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    EIBACH COMPETITION: THE RESULT #Porsche-911-997 / #Porsche-911

    The Perfect Fit. The winner of our recent #Eibach competition enjoyed his car’s fitting day at #Porsche specialist Center Gravity… Story: Sonia Patmore /// Photography: Matt Woods

    Back in March we ran a fantastic competition that gave you the chance to win the entire Eibach range for your Porsche, plus full fitting at Porsche specialist Center Gravity in Warwickshire. The lucky winner was Chris Angus from Cambridgeshire who drives a #2006 #Porsche-911-997.1-C4S with #PASM – a completely factory standard car. After getting over the initial shock of winning with Chris claiming he “just didn’t expect to win” it was full steam ahead planning which Eibach goodies would be heading his way.

    After in depth conversations with both Eibach and Center Gravity, Chris happily decided on his winning prize. The 997 is Chris’ daily driver, from shopping, to taking the children camping, to road trips in Europe, so Chris was adamant he wanted the car to remain ‘drivable’ with a decent ride quality that wouldn’t upset the family. The final decision was for the Eibach Pro-Kit, Anti-roll Bar Kit and Pro-spacers. After discussions with Chris at Center Gravity it was also decided to change the dampers as they were still original, and at 90,000 miles were edging towards the 100,000- mile limit recommended by Porsche. So a set of Bilstein B6 dampers were acquired to work in perfect harmony with Chris’ Eibach Pro-Kit.

    Fast-forward to June and we found ourselves in Atherstone, Warwickshire at the premises of Center Gravity. Run by husband and wife team, Chris and Jane Franklin, and with daughter Holly helping run the office, and her husband Peter as Chris’ right hand man, what this small dynamic family run business doesn’t know about Porsche cars seriously isn’t worth knowing.

    With Chris off on holiday to Paris, he’d dropped his pride and joy off at Center Gravity for the week on the previous Thursday. This enabled Chris and Peter to perform a thorough health check before working on the car on the arranged fitting day. These standard health checks included a test-drive to check for any knocking noises and to see if there are any signs of oversteer or understeer. The tyres were studied, too. The tyre pressure were taken to make sure they were correct when measuring the ride height of the vehicle, and their condition was taken into account as Chris can gain a lot of information from this that sometimes the customer hasn’t been able to tell him; for example, he can see if the car has had track use or whether it’s running too much negative camber. The ride heights were then measured and compared to Porsche guidelines. In this instance this original 2006 vehicle with 90,000 miles on the clock was still well within Porsche’s guidelines.

    The day started with photographer Matt taking the obligatory ‘before’ shots quickly before the #Porsche-997 disappeared into the garage for its overhaul. First up was another standard test for Center Gravity: a health check of the damper units which were then compared to the manufacturer’s notes. Chris is collating a history of Porsche damper health at a variety of mileages so he can use these figures for future reference. The car was driven on to the damper diagnostic machine, which comprises oscillating test plates where the four corners were individually tested (first the front and then the rear), so that the resonance frequency and amplitude of excitation could be measured. The recordings were taken in both ‘normal’ and ‘sport’ mode, and video was taken and kept archived for future reference.

    This absolute commitment and attention to detail is a prime example of how Chris has built his business and reputation within the industry, and was consistent throughout the day’s procedure in both Chris and Peter’s workmanship. Once complete the 997 found itself on the ramp. Ballast was placed into the front luggage compartment to replicate the weight of a full tank of petrol. The pair continued with their thoroughness and aforementioned health checks – the tyre pressures were rechecked and the underside of the car was checked for any potential issues such as perished bushes or oil leaks. In this case a problem with the steering rack was spotted. Next the geometry was measured, as Chris’ theory is this setup is the one the customer feels happiest with, as this is what they are used to. This was then used as a reference point to reset the geometry once the new product was on the car. The 997 was slightly toe-out but this, Chris explained, can just come with age. All was corrected at the end of the process when a full geometry setup was completed.

    A point to highlight when working on an older car like this with a reasonable mileage and its original parts is that when embarking on a big upgrade such as replacing the suspension, you need to be aware that other parts may need replacing as work starts on the car. Bushes can perish, bolts can seize and bump stops can break. This is why it is always recommended to use a reputable garage to do any major work as such issues can be dealt with straightaway. Chris set to work on the rear whilst Peter tackled the front, and all four wheels were soon off. Careful attention was given to the removal of the rear sections of the car’s interior and sound deadening to enable access to the top of the rear suspension units. Then it was back under the car and straight off with the rear antiroll bar. To reach the rear suspension units all the camber adjustment had to come off. On one side there was a slight hold up as one of the eccentric bolts had completely seized, but with tenacity and a whole range of tools the bolt came free. Chris explained how, over time, the bolt had stretched from being tightened which caused it to seize.

