Project 240SX Land Speed Racer: SPL Pro Suspension Bits and More!
By Chuck Johnson
Photos by Joe Lu
Since the beginning, the plan for project 240LSR was to address the chassis and safety requirements first, and then afterwards, take care of corralling enough ponies under the hood to make it scary fast. You know, the kind of “fast” where one might very well see Jesus, Buddha, or maybe even Elvis and Tupac. Somehow in my twisted head, I viewed this plan as the most efficient way to get from point A to point B, with “point B” defined as an actual pass down the dirt, salt, or whatever. So the first milestone in this project is to get this heap of metal to the point where it’s a caged out roller with the complete suspension and brake bits to suit. With the cage complete and our trick stainless steel bodied KW competition suspension in place, we’re on track to meet our first milestone. We just need to finagle together a few, small finishing touches… like sway bars, bushings, brakes, a 5 lug conversion, and a smorgasbord of other suspension links. Who am I kidding? We’re like eons away from reaching this milestone! Or are we?
Truth be told, there is a lot involved with making a 23 year old car worthy of record speeds. Encased in each link of our suspension was a very tired factory rubber bushing fatigued and screaming to be put out of its misery. On the 240SX front suspension, the tension rod bushings are usually the worst offenders of the bunch.
The tension rods complete the A-arm shape of the lower, front suspension and are the part responsible for controlling the caster of the front suspension. Although the tension rods on project 240LSR were not the worst ones I’ve seen, they were showing signs of fatigue and needed permanent relocation to the rubbish pile. To address the well worn bushings and also gain caster adjustability, Project 240LSR’s tension rod was replaced with a 6061 aluminum tension rod from SPL Pro Suspension.
The sheer girth of the SPL tension rod is impressive enough to make even Tera Patrick do a double take. In fact, this is the case with all of SPL Pro Suspension’s 240SX suspension links. So why the well-endowed design from SPL? Pound for pound, gains in tubular component stiffness tend to be more efficiently made with an increase in diameter rather than wall thickness. There is a lot of talk about replacing the factory bushings for spherical bearings or higher durometer polyurethane, but what is often overlooked is the stiffness of the link itself. This is what SPL Pro Suspension is addressing with their rather girthy links and they are also a key element in eliminating geometry influencing flex in the suspension.
To address the remaining areas of the aging front suspension, we replaced the lower control arm bushings with polyurethane units from Energy Suspension. Since a thrashed ball joint was taking up residence on the opposite end of each control arm bushing, we also replaced them at the same time with a Moog Heavy Duty ball joint. Out of all of the aftermarket crap out there, we’ve had the best luck with Moog’s ball joints in our road racing ventures.