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Author Topic: HPE VX suspension advice  (Read 862 times)
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monte/hpe
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« on: March 28, 2021, 12:07:41 PM »

I have read through the past forum posts and can't find a definite answer.

I recently purchased an HPE VX which has new original spec suspension fitted. I don't have previous experience of these cars and therefore am looking for some advice.

Can I say at the outset I am quite fussy about ride and handling in a car and frequently have upgraded suspension in the past cars for great control in particular at the rear. eg Barchetta/306GTI/Rover Vitesse.

My feeling is the secondary ride is not well controlled in particular at the back. It tends to 'bounce' a bit too much for my liking. Everything is properly set up and tight. as the springs absorb the shock  and the dampers control the bounce, my inclination is possibly the springs are too soft in particular driving one or two up without load. That typically will be how the car is used. The front end feels fine although could do with a bit more control. If that was the only issue I wouldn't bother with any changes.

On the forums and part supplies i see upgraded spax dampers and shorter stiffer springs. I do not want to compromise the ride by making it too stiff but would wish to see if I could control the 'bounce'. I appreciate the HPE VX had different suspension to the standard HPE and am confident that the correct new suspension is fitted to my car.

It is a 1984 car and i appreciate the compromises that existed back then. I have 4 older cars than that plus more 80/90/2000 era cars.

Hence my request is:  What do other HPE/VX owners experience and what advice do they have for suspension changes or upgrades?

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WestonE
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« Reply #1 on: March 28, 2021, 04:47:54 PM »

Hi this does sound like worn dampers to me. This is fair enough given the age of our cars. In some case these Beta's are on their OE dampers.

Coupe's and Spiders tend to motor boat under hard acceleration and loose traction. In spiders this is because of a lack of rear spring pre-load and very strong front springs. From memory I am fairly sure VXs had uprated front springs, but I am not sure if the rears were also uprated. 

Years ago I shortened the rear strut rods on my beta Spider and used gas inserts and lowered springs all round. It was a great handling car.

Now I have multi- setting custom Gazmatic Gold coil overs. I doubt Gaz kept the designs, but no harm in asking them.

If you can get them I think I would fit the Spax Top adjustable dampers. Expect to need the weld on insert collars sold by Beta Boys to convert the sealed struts on your car.

I hope this is on some help.

Eric     
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monte/hpe
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« Reply #2 on: March 28, 2021, 07:09:50 PM »

Thanks Eric

The dampers are brand new as is almost the whole rebuilt car. I would agree that is what it feels like were it not for that. It is possible they could be a bad pair although new as they may be new OE. I would need to check that.

Otherwise wasn't sure what a new car felt like in its day? It just may be the way they were. I will dig out some old road tests from 1980's and see what they said.
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rossocorsa
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« Reply #3 on: March 28, 2021, 08:51:08 PM »

I don't have much experience on HPE but I can tell you that the OE Beta dampers in general are quite firm and well controlled, I'd say that there is something wrong. Taking another angle on it though I'd be tempted to get the suspension checked over and especially get a proper 4 wheel alignment done. I am presuming it won't have budget tyres on?
« Last Edit: March 28, 2021, 09:02:47 PM by rossocorsa » Logged
monte/hpe
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« Reply #4 on: March 29, 2021, 01:46:14 PM »

The tracking etc does appear fine.

I was reading a Road Test in Motor from 12th November 1983. It says:

'Another criticism voiced by our testers was that the suspension settings allowed too much body motion at speed over certain surfaces. In other respects though, the ride is generally above average for this class-slightly firm and jiggly at low speeds and with a tendency to jolt over severe disturbances but fairy comfortable and absorbent overall.'

Back then, Motor was quite a critical magazine. I am trying to find other contemporary tests to compare.

If this is a problem with 'jolting' is the issue too soft damping or springs that need more control?

