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Joe Elwell
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This has been a very informative thread about ride height. I've attached a side pic of my GTV6, which the PO slammed super low in front I think in preparation for a track day at Laguna. He also put in a 4pt Autopower roll cage. Here are my impressions of this setup, which I will be changing....

1. There are several speedbumps near my house (not the abrupt type, but the really gradual ones) that I cannot drive over without scraping the exhaust
2. The caster that results from this setup causes the steering, already on the heavy side, to become seriously heavy. Ok, it's GT type car, not a Miata, but it's really tough to throw this thing around at any speed.
3. I get a good amount of tire run on the inner fenders on both sides at full lock, or even near it.

So even if you really like the way this looks, I'd suggest thinking twice before doing it...
Wheel Tire Vehicle Car Land vehicle
 

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2015 Chevy (Holden) SS, 1989 Milano (Shankle Sport), 1991 164S
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The rake is too much in my mind. Not good, even for handling, IMO.

As for the really heavy steering, you can likely lighten that somewhat by reducing the amount of caster. I had to do that with an Alfetta sedan which had far too heavy steering. Owner's wife couldn't park the car. Made all the different, made the car much easier to drive. Still handled well. Great car, now for sale south of Boston in very good no rust condition.

I do like the color. Had a 78 Alfetta GT with a similar color, maybe a little lighter. Forgot the paint code but was as delivered new. Never seen one the same since, and don't know what happened to that car.
 

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Joe Elwell
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250 Posts
The rake is too much in my mind. Not good, even for handling, IMO.

As for the really heavy steering, you can likely lighten that somewhat by reducing the amount of caster. I had to do that with an Alfetta sedan which had far too heavy steering. Owner's wife couldn't park the car. Made all the different, made the car much easier to drive. Still handled well. Great car, now for sale south of Boston in very good no rust condition.

I do like the color. Had a 78 Alfetta GT with a similar color, maybe a little lighter. Forgot the paint code but was as delivered new. Never seen one the same since, and don't know what happened to that car.
Hey Del -

Agreed - not the best for looks OR handling, I don't think.

But for the caster, when I first got the car I took it to an Alfa mechanic who said that it wasn't really possible to reduce the caster without raising the ride height. I didn't want to bother with all that - so I'm planning on doing it myself after I put in a new engine I'm building.

And, sadly, I get lots of positive comments on the color, but personally, I'm not that crazy about it. Metallic Chestnut. is what it's called, I think. But I bought this one because it was super well maintained, and more importantly, it lived its whole life in CA so is free of rust.

Joe
 

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This has been a very informative thread about ride height. I've attached a side pic of my GTV6, which the PO slammed super low in front I think in preparation for a track day at Laguna. He also put in a 4pt Autopower roll cage. Here are my impressions of this setup, which I will be changing....

1. There are several speedbumps near my house (not the abrupt type, but the really gradual ones) that I cannot drive over without scraping the exhaust
2. The caster that results from this setup causes the steering, already on the heavy side, to become seriously heavy. Ok, it's GT type car, not a Miata, but it's really tough to throw this thing around at any speed.
3. I get a good amount of tire run on the inner fenders on both sides at full lock, or even near it.

So even if you really like the way this looks, I'd suggest thinking twice before doing it... View attachment 1702465
Yup, if you corner weighted that car it would be heavily bias toward the front. Ride height would be good for a track car if the front end was set up correctly and the car corner weighted which would require the rear to be lowered. Its a moot point because its a road car and to low to the ground.

Never had a problem with heavy steering on an alfetta except for parking I guess. I don't understand this idea that you need power steering. People fit the power steering to their race car. I have driven GTV6 on slicks and have no problem with the weight of the steering. Except for my fat beer gut I am a skinny weakling LOL. The power steering in the milano/75 is a quality unit but I wouldn't consider fitting one to any of my alfetta.
 

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2015 Chevy (Holden) SS, 1989 Milano (Shankle Sport), 1991 164S
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"said that it wasn't really possible to reduce the caster without raising the ride height:

contrary to other Alfettas and other similar Alfas, we have owned and driven, this particular Alfetta for some reason had extreme caster. don't know why, but reducing that caster just made all the difference int he world. Put many thousands of miles on that car.

We didn't find that change to be significant at all. Takes little change in caster to make the change in steering effort, and we didn't notice any change in height. I would try it, as it is super easy to do. If you don't like it, just readjust the caster arms.

Lol, liking colors is such a subjective thing. I've seen some cars which the owner just loved the color after being repainted, and I quietly thought it looked like puke.
 

