Bye Bye Konis (for now)

After about 4 months of sleepless nights and deliberation (and even going so far as boxing up my stock Konis to be rebuilt at Koni USA) I have finally decided NOT to retain the 308’s stock shock absorbers

Ferrari 308 Front Suspension

Ferrari 308 Koni shock absorber with non-standard Saner anti-roll bar

However, I have decided to revert to a STOCK anti-roll bar and here’s why…

My main aim is to make the car more drivable. Since I bought it I have been unhappy with the front end. It has always seemed wrong somehow. Like the compliancy was not working. The geometry has been checked twice. I replaced all the bushes. I replaced the steering rack and the tie-rod ends. Nothing made much difference. The car was always very sensitive to tyre pressures… .5 PSI was enough to upset the balance sometimes. Also, I always got a lot of shudder through the wheel and the last time I drove the car, it was so severely upset by one particular rough piece of road, I thought I had broken a coil or a suspension arm… There was literally no compliancy at the front on that drive.

I thought the problem was caused by old shock absorbers finally giving up the ghost which is why I removed all of them in February. Bench testing them without the coils however showed that they seem to be operating well enough. I’m also fairly sure that the coils on the car are the original ones based on the stickers from the manufacturer. So I don’t think I have some crazy stiff springs in the front either.

Koni Shock Absorber

Disassembled Konia seems to work fine so they are not the issue

Therefore focus has turned to the anti-roll bar fitted to the front of the car. It was made by Saner several years ago and is significantly thicker than the stock bar (27mm vs 16mm). I now think this bar was fitted in the past as a crude attempt to stiffen up the front end. I also think the bar is way too stiff for the car, so stiff in fact that, that the front double wishbones are no longer acting like independent suspension but more like a live axle… at the front of the car! That might be fine for a smooth track but it does not work on NY highways.

Saner Anti-roll Bar

Saner Anti-roll Bar

Reverting to a stock anti-roll bar at the front is therefore a priority, but also means that the front end of the car will return to its default soft setup. So I plan to stiffen the car a little with a modern setup. Using the stock Koni shocks, my options are limited. Using modern QA1 shocks provides a number of well-documented coil options and adjustable bounce/rebound. In my quest for better drivability, I think this will give me the best performance. The fact that I can also lower the car a little is a welcome aesthetic bonus.

Lowered Ferrari 308

Stock ride height (top) and mock-up of lowered stance (below)

I’m not saying that I would not like a 100% stock Koni setup, maybe I would… Neither am I claiming that the QA1s are superior to the OEM shocks, I doubt they are. My focus is to guarantee a drivable car whose balance I am happy with. I have been trying to get a front end I like for several years so I don’t want to take any more risks on a setup I might not like. Trying to stiffen the springs while retaining the stock Konis would involve significant experimentation. That’s the reason for choosing the adjustability of the QA1s over the stock Konis. I’ll retain the Konis in my parts cupboard and may well get them rebuilt sometime in the future.

So here is the summary of the changes that have finally been decided upon:

  1. Suspension arm bushes – reverting from poly bushings to new OEM silent blocks. I cannot take the squeaking any more
  2. Shock absorbers – changed from OEM Konis to QA1 adjustables. It’s a well-established set up that many people like.
  3. Springs – uprated from ~200 lbs/in to 375/325 lbs/in
  4. Front anti-roll bar – revert to stock with new OEM bushes
  5. Rear anti-roll bar – retain the 27mm Saner bar for now

The first step has been taken and I have ordered the third-party elements that allow the QA1 shocks to be used on the Ferrari 308.

Right now, I don’t see the need to change the rear bar until I test the car with the stock front-bar and see how the handling balance is.

Remember to leave a comment if you’d like or signup with your email address to never miss a future post.

4 Responses

  1. Kris says:

    Is the Saner bar for sale?

  2. Mike says:

    I believe stiffness of the roll bar increases to the 4th power of roll bar diameter, so small adjustments in roll bar diameter can make a big difference in stiffness and feel. that saner bar looks really thick to me. Great site, truly appreciate your efforts.

    • David says:

      Hi Mike. Thank you for the complement and taking the time to comment. I think that’s true for a solid bar. I believe both the factory and the saner bars are hollow so it’s a little more complicated. However an empirical driving test now the Saners are off tells me they were too stiff for the road (these roads)

Leave a Reply