I finally installed my Bilsteins on my car this weekend and have my initial report. First, the installation was straightforward. I haven't replaced shocks on a Challenger since I was in high school in about 1978, but fortunately, my memory came back and remembered the little techniques to make the job go smoothly. The main one was using a 10 inch cresent wrench to open up the lower control arm mount just enough to gain enough clearance to tap that lower front shock mount home. The trick on the rear shocks is that the upper bolt needs to be hand installed from the bottom of the car, sitting facing the brakes with the head in the wheel well. Tightening happens with the 3/4 box holding the self locking nut through the trunk to hold while tightening the bolt from the bottom.
The rears, fortunately have clearance in the upper mount that no problems occurred when slipping the upper mount in.
All this was done in my driveway while my wife was out on errands. (LOL)
First, it's nice to hold in my hands some quality shocks and say good bye to the old monroe-matic garbage. I noticed the Monroes had some pressure in them but nothing compared to the effort required to collapse the Bilsteins.
Initial driving impressions. Getting quality shocks makes my Challenger more composed and mature.
The ride quality improvement is definitely noticeable, especially on the highway at speed. I can go 80 to 90 easily without the shuddering from all the imperfections in the road. Down here in the Bay Area we've got a lot of highway reconstruction going on so the pavement is a mess. Before with the old shocks, you'd need some spinal traction to stop your back from feeling every crack in the highway.
The Bilsteins smooth things out, I wouldn't necessarily say it was a surprise, because the reputation of the Bilsteins preceded my ordering them, but definitely, they meet my expectations in terms of ride. Very nice.
The second test was stopping. Low speed and highway speed hard braking. This is an area there is also very noticeable and welcomed improvement.
The big difference is the apparent departure of what my 9 year old son calls "Cartoon Stops." That's when I'm hard braking and the rear end is unweighting the back tires so they start screeching, unable to grab the road. It's the epitome of a stereotypical big block muscle car trying to stop.
Well, that has changed after adding the Bilsteins. The car has a more mature attitude, more composure when stopping, as the shocks help keep the big e-body's weight balanced the right amount to keep the tires planted on the road. Even the tires are some old BF Goodrich T/A's,I'm getting some solid performance now out of them (eventually I want to get some better tires after I burn these out).
I used to auto cross a mainly-track-driven 1966 GT-350, so it's nice to get some of this awesome handling in my street driven 1970 Challenger 440 R/T. THanks to Firm Feel, I've got a Mopar that is more fun and more drivable.
I haven't taken enough turns to get solid impressions on how the car handles but I'll send a note after I get some data together.
|To All At Firm Feel,
You should be proud of the products you make available to us who depend upon your expertise and knowledge. I have replaced my entire front suspension as well as my shock package exclusively with Firm Feel Products. I can say with confidence and certainty that I am driving a "New" Car! The difference is night and day!.
I had a bunch of parts that were availaible to purchase from the late 1990's through 2006 which caused a harsh ride and caused the car to wander. The steering was vague and the steering wheel would bounce at 60 mph. I felt very unsure of the car at higher speeds. It was brought to my attention that with all the work that was done to the body and engine, that I need to do something to fix the il-handiling of this car. Otherwise this would be hazardous and could cost me more than just the money paid to get this work done - like my life and the lives of my family. I began the research and found only one company that had all the parts necessary to fix everything that ailed this car. Firm Feel! My car is not considered desireable by those who write the magazines or those that take cars to auction but it is "my" car. A car that I purchased new back in 1974! A car that has given me countless memories of trips all across this great countryside from California, to Florida, to New York and even into Canada and thousands of points in between. I have been and will always be it's original owner until the day I die! Therefore I could not trust my car to another conglomeration of parts from several different vendors yet again.
After speaking to Dick of Firm Feel, I found what I was looking for - someone to TRUST! Their parts are made in house - and maid to fit the car it was designed for. No more using a generic fitting part because that was all that was available.
I am glad I had made the call to Firm Feel! Believe me, I have called many vendors in search of parts to keep this car of mine road worthy. I have been told by many that - "It will fit" only to find out that "it will fit" only if a complete redesign was done costing thousands of dollars. With Firm Feel, they delivered on their promise and only once did I have a part that was not correct. Upon finding this out, they made sure I had the correct part sent out and in my hands to complete the installation at no extra cost to me. I am sending a picture of my one-owner car and am proud to tell people at all the shows I go to that I was able to purchase all front suspension parts and shocks from Firm Feel! The number one front suspension parts supplier for any MOPAR from 1966 - 1974!
Original Owner - 1974 Dodge Charger SE
Just thought I would update you on the parts and my Challenger. I don't think the installation could have gone smoother, everything fits perfectly and looks great. The car has never handled so well, and the stance is very much improved. Really great products, and service.
Thanks so much!
I'm the one you brought back from the dead (bent lower control arm). The alignment 3.8 pos caster 1.3 neg camber very little tow with room to spare.
Today was the first drive and it exceeded my dreams. I has your steering gear and upper control arms. QA1 adj shocks 18" wheels 235-40-18 555 nitos.
Even though my ride was short it seems to handle like its a 21st century car not 1971 challenger convt.
I'll look for you sat at fall fling if your there.
Thanks again, ED
Got the steering box fitted yesterday and just wanted to tell you how happy I am with it. At least one hundred times better than that piece of sh1t uni-steer rack!! Very impressed!!
I am e-mailing u guys cause i wanted to tell you how impressed i am with your steering box.
It's amazing! infact it totally kicks ass!