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Joe Elwell
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"said that it wasn't really possible to reduce the caster without raising the ride height:

contrary to other Alfettas and other similar Alfas, we have owned and driven, this particular Alfetta for some reason had extreme caster. don't know why, but reducing that caster just made all the difference int he world. Put many thousands of miles on that car.

We didn't find that change to be significant at all. Takes little change in caster to make the change in steering effort, and we didn't notice any change in height. I would try it, as it is super easy to do. If you don't like it, just readjust the caster arms.

Lol, liking colors is such a subjective thing. I've seen some cars which the owner just loved the color after being repainted, and I quietly thought it looked like puke.
Del - thanks for that. You've motivated me to go ahead and see if I can't reduce the caster without changing ride height. I honestly can't recall what the Alfa guy said was the reason it couldn't be done - but it had to do with how VERY low the ride height is...

If that doesn't reduce steering effort enough, I've got the parts from a Milano to install power steering, which I'd do when the engine is out. I drove a Milano way back in the day (after owning a GTV6 a few years before) and I loved the steering.
 

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Joe you can use the distance between the shock and upper control arm as a caster measurement. Match both sides. You will however lose some turn in response. Off to work, good day all.
 

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Joe Elwell
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Yup, if you corner weighted that car it would be heavily bias toward the front. Ride height would be good for a track car if the front end was set up correctly and the car corner weighted which would require the rear to be lowered. Its a moot point because its a road car and to low to the ground.

Never had a problem with heavy steering on an alfetta except for parking I guess. I don't understand this idea that you need power steering. People fit the power steering to their race car. I have driven GTV6 on slicks and have no problem with the weight of the steering. Except for my fat beer gut I am a skinny weakling LOL. The power steering in the milano/75 is a quality unit but I wouldn't consider fitting one to any of my alfetta.
The car really doesn't handle all that well, in my opinion. It rolls in an odd way, compared to what I'm used to, which perhaps is due to the low roll center in front, and high one in back? Perhaps made worse by the car's current setup. Even with (because of?) the current low ride height, it understeers more than I'd like as well, and is hard to get to rotate mid-corner.

I'm an old dude, and am probably more in need of power assist than most, given that I was never a super-strong guy to start with. The hydraulic systems I've experienced - e.g. my E26 M3 race car, give lots of feel, and let this 199 lb weakling toss the car around like a Miata. That's what I'm after...
 

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2015 Chevy (Holden) SS, 1989 Milano (Shankle Sport), 1991 164S
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If I were you I'd sure think about returning the car to original suspension so that you can better enjoy what Alfa designed in.

When I adjusted the caster on our Alfetta, I just turned the rod a flat at a time each side til I had what I liked after test driving after each adjustment. That way they remained the same on each side, provided of course that they were the same to start with.

Have to say, don't know what all the PO did to achieve this mess, but if needed, I'm sure there are used parts available to restore the suspension without too much trouble.
 

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Typical aesthetic tastes in "modified" cars these days is usually detrimental to handling when applied to classic Alfas (which we must include the Alfetta and GTV6 in the group). You pretty much have to choose one or the other unless you're willing to invest time and $$$ into testing and developing a modified suspension.
 

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Again, separating myth from fact is difficult. I spent ages researching this and finally decided lowering the front would be an aesthetic improvement, but detrimental to handling and tire wear, as the original setup is how it was designed and built. You can drastically modify the front with drop spindles or other hardware to maintain geometry, but that would require fabrication. Not gonna say you can't or even shouldn't lower the front, but everything I discovered led me to decide to leave it be.
 

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Except for the Alfettas, the Alfas we've owned always only had just a slight rake to them as delivered new or unmolested by the PO. While some like to increase that, or add modified suspension, we always found that for normal everyday driving, or even as garage queens, we found no need to change things.

Except, have to admit, we do have a Shankle 3/4 street suspension (wild hair at the time, lol) on the 89 Milano, and that's the only one we messed with. Have always retained the original parts, and there has always been the option to return it back to stock as new. At least Shankle did some proper work to make the changes work. Only drawback is of course the reduction in ground clearance and slightly stiffer ride. Handling is great, such as we use it. Exhaust downpipes do have a couple of minor dents in them.

Otherwise, we've always left the suspensions alone for our DD usage. Best solution for long term enjoyment I think.
 

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1984 GTV6, 1973 Berlina, 1987 Milano
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Discussion Starter · #35 ·
Del - thanks for that. You've motivated me to go ahead and see if I can't reduce the caster without changing ride height. I honestly can't recall what the Alfa guy said was the reason it couldn't be done - but it had to do with how VERY low the ride height is...

