posted on April 19, 2012 00:00
Project Land Speed Racer 240SX: KW Suspension
By Chuck Johnson and Mike Kojima
Photos by Joe Lu
If racing wasn't already hard enough on a racecar and all of its components, replace the well-manicured tarmac of a road course with a few hundred tons of salt and then racing becomes even more brutal. Salt is hygroscopic, meaning that it attracts water. To make things worse, salt increases water's ability to carry electrons, which promotes oxidation or "rust" that can wreak havoc on a racecar. Combine the oxidation threat with the dirt and rocks of the El Mirage lakebed, and then things can get really nasty. To accomplish our 200 MPH goal, we need a suspension system that can confidently dampen the imperfections of a blemished, dirt and salt covered racetrack. On top of that though, we also need a suspension system that can endure the hostile environments that come with land speed racing.
Part suspension gurus and perhaps part mad scientists, Mike Kojima and Chris Marion infiltrated the KW Automotive parts bin to Frankenstein together the perfect set of coilovers for Project 240SX Land Speed Racer. This perfection came through the marriage of parts from both KW's Clubsport and Competition coilover kits.
Externally, the damper body from KW's Clubsport coilover was selected for its corrosion resistant properties. As a part of KW's "Inox-line," the Clubsport damper body is constructed from highly corrosion resistant stainless steel. Many aftermarket damper bodies are constructed from plane old steel, which is not too effective at resisting corrosion. In salt spray testing, KW's stainless steel Inox-line lasted over 480 hours while other coilovers with zinc plated steel bodies corroded and seized up in half the time.T ake note that a zinc plated body is still better than most coilovers! The durability of the KW Clubsport's stainless steel body makes it ideal for street applications that see tough winters and coincidentally, racing on the salt at Bonneville too.
The Clubsport body also features a unique "trapezoidal" thread. The trapezoidal shaped, stainless steel threads help prevent dirt and debris from seizing the spring seat and making height adjustments a pain in the butt.
On the top of the front KW dampers, is an aluminum strut mount, which was borrowed from KW's Clubsport line. This aluminum strut mount allows for easy, on the fly camber adjustments. KW's aluminum strut mount features scaled adjustments to help minimize the guess work during suspension alignment and also features a stout sandwich plate configuration that is locked in place by tapered torx head bolts to ensure that the camber plate will not slip. Ever had a camber plate slip at speed? Let me tell you, it's not a pleasant experience. Lastly, the KW strut mount houses a uniball bearing protected by a tough sealing system that prevents moisture and debris from damaging the bearing.
Cool seal prevents stuff from getting into the pilliowball mount from the bottom.
Thursday, April 19, 2012 1:02 PM
I'm looking forward to your shot at the record books Chuck!
I actually found my old SCC last week with Mike's article about your B13 experiences, great stuff. I've never been in a car hitting the high 100s so I'm excited to hear about your future aero improvements working in conjunction with the suspension to keep you stable.
Thursday, April 19, 2012 9:36 PM
I'm totally convinced that KW makes superior products, but if I lost a finger for every "article" you guys have published over the last year promoting KW, I wouldn't have any hands. Give it a rest.
Thursday, April 19, 2012 10:05 PM
Hey 6spd - I kind of wondered about the abundance of suspension when I first started on here but I finally got Mike's famous saying, "Do you wanna go fast or do you want to suck?" I mean, last time they did a review of some Skunk2 coilovers, people bitched too. Motoiq projects are about helping peeps KNOW how to go fast by showing you how they did it.
Thursday, April 19, 2012 11:52 PM
6Spd, one of the problems I am faced with is a lack of quality suspension in the market. For many applications, KW is the only company that makes something decent at a price regular people can afford.
The coilover market has been taken over by companies selling crappy coilovers that have pushed out established quality companies like Tein to the point where they cannot support even simple projects with us.
I won't do an article about the crappy stuff. We have tried a few and in every case so far, the results were too poor to write about.
We have worked with Moton for our EvoIX project and worked with a famous JDM suspension supplier for our Evo VIII project but those dampers worked so poorly we gave them back.
I hate to say it but KW is one of the only company's whose products perform well in the under $2500 category. In fact KW is the performance leader in this market segment.
KW is also willing to do things like custom build stainless bodied race shocks for car like this. What other company can say they can build a race shock that can take a salt soaking at Bonneville no problem?
We hope to bring Progress Group, Cusco and JRZ on board soon. I have had good experiances with their products as well.
and they all work at different price points.
Tein is a good company making good working consumer level suspension but they are currently on such a spending clamp that they can't help us even with product support. The cheapo coilover makers have really put the hurt on them.
KW stuff really is one of the best performing coilovers you can get for the widest range of applications on the market. You can also bet I am working hard to find some others that work well and are affordable.