    With the old units off Chris performed a quick health inspection, and it was apparent this was done just in time! The old dampers were starting to leak, there was damage to the mono tube, and the springs had worn through the coating with damage to the pigtail coil. Cue the roll out the shiny new #Eibach-Pro-Kit and #Bilstein-B6 dampers. The Eibach products, and Bilstein ones for that matter, are what can be termed as ‘bolt-on’, which means they are a straight swap for the OE part. Eibach springs are progressively wound, which means the ride quality that Chris was so concerned about losing will not be compromised. The spring effectively has two parts, one which creates the comfort ride when driving round town, for example, the other which comes into effect when you push the car and have fun on the corners! Eibach uses a PU tubing on coils where there will be any contact. This is to reduce wear on the spring and any potential noise issue. Again everything was done to the Center Gravity standard, with sealing wax added to avoid water traps and every main bolt marked to prove it has been tightened.

    Once both sides were completed the interior and sound deadening was all carefully refitted, and the new Eibach rear anti-roll bar was put in place. The kit is three-way adjustable on both the front and rear bar, the middle adjustment was chosen as owner Chris was looking primarily for comfort. Along with being adjustable, these bars are also formed from hollow cold drawn silicone chrome vanadium steel. Porsche’s own standard anti-roll bars are made from tubular steel and when designing the aftermarket kit for this chassis, Eibach saw no reason to change this. This means that along with being super-light they also offer a significant weight saving in the order of 45% when compared to similar aftermarket offerings.

    In the meantime Peter was busy at the front of the car. Once the wheels and brake discs were off – using the Center Gravity ‘top secret calliper protector’, the whole suspension unit plus the wheel carrier had to come off as a complete unit to be taken apart on the workbench, as there just was not the room to work within the space available on the 997. Again, like the rears, the front dampers had perished – confirmation it was the right idea to upgrade in one go.

    Before the new suspension units could be fitted in situ, it was necessary to change the front anti-roll bar (ARB). To get to the bar Peter had the task of first removing the coolant pipes so he could drop the subframe enough to get the OE bar out. As previously mentioned the #Eibach-ARB is a straight swap product, and literally bolted back into place where the OE part fitted. All the bushes were replaced with Super-Pro polyurethane bushes (which are included in the Eibach Anti-Roll Bar kit). These offer increased durability and add to the improved handling of the vehicle.

    As highlighted earlier, when working on older cars you can often uncover a few nasty surprises, such as Peter discovered here. On removing the damper unit Peter saw that the boot covering the ball joint on the coffin arm had split and was letting in water thus causing excessive wear and corrosion. So two new arms had to be quickly ordered to not slow up the fitting process. Owner Chris was notified so he didn’t come back from Paris to any unexpected surprises. Meanwhile Peter was able to assemble the new spring and damper combination. An aluminium slip was used regularly throughout for lubrication and to counterbalance any effect between putting two different metals together.

    Once the new coffin arms arrived the reassembly started and Peter was quick to put everything back in place. He worked quickly and efficiently, carefully marking each point – a foolproof way to ensure all bolts were tightened and parts put back in the correct way.

    The final additions were the Eibach Prospacers which are made from aero-grade aluminium. These precision machined spacers were the perfect finishing touch for this refreshed 997. At just 7mm thick they have a very subtle spacing but just that tiny amount is enough to enhance the 997’s looks by filling the arches and improving the stance. It was imperative that extended bolts were used with the wheel spacers and, luckily for Chris, they came included as part of his prize. With the wheels back on it was time to torque.

    To truly understand the results of the fitting Chris took the 997 out for a test-drive to check for any knocking and to get the general feel of the car. He can pinpoint any irregular noises, knowing within seconds what needs to be tightened or adjusted.

    At this point the geometry had been set back to the same as with which it arrived, so once Chris was happy with the ride quality of the car it was brought back in for the final part of the day: the geometry setup. This is an area that is often overlooked yet this is what can make the difference between an average car and one that will blow you away. As a company, Eibach advises that a vehicle is professionally realigned once any changes have been made to the chassis, as only then will you gain the full benefit of its products.

    As befits their reputation, again Peter and Chris took their time with the setup. Chris had spent a lot of time talking with owner Chris so he understood exactly what requirements he was after. The whole ethos behind Center Gravity is to find the perfect handling solution for your vehicle through a personalised geometry setup.

    The end result? One very happy competition winner: “At first I really didn’t think you could improve on the feel and the handling of the suspension of the 997 but how wrong I was!” Chris said. “The final result is a brand-new car feel with tighter cornering and steering control.”

    “I didn’t think you could improve on the feel and the handling of the suspension of the 997 but how wrong I was!”
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    Sonia Patmore

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