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Discussion Starter #1
Off hand does anyone know of a (general) suspension specialist in SoCal?

Here's where I am...I really like my '75 Alfetta GT, but I absolutely hate the way it literally bangs over slight irregularities - let alone really large ones. It sounds as if the car is coming apart. I did have a front clip put on years ago, which might be part of it. That said, I've recently completely rebuilt both the front and rear suspensions, including replacing all bearings. I have low mileage shocks on it from a Milano - which are supposed to be pretty cushy. The steering rack is from a low mileage '79 Alfetta GT. I have the original stock torsion bars.

What I'm looking for is someone who knows suspensions from top to bottom and can make them work like the owner wants them to.

I loved the ride when I had a low mileage '85 GTV6 some years ago - that's what I want. Yes, I'm considering getting a GTV6 and switching it over to being an Alfetta GT with a Twin Spark. But I then began to think of all I'd have to replace and most likely rebuild numerous other items to get it where I want it - when what I'm looking for is a smooth (though not cushy) suspension which takes irregularities and bumps in stride. Of course the V6 adds to this more solid feel.

Possibly my suspension pick-up points need beefing up, not sure. Would installing a GTV6 suspension help, but keeping my Alfetta torsion bars? I have toyed with moving to a 15 inch wheel/tire - though love my 5-stars. I prefer keeping the unsprung weight down, but if adding in some gets the ride down to merely firm, but smooth, I'm game.

I'm very open to suggestions and/or shops or individuals who would work with me on this.

Biba
 

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I have considerable suspension experience but am no expert with your model and am just a DIY garage type anyway. You may want to post this request in the suspension thread though.
 

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You may want to PM Alfajay and 105guy, introduce yourself and ask their opinions. They are both in So Cal and are very knowledgeable about these cars and who can do what out here.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Gene, thanks. As much as I dislike cliches, what I need is someone who will think outside the box. I had a friend who had a vintage formula junior car he raced in VARA events. He wasn't happy with his suspension and found a shop which normally only worked on off road vehicles - speaking of outside the box. A fellow got his car up on a ift, analyzed it, did some fairly major modifications, and believe even fabricated some custom suspension parts for it. My friend took it out and his lap times, along with his increased confidence in the car decreased his lap times considerably.

Okay, a completely different situation for my Alfetta, but that is the type of person I need to help make the front end of my Alfetta GT feel considerably less like riding on a buckboard.

I'm not saying this would solve the problem, or even help, and it is of course way overkill for my street car, but the enclosed photo is obviously one modification to help steady the front of this 116 car.

Biba
 

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How many miles do the supposedly low mileage Milano shocks have? I would think the shocks are probably worn out. The stock shocks really don't last forever like some would like to believe.
 

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"what I'm looking for is a smooth (though not cushy) suspension which takes irregularities and bumps in stride"

That sounds like how the suspension should be if stock... if the stock torsion bars are in has the front been lowered — that would spell instant crappy right there.

Also, did you replace the front end bushings with original rubber type or poly? I had poly bushings on my castor arms and hated them...

GV
 

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The amount of suspension "banging" you experience is also a function of the brand of the tires you use, and also the pressure you normally have them at. I've always found that it can make a big difference.

Some tires are designed/constructed with stiff sidewalls (those tending to have squared off treads) and some not (those with more rounded treads). I've also played with the tire pressures on my 91S (I use Goodyear 16 inch GS-D3's) and was surprised at the differences in ride on bumpy pavements.

BTW, I noticed no abnormal suspension "banging" with the two Alfetta GTV's I owned and drove, but then, as mentioned above, I have always tended to buy more rounded tread tires, and keep them at somewhere around 28-30 psi.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I was told that the Milano shock absorbers had been pulled off the car early on and put on the shelf. They looked close to new (and hadn't been repainted) - and I installed them on both the front and back. The Alfetta has been lowered to European specs - as they were designed to be - they were only raised to meet US headlamp height requirements. I used all rubber bushings and the 'good' lower ball joint. I keep the tires inflated to 30 psi.195/65-14. Yokohamas are fairly old. What tires do you use?

I do have a Shankle rear sway bar with poly bushings on the body mounts. Bang is always in the front. If anyone has an Alfetta GT and wants to stop by (210/605 just off 605 on Arrow), I'll be happy to give them/you a demonstration.

Biba
 

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Maybe you are hitting the front bump stops because of the combination of the lowering and the Milano shocks.

