Import Alliance car show

4-bolts is what it “should’ve taken” to get the rear KW coilovers on my Porsche 944… 

That is – if it were any car other than a Porsche 944 lol. And as mentioned in the previous post on the front coilovers (Link to the KW coilover install on the FRONT of this 944), I have an early-model 1984 944… so 4 bolts turns into a grenade real fast. Here’s the saga on the rear KW coilovers for the Porsche 944; and I’ll try to keep it short & clearly labeled lol.

*And I WILL say – to be fair that working on this 944 is a learning process. It’s not necessarily hard, just different from most cars I mess with. And as a project car, I kind of love it. My daughter’s currently learning fractions in school, and it’s a lot like that… backwards nonsense, until it ‘clicks’. Then it’s like, “Ohhhhhhhh.” 

Porsche 944 KW coilovers

So a couple quick things…

When the Porsche 944 was released, it had the Porsche 2.5 engine & widebody to update it from the Porsche 924… but it still had mostly VW/Audi wiring & suspension components. But by 1985.5, Porsche knew the 944 was a successful seller. So they made some substantial improvements for the mid-year 1985.5. The exterior remained the same, but subtle differences run throughout the suspension, interior, & electronics to improve the car.

KW coilovers Porsche 944

Issue #1 (early-model 944s only)…

There’s not too much aftermarket support/demand for early-model 944s suspension-wise, which seems weird since so many of them have been raced/tracked over the decades. But regardless, when it comes to coilovers, almost all the aftermarket companies model make parts around the later-model 944… and just kind of figured the early-model guys would figure it out. That means – when installing the KW Variant 3 coilovers on the REAR of my early model 944, I ran into 2 problems: 1) The KW coilovers would NOT fit into their mounting bracket on the early-model lower control arm. Cutting it would weaken it. And 2) The bolt hole on the early-model LCA is too small for the bolt on the late-model KW coilover. That’s not a huge problem, as you could just drill out the LCA bolt hole… but go back to Problem #1 and it’s a moot point. 

early model 944 control arm

 

Issue #2…

Since I had no choice but to pull the entire rear end out of the car anyhow, I decided to switch to an entire late-model rear end from 944 Barn. (As in the video above) This would update the car, and allow the KW V3 coilovers to fit as intended. 944 Barn is about 2 hours away, close enough to where I could just go grab it in person, plus it’s always good to see Elliott Grafton for wisdom & clarity lol.

late model 944 control arm

 

Issue #3 (all 944s)…

Porsche 944s have torsion bars on the rear, instead of standard coil springs. When you lower the 944, the torsion bars have to be ‘reindexed’… which is just a fancy word for ‘turned 1 notch’. But in order to do that, literally the entire rear end needs to come out of the car. If you don’t reindex the torsion bars, they will keep the car from going low enough, even with the new coilovers. I wish I had made another video here showing the actual torsion bars, but my mind was preoccupied with the task lol. Basically – in the 1st second of this video below, I’m pointing to a piece (4 bolts; 3 visible in photo) that needs to be removed to unsandwich the spring plate (circled in yellow). The spring plate also needs to be unbolted from the control arm, and once it is, you can pull it away from the torsion bar tube… and the torsion bar should come out with it.  There is one of each side (driver & passenger). That’s why it’s important to etch that line as I was describing in the video, BEFORE you pull it all apart.

944 spring plate

 

 

Issue #5 (all 944s)… 

When installing rear coilovers on the Porsche 944, there’s the debate of whether-or-not to reuse the torsion bars at all. Many of the aftermarket coilovers, like these KW Variant 3s, are designed to WORK WITH the original torsion bars. That means they use a lighter spring rate (285lbs), because the torsion bars take up the remaining slack. In this case, you need to pull the rear end, reindex the torsion bars (probably 1 notch), and reinstall. 1 notch makes a pretty big difference; 2 notches will tuck majorly. 

BUT – the common racer wisdom is to just ditch the torsion bars altogether. It just cleans up the suspension & makes it less complicated, easier to adjust, fine tune, & corner balance, etc. There is some internet debate on whether the coilover mounting point on the real lower control arm is strong enough for the load, but I talked to some guys who race 944s hard, and they’ve never had any issue set up like this. BUT NOTE: In order to run without the torsion bars, you need to swap the lighter 285lb springs for a stiffer spring… since there’s no longer torsion bars to help carry the weight. Which leads to…

KW V3 coilovers Porsche 944

Issue #6 (Disassembling the KW coilovers)…

I ordered the 571lb springs from KW. Now in the end, I didn’t go this route (yet) & I’ll get to why in a minute, but I did get instructions from KW’s tech on how to disassemble the coilover – because it’s a little tricky & not obvious. 1) Spin the coilover down to take tension off the spring. 2) The top of the coilover DOES unscrew off, but it lock-tight’d and… 3) You’ll need a bench-vice or steel rod or some way to unscrew the top of the coilover WHILE holding the shaft in place with a strap wrench (or similar rod clamp). Grab the shaft (giggles) as high up as possible with the shaft wrench, and don’t scratch/gouge it, because doing so will destroy the seals. 

KW springs

Issue #7 (shoot just lift it)…

Somewhere in all the above hoopla, I decided to pull a 180 and LIFT the 944 a little bit instead of lowering it. Not to #safari height necessarily… I have a Jeep. I also have a slew of lowered cars already too. But what I don’t have, is just something I can thrash & bang around in. Something I can take to a rallycross event or two, play on some gravel access roads, drive on sidewalks, easily crawl underneath to see what broke, etc. This particular 944 is pretty ratty anyway… solid but ratty. So I figure go with the flow of it, rather than the frustration of trying to restore it. 

lifting a 944

So long story not-so short…

When I got the late-model 944 rear end from 944 Barn, I reindexed the torsion bars 1-notch to raise the car UP, rather than down. Then on the front of the car, all I did was raise the coilovers near the top of their adjustment range. And this is how it’s sitting. So after 40 hours, it’s slightly maybe higher then stock lolol. The rear could come down a bit, OR the front could come up a little… I haven’t decided which yet. Michael Crum does make spacers to bring the nose up if needed. It’s current got very little gas to weigh down he back, and larger tires will raise the height overall. With the right lightweight rally-esque wheel/tire package, I’m gonna see where this goes.

lifting a 944

I’m not yet sure how this is going to feel & function in the real world…

It’s pretty stiff, with a little ground clearance, I do know that much. If I don’t like the experience, I will pull the rear end back out, ditch the torsion bars, swap to the 571lb springs I already have, lower the car, and still be more than happy. But for now, curiosity just got the best of me. 

Next up… Brakes! 

tire stickers