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MG MGB GT V8 Factory Originals Technical - Lowering front end with Hopkinson Bilstein conversion

I have a 77 MGB with a Ron Hopkinson /Bilstein front shock conversion.
I would like to lower the front of the car by about an inch and a half by using new front springs but......and here's my question.......does any body know which shocks to use? The existing shocks are set up for an RB car and don't look like they would fit if the car was lowered. I called Ron Hopkinson but they have been taken over by Moss and the person I spoke with said he thought it was a different bracket for a lower car but using the same shock. Has anybody out there done this to their car with the RH front suspension?

Martyn
Martyn Harvey

I have a 74 MGB. After I rolled it I ordered new front springs for a 74. (Not then knowing what I know now). I received and installed the springs (They were for a CB and mine is a RB) and never changed the shocks which are stock From then on my car had sort of a rake to it. My measurements are
MGB Heights from wheel center to chrome strip
Driver side front 14
Driver side rear 15
Passengers side front 14
Passengers side rear 16
Hope this helps


Bruce

Bruce

Thanks for your input , Bruce.
Lowering the stock MGB set up is no problem but one of my cars has this Hopkinson conversion which includes the elimination of the armstrong lever shock completely. A Bilstein shock is added to the lower spring pan and a new upperpiece replaces the armstrong. I have the lowered springs but I need a different sized shock. I was hoping someone with the same system could help by knowing the shock I need.
Bruce, your car must have quite a forward rake if you have a 2" difference between front and rear heights.
Thanks again.
Martyn
Martyn Harvey

Martyn,

I believe Frontline are selling the Ron Hop system.

Paul
Paul

Martyn...I'm in process of installing a Hawkes Cars coil-over unit in my car...pretty straight forward & great quality...went through Doug Jackson for it because he supplies all the bushings, etc needed.
Tony Barnhill

Martyn,
Barney has the Ron Hopkins kit on it and the springs have been cut to the present ride height, as low as anyone would want. I know that the front suspension is too stiff, but thats what you get with cutting the springs instead of buying new. You drove him, you decide the route to take.
steve
steve carrick

Thanks for the input guys.
The Bilstein shock is not numbered in any way. I guess I will take it into a supplier and see what shorter ones they have.
Martyn Harvey

Martyn....you're into the reason I passed on Ron's kit: he had the Bilstein's done up special for his kit & the US distributors don't know what they are! &, Bilstein won't tell them! &, he won't tell you, proprietary and all...he created a ready source of return business, eh?
Tony Barnhill

What would posess someone to give Doug Jackson $1200 for a product that can be sourced from England for $875.00 plus shipping?

Justin
Justin

Does anybody have any pictures of these front end coil over kits?

I have seen Ron's kit (and wanted it) and ended up buying the Moss kit (which I heard is not available anymore) but am not satisfied with the Moss kit. I would be interested in seeing the Hawkes kit and any other kits that people make.
Thanks
Wally
Wally Jonker

Wally

http://www.hawkcars.co.uk/mgb/front.html

The front can be bought from NG / Hawk / John Hoyle / MG Owners and Doug Jackson.

Paul
Paul

Guys,first off,Doug Jackson is the exclusive US importer/distributer.The MG owner's club will not ship the to the US without Doug's approval number,This is due to the redesigned bushings and hardware he designed and supplies.The original hardware supplied originally is substandard by US standards.This is the reason for the price difference.
Martyn,if all you want is to lower the front end by 1in,why not try lowered king pin assemblies?They drop the front by the in. but leaves the suspension geometry and travel as standard.They are available through MGs Limited(414-529-3200)in Wisconson.They come as bare stub axles and need to be assembled by you along with a kingpin kit,but that is pretty straight forward.The cost is reasonable given the machine work and quality involved-$355pr including shipping.
Hope this gives you more ideas, Dave Deerson
Dave

I figured as much! The original builder of this car tried to find out about the shock and got nowhere (I spoke with him last night). Thanks for clearing up the dilemna, Tony.

Dave, I had thought of the lowered spindles but in Canadian dollars 355 x 1.6 =$568 + shipping + customs brokerage!!!!
A replacement shock sounds cheaper.
Apparently this 77 MGB has an early (CB) crossmember on it so I'm not sure why the shock already has such little travel.

