Thursday, May 30, 2013

Street or Track Front Coilover Suspension Installation!

A major change of pace was a welcome thing this past few weeks as we reached a point that we could start some mechanical work to move things forward.  When I last left off, the plan was to spray the undercoating on the lower floor.  However, after careful consideration, we decided that it would be more beneficial to go ahead and fit the Street or Track coilover front suspension package (and the Unisteer rack & pinion steering kit) to the car to ensure everything fit and all required modifications could be made before the engine bay clean-up work came about.
As many readers of this blog are aware, I have had quite an issue with various “bolt-on” kits that are anything but.  As such, I went into the process of fitting the Street or Track front coilover suspension kit with A LOT of predisposition that the experience would come with a considerable measure of pain.  Even after repeated assurances from Shaun Burgess at Street or Track that these parts would fit an function as advertised,  I remained skeptical……
As an aside, I need to acknowledge Shaun for accommodating a special request I had when I ordered my kit.  Since the entire suspension on my car will be a specific, matte finish black powder coat, I asked that the majority of my kit components come without a finish of any kind to allow a much easier process of coating the parts in the appropriate color.  Normally, the kit components ship with a high gloss black powder coat finish, but in my case, Shaun set me up with most of the parts exactly as requested with only a few exceptions.  That’s service!
To begin the adventure, we started by turning the chassis around in the shop to keep the engine bay under good shop lighting and closer to the required tools.  Then, a careful review of the installation instructions allowed a comprehensive plan on installing the suspension components.  Fortunately, I was able to get a bit of a head start on the work in that I had already drilled the new upper control arm mounting holes a few months ago, using the nifty drilling template supplied in the coilover kit.  Then, the upper control arm assemblies were put together and test fit to the chassis in their revised locations.  This was the first indication that things were going to be different with this installation.  To my complete surprise, the control arms simply bolted in place with absolutely no struggle at all!  However, given my jaded nature, I wasn’t going to let one minor victory snatch us cleanly from the clutches of defeat.  Nope…….not me.
Next, the lower control arms were installed and these were basically a drop-in replacement for the production arms and no modifications were required.  One caveat was that I also installed the camber adjustment kits which eliminate the production eccentric adjustment bolts.  These too just bolted into place perfectly.
Next, the spindles were attached to both the upper and lower control arm assemblies and snugged up tight.  At this point, it was an irresistible temptation to cycle the assembly over the full range and marvel at the unbelievably smooth motion they allow.  Hmmmm……not bad.
Up next, the front strut rod assemblies were in the queue for installation, but first, the production sheet metal grommets had to be removed from the front strut rod chassis mount brackets to allow a solid seating surface for the forward strut rod mounts.  This is a simple operation that can be quickly accomplished with a small chisel and hammer to fold the edge of the grommet inward to allow it to be easily removed.  With these out of the way, the forward strut rod mounts simply index into the bracket holes and are secured by a large washer and lock nut.  Couldn’t be simpler.
Moving to the rear strut rod mounts, this operation was simplicity defined: Two bolts through the bottom of the lower control arm, through the strut rod flange and into the lower coilover mounts had the entire assembly secured and nicely complete.
Next came what would be the most involved part of the installation; the upper coilover mounts.  These are very nicely machined collars with the fabricated upper coilover mount on the bottom and a simple shock tower cover plate/reinforcement that attached to the top of the tower.
Since the top coilover mounts would need to be through-bolted to the top of the shock tower, each mount required three bolt holes to be drilled to allow the mounts to be properly attached.  To locate these holes, it is required that the shock tower braces (a.k.a. export braces) function as the drilling template for two of the three holes with the final hole position established by the top cover plate.  While it sounds a bit complicated to describe, the process is actually very simple and the work progresses very quickly once all of the parts are in place.
At this point, the “work” was basically done.  With all of the control arms in place and the upper coilover mounts secured to the shock towers, the pre-assembled coilover assemblies almost install themselves.  With spacers on each side of the spherical bearings in their proper location, the supplied retention bolts slipped cleanly through the brackets and in a matter of minutes, both coilover assemblies were in place and the Street or Track front coilover suspension kit installation was complete!  You read that right:  In about two hours’ time, the ENTIRE Street or Track front coilover suspension kit was fully installed.  I couldn’t believe it.  No skinned knuckles, no blood loss, no string of colorful expletives, and for the first time in this blogs’ history, a complex kit that truly lives up to its “Bolt-On” marketing statement.  It simply does not get any better!

