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I'm what you'd call a car enthusiast. I'm knowledgeable enough to not be conned by dishonest shops and I am absolutely nuts about cars. However I'm not rich enough to modify my car to the extents of a certain bright orange Supra nor am I interested in repairs caused by accidents or worn parts caused by circuit racing / drifting / GRA.
So I'm just a 'normal' enthusiast.
My car isn't overly extreme but it's that much better than stock because of my enthusiasm. Lots of DIYs and plenty of hits and misses resulted in my Wira the way it is today.
So when I first heard about Speedhunters Spoon Rigid Collar install, I was excited. Something as simple and small as a rigid collar could deliver that much performance? My enthusiasm went into overdrive and I contacted several metal works friends to see if they were interested in doing something like this, but unfortunately it wasn't meant to be.
If you don't know what I'm talking about and want to know what a 'Rigid Collar' is, have a look at the Spoon Youtube channel that explains in english what the Rigid Collar is all about.
Essentially what the collar does is fill up the manufacturers tolerances when mass producing the cross members. Bolted down, the cross members aren't bolted down linearly because of uneven gaps or larger gaps in the bolt holes (see the Youtube for a clearer picture). Because of this unevenness, the cross member has some free play or isn't properly aligned causing some steering unevenness or some other alignment related problems. It's not significant enough (the problems) for the manufacturer to mass produce these holes precisely down to the last millimeter so manufacturers label these issues as "acceptable tolerances". Having said that though, some newer cars have built-in mechanisms or control items that do address these 'issues'. In my case I've never really been able to properly set the alignment in my car and it has always swayed to the left. Not by much but enough to be irritating since I have to constantly correct the steering input.
Let me explain in detail : A cross member allows a car suspension to maximize the contact between the tyres and the road surface. This in turn provides steering stability with good handling. It supports the body of the car by compressing and rebounding with every up-and-down movement. Misaligned cross member give a rough choppy ride to the passengers. This is very apparent with a damaged cross member. You can easily wreck one by incorrectly jacking it up, pot holes, accidents, etc.
My unfortunate story is I had a 20km/h accident where my car slid on a damp surface (goddamn tyres!) and whacked an island smack parallel with my wheel. This destroyed one absorber, bent the drive shaft, ruined the power steering rack and bent the cross member. This was at 20km/h!! Anyway, DIY replacing the cross member is no fun so if you ever get a rigid collar installed, get it done at a knowledgeable mechanic!
Unless you can bench press 80kg (I think) with one hand, use power tools with another and grow an extra hand to wipe the dropping dirt from the undercarriage off your face - it's no fun DIY-ing a cross member change.
So I paid Drexchan from EA Autoworks to do it for me. He has 3 hands and 4 legs the last time I checked and they have a hydraulic jack in their shop. But he thought it'd be fun not to use it.
Now, ever since Spoon came out with their rigid collar, there have been many other copies out there. Not that I'm complaining since the 'copies' are very much cheaper than Spoons, but you have to understand that different products work differently unless copied rigt down to the core design. Spoon's rigid collar is crush fitted into place and that makes for a very snug fit. The Racetech rigid collar I'm using is a measured fitment to cover the gap between the bolt and the bolt hole. In essence it still isn't a completely rigid collar compared to the Spoon product but I heard Racetech gained 4 seconds in a circuit race on their competition Putra with their version of the rigid collar so if it's good for them, it's sure as hell good for a simple enthusiast like me!
Essentially the Wira cross member has 6 bolts holding it up. Take each one out and fit a collar on the top and bottom of it.
Looks pretty straight forward. Sounds pretty straight forward. But I assure you it's not easy.
I had a strangely deformed bolt hole that was oblong instead of round. That took a while to fit in but as I always say : "If all else fails, brute force usually works". Not that I condone it but in this particular case it did the trick and didn't have much of a choice.
Final fitments were done and checked. And torqued down nice and firm.
I'd like to point out that Racetech doesn't call their creation a "rigid collar". They call it the "chassis alignment kit". Not quite the same thing and so similar at the same time. I suspect Spoon has the name "rigid collar" copyrighted since another company calls theirs "stiff rings".
Lastly because the geometry of the car had been 'corrected' and 'aligned' by the CAK (Chassis Alignment Kit), the car was sent for a alignment check and true enough, the toe had gone all wonky. My camber was untouched (surprisingly) and everything was quickly corrected.
First impressions of after the install -
- What the heck? Did my car just become softer? The car felt more comfy. That's saying a lot since I'm not on adjustable suspensions. A quick hard cornering here and there proved that the suspension was still capable of cornering as well as it did earlier, but more comfier!
- Steering feedback improved drastically. Any slight twitch of the steering meant movement on the wheels. Very interesting feeling, basically meant I needed to change the way I drive. No more Ah Beng one hand steering kungfu anymore. The alignment was very much better too. No more left swaying!
- The other and last most obvious feedback is how the car responds to you. You can almost feel what the chassis is doing, what the front wheels are doing and every high/low uneven surface is a twitch in the steering, easily corrected with a counter twitch. You have to be awake to drive properly. No more half dazed cruises down the LDP because I guarantee the potholes will either wake you up or scare the car next to you because of the sudden change of direction from your car. Very good response!
That was all I could notice. I'm not planning on bringing my precious (although beaten up) car to a track anytime soon and neither am I race prepping my car for any race. So I can't really tell you if it'll shave precious time off your laps. But in my humble opinion if it makes the car respond to you faster, reacts faster and has better road grip - I say this is a worthy investment.
Having had to pay for something I wanted to manufacture - crap
No more Ah Beng 1-hand driving kungfu because of this product - lagi crap
Having 4 seconds shaved off my *ahem* secret! road track - Priceless!
Pictures courtesy of EA Autoworks and taken by myself Izso. Copyrights belong to EA Autoworks and me.
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