Rick Ehrenberg, Tech Editor of Mopar Action Magazine, installed the Aluminum Frame Isolators on his A-38 (cop package) 1978 Monaco.
"Amazing! Since this setup ties the frame 'prongs' (longitudinals) together, instead of allowing them to virtually flap in the breeze, the entire car feels - and IS - much more rigid. Now the K-member can do what it was originally designed to do - cross-brace the entire front end of the car. Not only is handling markedly better, road feel and wander incredibly improved, even squeaks and rattles are way down. Now it feels like a well set-up A-body sedan on steroids. Highly recommended. And, if you can believe this, this setup works even better on F, J, and M-bodies. If you've got one of those creatures, be it an Aspen R/T, Mirada CMX, or Dippy cop car, etc., don't even think about tackling the twisties without one of Dick's setups."
I have sent a couple of photos of my 69 Charger R/T. As you can see, I spent a lot of time and money to make it look good; but I never could get it to drive like I really wanted until today when I installed your tubular upper control arms and the Pittman Arm Stabilizer Bearing.
I had already installed , front and rear sway bars, new Mopar rear springs, 17" wheels, new lower ball joints, idler arm and tie rod ends and frame connectors, but it still followed cracks in the road and was hard to maintain an easy track in curves. The Control arms have given me almost 5 degrees of caster while maintaining proper camber and the Pittman Bearing package has really impressed both me and my front end guys.
Your parts are about the best "bang for the buck" I have spent in making my Charger all the car I ever wanted it to be. Thanks for your great work.
Herbert "Pete" Morgan
Just wanted to say thanks for all your help on getting the power steering gearbox together for me on my dream car. I have around 2 and a half years into it now. I got the gearbox in on Wednesday and in the car Friday evening. It worked like a champ!! FIRM FEEL is true to its name!! NO LEAKS and the steering feels very firm and smooth!! I love it!!! Next thing to do on my bee is attaching my headers to the exhaust system and then... front fenders and bumper and then interior and ect... ect... ect... LOL!!
Enjoy the pics... I am very proud of my 69 Bee!! It has been a lot of hard work but all worth it!! Thanks again for everything! You guys are great!! Keep up the good work in what you do!!!
|To Firm Feel Inc.,
Hello Dick, this is Jonathan Freeman in Gainesville, GA. I just finished up installing the 1.06 torsion bars that I got from you last year. I combined it with the Stage 2 steering box. Drove car today and could tell an immediate difference for the better.
You were right about the size. I don't think the 1.06 are too big at all. I was a little concerned about it being rough but absolutely no problems.
Anyway, I hope at some point in the future to get the biggest front sway bar and rear bar that you recommend for my street driven Superbird clone. Just wanted to let you know that I am please with the results!
Godspeed and Happy Holidays,
| Just wanted to share the exploits of one 1965 Dodge Coronet. The car is doing great.
There is no one other company out there that I have dealt with that has the heart and soul of yours nor the concern for its customers. Thanks again for the QUICK TURN AROUND on the power steering box.
Jim Sanders, Lynnwood, WA
I'd give an A+ to FirmFeel for the job they did on this box; it rocks!!!
I drive a Toyota Avalon (1997) with rack-and-pinion steering for my daily driver, and this Firm-Feel box gives the Avalon a tough way to go, because it actually has more road feel. The Avalon may have a tad less on-center play, but the difference is minimal. Really minimal. Amazing performance for a worm-and-roller sector. I do have new tires and a recently rebuilt front-end, but hey... without those things, how could we evaluate the box, right?
I would recommend this FirmFeel deal to anyone, and I bought the cheapest one they sell... no frills.
It changed the car dramatically, for the good!
|To Firm Feel Inc.,
I purchased a stage 1 last month and it was perfect. I messed up the high pressure fitting I had and you found me a replacement and sent it to me in Charlotte. Thanks for that! It was exactly what I needed and the car is on the road and running great.
It was a pleasure doing business with you guys. I will continue to promote your product on our First Generation Charger Source Guide website.
I know you don't have "feedback" like E-bay, but I wanted to thank you for such an excellent product. I finally had a chance to install the pivot bushings and was VERY pleased with the quality and ease of installation. It's nice to know where to find front-end parts for my old Dodge wagon; it almost has 500,000 miles and still looks, runs, and rides as good as new.
Just a quick note to tell you and your team how pleased I am with this box, I am glad I took you advise about the selection of firmness. I just drove the car 2300 miles to the Chrysler 300 Letter car fall meet and what a pleasure to drive on the open road. Over the summer my friend and I drove it to Moparfest in Canada and he was so impressed he is planning on having you do his box as well. Thanks again my next project will be my 70 300 Hurst.
Here is my '67 Plymouth Satellite, 383 4-barrel, 727 Torqueflite tranny with 3:55 gears in a posi-grip rear. I started using your components first with the Stage 3 power steering unit. I followed that with the front sway bar kit for cars that did not leave the factory with one installed. You then fixed me up with a complete front end rebuild kit. I have just installed the tubular upper controls and the car drives like a dream. Even after the speedometer passes the century mark the car handles great and is very comfortable at high speeds. (Please don't tell the SC Highway Patrol)
Here are a few photos. One is from the 2006 Hot Rod Power Tour. Another is Jon Clark from Mopar Performance giving his seal of approval and the last one is taken from a '71 'Cuda at speed in the second turn of Darlington Speedway. Yes, your stuff works great on the high banks of NASCAR's most historic track!
Thanks for all of your technical advice and help over the years! Keep up the good work!! You guys understand Mopar suspensions, most of the others are just guessing.