Thanks guys.
Martyn Harvey

>>>>Justin: First, the $875 price in the UK does not include the $250 shipping to the US!!! Second, it also does not include all the bushings for installation of the kit--actually, it does not include any of the bushings!! Third, with Doug's added kit, you get everything you need to remove the beam, modify it, & install the new kit & reinstall the beam...the only thing extra you need is a kingpin kit....actually, Doug's price is a bargain if you try ot buy direct (which you can't), pay shipping, & then buy all the bushings, etc.....oh, & I worked with Doug initially & then with Ruth at the MGOC directly for shipping....

>>>>Wally: go to my web site where you'll see a photo of the kit along with my write-up as I install the kit...
http://www.theautoist.com/coil-over_suspension.htm

>>>>Martyn: the lowered coil-overs are the way to go...I got mine from MG Limited in Wisconsin...maybe its worth a quick trip south for you to pick up a set....
anthony barnhill

Martyn.....OOOOooooooooooppppppsssss...what I meant to say were that the lowered stub axles are the way to go...Dick at MG Limited can make up a set real quick...
anthony barnhill

How can a component be substandard in one country and not in another? Is the measure of safety and quality a flexible standard?

Justin
Justin

The RV8-style kits (with coil-overs and ball joints rather than kingpins) look pretty darn delightful too. You can get them from Brown & Gammons and I assume other places in the UK. I wonder how easy they are to install with the V8 motor in place. I also wonder how easy it is to find replacement parts.
Terrence

Justin: Duhhhhhhhhhhh!!! Why do you think we have different safety standards for cars over here? there are things used in Europe that don't meet safety specs over here or aren't what we would use on our streets & under our driving conditions...
...There are some parts in the Hawkes kit I'm glad Doug replaced...a couple examples are: the Hawkes bolts holding the top mount to the cross member are allen-type bolts; however, they require torqueing....there's an upper wishbone spacer tube supplied by Hawke that's a tad bigger ID than the bolt they also supply...Doug provides one the correct ID...&, there are a couple more things that Doug provides that are Grade 8 where Hawkes provides Grade 5...I for one want the strongest, best products possible in a car as powerful as the one I'm building!
...I just think you're a bit peeved that you don't have the kit!!
anthony barnhill

I'm not hardly peeved about not having the kit. I just spent 4 years building my entire car from ground up, and eventually I'll get around to things like that. I just want to make an extremely informed decision before I purchase things like a new rear axle, and performance front suspension. And I want all my questions answered to my satisfaction. I'm in total agreement that the strongest and best products should be used w/o any question. And I guess that's where my question stems from. If a grade 5 bolt holding the kingpin to the top wishbone broke when hitting a pothole the results would be disastrous. And from a liability standpoint, I wouldn't sell a product as crucial as front suspension with grade 5 bolts, and slop in spacer tubes. Safety should be safety no matter where you're from, and quality should be the same. I'm not talking about government standards either. I'm talking common sense, and the physical ability of a part to withstand it's normal useage.

So you tell me, where's the "Duhhhhhhhhhhh!!! " in that question?

Justin
Justin

Justin...I apologize to you as I took your input totally out of context......explained as you just did, I understand completely where you're coming from...the other way I thought I heard something else....my 'bad'...& will gladly give you my input so a sound decision can be made...I asked lots of questions before going the route I did...
Tony Barnhill

Paul, Thanks for the link
Wally
Wally Jonker

I think I just solved this Hopkinson / Bilstein suspension problem...at least in my head. Why don't I simply use a spacer to raise the upper Hopkinson shock tower?
I think I will only need an inch or so.
Martyn Harvey

Raising the shock tower would allow for a longer tube shock to go between it & the lower control arms, but would it lower the car? On the Hawke kit, the stub axle position is completely separate from the upper shock tower since the coil-overs are behind and separate from the stub axle other than where they connect on the lower control arms. I don't remember the relationship between the shock/coilover on Ron's kit but on the Hawke kit, they only come together at the lower control arms...thus, on the Hawke kit, raising the upper coilover mount would have no effect on the location od the stub axle...
...&, you've gotta raise the stub axle's relationship to the chassis to lower the car...
Tony Barnhill

...oh, and I have a set of lowered springs to put in the equation. I may be missing something here.....
I have to get under the car and start looking at the real thing. At the moment I am thinking about it without seeing it!!
I didn't build this car either.
Martyn Harvey

