Part 3: Making it Stick (Installment A – Bounciness be Gone)

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(All items discussed in this entry will have full install walkthroughs posted in the Tech and How To’s page)

This car has seen better days and after driving it back from Georgia, it is quite clear that most of the original suspension has remained on this chassis during its 170,000 mile existence as a commuter car. As a future drift machine, these have got to go.

Removing wheel hop

One thing common in just about all 240sx’s is something called wheel hop. Wheel hop occurs in the rear wheels when accelerating the car and is caused by the open differential and the spongy, rubber subframe bushings. Basically, there is too much play the rear subframe assembly. Fortunately, several companies have addressed this issue by developing subframe collars. The collars are simply two metal disks that sandwich the stock rubber bushings and compress them. This results in a preload on the rubber bushings, thus creating a much stiffersub frame. Furthermore, these collars are much easier to install than urethane bushings.

 

The subframe spacers are the 2 blue disks that sandwich the rubber bushing.

240sx Subframe Spacer Install

Tein Basic coilovers

In my experience, there is no reason to purchase $2000+ coilovers for a drift vehicle. That money is better spent on adjustable tie rods, control arms, etc… and that is where the Tein Basic comes in. The Tein Basic coilover is a stiff, height adjustable coilover that will make a world of difference on a 240sx. Furthermore, they are easily upgraded with adjustable pillow mounts making them perfect for anyone working in a budget as adjustability can be added later.

Tein Basic Coilover Install

Adjustable sway bars

The factory sway bars on the 240sx are not made for performance driving so they will be replaced with larger, adjustable sway bars. A good adjustable sway bar will reduce body roll and allow fine tuning of the front and rear stiffness so that understeer or oversteer can be dialed into the chassis. To fit the bill, Whiteline adjustable sway bars will replace the factory equipment. I have been a Whiteline fan ever since I owned a WRX. Their suspension components always arrive with everything needed and usually a little extra. Just as expected, not only do the Whitleine bars look great, they also arrive with new sway bar mounts. These new mounts are much stiffer than the factory ones and will improve the turn in feel greatly.

Whiteline Adjustable Rear Sway Bar Install
Whiteline Adjustable Front Sway Bar Install

Stiff up top

Last but not least is the addition of front and rear strut tower bars. Strut tower bars connect the top of the shock towers together and reduce flex during spirited driving. One special consideration to make when choosing a the bar for the front is which engine mounts were used. If the Nismo mounts were used, it is very likely that a front strut tower bar will hit the intake manifold as the Nismo mounts cause the motor to sit slightly higher than stock. I have found that Pilot strut bars work fine but there designs seem to change often so make sure to buy a strut bar that is advertised to work with the CA.

Driving impressions

Wow! Not only is the wheel hop and bounciness absent, but this car delivers predictable, precise and quick turn ins with the only drawback being a pretty jolting ride on bumpy surface. The chassis feels rock solid with the addition of the strut bars and I dare say that with new tires and brakes, this car will be ready to put a little pressure on my MR2 Spyder in the handling department.

By 240am

Chris Simmons is a race car driver, instructor, business owner and all around gearhead. His passion for motorsport started in the drifting community over 10 years ago and progressed into wheel to wheel racing of all kinds. When off track Chris can be found training and working on a myriad of projects. After a hiatus from writing, he is back to share his passion, knowledge and experience in regard to motorsports on and off the track.

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