E51 BC Coilovers

Lize

Member
Premium Member
E51 Owner
#1
Hello All,
My rear springs are somewhat soft and squashy and need replacing. Rather than just install new or uprated springs, I'm thinking of taking the opportunity to install BC coilovers so I can adjust ride height to be lower and hopefully gain some drivability with reduced roll in corners.

I have an E51 X spec with camper side conversion, whilst its light weight ply etc and total weight of the van should be pretty similar the distribution is now on the drivers side. Initially she sat level but with the deteriorating springs is now sitting lower on the outside which can be felt whilst driving.

I expect some comfort loss but I don't want the ride to be so firm it rattles my teeth. Currently on 16" wheels but I plan to go up to 18" ones which will also make a difference to ride.

Initially I was thinking of increasing rear spring rate from 10kg to 12kg but now I'm wondering whether to up the fronts by 2kg too. Also I've read a few threads about difficulties in getting them set up which is rather off putting.

Also my rear bushes aren't too clever which I'm sure is making a huge difference too, I've got some new D link ones for the roll bar but would like to also do the hundreds of others at the same time, I can't seem to find part numbers for them all and wondered if anyone can point me in the direction of where to source them from.

I'd welcome all thoughts and any tips and advice please.
Thanks!
 

Andy916

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Premium Member
#2
@Lize I went for airbag rear spring assistors plus 18" wheels to improve the handling of my camper, beyond its original abilities on standard 17" wheels. Others use 25% uprated rear springs successfully to handle the extra weight of the camper. The airbags give you the independent adjustment of each side although, in practice, I'm finding it difficult to get the ride-heights spot-on (only 1cm off, thereabouts, which I can't feel on driving).

Whilst coilovers will give more adjustment, the market is dominated by v.firm units aimed at improving sports car performance. My experience previous to Elgrands was with various of these, all of which did some track work, all had coilovers, one of them BC. On the basis of that I'd want to have a ride in a BC-equipped Elgrand before considering them. The problem with the sales advice on these things is frame of reference - one person's "not that firm really" is "rattle yer teeth out" for another!

Very interested to hear how others have got on with BCs (and the spring rates specified), especially if it's possible to catch a ride at a meetup sometime this year!
 

Spencer Barratt

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Premium Member
E51 Owner
#3
A lot of the bushes are sold by Brian at BMR: http://bmr-automotive.vpweb.co.uk/E51-Parts.html

Would replace all of the bushes and see how much it improves before laying out for coilovers, you may be surprised at the difference it makes! Highly recommend the Powerflex for the front and then standard new ones for the rest. Remember the ARB bushes for body roll.

Extra pressure in my tyres also made a big difference in handling, 43PSi on my 17" rims.
 

Lize

Member
Premium Member
E51 Owner
#4
Originally I got the Elgrand to convert to camper and have a 4 seat car, I love it so much its become an obsession! Trying to work out an overall masterplan of modifications with suspension absolute top of the list owing to the dodgy springs.

I considered assistors as well as uprated springs and frankly either option would be perfectly fine. However, now I've been doing internet browsing and too much thinking, I fancy the adjustability of the coilovers...

I know exactly what you mean about the point of reference. As you say a ride in a BC one would be really useful or for me even one with really big wheels. I've only experience of different vehicles and not having modified a car have no real idea how much difference various changes actually make.

As a slight aside I think extra bracing might help handling without much impact to ride, but as with it all I just don't know by how much. If you ask someone who's just spent loads of hard earned cash on a shiny strut brace then I don't feel they are likely to say its pants and you'd never know its fitted and if its not an Elgrand then it wouldn't be a true comparison anyway.

You get used to a certain comfort of ride, when I swap between vehicles they initially seem very different but I soon get used to a much harder ride in the car within 100 yards or so. I'm tending towards sacrificing comfort for better handling as I'll soon forget the original ride and especially if I do it in stages, i.e. suspension and wheels separately.
 

