complete the package.

The car is a beast, I havenít had the nerve to find the limit on a roundabout. Generally itís my ability to stay in the driverís seat.
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RXE, would you happen to know what ride height range is available with them, from lip of wheel arch to center of wheel ? The set up I have gives me a nice even 360 mm front and rear. Eibach, springs only, gave me 345 rear 350 front, which was deeply uncomfortable, especially for, and when, the Labrador was onboard. It bottomed out regularly with a severe jolt and the front was way too soft. 360 is perfect both for handling and ride, the Alfa springs are considerably better. Given mine, and the OP's cost considerations, this is a great set up as it allows any 156 saloon rear shock to be used in future without affecting the rear ride height for far less than the current price of Ä1300 approx for the prokit coilover set up. Whats the ride comfort like on yours ?
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