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I reported the other day that the v8 has had most of its front
suspension replaced.. a pretty expensive design change since the kit
has a dealer cost (before 100% markup) of $1K. this engineering
change was basically intended to replace the unusual and now abandoned
internal caliper brakes with regular 5000TQ ones. to do this, most of
the front end had to be replaced since everything was one big piece.
the springs and dampers were retained, however. even the steering tie
rods were new.
anyway, other than the fact that the steering wheel no longer vibrates
when i brake, i have lost a significant amount of unsprung weight on
the front end, since those internal caliper brakes are monstrous
hulks. (imagine a large steel saucer dish with cooling ducts with the
disc welded on its circumference) i'd say it weighs at least twice
that of a regular disc caliper assembly. those of you who dabble a
little in racing will know how much difference unsprung weight makes
to the ride/handling equation.
the result is that the handling and ride of the car has been
completely transformed. the steering is now sharper, more
communicative and at the same time, significantly lighter. low speed
handling shows the greatest improvement and the car is now pretty
agreeable in the supermarket parking lot too.
subjectively, it feels as though the car has lost a thousand pounds!
the front end no longer crashes into potholes; it merely sinks in now.
compared to a fwd 5000 or fwd 5000 turbo, it feels only marginally
heavier and less agile. in the past it did feel pretty bulky at low
speeds and i did have to make mental excuses for its cumbersome low
speed handling in exchange for its excellence in poor weather and fast
sweepers. not any more..
after the front end swap i found myself driving the car even faster
than ever, going into curves and blasting out with even higher g
forces than my usual pace. a very annoying tailgating crx (the
drivers in seattle are getting pretty unpleasant these days) that
followed me onto a highway interchange ramp was left way back in the
dust. (this was an unusual ramp that is 'S' shaped). i could see
that he was going very hard too from the way his car and tire
sidewalls were leaning. the day before, a supra was also similarly
dusted. and i wasn't even trying very hard.. the car basically did
everything. the only clue was how firmly the left seat bolster was
pressing on my thigh. anyway, all this is just to let you all know
what the v8's character is like. it looks and sounds like another
luxo-boat, but it is a true boy racer at heart. now with its much
improved low speed handling i can now rank this car as good as any
of the classic audis.
braking performance has been noticeably affected, however, but i think
a lot of it has to do with the fact that the new pads and discs have
not been broken in yet. the mechanic may have also let in an air
bubble or two into the lines, which will probably require another
visit, but overall i'm really pleased at how this "engineering change"
has really transformed the car. the front wheels are also now getting
coated with brake dust a lot faster.. i guess i should switch to
repcos when they are worn, huh?
to the owner of the '91 200Q: i strongly recommend that you have those
internal caliper brakes replaced if you haven't done so already.
to EWD: i'll race you on ice sometime, eh? :)