Time to Get Lowered

The
Story of a
Complete
Suspension
Upgrade to
My 1989 Carrera 4

So how did I
come to decide to completely remove and replace the suspension of my 911C4. Up
until November 2000 I was completely happy with the handling and the feel of my
C4 what changed all that. The PCA-GR Christmas party. To be totally correct, the
return trip changed all. The weather was fine, the road was clear (German
autobahn) and I decided to see how fast the C4 would really go. my wife Gail
counted out the speed. 200kph, 210kph, 220kph, 230kph, 240kph still felt solid,
250kph started to feel a little light, 260kph and the front end was really up,
262kph and I decided it was time to stop, the front was starting to move, like
it was on air, it felt unsafe, really unsafe. As I slowed down past around
250kph a Jaguar XKR went past me, that was it I thought, he looked nice a stable
at these speeds, time to fix this problem.

My
911C4 with 16 Inch 993 Cups wheels with the ride height mentioned above


My project was
underway and I had no idea what a story this would be.

So where to
start my research. I needed to find articles on the issue. My search led me to
back issues of the American magazine Excellence. The American need to try and
make everything different was going to help me this time because on the
Americans had bothered to write anything down. So how to get hold of these back
issues of excellence dating back to 1990. By the way I had no idea at the time
if these articles would help me but I had to try. My attempts to contact
Excellence proved fruitless. I eventually placed a request onto Rennlist. This
led to making contact with a fellow lister who had all the magazines I needed
and offered them to me for a good price. We struck a deal and six weeks later
the magazines arrived.

It was with
great excitement I opened the package and got down to some serious reading. The
article I was particularly interested in was a three part story called
?Wringing out the Carrera 4? by Randy Hubbard in 1992. Part three held
exactly what I was looking for. A tested suspension upgrade. After digesting the
data, talking with a few other experts on the subject I drew up my modification
parts list.

I needed the
following parts and nothing else. no substitutes would do,

bullet

X2 KONI
8741 1216Sports Front struts

bullet

X2 KONI
8241 1104Sports Rear shock absorbers

bullet

X1 911
Carrera 2 (1990 only), 21mm rear sway bar

bullet

A set of
EIBACH RS Springs

bullet

A backup
set of Porsche RS America front and rear springs

bullet

X1 Strut
brace

bullet

A set of
17 Inch Porsche Cup Wheels

bullet

X2
205/50ZR17 Front tyres brand to be determined

bullet

X2
255/40ZR17 Rear tyres brand to be determined

I ended up
with a set of 911 Turbo wheels from my very good friend and fellow club member
Denis Zuba. These came with Yokohama Porsche rated N0 A008Ps on the front and
AVS Assymetrics on the rear. A perfect combination of performance tyres. Through
another very kind Porsche 964 RS owner, Kathy in Geneva who has given me a brand
new set of Pirelli P7000s to test and two used sets of Pirelli Zero Cs. There
are some very generous people around and I am honoured to know them. The tyre
companies have been very unhelpful in my quest to test various tyre
combinations.

The upgrade
tested in 1992 did not use 17 inch wheels so I did deviate somewhat but I
thought who cares.

My
911C4 with 17 inch 911 Turbo wheels but not lowered yet


 


So now to find the parts I needed.
The sway bar was quite easy. I contacted my trusted Porsche parts supplier in
Holland, club magazine advertisers Van Zweeden Porsche. I duly ordered the sway
bar and obtained it for 183 Euros, brand new Porsche part. As a side issue I
also ended up with a full set of second hand RS America sway bars. I got them
for aprice I just could not ignore and the package when it arrived included a
pair of front links as well. Now to find the KONI parts and this proved just a
little bit more difficult. I asked the question on the club mailist and got a
response from Phil Wignall that his friend Simon Butterworth from Porschapart
had two struts in stock. A RH and a LH. I purchased them for 200UK pounds and
Simon threw in a set of what I believe are KONI Lowering springs (for a 944) for
an extra 10 pounds. I took the lot. I think I purchased the last set of LH and
RH 8741 1216Sports front Struts known to man. I did find two LH only struts in
the USA. The rear shocks were proving impossible to find in Europe. The KONI
catalogue shows no shocks available for the rear of a 1989 or 1990 C2 or C4.
Well I knew that not to be true so my search took me to the USA. I eventually
tracked down the last 8241 1104Sport at KONI USA (they do not make them anymore)
and I found another one via another company. Both brand new. I was not to know
that one company did not supply me a critical part which was to cause me a few
headaches later on. I should have checked the package better. They included
everything except the top nut. Believe it or not, the threads on the top of this
shock absorber was not metric but a SAE thread size. You try finding a SAE
thread nut in Switzerland. Well more about this later. So now to the springs.
These were obtained via the Rennlist. I purchased an almost brand new set of
EIBACH 964 RS Springs and a set of 911 RS America Springs from fellow
rennlisters in the USA. I also purchased a set of H&R Lowering Springs from
the German eBay but these eventually arrived a week after I had finished the
upgrade. Not that I care because the RS springs are PERFECT. So just one part to
find. A strut brace. What a saga. Well to cut a long story short, I found a
German FVD strut brace in the USA. I purchased it and had it shipped back.

