This is the new Ground Control coil over kit for Spec E30.

I enjoy upgrades to anything. Some of the most rewarding experiences were the little details that just pulled the whole package together, the icing on the cake. Previously, we discussed a testing process to determine whether we would change the Spec E30 rules, and now I have the opportunity to install the new kit to see how easy it is — or isn’t.

The Ground Control kit has everything you need to install the new coilover setup. For the most part, all you need are some basic tools, but you also will need some specialty tools, like a cut-off wheel and a ball-joint separator. Fortunately, the ball-joint separator can be borrowed or rented from auto parts stores.

To begin the coilover installation, get the car up on four jack stands and remove all four wheels. Compress the front brake caliper a little to allow the caliper and pads to come off the rotor. Unbolt the caliper carrier and zip tie the brake caliper up so it doesn’t hang by the brake hose. Then remove the brake rotor and set it aside. Then remove the bolt from the ABS sensor and set it aside.

The front threaded collar has an inside relief cut for the O-ring fitment.

Front Strut Removal

Remove the nut that holds the front sway bar bracket to the lower control arm. Then remove the 19mm nut for the lower ball joint on the lower control arm. Next remove the 17mm nut for the steering tie rod. Now is when you can use the ball-joint separator. The only problem with this method is that the tool can damage the boots on both parts.

The rear threaded collar also has the inside relief cut for the O-ring fitment.

Once the tie rod is loose, just let it hang out of the way. Now is a good time to inspect the ball joint for wear and excessive play, the tie rod and the flex joint at the steering rack and boot. If any are worn, replace them while you’ve got it apart. The next steps can vary depending on which camber plates you have in the car.

The front H&R spring doesn’t have any tension on the top spring seat, so removing the nut does not require a spring compressor. In this case, the stock rubber spring insulators were installed and it still had no tension.

If you are lucky, you will have access to the top nut on the strut shaft, usually a 19-mm socket. If this is the case, you can reassemble everything without changing your alignment. You can remove the nut and the whole strut assembly will drop out the bottom. Be assured that the H&R springs are not under any compression between the spring seats so there will be no surprises when the nut comes off. Just remember to capture any spacers or washers specific to your camber plates. If you have an upper strut brace, it needs to come out as well.

Discard the Bilstein dust boot because it will not fit inside the new Eibach spring.
Mark the strut tube just above the weld where you want to make the cut.
Score the spring perch for its removal.
After scoring all the way around the spring perch with the cutoff wheel, strike it with a hammer to complete the removal process. That way you don’t cut into the strut tube itself.
Use a spanner wrench with a jack handle for added leverage to break the jam nut loose on the strut tube.
After removing the stock spring perch, slide the new lower perch seat into place. You might need to go back and trim some of the metal from the area you cut for this piece to sit flat and flush.
After you remove the spring perch and jam nut, install the smaller diameter O-ring on the strut tube.
Place the O-ring from one-quarter- to one-half-inch from the perch seat.

Front Strut Disassembly

Now that the strut is out of the car, you can remove and set aside the upper spring seat and H&R spring. You won’t need those anymore. I was lucky in that I had a couple of spanner wrenches from another coilover kit that fit the strut tube jam nut pretty well, and I was able to remove it without too much fuss. I used a jack handle to add some leverage to the spanner to break the nut loose. Depending on how long the nut has been in place, it sometimes refuses to come out. Giant adjustable pliers have worked for me in the past, as well as a last-ditch effort, using a torch to heat the top, outer threaded portion of the strut tube, being careful to not put heat on the shaft or seal of the insert itself. You definitely don’t want to get anything glowing hot or you will ruin the strut insert. Apply just enough around the perimeter of the tube so the threads will release the nut. Also, a flat punch and a hammer can work the nut loose with some percussive shock therapy. There are a few options to get that jam nut loose, so don’t give up.

Slide the threaded collar over the tube and over the O-ring and reinstall the jam nut. Remember to paint bare metal to keep it from rusting.
The top spring seat and washer from the kit sits on top of the strut shaft. It’s now ready to reinstall on the lower control arm and tie rod and be reinserted into the camber plate.

Now it’s time for power tools. I recommend cutting off the stock lower spring perch because it makes it easier to adjust the new Ground Control lower spring perch. I like to use a 6-inch cutoff wheel, but you could use a smaller one if that’s what you have.

