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Hi guys. My car has landed in Australia and been on the hoist for a couple of months. One of the prior owners obviously found some rust in the floor, soldered some tin plate in and then covered it up with 5mm of tar underbody sealer so it looked good enough to sell!

So for the last two months I've been fabricating a drivers front floor, new sill, front LH inner wheel arch and numerous other bits. My abilities to weld sheet metal with a MIG welder and an oxy torch have improved out of sight!

Anyway she hit terra firma yesterday and it was a nice sight to see her back on her own four paws again after so long in the air.

My next step was to adjust the suspension height and setup the shockers properley as this hasnt ever been done and it drives terribly, pitching fore and aft like a wallowing fishing boat.

The car has ALDEN Eagle alloy shockers fitted with both rebound and compression control. Compression via a 6 way knob on the bottom and rebound via a 12 way knob on top.

These were purchased in 2004 via a group buy arranged by Niles Swenson of the Jersey Panteras, so I'm presuming that other members here may have similar shocks and can assist with setup.

First step was to try and establish a base position to start from. There is no marking on the shocker body to align the numbers on the knobs, so I can only presume that straight UP is the adjustment position. Ie: turn the bottom knob till 6 is at the top of the knob and hopefully this gives you position number 6 on the compression.

With the car on a four post hoist and me bouncing the rear bumper from under the car, I think I can feel a difference in compression between number's 1 and 6, but it's not very much!!

Then I tried fiddling with the rebound. There is actually 11 positions and 11 is supposed to be the strongest rebound. Frankly, I can't seem to get much of a change between 1 and 11! When I bounce the rear of the car, it takes 1.5 / 2 bounces to stabilize once I let go. Generally I would try to get the car so if I let go when pushing DOWN and let the car come UP under it's own volition, it should not continue to bounce at all and should stabilize immediately.

The original springs fitted were Alden with rates: Front 350lb / Rear 550lb

In 2007 these were changed to Front 400lb / Rear 650lb Alden springs in an attempt to get the car more level with finer adjustment.

It has always been my experience that the heavier springs go in the front, but in the Pantera case, this may not be so.

Here's the low down. Are my spring rates correct or are they arse around? Are the Alden shockers up to the task and if others have used them with joy, please pass on your settings and let me know if the numbers are at the top of the knob to get things right.

Rob Hayden - Melbourne, Australia.
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The 400/650 F/R is quite a common setup as sold by Hall for many years (do you have 2.5" dia. springs or the large 4"?). IMO for street driving its too stiff and the 350/550 is more appropriate. More importantly it is somewhat worrying that you can get visible 'bounce' with those spring ratings, the car should be so stiff you can hardly move it, indicating an issue with dampeners not the springs.

Maybe it wasn't the springs originally but the shocks as Aldens are good shocks when functional but notorious for leaking as they are basically hot rod shocks. Maybe remove the springs and see what sort of resitance you have in the dampener. Alden offer a rebuild service for them if you send the shock bodies to them.

I bought a set of used Aldens from a Pantera vendor. His opinion of them was poor, but the price was right. He recommended Koni adjustables, but they were about $1800 back then. He sold me the Aldens for $400, so I couldn't resist.

One of them was bad. Alden rebuilt it for about $100. The turn around was pretty quick and I was very satisfied with their service. I wouldn't hesitate to use them again when the time comes.

My experience with the adjustments was similar to yours. I couldn't tell the difference in the settings. I probably have the 400/650 springs because this baby is STIFF! I get no bounce whatsoever, so this indicates to me that at least two of your shocks are bad. Even with one bad shock, my car didn't bounce at all.

What color are your springs painted? I think mine are a black pair and an orange pair. Maybe someone in the know can confirm which springs I have.

Good luck, Mooso.
Thanks Larry and Julian. At least that part is confirmed. The springs are 4" diameter. The car is on a four post hoist and jiggling the hoist with the hydraulic lever to let it down, I can induce a lot of rear bounce in the car but hardly any in the front. You may be right about the spring issue but all I have are notations from the previous owner that he changed the springs as he wasnt happy with the way the car sat.