Aha!! There's the solution, Martyn: build you own car!!
anthony barnhill

Martin,. the spacer will work just fine, it will alow the shock absorber to fully travell,the shock has no effect in the ride height, it is there to dampen the ascilations of the spring.
Romney.
Romney

great discussion and very good info, one question for you tony, $250 to ship the parts to the us? i have had 3 cars brought over from europe and the shipping is only $500, standard non air carriage should not anymore than $70 or $80, i got a quote for an entire mini engine, transmission and turbo charger to be sent on NWA and it was $310 to my city, good luck,, it sounds like a set up i am interested in for my b, jim
j madson

Jim...I don't remember the exact amount of shipping...I worked with Ruth at MGOC to have it shipped from her place to my doorstep, not to Doug Jackson & then to me (actually, the US Post left me a notice that $38 & change was due & I could pick up at post office)....total shipping/customs approximated $250...1 real heavy box
anthony barnhill

Tony, I do like the coil-over idea and I am thinking quite seriously about Ted Lathrop's system. He expects to have it ready to market this fall. Like I said, this car with the Hopkinson front suspension is one just acquired. The MGV8 I built 6 years ago had the Spax set-up which was nice too (and not expensive back then!) but I just removed it in order to fit RV8 style headers. I want to fit front coil-overs to my next project which is a car I hope to acquire from a friend. It has a coil-over rear suspension already fitted. ...so much to do, so little time.....and money!!
I believe you have the autoist website. ...love it, well done. Your stuff is great and I wish I had your garage!!
Martyn Harvey

Martyn...yep, theAutoist, that's me! But, tell me more about the coilover rear end....Glenn Towry tells me that with all the horsepower/torque I'm putting out I'm gonna break my axles (I have MGC 3.31 rear end) & that I need to start looking at Ford rears...I've got too much money in composite springs, tube shocks, anti-tramp bars, panhard bar, etc to break a rear end...but, the coilover independent rear suspension looks awful trick....
Tony Barnhill

Martyn,Ted Lathrup is a very nice guy.He's very good at designing and building cars,both circle track racers and street.But I will probably be very old and gray by the time he gets that front end on the market if at all.I met him along with you at Sebring when he brought along his "prototype" suspension that will be on sale later that spring(it was March at the time)and his price would be in the $1800-2000 range.I asked if he would take a check right there and then as I was putting together a new V8 project and wanted to use a coilover setup-RV8,Ted's or whatever.Well,it's been well over a year and many,many phone calls later and all I got was excuses as to the delay.My guess,which he hinted at is that he fears for any liability issues against his business or him personally.I also think maybe the geometry of the suspension itself might not have been sorted.
I have since purchased 2 Hawk/NG Cars coilover kits,one for my new project,the other for my Sebring GT.By the way,the kit has been under the GT since March and it rides and handles very well!I also love playing with different alignment settings(it seems that the GT is on my alignment rack once a month trying new ideas).
Dave

The coil-over rear set-up is used on a Mustang 8.8" and is not an independent-type system as such. That's all I know about it. At this point the car is in storage and not being driven.
I know that Ted has been slow in the development. Since I was not interested at the time it didn't concern me. Last week in Grand Rapids he re-iterated that it would be late Fall before......
I'm in no hurry either.
Martyn Harvey

A few things:

1) Tony: Apology accepted, I shouldn't have asked such an ambiguous question and should have done a better job of going in depth into what I was asking.

2) I see why Doug Jackson charges more, and that's perfectly fine, but I still have to ask the question, how much better is a coil over setup going to be then say V8 a-arm bushings, all new rubber bushings everywhere else, new front shocks new kingpins, and chrome bumper front springs, with say a 3/4" front sway bar. Is the difference in ride quality really worth approd 4 times the rebuild cost? If it is, I'll seriously consider going that route, but I'm having a hard time grasping the idea of what "4 times better" would be....

Who has some real road experience with a coil over suspension setup and can tell us what it's really like?