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betaveloce
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« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2021, 02:25:52 PM »

I too replaced all four dampers on my HPE (I.E., not VX) a few months ago; after replacing the front ones, the car handled worse than with the old leaky ones, and as a result did not pass its MOT... I then had the car tested and it appeared that one of the brand new front shocks did not work at all. So yes, it is possible for new items to fail  Cheesy

Off course I was told that this had never happened before  Grin, but they sent me a new pair without hassle; I replaced them again (not really my favorite thing to do  Undecided) and all is well since  Wink

The dampers are brand new as is almost the whole rebuilt car. I would agree that is what it feels like were it not for that. It is possible they could be a bad pair although new as they may be new OE. I would need to check that.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2021, 02:27:36 PM by betaveloce » Logged

Beta Coupé 1.8 '74
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rossocorsa
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« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2021, 03:10:02 PM »

The tracking etc does appear fine.

I was reading a Road Test in Motor from 12th November 1983. It says:

'Another criticism voiced by our testers was that the suspension settings allowed too much body motion at speed over certain surfaces. In other respects though, the ride is generally above average for this class-slightly firm and jiggly at low speeds and with a tendency to jolt over severe disturbances but fairy comfortable and absorbent overall.'

Back then, Motor was quite a critical magazine. I am trying to find other contemporary tests to compare.

If this is a problem with 'jolting' is the issue too soft damping or springs that need more control?



Regarding tracking they are very sensitive and often set up wrong, I wouldn't rely on the intuition that it's right it's well worth checking but needs to be done by someone reliable and after all the suspension components have been checked.
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rossocorsa
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« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2021, 03:24:33 PM »



If this is a problem with 'jolting' is the issue too soft damping or springs that need more control?



Not in relation to Lancias but I think jolting is often a result of incompatible compression and rebound on the dampers.
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monte/hpe
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« Reply #8 on: March 29, 2021, 04:54:36 PM »

Hi

I agree. It is the way it feels. We had a look at the springs and dampers with the car up on ramps and they appear to be perfect.
 
Your comments and reading the early road tests is what was making me think that this may be the way the car was.

Back in the 80/90's i generally thought that Peugeot made the cars with the best ride handling balance of all manufacturers. The 306 was sublime. I had a 305 GTI but I thought it was too bouncy at the back at very high speed so put bilstiens on it. The cars of that era, 505; 405gti and Mi16/ 205 etc were lovely.

Some other cars from that era made by other manufacturers had compromises that i didn't like. I simply didn't drive any Lancia's at that time other than my Fuvia 1.3 so don't have a memory that I can go back to. Hopefully a few on here did own or drive them back then and may recall what they were like new?
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WestonE
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« Reply #9 on: March 29, 2021, 06:14:36 PM »

I focused on dampers straight away because once spring rates and pre-load are correct they make a huge difference to ride and control. The Beta suspension system is remarkably well designed and the rear setup was extensively copied by other manufacturers like Ford for the Focus and Mondeo.

I have 14 clicks of bump and re-bound adjustment on my Monte and also now on my Beta Spider. Ride concerns like bouncing or harshness in the travel are dampers not coping. I can go from wallow/bounce to nearly rigid with the same springs in place with my Ledas and Gazmatic units.

Try to get the Spax top adjustable inserts if you can.

Eric     
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monte/hpe
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« Reply #10 on: March 30, 2021, 01:36:59 PM »

I have seen the other thread running here about SPAX dampers. Are ht elate HPE VX an insert into a unit or a separate unit ? If  asseverate unit do we need to pull part the strut unit to put in the insert and are modifications necessary?
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peteracs
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« Reply #11 on: March 30, 2021, 08:11:09 PM »

My understanding is that only the early cars had replaceable inserts, the others are sealed and hence have to be modified to take replacement ones.

Peter
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andybeta
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« Reply #12 on: April 27, 2021, 02:21:28 AM »

I have seen the other thread running here about SPAX dampers. Are ht elate HPE VX an insert into a unit or a separate unit ? If  asseverate unit do we need to pull part the strut unit to put in the insert and are modifications necessary?