We always lowered the front only of our Alfettas just one spline of the torsion bars, just enough to make the car look correct in the European specs (Yes, I think I remember reading that the US delivery Alfettas were jacked up one spline to get the headlights up to US requirements, IIRC, lol). However, we always used the stock shocks. I've always thought Alfa did a pretty good job picking shocks for their cars, except for the 164's. I thought they were a little too soft, so used Koni's on the LS, and always set the S electroshocks on the "race" setting. Much better.

Never had a problem with either our 2 Alfetta sedans or the 2 GTV's with suspension "crashing".

BTW, I was never happy with Yoko's (at least the Intermediates) on our Alfas. Rode hard, and wore out quickly. In fact, had to send the last set back to Tire Rack, they hydroplaned badly when I tried them on the 164S.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Generally I don't throw anything away unless it is completely shot, but I cannnot find the original shocks for my Alfetta. I switched over to Koni's early on (early 80's), so they'd be in good shape - unless the seals would be dried up.

I believe my front is lowered about an inch and a half. I do have the Euro alignment specs for the Alfetta GT. Actually, after my front clip was installed and the car was up and running I had an alignment shop use those specs and the car really felt/drove great, accident and all.

If all roads were asphalted and kept in good condition, we wouldn't be having this discussion. The Alfetta takes undulations in the road fine, it's just the sharper bumps it simply doesn't handle well.

Some time ago I asked about coil over shocks - but to soften the ride - not to make it feel like there's virtually no suspension at all. Believe I was told that that's not gonna happen.

I toy with the idea of getting the front end aligned, which it could use, along with a new set of tires & balancing, then see how that feels. But if it still bangs, the next step up is to go with an all GTV6 suspension and front brakes (which I'd like very much to have), but the new tires and front end alignment would then be money, along witht the time spent, down the drain - definitely not one of the things I like to do.

I really appreciate all of your comments and suggestions. I had hoped someone (but not a racer) would give me the name of someone who'd reconfigured their suspension and it was now nice and tight and drove great over all types of road surfaces.

Biba
 

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Once again, I will state that we had no problems with "significant crashing" with our 2 Alfetta sedans and 2 Alfetta GT's (when they were lowered in the front by the one spline method), but you must remember that the typical Alfa suspension has NEVER liked speed bumps, etc, something we live with, experienced in our 4 Alfettas, the Milano, the 2 GTV6's, and 2 164's. I don't think GTV6 stuff is going to make that magically go away and give you something akin to a "Buick" ride over bumps in the road. Our 2 GTV6's didn't like bumps in the road either.

Keep in mind that the Milano weighs on average about 400 pounds more than the Alfetta GT. The Milano shocks would be calibrated differently for that difference, and maybe it is possible they are too stiff for the GT, ie, just wrong for the car?

I would get the full alignment and new tires, a different brand. The alignment is never money down the drain, esp if it needs it; however, I'm not sure this will eliminate the inherent characteristics of the typical stiffly sprung Alfa front end. Only changing to soft springs and soft shocks in front will do that, and the rears softer to match (rear springs are always softer than the front in most cars of conventional layout, the chassis roll stiffness being mostly taken in the front), but then you blow away the Alfa handling.

BTW, the only small car I owned that really soaked up those types of bumps with aplomb was an MG 1100 with the hydrolastic suspension. Fantastic, while it lasted, lol.
 

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This may seem simplistic, but I have a friend who had a similar problem and blamed his suspension for the harsh ride.

It later turned out, he had a bad front wheel bearing. A quick check would rule that out very easily.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Unfortunately I've not only just replaced all wheel bearings, I've switched out the Alfetta's much smaller 'stub axles', replaced them with ones from a Milano, then had a pair of Alfetta GT hubs machined to accept the Milano's larger wheel bearings. Not an absolute, but I spun both wheels once mounted (solidly) holding a piece of chalk and the wheels ran true - and as I've mentioned, on smooth surfaces the suspension is smooth as silk.

Del, while it had been on the back of my mind to check them out, your mention of the hydrolastic suspension's great ride led me to checking out air suspensions today. Unfortunately, the aftermarket (aka hot rod) ones are primarily designed to replace coil springs. I'm fine with the rears but it would take a lot of re-engineering to get the 6.5" diameter ones mounted in the front. Lots of manufacturers are now using them on certain models. The good ones are really pricey. I'm actually on a manufacurer's forum to see if something is possible. Highly doubtful.

Desperate times call for...perhaps a hot rod solution.

Biba
 

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I think you are going the wrong way with some of your suspension parts....I think you have gone to heavier components where you should have gone to lighter ones.

