QOTW #77 – Coilovers or Motorsport Shocks, again!

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Welcome to BamfordRose and another question of the week. This week or any time a set of shocks appear anywhere for sale, I often get lots of phone calls to say, “Hey! I’ve seen this paired set of dampers going secondhand on a market somewhere, what do you think?”

I think we’ve done this video before advising against coilovers or dampers, which are from a more motorsport orientated background. But in this video, I thought we would just picture the exact reasons why they’re not really appropriate dampers for your road car.

So, here’s the first picture and this is all of the dampers that are for sale. From this, we can identify some concerns with the top mount bush. We can look at the shaft going into the damper has got no weatherproofing on and we can see the bottom mount and that causes some questions.

This picture of a standard damper with a green circle shows the bottom mount and it has a pretty substantial rubber isolating bush. The next picture of the standard damper with the yellow circle shows the weatherproofing of the shaft going into the damper. And then two final pictures of the standard damper, the first is the mounting block which goes into the strop top tower. As you can see in the center there, that’s quite a hefty insulation bush and you can see how that in this picture would push down all the way onto the damper, mount the damper, fully isolated at the top and at the bottom. Now flip back to the picture of the motorsport dampers and with a single red circle at the bottom, we can see that the mounting point has absolutely no isolation and at the top it’s metal on metal. The eye of the damper connecting to the mount and the mount into the strut top tower. So, if we look at the picture with the two red circles. We’ve actually got the damper top mount to the housing and then where the housing bolts through to the strut top.

So, if you are thinking about changing your dampers, probably you’re on an early V8 or DB9 and you’ve got a dynamics dampers. So, you’ve got a crashy, low-speed ride and you’ve got a considerable amount of body roll at the same time. The very harsh mounting of those motorsport dampers without any rubber isolation, it’s just replacing a damper that delivers a harsh ride. With a damper which delivers a harsh ride but for other reasons, those clunks and bangs that you’re going to get through the chassis, through the frame, because of there being no isolation is going to be way more annoying than the crashy, damping performance that the standard damper returns.

Then on that motorsport damper after being jarred around by the harsh mounting going to get jarred around in the cabin because those two dampers are just too stiff. Next no weatherproofing is a real issue. You only have to go on vendors of dampers such as this style to find in the small print hidden away. They actually say that there is no weatherproofing, it’s a motorsport damper. Motorsport dampers don’t have weatherproofing. As a consequence, you’ll need to renew the damper probably every year, every season. In my experience, these dampers are on the marketplace second hand because the previous owner has found out to their cost that they’re just not to their liking. For all those reasons, I just mentioned actually when they’re in the car.

The next mistake I see people making is fitting lowering springs to the dynamics dampers that just adds to the crashiness at low speed and doesn’t really do anything to improve the body roll or handling stability, higher speed when in a corner. All of these modifications are just a false economy and it’s much better just to go for Bilstein dampers retrofitted from V8 Vantage A or other sport pack, comfort pack and fit those to your earlier car. Again, the DB9 2010 model up to DB9 2013, those dampers without electronic control will retrofit to your DB9 in the same way as the Vantage S dampers retrofit to a V8 Vantage from 05. You’ve then got beautiful handling which works with traction control and dynamic stability control and too stiff damping is going to upset those features, meaning that those dampers don’t integrate very well.

Retrofitting Bilstein also means that you won’t have to rebuild the damper because there isn’t weatherproofing, and means that six months later, you aren’t going to be taking your Bilstein dampers off to sell them on the secondhand market.

Let us know your experience on aftermarket dampers. And as always, it really helps us if you can like, comment and subscribe. We’ll see you on the next question of the week.

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