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Continental R Ride Height

2169 Views 10 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Laurenspm
I was looking to correct the front ride height on my 96 Conti R. Was just about to order collets and a spring compressor from britishtoolworks and then figured since what I have appears to be original, an investment in new springs from Flying Spares would be appropriate. I replaced the upper mounts previously, and just finished the springs. The improvement was only marginal. According to the procedure to measure ride height in the workshop manual, I'm still out of specification by roughly 2". Everything else on the front end looks and feels great, but the ride height just spoils the look and I don't like the negative camber which will likely chew up my tires if not attended to.

A few quick questions: Based on my VIN, Flying spares provided me the UR72469 springs, is that accurate? I understand other bushes may be due, but with new springs, could that account for that much out of spec? For those of you that have installed adjustment collets, are they visible externally? Trying to determine if any of the shims have been installed already on my springs. Here's a before picture.
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I will likely put in adjustment collets, however from what I gather, only 1" in acceptable which would amount to a 1.5" height increase.

Let me know what you all think!

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P.S. from a visual standpoint, I believe another 1.25" looks the best. Also, the distance from the center of the wheel to the fender lip is 14 5/8" on the driver side and 14 1/2" on the passenger.
As a quick update, I've been back and forth with Flying Spares, I definitely have the correct springs, so it appears an adjustment is in order. I'm going to order the spring compressor and collets from British Tool Works, but would love to hear any comments or tips on anyone that has worked on the height adjustments. Are the workshop manual instructions on point or is there in the field updates you have experienced?
Just finished setting up the front suspension height. Some thoughts...

Kelly's spring compressor is truly well crafted and easy to work with. His collets are also precise and fit perfectly. With regular wear items on these front ends, it would seem to be an essential tool to have. It's not cheap, but after seeing how this all went together, why mess around as these cars are fiddly enough!

The idea is to install the compressor with as much weight as possible on them (i.e. by not extending the coil when lifting from the frame. Once installed, the shock will drop a bit to expose the existing shims (aka collets) if any (UR 12903). The collets sit on a "ledge" of the damper sleeve (UR 71802). Over the sleeve, fits the lower spring support (UR 12899). This is essentially what holds the spring up. The issue that I ran into was that the damper sleeve was essentially fused to the spring support so the collets wouldn't expose themselves (did so slightly on the driver side, but almost not at all on the passenger). Even with virtually no corrosion on this car and nothing on the spring supports, I'm going to venture to say this is a common issue. As such, I opted to remove the spring in it's entirety by removing the top plate and using Kelly's compressor. Once out I was able to use a mallet to knock the sleeve from spring support. For anyone looking to do some front end work, it would probably be wise to have these parts on hand. Down the road, if I do shocks, I'll be buying everything.

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Other tips before installing additional collets. The workshop manual indicates a maximum of 1" of collets that would lead to an increase of 1.5" in ride height. Before undertaking, take multiple height measurements. There's a factory procedure, but also check visually that it "makes sense". I found that the center of the wheel lines up with the chrome body trim (on the conti at least) both meets the spec and was the most visually correct in my mind. Here's some examples I found online, see how the chrome runs neatly into center caps.

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What I've noticed is that virtually every Conti and Azure I see around is sagging at the front. Not only do I think this spoils the look, but it also leaves you with excess negative camber...I can only imagine shortening tire life.

Even though I felt I knew exactly what collets I wanted, I ordered quite a few sizes to experiment. Do try to get it right the first time, because whatever you put in, you'll want to drive the car around for a bit to let everything settle out.

As for the results, while I undertook this primarily for cosmetic reasons, I soon realized how essential the ride height is for these cars. I've heard a number of complaints about the ride being "hard" on the Continentals, Turbos, Azure's. While that was the case on my car, with fresh tires and upper bushings, I would say it was OK, not as smooth as I would have hoped, but nevertheless pleasant and I assumed that's just how it was. With the height sorted, the ride dramatically improved, something I did not anticipate. I believe this is probably two fold, with the height wrong, all the suspension geometry is off. I also think that when too low, on hard bumps, you are likely hitting the bump stops. They definitely looked too close to allow for adequate suspension travel prior to the update.

I can see this as something many owners would just put off doing as it doesn't seem mission critical and many non rolls mechanics wouldn't give it a thought. If you are debating this, go for it. It's definitely DIY and not all that expensive in the scheme of things.

I'll post some pictures...of course I forgot to do befores!
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That's exactly the plan. I need another 1/8" to 1/4" on the driver side, so once I tweak that I'll drive for a week or two and get a full alignment. This is very worthwhile endeavor for anyone considering.
Just finished with my last adjustment on the driver's side...really pleased and I'm getting pretty good with that spring compressor! Here's a quick pic, tough to see being black, but just looks so proper in my mind.
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