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Suspension Improvements

Posted by rad23 
Gary Radwanski
Lake Zurich,IL, USA   usa

I'm new to this so please bear with me if I use improper vernacular! I've recently purchased a 77 MGB and I'm trying to determine what can be done to improve the handling, sway, etc. The car has no shocks but I see that install kits are available.
Would like to know what has worked for other, what has not. Is adding shock absorbers worth the effort or should I focus on upgrading the front and/or rear springs?

Thanks.


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chris Avatar
Chris Roop
Pendleton, OR, USA   usa

If you don't have front shocks, your car is on the ground, not drivable. MGBs use a lever action Armstrong shock that is quite excellent. If you're talking about converting to coil over shocks, those don't give you any improvement.
Welcome by the way!


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Ralph Yingling Avatar
Monroe, WA, USA   usa
1973 MG MGB "Molly"

As Chris said you do have shocks, they are just not familar to you as they are a lever style.

Rebuilding all the bushings in my suspension did wonders for my handling, and the old ones were not visibly bad. Typically a winter project and not too tough with the printed instructions that are available. Shocks should be checked for leakage as part of this.



Ralph
'73, SUPERCHARGED! tubeless wire wheels, OD, Advaced Dist. recurved dist. w/Pertronix, de- smogged, ANSA

chris Avatar
Chris Roop
Pendleton, OR, USA   usa

And then you get into the debate about which bushings to use; prothane, nylatron, rubber v-8, etc.
Much of that is dependent on your plan for the car.


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Gary Radwanski
Lake Zurich,IL, USA   usa

Plans are to dirve it as regularly as weather permits (i.e. no snow).

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mgb65 Avatar
Ron Walsh
Okeechobee, Florida, USA   usa
1965 MG MGB "Lady Penelope"

I agree with the others here, changing out the original bushings (all around) will greatly improve the feel of the car. While some have changed to the coil over suspension for the front, if it is going to be a daily or weekend driver, I would stick with the original shocks. They are robust and long lived.

When I changed out my control arm bushings for the V8 variety, it made a world of difference over the original worn out bushings. I am planning to change out my crossmember pads to help with the rigidity of the car as well.

One thing that my help you is to get hold of a good workshop manual (I prefer the Bentley manual, but the Haynes is great too). You might also get a copy of the book MGB - Guide to Purchase and DIY Restoration by Lindsay Porter. It is a great guide to the MGB, and shows some points that you might want to look at on your car.

Also, the boards here are a great place to vent your (eventual) frustration when working on our beloved cars.



Ron

...Semper Fidelis...

DB Wood Avatar
Daniel Wood
Tumalo, OR, USA   usa
1969 MG MGB GT "Clyde"
1970 MG MGB GT

The best thing that can be done to the suspension is making sure everything is in good condition. The 77 has swaybars fore and aft so the handling is quite good. Typically these cars aren't driven a lot of miles per year so the tires get old before they wear out. If they're over 5 years old get new ones. Which wheels do you have? The steel wheels are called Rostyle and the others are wire wheels. There are many more that people use, but these are the most common and what came with the car from the factory.



Dan Wood
70BGT driver, OD, Pertronix, HS4's, Peco, .060 over, Elgin cam, Superlite wheels, poly bushings, panhard rod, rear tube shocks, 1" lowered front end, HD shock valves, etc, etc.
69BGT project (V-6?)
88 Saab SPG Turbo
86 Vanagon Westy (South African conversion engine 2.0 OHC 135HP)

Lucas= Loose
Unsoldered
Connections
And
Splices

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Horst Avatar
Whorst Kukalavich
Deep below the earth, USA   usa

I would check the condition of everything, then at some point lower the car. This can be achieved by either a lowering kit or by replacing both the front coils and rear leaf springs with suitable replacements.

Whorst

Gary Radwanski
Lake Zurich,IL, USA   usa

Wheels are steel and the tires are most definately ready to go. I'm just trying to make sure I do all of this in proper sequence.

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mac townsend Avatar
Fairfield, CA, USA   usa

rad23 Wrote:
Quote: I'm new to this so please bear with me if I use improper vernacular! I've recently purchased a 77 MGB and I'm trying to determine what can be done to improve the handling, sway, etc. The car has no shocks but I see that install kits are available.
Would like to know what has worked for other, what has not. Is adding shock absorbers worth the effort or should I focus on upgrading the front and/or rear springs?
Thanks.

the first thing you need to do is buy the appropriate shop manual for your car. Amazon has them, Search for "Bentley" and "MGB"



1973 Pale Primrose Roadster. A nice 10-footer!
SUs, Datsun 5-speed
MGB Tips and Tricks: www.mgrescue.com

sultanoswing Avatar
Curtis _
Hamilton, New Zealand   nzl
1971 MG MGB GT "The 'Gee"

If you want to go more extreme, I'd support the notion of lowering the car to chrome-bumper height and losing the heavy rubber bumpers i.e. go to chrome bumpers.

