To: Udo Putzke, Putzkes Fahrspass
Re: BJ8 Bilstein Shock Conversion
My 67 BJ8 spent the last 10 years out in the California desert. Although I have no intention of restoring the car, making it roadworthy has taken more time than I thought. Now that the car is back on the road, I am driving it back and forth to Moss over highway 154, the twisty mountain road that winds its way between Santa Barbara and the Santa Ynez valley over a 2500 foot pass. Ill tell you what I think of the Bilsteins.
When I first got the car, the 60 spoke wire wheels were poorly balanced and they needed truing. The Armstrong shocks were OK. I found driving the car over the pass to be a mix of fun and fear. In rough corners, the car had a tendency to hop slightly sideways, which is a little disconcerting as you edge closer to oncoming traffic. I found that I had to back off to avoid the problem. This condition seemed to get worse after driving the car for half an hour, after the oil in the shocks got good and hot. I had heard that on a rough road the Armstrongs will actually churn the oil to the point where theres air in the system, making them ineffective. Freeway driving was a little less nerve racking, but it still required a lot of attention. I resolved to replace the wheels and tires, and do something about the shocks as soon as possible.
When I drove the car to San Diego to have the Bilsteins fitted, I still had the wire wheels. I remember distinctly the ride in Udos car- it seemed to eat up the bumps, and the cornering was, well, they way it should be. I was hopeful that I would be able to get that kind of results. When I picked my BJ8 up, I was very happy to find that the nervous hop in the corners was gone. The car was not too soft, not too hard. Making the long drive back to Santa Barbara (over 200 miles) I was amazed at the difference. Potholes that had the rear axle up against the bump stop in the past were simply "thumps" that did not cause any trouble.
The next big improvement came with a set of Mini-lite knockoffs and Yokohama A321 185-70-15 tires. The combination of shocks and tires has transformed the car. It is as much fun to drive as I hoped it would be. How good? Well, Ron Davies drove my car at California Healey Week (Big Bear, California) and bought the shock conversion kit. If you drive your car and like it, put the Bilsteins on. Youll love it.