Adjustable Giugiaro Suspension
for 1981-1985 Esprit
by Andy Hills
After 23 years the springs on my 1981 S3 were looking very tired and the near side front damper was leaking so much that it failed the MOT. Getting hold of springs is a bit of a lottery as blobs of coloured paint, which lasts about 5 seconds on the car, are all that identify the rate and length. The spring length sets the ride height of the 1980-1985 cars as the lower spring platform is welded to the lower suspension arm and so fitting the correct springs is important. Looking at the suspension components of the newer models I figured out that it would be possible to fit adjustable height suspension by retaining the old lower arms and fitting adjustable platform dampers from the later cars. The only machining required would be to make room for the rate adjustment knob on the damper, as this would interfere with the spring platform on the lower arm. The modification was small and allowed the old suspension components to be refitted if required.
First the front suspension components needed to be removed.
With the calliper, hub, spring and damper removed, the lower spring platform can now be accessed for modification.
The modification involves cutting out a slot at the rear of the spring set using a drill and a grinder. The size of the slot will depend on the type of damper fitted. As the photo shows, the outer edge of the spring set remains allowing the old spring to be refitted if required. Once the slot has been made and all of the burrs have been removed the lower arm requires painting to prevent corrosion.
The dampers used in the conversion are from the 1985-1987 model fitted with the ventilated brake discs and are available with adjustable spring seats. The springs were custom made for this application. The photos show the old and new components side by side.
Fitting of the new components is a reversal of removal and did not present any problems during assembly.
Here you can see how the new damper fits onto the car with no clearance issues.
The rear suspension components do not need any modification and just require the correct damper to be fitted as the old springs can be retained.
The diameter of the rear springs is smaller that the front but the AVO dampers only came with one size spring seat. The supplied spring seat would allow the spring to move around when fitted to the car and so a plastic location ring was made to keep the spring in position.
The new dampers are a direct swap for the old. The pictures indicate the amount of height adjustment available with the new dampers.
The parts used for this conversion were: -
AVO PH732 (front) & AVO PH733 (rear)
These were custom made by Power Coil (www.coilsprings.co.uk) to the following dimensions: -
Front 10” free length 110lb/in 3.4” ID
Rear 12.8” free length 140lb/in 3.2” ID
by Andy Hills
The results of fitting adjustable suspension to an Esprit have been well documented. However, the main reason for the conversion was to fit adjustable height front suspension to a 1981-1985 Esprit which is not possible with the standard set-up. This was done with little modifications to the car (which allows the old components to be re-fitted) using dampers from a later car. The conversion works flawlessly with very little extra cost.
This mod was performed by Andy Hills on his 1981 S3
If you have any comments, feel free to e-mail LEW at firstname.lastname@example.org