For a good start though, I'd support others' thoughts about at least ensuring everything stock (dampers, coils & springs, bushings) is in good order & lubricated - the results often pleasantly surprise!

BritishV8 Avatar
Curtis Jacobson
Longmont CO, USA   usa

One of the first things you should do is evaluate how you intend to use the car and how you want the car to "feel".

We all want different things from our sports cars. We don't all agree what improves them... Should the car should be relatively soft riding and forgiving (as it was from the factory) or should it compromise some smoothness for a feeling of greater control and precision.

Generally, MOST of us agree that MGB moved the "wrong" direction from a handling point of view when they added heavy rubber bumpers and jacked the car up. At the same time they did that, they also (for at least a year or two) stopped fitting front anti-sway bars. The motoring press was unanimous at the time... the rubber bumper MGB's weren't as sporty handling as earlier chrome-bumper models.

It's been a long time since your car was built. You should probably check to see if/what modifications have already been made.

---

Chris and Ron have specifically mentioned converting to coil-over type shocks in the front - and recommended against it - but if you're not familiar with suspensions maybe a little more discussion is needed on this point.

FIRST of all, we should clearly differentiate between common "telescopic" shock conversion kits and actual "coil-over" shock suspensions. Both are available for your MGB. Far more people have converted their MGB to telescopic shocks than actual coil-over shocks.

Telescopic shocks are familiar looking and they're cheap. If Chris meant that telescoping shocks don't provide any benefit over stock MGB lever (or "knee-action"winking smiley shocks (in good condition), then I agree with that. Knee action shocks have a couple advantages. For example, they have less "unsprung weight" which helps handling and ride quality.

Coil-over shocks are a different story! A coil-over shock is a shock-and-spring combined into one unit. The spring is concentric to the shock, and the mounting perch on the shock's body is adjustable so that you can VERY easily change the vehicle's ride height one corner at a time. The shocks are generally of better quality, and their valving is usually adjustable. More importantly, they're usually just one part of a more elaborate kit that includes other new suspension components (e.g. new control arms and perhaps a new front crossmember and steering rack.) To say that coil-over shocks don't provide any improvement is certainly an arguable point. As part of an integrated new suspension, they can in fact provide a SUBSTANTIAL improvement.

There are at least four different coil-over MGB front suspensions on the market, and at least three coil-over rear suspensions. If you're curious, you can surf the archives for more information about them (which is mainly covered on the V6/V8 side of the board). You may also want to review these articles for a start:
http://www.britishv8.org/Articles/MGB-Front-Suspension-Upgrade.htm
http://www.britishv8.org/Articles/Hoyle-Suspension-for-MGB.htm

---

If you take an interest in handling, IMHO the best reference book to start with is Fred Puhn's "How to Make Your Car Handle " (HP Books). It's not specifically about MGB - but it does a wonderful job explaining the mechanics of road car suspension design and modification. It keeps the subject interesting.

bills Avatar
Bill Spohn
W. Vancouver, BC, Canada   can

You are getting some good advice.

Realize that the starting point for suspension on the RBB cars is a few steps behind the early cars. Decide what you want to do with the car - just drive, or compete in slaloms etc. If it is the latter, sell the car and buy an early model.

If you just want to tighten up the RBB for better feel on the street, you can replace the lower A arm bushes - we can argue/discuss which replacements are better. I prefer the V8 Metelastic, while others opt for Prothane or even Delrin.

Leave the shocks alone - unless they are substandard. Make sure they are topped up with fluid (many people don't seem to know that they need this periodic maintainence). If they are thrashed, I would replace them with stock Armstrongs. You won't get enough gain from going to telescopic and if you chose the wrong kit it would even be a backward step.

Finally, consoder replacing the sway bars at both ends with a matched set of heavier bars - I believe however that just going heavier on the front and leaving the stock rear bar may be another option - ask the RBB guys about that.



Bill Spohn www.rhodo.citymax.com/carstuff.html
1958 MGA Twincam (race car (170 bhp)),1962 MGA Deluxe Coupe (98 bhp)
1969 MGC roadster (175 bhp), 1957 Jamaican MGA (200 bhp)
1965 Jensen CV8 (375 bhp), 1971 Jensen Interceptor (350 bhp)
1969 Lamborghini Islero S (350 bhp), 1988 Fiero GT turbo (300 bhp)
2009 Pontiac Solstice GXP Coupe (350 bhp)
West Vancouver BC

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