Mooso, all of my springs are black but the rear ones have small painted colour codes, Blue, White and Yellow painted on the base wire of the springs. The front springs have no identifiers visible.

So it appears that I have a dilema.

Do I remove the four Aldens, ship them from Melbourne to California. Pay $100 each for rebuilds, then ship them back to Melbourne and refit them.

This could easily be a $1000 exercise and after the time and expenditure, I'm still concerned that I may not get something suitable, as although I'm not too familiar with some of the USA brands, my research indicates that these are not known as high performance, top end shockers, but more so known to be a highly polished nice looking shocker for a hot rod or show car.

Are they more show than go, or do you guys believe that given the requirements, Alden could rebuild these into a decent shocker for a performance sports car?
FWIW the 4" ID springs were sold by Hall I believe to be like the originals and have a habit of unseating over bumps if you have them on a low ride height. Color coding b/w/y is listed as 650# at Standard Aldans have 2.5" dia. springs.

I'm not sure I understand what the previous owner was trying to acheive, the spring rate won't affect the stance too much at rest and the shocks are ride height adjustable. Unless he ran out of adjustment and went for shorter springs.

I shipped one shock back to Aldan for rebuild once and they never charged me anything, so firstly I'd recommend giving them a call and explaining your situation. They may be willing to help rather than see a competitors set of shocks go on your car. You would only need to ship the bodies, not springs.

Now when you ask what everyone is running IMO you have to consider everything working as a package in unison. Firstly I know not whether your GT5 is a later factory car or an earlier car with upgrade GT5 kit?

The wide body fatory cars came with and benefit from heavier duty swaybars (stock GT5 would be 7/8") and I run 1" (solid, none of that hollow crap that Hall sells...they break) with the sphere balls at the ends of the sway bar. For shocks I have QA1's on both Pantera's and I'm very happy with them, you can get a set of single adjustables with springs via Summit Racing for around $850 (double adjustable adds another $500). On the GT5 the spring rates I use are 450# FR and 550# RR and on the GRP4 build for mostly track I have actually started a bit lighter with 400/500.

I'm guessing there must be a variety of aftermarket shocks available in Australia too? You could take uncompressed and compressed lengths etc. to a local supplier and see what they have.

Good luck,
Uh, its still a bare shell at present... but I have a great parts collection. In fact I've been doing it so long now I actually started replacing parts... LOL

I got sidelined rebuilding the 302 in the GT40 after I bent the valves. That's been 18 months, hoping to fire her up next weekend...


PS: I Like the new avatar
Julian, it's a 1974 L model USA spec car with a GT5 bodykit. Used to be owned by Bob Rittweger in Georgia who fitted most of the gear onto the car. It runs a 7/8" swaybar from MAP that was fitted in May 2004. Also runs Codington billet 17's in 13" rear and 11" fronts with Pilot Sport tyres.

The front wheels were supplied wrong and I have had to fit a 30mm spacer to set them wider as they were touching the inner guards on turns. Just the wrong offset I think, but now they fill the flares nicely.

The only light I can shed on the springs is from a footnote wrritten into a spreadsheet that Bob kept on the car.

"Updated Spring rates in 2007 to get car more level with less adjustment"

Your guess is as good as mine on this one!
Originally posted by OzGT5:
What do the rest of you blokes run on your cars?

Spring rates and shockers?

I dont know what rate the springs have (is it ptinted on them maybe?), but I belive they are Halls, as most other addons on the car is that, with red Konis. My car is so stiff, I cant make it bounce at all since when pushing on the fender, it feels as if I will bend the fender before the spring compresses at all.
This completely pre-setup for a bolt in install worked well for me and some of my Pantera buddies .