My other job is as a suspension consultant. I work with KW almost exclusively in this. Why? three reasons, price for my customers, performance and support. So far my history for podiums and records seem pretty good!
Friday, April 20, 2012 1:36 PM
It's very cool that they were able to swap the internals to get you the custom salt-racing application. The details about why these shocks are good for the purpose was interesting.
We do see a lot of KW on here and that's fine with me. Support the good companies who support you. If they want you to print the same info on their patented foot valves in each article that's fine. There will be a few readers who may not have read the other articles.
I would like to see more detail on how you pick spring rates for the application and the procedure on finding damping settings that work best etc. Hopefully that will be covered in an upcoming installment.
Testing to determine the extent of the improvements you see after installing them would be nice. I'd like to know the difference in slalom speed, cornering g's, wheel spin reduction, and such. I know this being a lands speed car cornering improvements don't mean much, and it won't run with and without the KWs on the salt. I mean more generally on any project cars.
It seems like we read a lot about you guys putting new equipment on cars and only a blurb about your impressions. Subjective comments are fine and a trust you not to mislead, but objective data about what they improved would be great. Even data logged numbers from a phone app, or lap times would be fine. I know that testing can be time consuming and also expensive if you have to rent facilities though.
Sorry if that's a little long and does you no good. I do enjoy reading about these projects. Maybe it's coming and I just need to be patient.
Friday, April 20, 2012 1:50 PM
@ Burninator - We welcome constructive comments like yours all day. We make this site for our readers and thank our sponsors and advertisers that make all this possible. KW makes awesome stuff and no doubt we'll have more on this site. As many have said "reward those who make good stuff" at good price. No need to go off on the rip-off parts thing again.
Friday, April 20, 2012 1:53 PM
Belive me, it is my dream to do detailed chassis dynamic testing of suspension parts. We have to make more money so we can afford track rentals, insurance, etc. It costs about $3000 to secure a track for instrumented testing. We currently have the equipment to do it but not the editorial budget.
We would have to do a before and after. so that could get expensive. We tried to get a baseline on our project Civic by attending a normal track day. Even this sort of testing still takes a whole weekend of our time and costs 500-1000 buck once you get entry fees, hotel rooms, gas and food for everyone.
We will do this as we get bigger though. Another problem is that if we do a track rental we would have to schedule several different project cars at once. However we are under pressure to get project car editorial out fast so that makes things difficult.
MotoIQ only has 4 full time employees and only one person dedicated full time to content so it is not easy.
Not an excuse and more testing is our desire as well.
We do the tech breakdown on all KW's more for people who own that particular car who don't read ever single project car, only what applys to them.
I also work on them a lot so I really know how they work.
Friday, April 20, 2012 6:41 PM
Mike and Aaron - Can one of you post the link for Burninator back to Rockwood's article on his Jetta where he did offer up before and after data collected from his suspension upgrade? I would if I knew how to from my phone!
Friday, April 20, 2012 6:46 PM
Burninator - Go to the Poject Hypermiler: Handling Upgrades link above to check out Rockwoods data. It's on lile the 6th or 7th page. Is that the kind of data you were hoping for?
Friday, April 20, 2012 6:56 PM
Ask (within reason) and you shall receive buddy!
Saturday, April 21, 2012 1:11 AM
Hey, I had some data on my KWs, which I modified the spring rates for my particular setup on Project S2000 :P
Saturday, April 21, 2012 3:49 PM
I'm pretty sure you've never heard of Techpro. http://www.stro.co.kr/product/engine_room/15949.html
I got a custom made coilover set for my oddball project for a very reasonable price. I chose spring rates, perch heights and the basic damping profile. They did custom welded aluminum bodies and I got the entire thing for the equivalent of about $1000. Granted, they were non-adjustable. I can translate too, if you want.
I think they mostly use Bilstein internals - I love mine.
Sunday, April 22, 2012 2:48 AM
i've been into KW ever since i started looking for suspension parts for my Subaru back in '04 and i loved the feature on the rigors of the factory process. that said, any way you could pass word to them that mk1 MR2 guys need an end-all be-all suspension solution that's not koni/groundcontrol? i'm even willing to loan them my personal car as a test mule (that is if they do testing here in CA; i'm only an hour away from them)
Monday, April 23, 2012 8:23 PM
highdensity, if KW can sell 25 units they might be willing to develop something. Do you think the market is that big?
Tuesday, April 24, 2012 8:34 PM
Very tough call, as mk1 MR2 owners are notoriously stingy and it's not a widely campaigned platform. I put word out at the owners club, so we shall see.
Wednesday, April 25, 2012 10:47 PM
Early indications are that the numbers aren't there. I can always dream....
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