Lowering Springs

So as we saw here there is a pretty big fender gap on this car. That's very typical of 80s-90s cars; it took a while for the German (BMW) "minimal wheel well gap" asthetic to really take hold in the rest of the world. But now that it has, there's no better way for a car to look dated than to look like a jacked-up offroad jeep.

Wheel gap measurement

So that gap has to come down.

There are a couple of ways to go about that. The first way is to slice off the OEM spring perches, slide on a threaded body adapter, and convert the car to use standard diameter race springs. That COA has a lot to recommend it - easy and precise ride height adjustment, the ability to exactly corner weight the car, and experimenting with different spring rates is simple and cheap. This is all great "because race car" stuff.

But this car is not a race car - it is a street car. And street cars see a far wider variation of load than race cars do. You aren't controlling the weight of the car to the pound, nor do you have max roll angle figured out to the nearest tenth of a degree. Sometimes you'll have a passenger, or groceries, or luggage. Your fuel load varies. You might have snow on the car!

So most of those "race car" features don't really matter. The ability to exactly set ride height is nice... but the car will never see scales, and it is more important that the spring not rattle than it is to have the natural frequency exactly dialed in. Sometimes "perfect" is the enemy of "good enough".

So I'm going with a lowering spring. And because choices are becoming increasingly limited as the cars ages, I went with Tein.

Tein Springs

Tein is about #4 on my list of preferred spring vendors. #1 is Hypercoils, but Hypercoils are Real Race Car springs so you can't get a Hypercoil lowing spring. #2 is Eibach, but for some odd reason Eibach only makes a FWD 3000GT fitment, not an AWD. #3 is H&R, but the supply of those springs appears limited and I couldn't find anyone who had them in stock. Tein is next in line. I have tested Tein race car springs before, and I found them lacking - it is really tough to match Hypercoil standards - but they were... okay. And I trust Japanese quality control more than I trust Chinese. Tein are supposedly the "best of the Asian springs", so I'll give them a shot.

The right front strut came off easily enough - unbolt the ABS sensor and brake line retaining bolts, take out the two strut cinch bolts, and remove the three nuts at the strut cap, and it came right out.

Next, compress the spring with your compressor of choice. I used this one:

Spring Compressor

It's pretty manual - you have to jack the spring down a few turns at a time on each side, which is a slow process - but it does work.

Once the spring is loose, an impact gun spins the top nut off, and Bob's yer uncle:

First Strut Apart

The upper spring hats were completely encrusted with rust, and in dire need of powder coating. So they got bead blasted, then soaked in Evaporust, then bead blasted again:

Naked Spring Hats

All cleaned up and ready to be powder coated!

First Strut Apart

Meanwhile, we secured new shocks and upper bearing plates from our friends at Showcase Mitisubishi.

...to be continued.