The challenge with GT5 reproductions is that they are not all created the same. All it takes is a flare out of position a little and then factory GT5 suspension parts don’t fit. So if you bought a new set of coil overs pre set for a GT5 they might not work. I’ve never be able to get my Pantera to bounce even with the stock Konis.

Hi Will,

Can you give me some more info on this please. I have no paperwork that supports mods to the front control arms, and this is the first I've heard of this mod.


Hi Mike, I reckon that the car is probably standard '74 L underneath and has no GT5 bits apart from the body kit and the extra wide wheels. Would some pictures of the underbody components be beneficial?
New development.

On Saturday morning (Friday CA time) I wrote to ALden with a precis of my drama. The email just bounced back as undeliverable. Here's the address I sent to which came from their contact page on the website:

Would anyone here have an updated email address for the company. The extreme time difference is making it difficult to contact them by phone.
Adding extra caster on ALL Panteras with wider than stock tires is an excellent suggestion. The max you can get stock is about -2.6 degrees, and for good high speed stability you'll need about -4.5, which you can get without modifying the upper a-arms. The trick? Using offset a-arm bushings to shift the whole a-arm back, which changes the front spindle inclination. Offset bushings in the upper a-arm can increase caster to about -4, and milling one edge of the iron ball-joint carrier about 0.060" will further increase it to about -4.8. Adding offset bushings (oriented the opposite way) on the lower a-arms, the max is now close to -6 degrees, all without welding.
Note that in turns, you're actually LIFTING the entire front of the car a little, so steering does get noticably heavier, but is not excessive. By adding the offset bushings, then repositioning some of the shims, you can trim the caster to better steering stability without making steering effort too heavy for you. Offset a-arm bushings are only available in polyurethane here in the U.S, which increases steering precision. All the U.S vendors sell them, and road noise does NOT increase with polyurethane, as was once claimed.
I had my upper front a arms modified by Pat Micals.Worth every cent.My late model Gt5 steering is effortless.I was able to get 4 degrees castor .I am running a 1 inch sway bar both front and back,sphere ball ends,Koni adjustables and 18inch tyres fronts 285/35/18.The thing handles like never before and the ride is very comftable.My advice is to do the a arm mod as it really sorts things out on the wide body car.Pat Micals sure knows his stuff it was a pleasure dealing with him it was that good i even went for his headers with a 3 inch collector.What a differance that made.The engine just breathes so much freely.Clearance issues are not relevant as it clears eveything without an issue.All this was done without any dramas even though Pat is half way aroung the world.Give PAT MICALS a ring he sure knows his panteras.

I dunno what the money situation is, but if it were my Pantera I'd sell the Aldens with springs, buy a set of steel body Koni gas shocks with optional spring adjusters, and the right springs (for how you plan to drive the car) as a package from one of our Pantera vendors. Install them and be happy.

There are fancier shocks out there, alloy bodied, external adjustment knobs, remote reservoirs, you name it; but the steel body Konis will ride as well as any of them and last a long time. The only time I would consider buying a better shock is if I was setting the car up for racing and I expected to be dialing the chassis in constantly, then I'd want the external adjusters and some provision for cooling the oil in the shock (remote reservoir, etc). In that case I'd probably spring for the Ohlins shocks.

Feedback on the Aldens leads me to believe they are a hot-rodder's shock, designed to look like an expensive shock but priced inexpensively, all for show & not for go.
Thanks George,

Koni's here will set me back 3k I expect which is a lot for a car that I haven't even driven yet so I don't know if it's a good example or a bad example. I wouldn't mind getting it going, on the road in a reasonable trim and setup level, then if I find that I really enjoy the car, then I'm likely to spend a few bucks on improvements.

Otherwise I'm likely to get it all sorted, find I don't enjoy it as much as other cars that I own and I'll have spent a zillion dollars for someone else and won't get the return for it.

