PROJECT CARS: Powerflex Suspension Bushes

 

If you’re like us and have got a classic car in need of some much needed sharpness, modernity, precision and added ability, then you might be considering a swap from the standard, rubber, cracked and worn-out rubber suspension bushes to something more dynamic.

Project Ruby, our fabulous 1993 Saab 900 T16S, may not have covered many miles (75,000), but she’s approaching a quarter of a century and as such, her perishable standard Saab rubber suspension bushes (no matter how well designed initially) are in need of replacing – especially at the business end of a FWD, turbocharged car with 185bhp… the busy front end.

Enter Powerflex: Formed as the EPTG Ltd (European Polyurethane Technologies Group), but known to European petrol heads as Powerflex, the brand has been supplying top notch suspension bushes – with a lifetime guarantee – in their signature purple and yellow trademark colours (and now their more hardcore, track and race focused ‘Black Series’) since 1996. They are now Europe’s No.1 brand name in the marketplace.

They are undeniable market leaders in polyurethane suspension bushes, which are said to be designed to prolong tyre life, improve performance and increase the safety of your vehicle, through greater control of your car’s suspension function, leading to sharper handling, steering and braking, primarily through reduced lost energy (inertia).

They say: “Suspension bushes are some of the most highly stressed components fitted to a motor car. They undergo enormous strains and in the most arduous of conditions with no maintenance or lubrication. The material they are manufactured from is a rubber compound containing natural products which deteriorate with age. It becomes softer and more pliable, resisting the forces placed on it less and less. Therefore allowing more and more movement of suspension components and offering less and less control over the suspension geometry. This in turn causes accelerated tyre wear, braking instability and poor handling. This is the single biggest reason you can instantly tell the difference driving a three year old car compared to a showroom new one. And with the technological advances in our materials, it has been possible to overcome the common problem associated with harder bushes which is increased noise. By correctly engineering the polyurethane compound, bushes can be made 25-30% stiffer than new rubber items but with exactly the same noise absorbing properties.”

We are entering no brainer territory, as per…

As you will see from the diagram above – and thanks in part to our choice of Saab tuner, Abbott Racing, who aided in the R&D of this kit, with their unparalleled knowledge of the Swedish brand, gleaned through factory racing & three decades of service and tuning – Powerflex offer a complete kit for the Mk1 Saab 900, very reasonably priced at c£10-20 per unit. And this is the same story for the plethora of vehicles they have moulds and kits designed for (with new ones coming on line every month).

But we’re not really interested in a full kit – which will take what is a great value product into a reasonable spend and will most likely leave someone impatient like me pulling what little hair I have left out trying to fit in its entirety, no skin on my nice knuckles and in my view is, frankly, unnecessary overkill for most cars. Less is more. Law of diminishing returns etc.

We just want to tighten up Ruby’s overworked and underpaid front end and enact greater control over the steering, suspension movement on and off the throttle and under braking – leaving the underworked rear end nicely soft, to provide Saab’s characteristic ‘passive steering.’ Or that’s the theory.

As such, we went for the front antiroll bar and wishbone items, which came in no time, were very affordable and come complete with Powerflex’s own unique blend of bush grease, to help get the little beautiful bullets into position and operate quietly and efficiently.

 

The net result of such small, but clearly perfectly formed items is quite remarkable. They have added a poise and purpose hitherto missing from the T16 – not just restoring its handling to its former glory levels, but taking the 900 to new heights I’d say. Miraculous.

The whole front end has been given the accuracy of a surgeon’s blade – perfect to keep the very active, turbocharged front-wheel drive under control when giving it the full beans boost, highly noticeable when changing direction and under heavy braking and we should even get greater mileage out of the fabulous Falken rubber too. Bonus.

We’ve had good success with Powerflex kits before, but I’d argue that the Saab’s benefitted the most. What a great bit of kit.

Contact the team today to see what they offer for your classic, performance, race or even new car: 01895 460 033 or email sales@powerflex.co.uk.