MrRob_in

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E51 Owner
#5
I’d spend the money on new bushes and airbags first as they are so much cheaper than coilovers. As I’m so happy with my ride after fitting airlift bags. The thing that puts me off coilovers is that the bump stop rubber is removed and it results in massive shock loads when rear bottoms out. Airbags are much more progressive in effect beefing up the oe bump stop and leaving ride over little bumps unaffected.
 

Andy916

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
#6
Another thing is tyre quality and SUV rating of the tyre. Once I'd added rear weight in the form of camper conversion and LPG tank the handling went from soft to being a real handful. At first I assumed the increase in rear spring rate (35psi in air bags) would be the main thing, but @MrRob_in was absolutely right in judging tyres to be even more important. I went from budget 17s to Rainsport 3 18s and the ride is transformed without noticeably losing comfort. Both driver and passenger appreciate the tidy turn-in in place of wallow. At similar price Rob has good experience of General Grabber GT tyres, and at 20% more the Mich Latitude Tour (all season) I believe.
 

MrRob_in

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#7
Another thing is tyre quality and SUV rating of the tyre. Once I'd added rear weight in the form of camper conversion and LPG tank the handling went from soft to being a real handful. At first I assumed the increase in rear spring rate (35psi in air bags) would be the main thing, but @MrRob_in was absolutely right in judging tyres to be even more important. I went from budget 17s to Rainsport 3 18s and the ride is transformed without noticeably losing comfort. Both driver and passenger appreciate the tidy turn-in in place of wallow. At similar price Rob has good experience of General Grabber GT tyres, and at 20% more the Mich Latitude Tour (all season) I believe.
Yep. 18” wheels and 235/50r18 suv spec tyres are the simplest and best upgrade any e51 owner should do straight after de-coring the rear cats imo. Then airbags and then perhaps LPG if your mileage is high enough to justify the cost/ risk.
 
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Mr G

MR G
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E51 Owner
#8
I have BC coilovers and a would not recommend them for your application. The rear at Max height sits low, nowhere near standard height. I have the 9/12kg rather than the 7/10kg the ride is great but firm, other things start to rattle. I have the shocks set to 25/30 firmness as the softer setting made me feel a little sick. One other option would be to have a spacer custom made for the rear spring perhaps and inch or two to allow better adjustment of height at the rear. The fronts are great and the height adjustment is spot on I could go alot higher or lower.
 
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Lize

Member
Premium Member
E51 Owner
#9
Thanks for the replies. Bit disappointing that you don't think they are suitable. I had wanted the bus to sit lower too but now left wondering if it'll be too low at max height.

Think I may install 25% uprated springs for the time being and have another think, I'll probably go this route rather than putting on new springs and airbags incase I do decide on coilsovers in the summer.
 

Mr G

MR G
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E51 Owner
#10
Yeah I just think on a camper it will be a little harsh and I would want a quiet smooth ride if I traveling around camping. The ride height is also the issue especially with the extra wieght. Screenshot_20170909-171406_1.jpg
This is with the rear at full height. I could probably gain a few mm winding the collar down a bit more but the thread wouldn't have full contact with the spring mount.
 

Lize

Member
Premium Member
E51 Owner
#11
That is low at the arch, are they 19" and presume overall wheel size isn't dramatically bigger?
Just also wondering whats it like with people in the back, does it hit the bump stops?
Really nice looking :)
 

Mr G

MR G
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E51 Owner
#12
These are 18" I've had a few full loads and never had a problem even when hitting those horrible lumps at 70ish on the motorway, although the rear most passengers have shot skyward. The rubber bump stop/spring perch is replaced with coilovers with an adjustable metal perch so I would definitely feel it if I every hit it.
orca-image-1501869170575.jpg_1501869171183.jpeg
The front tyre has scrubbed a little on the arch liner when hitting those up and down lumps at speed but my wheels do have a little poke to them and if standard wheels were on wouldn't be an issue.
In that picture you can see where a custom spacer could be used to add height to the setup, placed between the new black perch and the round mount on the chassis