The smoother riding cars (think buick, caddy) have a LOT of body weight compared to their wheel/axle weight. When the weight of the body and wheels get closer to each other you tend to get a rougher ride. That's why the old vw bugs always rode like poo.

get lighter suspension parts and wheels and tires...that will help. Get shocks valved for your light weight coupe not the heavier 4 door sedan. As above get tires with a softer sidewall ... "S" or "T" speed rating. The "H" rated (and higher) have significantly stiffer sidewalls.

hth
 

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Not meant as any kind of insult, but I am beginning to think that you are asking something of your specific Alfetta, as it is modified now, something it just can't deliver. The stock units are just not that bad, although, as I have mentioned, after owning and driving many Alfettas, and many other models as well, Alfas in general don't really like sharp bumps that much. You are asking for something that won't be there.
 

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I would suggest having someone who is farmilar with suspension work on these cars drive or ride in yours and see what they think about it. I haven't worked on an alfetta, but when my milano had the stock shocks and torsion bars it wasn't unusual for it to slam into the bumpstops on the freeway. Just a guess would be that your car is lowered too much for the stock shocks and torsion bars and what you are describing is the front suspension bottoming out.

Either way, I think rather than radical modifications, undoing something that has been changed from stock or fixing something that isnt working quite right anymore is going ot be the solution.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I doubt very much if my front bottoms out, but it is a possibility. Since the front of my car is at the height which it was designed for, I don't see why lowering it would be a problem. For now, I'm strongly doing as suggested and searching for new tires - and most likely will go with 185/70-14 to get a wider sidewall. I've started another thread - "Old man..." - specifically about tires.

Biba
 

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I don't know the ride height difference between a milano and an alfetta, but my milano would bottom out easily on the freeway at stock ride height. Not to say its the same problem you are having, but it was enough that going to 27mm torsion bars actually improved the freeway ride noticeably.
 

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The prevailing notion that comes to mind after having read this thread, and previously many of your other threads over the past few years, is that there must be a structural issue with the previously mentioned accident repair/front clip replacement. From some of your writing it seems you suspect this as well:
. . . It sounds as if the car is coming apart. I did have a front clip put on years ago, which might be part of it. . . .
With very little else substantive to go on, this seems most likely due to:
- The frequency and passion by which you have mentioned unacceptable chassis 'crashing, over many posts.
- Not having heard or read of any similar conditions/complaints from others on the BB or elsewhere.
- You having driven a GTV6 and not having observed similar ride behavior.
Different beasts yes but close enough that I would expect this 'banging' type of ride behavior to be inherent to the torsion/de Dion suspension. To this point, many upgrade(?) to GTV6 torsion bars but in a previous writing you thought that this would only exasperate the banging problem.

So with that said, I'll second (3rd? 4th?) the opinion that a drive in another Alfetta, or having someone drive yours would go a long way in determining if this 'banging' is inherent to all Alfettas, or just yours. With regard to possible structural issues, I would think it wouldn't take much, maybe one or two broken welds between abutting panels, to cause a considerable racket. Do you hear anything unusual when bouncing the suspension by hand? Maybe apply some force upward on the front bumper (jack up slightly with ~100lbs) and inspect some of the panel seams under the front of the car for excessive gaps/flex etc..
 

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I was told that the Milano shock absorbers had been pulled off the car early on and put on the shelf. They looked close to new (and hadn't been repainted) - and I installed them on both the front and back. The Alfetta has been lowered to European specs - as they were designed to be - they were only raised to meet US headlamp height requirements. I used all rubber bushings and the 'good' lower ball joint. I keep the tires inflated to 30 psi.195/65-14. Yokohamas are fairly old. What tires do you use?

I do have a Shankle rear sway bar with poly bushings on the body mounts. Bang is always in the front. If anyone has an Alfetta GT and wants to stop by (210/605 just off 605 on Arrow), I'll be happy to give them/you a demonstration.

Biba
I don't know if the part numbers on Milano/GTV6 shocks were any different than Alfetta, but the Milano/GTV6 is heavier in the front than an Alfetta, so in theory the shocks would be stiffer.

I would think your starting point should be a stock Alfetta suspension with stock rubber bushings (ok, lower the front a little bit, but don't go crazy). I would *not* go to 15" wheels, any lower profile tire is going to add to the stiffness. Stick with a 14" wheel and a higher profile sidewall. Finally, I'd dump the Milano shocks and find a set of red Koni's, then run them as soft as they can be set.

My .02,

bs
 
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