Is your HPE all ORIGINAL i.e. the springs or suspension dampers have not been replaced? If they have been replaced with OE 'spec' dampers there are likely to be Sachs which are total rubbish and waste of cash. IIRC the genuine original spec ones were Waiassauto units which were pretty good but I think they were unobtainable as a replacement part which is when or some how when Sachs started supplying replacements. As I say they were rubbish. I fitted a set to my HPE VX back in the day and within 80 miles the front struts had started leaking and the wallowing and sloppy damping was truly awful compared to the OE Waiassauto units. I think Monroe offered inserts at some point but you would need to get your HPE's struts converted to take an insert strut by chopping the tops off and threading the inside lip to take a retaining cap to hold the insert in place. In the end I fitted Koni adjustable shock absorbers to mine which were period OE units that I found in Germany, but this must have been about 15 years ago. The HPE rear struts are longer than the coupe ones. I think they are also different to the saloon ones as well although there must be even fewer saloons around than HPEs now which must mean virtually none. The only other solution is to take the route Eric has buy a set of fully adjustable coil overs such as Gaz. I think Leda stopped trading some time ago, but I might be wrong. I am sure you could fit another brand of coil over or adapt your suspension units to take a top adjustable insert. I am sure Koni's sport division based at Silverstone would be able to help out. They were very helpful when I approached them but this was quite a few years ago.

There are possible solutions it's just how much time and money it will cost. But if your car has Sachs shock absorbers fitted then this is what is causing the poor damping and handling you are experiencing when driving it.

HTH.
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monte/hpe
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« Reply #13 on: April 30, 2021, 06:19:49 PM »

The car has been totally rebuilt using as I understand it new old stock OE parts. I picked up the car today as I hadn't been driving it for a couple of weeks and was using the Monte and other cars. The secondary ride is frankly awful. There is little proper control and it bounces when any undulation or bump comes under the tyres. I know it is original springs as they were very difficult to get. However the springs support the car and absorb the shock and the dampers control the damping. My view is therefore the dampers although new are pretty useless. The primary ride is fine it is the secondary ride that is the problem.

It is interesting about what you say about the Sachs units. I would need to check what is fitted to the car. The problem with new old stock can be that it is simply old! The tyres are new; suspension bolts all appear properly torqued; so there is something wrong.

I will look at the coil over route although I see sales of inserts which would mean some work.

Input here appreciated.

Regards

Paul
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Nigel
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« Reply #14 on: April 30, 2021, 10:02:11 PM »

Hi Paul,
I also have an 84 HPE and mine has rather soft rear dampers, the fronts being relatively ok right now.

My car sits level and unless a spring is cracked or broken I believe it usually functions almost as it should,
despite being old. The struts are surprisingly free of leaks as well. But, I've only driven it some 100 miles
last October.

I'm fairly confident that new shocks all round will improve the handling, not
that I've noticed anything really off.

It's my intent to obtain conversion collars and inserts, make unknown at this stage.

Hope this helps.



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1984 2.0 Carb HPE [ex Aus] Silver..turning to Grey Finanza.
2007 Mazda 6 2.3 [current daily, highly recommended]
The past:
1980 2.0 HPE White in South Africa [hope it survives!]
1976 1.6 Coupe Lancia Blu [PFG 76R] [probably deceased]
oh,and an Uno Turbo 1997 also in SA [stolen,never recovered]
rossocorsa
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« Reply #15 on: May 01, 2021, 04:24:20 PM »

I do think that unless you did the work yourself it is difficult to know if parts are really 'ricambi originale' or not. The original dampers were wayssauto. These do still turn up but very rarely, the springs may well be original just powder coated as they survive pretty well, unlike modern car springs, or could be old stock but I can't remember when in last saw any originals for sale especially VX specific (although I don't think there's much difference). I think your best bet is to carefully visually check everything and you may wish to consider some slightly lower springs, Mark should be able to supply some that will suit your requirements. I know I'm repeating myself but honestly I would get the 4 wheel tracking checked as well as they are very sensitive to this.
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monte/hpe
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« Reply #16 on: May 01, 2021, 06:05:16 PM »

Thanks guys. Today I took two non slim male passengers for a wee drive. The car was more composed although both noted the ride wasn't as good as the Coupe they arrived in.

I will check all these things and also do a suspension bounce test as I think the local garage has one of these testers.

A new set of sport springs have been made by someone and I was thinking of a set, but still believe the problem is dampers.

Once I get the car on some ramps we will go through everything. the rudiments of logic: Exclude the possibilities and you are left with the answer!
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