If you look at where the lower spring perch is welded onto the strut tube, you will notice that there is a nice thick weld all the way around the tube. Just above that welded area is where you want to cut the lower spring perch off the strut. The metal is rather thin, so go easy with the cutoff wheel. I find that scoring the perch all the way around the strut, then making a lighter second pass removing a little more material allows me to strike it firmly with a hammer and the remaining material will tear off cleanly. This prevents me from cutting into the tube with the cutoff wheel. It doesn’t have to be perfect because you will come back later and fine-tune the trimming of the metal so that the new spring seat sits flush.

After everything is reinstalled, the last thing to do is tighten the lower spring perch. When the pinch bolt is tight, there should be no gap in the spring perch.
Moving to the rear suspension, break the bolt loose on the rear shock and remove it.
Break the nut loose on the rear sway-bar bracket and remove it from the control arm.
This is where the large O-ring goes on the rear lower control arm for the threaded collar. Note this is the smaller O-ring, and it’s wrong. Use the thick O-ring shown in the next photo.
On the right is the front O-ring. The one shown at left is for the rear suspension.
This is how you should find the cone in the kit, with its O-ring already installed.
The cone installed on the upper spring perch.

Front Strut Assembly

Once you are happy with the fitment of the new perch mount, you can now paint all the exposed metal to keep it from corroding. When the paint is dry, install the O-ring to about a quarter-inch from the bottom perch mount. Next, slide the threaded collar with the inside relief cut facing the bottom to slide over the O-ring. This material has been removed, so the collar will fit snug on the O-ring. The adjustable lower spring perch comes installed on the threaded collar, so the front spring can go on with the spring seat already in place.

In the kit, zip-tied to the upper spring seat is a washer, which is important because it allows the camber plates to stay fixed while the upper spring seat and rod can turn effortlessly. If you put the car together and there is binding in the steering, or you hear the spring popping while turning the steering wheel, you likely forgot this washer. Compare it with what came off the car. If it’s a different size or shape, then reuse what you already have. From there you can go stab the strut tube back up into the camber plate and set the lower part of the strut back onto the lower ball joint. It will sit there happily while you reassemble the rest of the parts as you removed them earlier.

You might need to put a jack under the control arm to lift it into place to finish reinstalling the hardware on the camber plate. Reinstall everything you just removed except for the front sway bar and, congratulations, you finished one corner!

I used as a baseline setting four threads showing from the bottom on the lower spring perch, which gets you pretty close to the ride height it was before the spring change. Each turn on the front collar is equal to about one-eighth-inch in ride height. The rear collar is a little less. In my case, I need a complete alignment because I had to completely disassemble the camber plates. With cars that the camber plates are retained in place, the alignment doesn’t change enough to require an alignment, but with the added adjustability of the camber plates, you likely will want to realign the car, but you won’t have to because your previous settings will be retained. Now go do the other side!

Rear Suspension

The rear installation is much easier. All you need to remove is the lower shock bolt and one sway-bar mount. That’s it! The control arm will droop down enough so that the spring will come out easily. In the kit, there is a threaded collar with the adjustable lower spring perch already on it, which sits on the lower control arm. The other part is a cone used to locate the spring when the suspension is unloaded. That mounts on the upper spring perch.

The threaded collar installed on the lower control arm. Be sure it fits snugly on the O-ring.

Then there is the spring. Again, there is an O-ring that goes over the lower control arm that secures the threaded collar onto the control arm. Like the front, it also has a relief cut on the inside of one end that will slip over the O-ring. The cone also has an O-ring already installed on the inside and it locks the cone in place on the upper spring perch. I twist and tap it up into place lightly until it seats. Then install the spring and here, too, I use four threads showing from the bottom of the lower spring perch as my baseline setup. Then you can jack up the control arm and reinstall the lower shock bolt, but leave the sway bar loose until you complete the task on the other side. Be sure to reinstall the sway bar end link after you are finished. It takes about two to three hours to do this installation yourself. A shop could probably do it in an hour and a half.

The rear assembly completely installed and base settings in place.
Rear threaded collar with spring perch pre-installed. When you tighten the pinch bolt, there will still be a gap on the perch, unlike the front, which was completely closed.

Depending on which rear sway bar you have, with the car up on jack stands the rear spring can fit snugly in the perches or it can fit very loosely in a way that you can fenagle it out of its mount. Shortening up the rear sway bar end links will reduce the total unloaded droop of the lower control arm. But even without making that change, the springs will not “fall out” while driving the car.

The last thing to do is install the required Ground Control stickers on the car and go race!

All that is left to do now is go drive and enjoy your new Spec E30!

Images courtesy of Shawn Meze , Steve Stepanian and Shawn Meze

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