Justin

Justin

Justin,Ihave had the Hawk coilover setup on my car since March.I have racked up a fair amount of miles and feel I could give a reasonable assesment.With this front end the ride and handling are very good,the car has not been transformed into a Corvette or Viper,but there has been a merked improvement.The ride over bumps,washboard type especially,is dramatically better.It feels as if the shocks and springs are working much easier,also the suspension seems to react faster as if there is less bind or friction.It is in this area where you will feel the most improvement.
However.......Is it worth the added expense and work?????? Maybe.
The answer depends upon what you are really looking for in your car.I also have a restored,bone-stock '68 roadster with a 3/4" front bar and V8 bushings that will ride and handle well enough to please 99.9% of drivers.I feel if you are looking to play(experiment)with shock,alignment,and ride height settings and want the "GE-WIZ" reception at car shows,then maybe the coilover setup is worth the price.But like I said,a well rebuilt stock front end with all new quality parts will feel just as good under most conditions by most drivers.Let's face it guys,these are MGBs designed in the late 50s,not F1 racers on the edge of technology.If you want your car to perform at the same level with the same comfort as a modern car,then maybe you should buy a Miata or Lotus Elise,etc...When you sharpen a pencil too much,what is really left when you are done?That is my opinion,take it as you wish.Have fun guys,talk to ya soon.......Dave Deerson
Dave Deerson

I guess I'm a little surprised that people are investing a large volume of money in front ends that still use the kingpin/swivel axle. This is not a criticism- it's your ride, your money, and PLEASE build it to suit yourself.

But for that kind of money, have you considering changing to a modern ball jointed spindle that can carry a vented brake disc? By virtue of going to a coil-over you are suggesting that a significant design change is OK (at least to you)- how much further a reach is it to change the outboard end of the control arms?
Greg Fast

Greg,

Needle roller bearings are available with 4 pot vented Wilwood callipers for the standard set up, cheaper than RV8 system which is an alternative.

The stock system works for road or race and neg camber can be added, does the Hoyle front need rear IRS or composites which now require helper springs? to balance front end refinement.Uprated halfshafts are available for B axle or is Ford stronger for say 350bhp+

Anthony

I believe the front was designed by John Hoyle/ John Hawkridge rather than MGOC (suppliers), do you know whether refinements for US market have been discussed with them?

Paul
Paul

I am in the final steps of completing the front coil over kit for the B. E-mail if anyone would like a picture of the kit. So far the price is under $1000 the kit is computer design/tested and there is no flex or weak points on the front end kit, it has special bolts that were fabricated (machine) just for this kit. Right now I have two kits, one is a prototype that it will be install soon on my B for testing purposes and the other for display. We will be offering a kit with 100% adjustability, special order only.

E-mail for pictures. Thanks, Bill G.
Bill Guzman

Just a quick update for those who were interested in my lowering dilemna.
Yesterday I fitted the Special Tuning front springs that I use to lower the front end of my RB MGBs. These springs lower the front of an RB car just over an inch. I fitted aluminum spacers that were a half inch thick under the Ron Hopkinson Bilstein shock tower (which is the maximum possible to avoid interference with the body. This worked nicely! The car looks great now and handles really nice. The Bilsteins have enough travel for road use.
Martyn Harvey

Greg,using the kingpins along with the Hawk coilover set-up is not a terrible comprimise.I still was able to adapt 12" rotors with Willwood 4-piston calipers that stop very nicely indeed.The new project car I am onto now will have the same front end but with Wilwood hubs(running 5 bolt lug pattern) and Bear calipers.The Bears seem more at home on the street than the Willwoods.The lower priced Dynalights that everyone tries to run on the street due to cost flexes too much for me to accept as an improvement.
As for a ball joint suspension,I don't think it would feel all that much better,really.And yes,I have driven a car with an RV8 front end quite a bit and didn't think it was a quantum leap ahead of what I am currently running.As for designing and buildind a custom balljoint-coilover front suspension,let's just say that I know what would go into an effort such as that and I just don't have that kind of free time to invest in that.Creating a hybred suspension and getting it right without CAD or such is easier said than done.
Dave Deerson

Martyn
Like you I have lowered my hopkinson front setup. A word of warning. If you go too low the top trunion will hit the telescopic shock on full compression. One way to check is assemble front end without springs then jack up wishbone fully and check clearance.

Cheers

Mark
Mark Rawlins

Thanks Mark. I appreciate this information and will do a check.
What springs did you use to lower your car?
Do you know if there was a different kit for rubber and chrome bumper cars?
Martyn Harvey

This thread was discussed between 24/08/2002 and 11/09/2002

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