If that doesn't reduce steering effort enough, I've got the parts from a Milano to install power steering, which I'd do when the engine is out. I drove a Milano way back in the day (after owning a GTV6 a few years before) and I loved the steering.
You can easily, well relatively easily, adjust the ride height by adjusting the torsion bars. That's part of what this is all about.

And the car won't handle right being that low, it screws up all the natural wonderful Alfa geometry. The closer to stock the better they feel in my opinion. At the correct ride height they add camber as the suspension compresses. At your level that's all messed up.

By all means try to adjust the caster to reduce it, but also look into adjusting the ride height back up. So far the best data I have seen says the factory spec is 44mm +/- 5mm using the factory procedure. More on that later.

Also look into different wheels. Pushing the wheel centerline out too far messes with the scrub radius and affects steering feel as well.
 
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Joe Elwell
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You can easily, well relatively easily, adjust the ride height by adjusting the torsion bars. That's part of what this is all about.

And the car won't handle right being that low, it screws up all the natural wonderful Alfa geometry. The closer to stock the better they feel in my opinion. At the correct ride height they add camber as the suspension compresses. At your level that's all messed up.

By all means try to adjust the caster to reduce it, but also look into adjusting the ride height back up. So far the best data I have seen says the factory spec is 44mm +/- 5mm using the factory procedure. More on that later.

Also look into different wheels. Pushing the wheel centerline out too far messes with the scrub radius and affects steering feel as well.
Thanks for all the encouragement.

@Del @horsewidower I will be returning the car to stock alignment specs and will be sticking with normal size tires, and not super aggressive ones either. While I'll be adding power with the engine rebuild, I think the car, configured that way, should be a ball on back roads. The perfect B-road cruiser and somewhat tossable too.

@archeologist I will be putting original Campy's back on it, so the wheel offset will be stock also. I was putting off tackling the torsion bars until the engine install, but as I think of it, it might not be all that difficult - since they've been removed/replaced in the past few years, getting them out shouldn't be as tough as I've heard it can be.
 

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@Joe149 If you find that you have too much negative camber after lowering the front and it cannot be adjusted out, tell the alignment shop to adjust the front toe slightly in vs Alfa's original spec of toe-out. I think they did this to improve turn-in, but toe-out will destroy the inner edges of your front tires faster than ~1 degree of negative camber.

I know that some on this board have gone as far as grinding the A-arm pedestals to restore the original camber specs, but I've always been a fan of a bit of negative camber to improve the turn-in and front end grip of my fun cars.
 

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Joe Elwell
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@Joe149 If you find that you have too much negative camber after lowering the front and it cannot be adjusted out, tell the alignment shop to adjust the front toe slightly in vs Alfa's original spec of toe-out. I think they did this to improve turn-in, but toe-out will destroy the inner edges of your front tires faster than ~1 degree of negative camber.

I know that some on this board have gone as far as grinding the A-arm pedestals to restore the original camber specs, but I've always been a fan of a bit of negative camber to improve the turn-in and front end grip of my fun cars.
Hey @cda951 - it's not the camber I'd like to reduce - it's the caster. To be sure, lowered this way, the camber is significant, to say the least. Here's a head-on pic to show that (although note that the wheels are straight ahead, so being turned a bit right makes the camber look even worse. But still, it's extreme I think).

Any more detail on how to remove caster without changing ride height would be appreciated. Until I take the time to raise the ride height, it would be nice to reduce the steering effort just by reducing caster
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Yup. Just adjust the caster rods until the steering is what you want, and then see if the height increased. You can always adjust the torsion bars to get the height you want back up toward original. Unless of course the PO did something else to lower the front that much.

I also recommend using ~zero toe up front , esp with that neg camber. The 164S had the same problem with lots of neg camber and toe out settings, destroying tires in a hurry. Alfa ended up recommending ~zero toe. Much better tire life.

Lol, still like the color, different. Both my wife and I have gotten pretty tired of the plain old standard Alfa colors we see in the States, ie, red, black, silver, maybe white. In Europe, we saw many other nice colors, including the Giulietta we rented in Italy.
 

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Adjusting the caster isn't going to do anything to the ride height. All the caster adjustment is doing is moving the top control arm forward or back. To reduce the caster you want to move the arm forward, shorten the caster rods.
Have a look at the gap between the front of the shock to the top control arm, if the car has a lot of caster the shock will be close to the control arm at this point, like a few mm. Shorten the caster rod to reduce this gap, try 5 mm, then more if needed.

Zero toe works, if you do a lot of highway driving a little toe in helps make the car feel like its tracking nicely at speed. If the ride heights are even and the corner weight are pretty good you can get away with running quite a lot of neg camber on an alfetta without tire wear.
 
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