After several months of work on the rear body sheet metal and roof, the time had finally come to swap ends of the car in the shop and start working on some mechanical things in the front suspension area.

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to drill the new upper control arm mounting bolt holes using the nifty drill template included with the coilover kit.  Here, I have test fitted the upper control arm pivot mount and you can see the original bolt holes above the mount.  These will be welded and smoothed at a later date.

The upper control arm assembly is installed first.  This was my first indication that the Street or Track coilover suspension kit was a going to be an absolute joy to install.  This control arm bolted up in mere minutes with absolutely no issue.

Street or Track includes these very high quality screw-in ball joints in the coilover kit.  These joints make assembly and future service a breeze.

Another sign of quality is the heavy duty spherical rod ends used on the inner control arm pivots and the grade 8 fasteners.

Notice the ample clearance and clean look of the Street or Track components.

With the lower control arm installed and the spindle connected, the suspension is starting to take shape and look exceptionally nice, even in bare steel.

With the upper and lower control arms installed and the spindle connecting them, the system articulates over the full range of motion with amazing smoothness.  Just a couple of fingers are all that is required to cycle the assembly in this state.

Removing the factory strut rod sheet metal grommet is easily accomplished using a small cold chisel and hammer.  By folding the grommet toward the center of the mounting hole, it can be easily removed without damaging the surrounding bracket.

The Street or Track adjustable strut rod forward mounts index into the mounting bracket and are easily tightened from the front.  In this view, the spherical rod end can be seen in the proper position to allow maximum suspension travel without binding.

The rear mount of the strut rod is sandwiched between the lower control arm and the lower coilover mounting bracket and is secured by two bolts installed from the bottom.  The result is a very strong and sanitary assembly.

As ugly as the original export braces are, they come in quite handy in locating the mounting holes that require drilling in order to properly mount the upper coilover mounting brackets.

The upper coilover mount is bolted into place with three bolts, creating a very solid upper mounting structure for the coilover.

The top of the shock tower is finished off with this tidy capping plate that prevents damage to the upper shock tower flanges when tightening the mounting bolts to spec.

The finished coilover installation is a thing of mechanical beauty.  Everything on this kit fit to perfection and the entire system is exceptionally serviceable and well made.  I am truly impressed!

A look at the completed installation on the right side of the car.  When all of the components are finished in their final matte black powder coat, the system will look extremely clean and sophisticated.  Can't wait!


  1. Man, that looks like a really easy install. I don't suppose those upper arm mounting points are in the same position as an Arning drop?

    1. Alex, I absolutely couldn't believe how well everything fit in this kit. Could not have been better and a huge testament to Shaun Burgess' effort in designing these components. Also, this is indeed the same upper control arm drop as is often referred to as the Arning drop to help improve camber gain. Gotcha thinking now don't we?!

  2. That looks clean and simple. A huge improvement over the original, no question. I love the compact look of coilovers, I plan on getting some myself.

    1. You will not regret the purchase Grant! Looking forward to the day you get to that point.

  3. Sven - nice to see some hardware!!! I'm wondering, can you remove the ball-joints for powder coating or can you safely cook them at 400 deg? BTW, I actually have been to the uni-steer manufacturing facility in Ohio a couple of times. A VERY cool place! Always a couple of cool muscle cars up on the rack. They build an electric assist steering kit for utility vehicles that we use as part of our robotic kit. I figure I throw enough work their way, they'll sell me a rack/pinion kit at cost for SusieQ some day. Ah yes, there's always method to my madness :)


    1. The ball joints simply unscrew from the control arms so powder coating is a walk in the park. I absolutely LOVE screw-in ball joints!

      I am glad to hear you were impressed with the Unisteer (Maval) facility. I have a few issues with their R&P kit that I'd love to see them improve on but overall, my experience with them has been good, albeit minimal to date. Guess what's getting installed next?!

  4. This has to be the first post I've read where an aftermarket part fit without some mucking around with it first. That's one clean install, Sven. I think I smell an Arning drop in my future!

    1. By now yopu know I call 'em like I see 'em Dennis, and I'm telling you this was the finest, most trouble-free installation of any bit of tack I've bought for this project. I can't recommend it enough and Shaun at Street or Track was (and remains) fantastic to deal with. Can't go wrong.