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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,

Wondering how I can improve the ride of my Spider on a budget, would be interested to know how I can get the greatest bang for my limited bucks. My ability stretches to limited diy and anything too fiddly goes to a garage due to time/space.

Thanks,
Craig
 

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Improve is quite a subjective term. I’ve got 18s with Eibachs all round on my GTV which I love but would have others putting a chiropractor on speed dial. My Spider will be getting the same set up soon and I’ll be fitting a stiffer ARB on the back of the GTV to tighten things up even more.

A good starting point is to make sure everything is in good working order. At the rear; are all the bushes ok? KYB shocks are good at about £80 a pair and replacing tired original springs will make a difference. Up front; how are the wishbones, drop links etc ok? Original shocks and springs might need replacing. If you’ve got a Twinnie, front shocks aren’t too expensive compared to a V6. Check your tyres pressures too.

And on a Spider, I’d highly recommend a strut brace... makes a massive difference with scuttle shake and the whole feel of the car.
 
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To me, improving ride is more comfort, sponge and soaking up bumps etc easier. Rather than stiffness, handling and tackling bends at speed.

I would think wheels and tyres combination.

Either smaller wheels, with larger (thicker sidewall) tyres.

Even just buying new tyres from a good brand helps a lot as well I find. Going for manufacturers comfort/touring tyres over sport/performance can also help a little.

Convertibles are always a little difficult to deal with. With no roof, or a thin piece of canvas the road noise from bad tyres are often drowned out by all the other noises.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks Nelly, I will have a look at the bushes, shockers were replaced at some point but not sure how long ago now.

phase3 interesting, most go for smaller wheels with fatter tyres?

Mike I have not long put Dunlop Sport Maxx RTs on the front and a four wheel alignment, which helped. I have some vredesteins on the back with some life still, but will replace with the Dunlops. My wheels are the 16 teardrops.
 

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03 Spider 2.0TS, 11 Mito 1.4
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I haven't posted before but have had a lot of help from the forum whilst trying to keep the Spider up to scratch.

Read some of the topics ref wheel / tyre size and decided to replace the 205 / 50 / 16s with Pirelli P7 205 / 55/ 16s. I know the 16" wheel option came with 205/50/16s but the rolling circumference is less than the 17" teledial option. With the 205/55/16s rolling circumference is the same as the 17s, the speedo is more accurate and the ride comfort has been totally transformed. It's much less crashy over bumps and just feels a lot nicer to drive. I was genuinely surprised at the difference but guess it could be a combination of the bigger sidewalls and the actual tyres themselves. Although very subjective I do also think they suit the Spider by filling the arches a bit more.....
Spider.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks mate, but it’s all academic now, as of this afternoon my rad has sprung a leak. Amazingly it’s (was?) the original radiator on an 03 car. Any suspension funds will sadly be going on that!
 

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I had the oem 16 wheels with 50 tyres wheels that I replaced with the 18 with 40 tyres, so more wheel less sidewall... Big difference, not so trashy crash ride... Looks better too as arches filled better. All other suspension original oem in tip top condition...... 🍀
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks mate, but it’s all academic now, as of this afternoon my rad has sprung a leak. Amazingly it’s (was?) the original radiator on an 03 car. Any suspension funds will sadly be going on that!
could anyone advise about me driving to the garage? The leak is in the top right of the radiator, I lost about 3/4 of the expansion tank driving a combined 15 miles earlier before I’d seen the car had done a wee, garage is 9 miles away.
Progress should be much more steady and rather than driving in slow conditions in 31 centigrade I’ll be going very early in the morning while it is still 15-16ish, on quieter roads with hopefully less stop start. Will it be ok if I stop every 3 miles or so and check the coolant level?
 

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I would imagine you would probably be ok if you drive carefully and keep an eye on the temperature gauge. Be prepared to stop, allow the engine to cool and top up with water. A shot of radweld might help as a temp fix. You can also whack the heaters on full blast to keep the engine temp down.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
could anyone advise about me driving to the garage? The leak is in the top right of the radiator, I lost about 3/4 of the expansion tank driving a combined 15 miles earlier before I’d seen the car had done a wee, garage is 9 miles away.
Progress should be much more steady and rather than driving in slow conditions in 31 centigrade I’ll be going very early in the morning while it is still 15-16ish, on quieter roads with hopefully less stop start.
I would imagine you would probably be ok if you drive carefully and keep an eye on the temperature gauge. Be prepared to stop, allow the engine to cool and top up with water. A shot of radweld might help as a temp fix. You can also whack the heaters on full blast to keep the engine temp down.
thanks Nelly I will do, taking a 5l bottle of mixed coolant and will be very careful. I wasn’t sure about radweld potentially getting everywhere it isn’t wanted
 

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Take hot boiled water as top up... Engine will be hot when stopping to top up, so pouring cold water in could do big damage by warping head or blown head gasket..... The last thing you need🍀 it may be worth hiring recovery vehicle to take car to garage to be sure....... When engine coolant drops to a certain level it boils up and turns to steam very quickly....... And keeps boiling for a while even after engine off.... Once Head warped you get all the trouble you need... 🍀
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I’ve booked a tow, for the sake of another £60 I thought it was worth it given the big leak. Thinking it’s a combination of age (original rad after 19 years) and an errant stone taking it out. A very bad month! It’s my daily so can’t risk it.
 