Cars.............always a quandry.
Alden swapped my rear springs out about a year and a half ago at no charge. The previous owner of my car put 450/650 combo spring rates on my car and after talking to Dennis Quella, who suggested I go with a lighter rear spring, I called Alden and they were great and swapped the 650's out for 550's. I spoke to the owner who was great.

When I talked to Dennis Quella and Steve Wilkinson they're shock prices were very reasonable and no where near the $$$ you've mentioned. I kept my notes and Quella quoted me $1,150 for steel and $1,550 for Aluminum (a year or two ago). I personally didn't think that steel vs aluminum was worth the price difference at least for me. Now those prices were for a narrow body car so with the wider tires and wheels they may be selling you a larger shock body to control the larger mass. Also they may have been a shock with fewer adjustment positions? Maybe the prices you are talking about include some sort of import tax to get them into Australia?

Also I would definitely recommend (as others have) doing the modification for increasing the front end will think you are driving a different car.
Bilsteins will be $2300 and Koni's just over $3k. Yep, we get ripped on import duties down here.

I just spoke with Alden and they are more than happy to sort me out. They also agree that the rear shocks sound like they are doing nothing.

Looks like I'll have to rip them off and send them over. They quote a 3 day turnaround so shouldn't be too bad.

Yes, the mods to the front upper arms look very interesting. Seems there are two ways to go about it. Either a modified upper arm with an alloy block to alter the king pin inclination or an offset bush. I don't understand the bush situation though as this would affect camber and from my understanding we need to promote more castor to effectively lengthen the wheelbase slightly so the car tracks better in a straight line at high speeds.
Changing the caster forces the steering to stay on center...its almost like spring loading the steering so that even if you have your hands off the steering wheel it automatically centers the steering(my crude explanation). I'm sure the engineers on the list have a much better explanation. The nice part is as you rotate the steering wheel off center, it becomes progressively harder and that input helps you steer the car and gives you feedback.

Johnny did my A arms as per the pic posted.

He regularly participates in this forum. You can send a post to him by going to the forum heading select GO them MEMBERS. Find Johnny on page 10 +/-.

He also does the rear A arms. I haven't gotten there yet.

If you know someone going to the UK for a week, have them carry the A arms and them post them to Johnny from the airport post office.
Johny Woods posted an album previously on doing the a-arm modification (link below). Not to takle anything away from Johnny as he is a true perfectionist but if you have some basic welding skills and access to a 20 ton press it is actualy pretty easy.... I did mine myself.

Failing that I'm pretty sure a local machine shop could do it for you for probably the cost of shipping the a-arms from Aus to the UK.

This is Pat Mical's rear, which personally I think looks a bit of a high school shop job.

IMO it is much better just to get a set of the later GT5 style rear a-arms which replace the ball joint with a heim for camber adjustment. You really don't need the caster adjustment on the rear and if you did you can gain a degree or so with offset bushings.



Images (1)
  • P_Havlik_Modified_Rear_A_arm
Rob, you say you dialed in 7 degrees caster on your Lexus...that's a lot. I assume that you have power steering? My Mclaren ran 4.5 to 5 degrees and I thought that was a lot...but then again there was 11"+ of contact patch on the ground and the tires were gumballs...when they got hot it took a fair amount of strength to muscle the wheel.

Julian how much caster does your race car run?
Julian, it's actually a Toyota Soarer UZZ32, which is the full hydraulic suspension version of the USA Spec Lexus SC400.

No springs, shockers or sway bars, just a hydraulic ram with nitrogen accumulator at each corner, a series of G sensors and an electronic valve body to push the fluid around.

Impossible to body roll, cannot dive under brakes and cannot sqat under drive loads. Also 4 wheel steer, and naturally, power assistance.

220 000 Soarer / Lexus SC series coupes made for the World market, and only 873 of them are UZZ32 hydraulic cars. Very rare.

I have 6 of them, two with supercharged engines.

Stock is +3 caster but we push it up for track use. Car runs 285's up front and 315's on the rear, so it's pretty well shod.
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