A quick trip
down to see Denis, Sandrine and new baby Lea in the Audi and pick up the wheels
and tyres completed the mod kit. I was ready to go.

The next thing
to do was to go and see my mechanic Martin Inderwildi. Matin has his won company
in partnership with a friend. Both are 20 year Porsche Veterans but now sell VWs
and Audis and have authority to repair up to 964 series Porsches. So I took all
the parts down to Martin and we went through, step by step what I wanted. I
provided all the documentation I could find for the struts and the shocks, how
to adjust them, the RS specs etc. The only other thing to do was to make an
appointment and book the C4 in. April the 4th and 5th were
the days decided on and all I had to do now was wait.

April the 4th
rolled around and I took the 911C4 into Martin. All I had to do was to wait. I
even took these two days off work to ensure if anything was needed I could be
ready for it. Glad I did. late afternoon on the 4th Martin rang me.
The nuts on the top of the rear shocks  from
the existing set up did not fit the new shocks. One had been supplied with the
shocks but the other was missing. I should have checked the package but I didn’t.
I said well they are metric aren’t they. Nope, these new shocks had a SAE top
thread. Everything else was okay but for some reason the top thread was SAE.
PANIC stations, this is Switzerland, metric land but I did have one option. My
work. I had to wait for Gail to get home from work, it was raining but no
problem. I waited by the road and when Gail appeared I flagged her down, jumped
in and took off for work. I searched our store and found what I needed courtesy
of Rheintalflug and Embraer. With the correct nut in my hand I raced off to
Martin and gave him the nut. He was impressed on how these things can be
corrected. Whilst I was there and my C4 was on the hydraulic lifter I had a look
around. The front struts were fully installed. Unfortunately it was too dark to
take photos.

So the drama
was over, well I hoped it was. I went home and Martin said he would call me when
the C4 was ready the next day. it was a nervous wait but the phone call came at
around 5pm. Gail gave me a lift down to the workshop and when we got there,
Martin and my C4 were nowhere to be seen. Out for a test drive they said. After
about five minutes of waiting the familiar growl of C4 greeted us coming into
the facility. it stopped and Martin climbed out with the biggest grin on his
face I have ever seen. He handed me the keys and he said I gave him a standard
Porsche and he has returned me a go-kart. Martin also went onto the explain the
alignment and balance procedure and to give me the figures. He explained that
the C4 was completely out of balance. He had measured it all before he started
work and it was totally out of whack. He showed me how now that all the panel
gaps were now even. This is a good point. Uneven panel gaps are often attributed
to accidents but it can just as easily be an out of balance and uneven corner
height. Anyway, after the explanation and a quick walk around it was time to
drive.

My 911C4 Lowered and a
photo also showing the strut brace installation


 


 


 


What can I say. Martin was right
this was a go-kart. The handling of my newly set up and lowered C4 was 1000%
better than it was before. It was a real case of chalk and cheese. It was solid,
the understeer was massively reduced, the response time was much quicker it went
round corners faster and tighter and stiffer and did not activate the traction
control. It was stable, rock solid at speed and when I got home after my
extended drive all I could say was, ?I´m impressed?. I was so happy and the
set-up was perfect. Not too hard not too soft. In the park platz it looked low
and mean. For me it was money well spent and a modification adventure completed.
The only thing I have yet to do is to get over to Germany and give it a high
speed test. the highest I have got up to so far is 220kph and I want to get it
up to 260kph plus just like before and really see how fast this 911C4 will
really go. One last point is the tyres. I currently have a set of Yokohamas
installed as described earlier in this article. I would really have to recommend
these tyres. They are really brilliant in the dry, pretty good in the wet and
even took me through a little bit of snow. As already mentioned, thanks to a
fellow rennlister Kathy Meinen in Geneva who very generously gave me some tyres
I will be testing these tyres as well. I intend write an article dedicated to
tyres and my testing later when I have more totally subjective and unscientific
results which will include some 16 inch wheel and tyre combinations on the 944.
I am currently the proud owner of  32
tyres and five sets of wheels.

My 911C4 and one of the
sets of Pirelli Tyres the P7000s

 


Ten days after the job was
completed, Easter the snow returned and I was grounded. In the next week we had
over a metre of snow.

Next project
is to return the 944 I have to roadworthy condition for my daughter. By the time
you read this article she will have hopefully passed her driving test (May 22nd)
and will be using the 944, so that will be two more articles you can all look
forward to, then there will be our holiday, the Streather family in France or
Italy in two Porsches. One driven by myself, the other by my daughter Stephanie,
now that should be one heck of a trip,

 

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