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Stut brace as others have recommended works well in my experience as well.
For larger wheels, well it's basic engineering that adding unsprung weight never will improve the handling. Hence the focus to reduce unsprung weight. Fitting heavy 18" with standard suspension will result in that the suspension is exposed to way more unsprung weight than intended and it is impossible for the car to handle better (assuming the same type of tire quality). Larger wheels will however give you the feel of a more direct steering when you turn due to the increased stiffness of the wheel/tire but if you go fast on anything than superstraight road you will also feel the suspension can not cope with the heavy wheel. The car may also"feel" more solid on a good road with big wheels but will handle worse.
From an acceleration point of wheel, the added weight will also result in the car being slower due to the added weight further out form the drive shaft. Note that the Twin Spark is not that powerfull. A Spider has a relatively soft body compared to GTV and stiffening the suspension may cause this to be more noticeable.
On a GTV on the other hand, stiffening the suspension to cope with the added unsprung weight is a bit of different discussion.
 

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Stut brace as others have recommended works well in my experience as well.
For larger wheels, well it's basic engineering that adding unsprung weight never will improve the handling. Hence the focus to reduce unsprung weight. Fitting heavy 18" with standard suspension will result in that the suspension is exposed to way more unsprung weight than intended and it is impossible for the car to handle better (assuming the same type of tire quality). Larger wheels will however give you the feel of a more direct steering when you turn due to the increased stiffness of the wheel/tire but if you go fast on anything than superstraight road you will also feel the suspension can not cope with the heavy wheel. The car may also"feel" more solid on a good road with big wheels but will handle worse.
From an acceleration point of wheel, the added weight will also result in the car being slower due to the added weight further out form the drive shaft. Note that the Twin Spark is not that powerfull. A Spider has a relatively soft body compared to GTV and stiffening the suspension may cause this to be more noticeable.
On a GTV on the other hand, stiffening the suspension to cope with the added unsprung weight is a bit of different discussion.
What if the 18 wheel is lighter than smaller wheel it replaced? Eg oz ultralegarro etc?
 

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Surely fatter and smaller rimmed tyres improve the ride?

I have this issue on my Honda Civic and changing the rear shocks went a long way. If you don't know when your shocks were last done then it might be time to change them.

Would imagine they're a bit harder to change in the GTV than a regular hatch with struts up front and a solid rear axle however...

If I keep the Honda I'll probably start soundproofing the doors and boot space, again that wouldn't work as well in a GTV Spider.

You need to find another GTV and see how yours compares maybe to see if it's within normal parameters?
 

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What if the 18 wheel is lighter than smaller wheel it replaced? Eg oz ultralegarro etc?
That will likewise be a partial improvement. Hence a bit more pros /cons. Going fast on a road with uneven surface will benefit from more rubber while perfect tar / asphalt will be quite nice with “sprayed rubber 😉”
If one select the same manufacturer with smaller size the same would apply. Often those good products are a bit more expensive.
 

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I went on the 205/55-16 tyre route and it helped the ride for a while. However on the potholed tracks that pass for roads in my new location in Oxfordshire I need to try and improve the ride a bit more. The Spider was 21 last week so a leisurely drive is all we need to enjoy ourselves. A strut brace is a good idea and I will look in to this during the winter lay-up.
 

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I have this issue on my Honda Civic and changing the rear shocks went a long way. If you don't know when your shocks were last done then it might be time to change them.

Would imagine they're a bit harder to change in the GTV than a regular hatch with struts up front and a solid rear axle however...
GTV rear shocks are very easy to change. I think you can do it without even jacking up the car. Undo two bolts, remove old shock and fit new one, torque bolts and that’s it.
The fronts are a little harder as the strut needs stripping down carefully and rebuilding etc but it’s 2 bolts at the bottom, 3 at the top and a bit of wiggling to get the old one out and new one in.
 

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I actually haven't studied Alfa suspension all that hard, that's especially bad since I've owned 156s 8+ years which is well over a 3rd of time I've been driving...

From the stuff I've seen the GTV seems to have independent rear spring pans so they look as easy as any torsion bar car.

No idea about the fronts, are they regular McPherson Struts then? I know the 156 has upper and lower wishbones but no idea if that makes changing the shock actually any harder...
 
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