Sponsored by HUMAN Speakers Strut Brace

Just a little feedback on the Jamex strut bar I just installed in my 82 Coupe.

(It is also possible to use the later OEM bar on these cars)

This thing is essentially four parts with interconnecting hardware. Two brackets which mount on the strut towers, and two shaped aluminum tubes which form the actual brace. Each tube has one end bolted to the brackets, and at the other they connect to each other with a turnbuckle type piece of hardware that allows length adjustment with the bar in place. You can see what I mean if you look at the Photos.

My first comment is about mounting. The bar brackets can be bolted to the strut towers, but it is also possible to weld them. It didn't occur to me how easy it would be to get the bar out of the way by unbolting it from the brackets so I used bolts to install mine. I think I would recommend welding them generally.

Another approach I have heard of but not investigated is to use nutserts, limiting hole drilling to the first layer of steel. Entire job, with photos, is detailed in August 92 issue of European Car. If you find this/have it, perhaps some scans could be added here. Let me know...

But there are many ways to skin a cat! Mike Tipton has suggested:

  • The main problem with drilling through the 2 steel walls, is they are at different angles to each other, and you need to be very precise, good with a drill, and have excellent "hand-eye coordination"! An "alternative" (better) method of installing the front strut brace, instead of drilling holes through the 2 walls of the strut assembly, is........
  • Have 4 studs "welded" in place of, and only drill through the outer steel wall! (The hole is used to align and hold the studs for welding) This is exactly how I installed the one on my CGT.
  • Its a simple procedure to accomplish with any ordinary MIG welder. The steel is thick enough, and welds rather nicely! (Good German steel !!)
  • Use a moist towel to protect engine components and fenders from weld sparks, and voila! Get a set of "factory looking" STUDS for your new strut brace.
  • Add a dab of paint, and its definitely a "Professional-looking" job.
  • Plus, all the installation work can be done from under the hood - no need to jack the car, and stick an arm in the fender to hold a bolt head.

I agree this sounds like a most tasteful way to mount the bar, but I will go on to describe the "untasty," bolt-on process that I used:

Installation was straightforward but had its tricky moments. The top mounting nuts on the struts had to be removed and since they are self locking should be replaced. Loosening them requires using an 8mm hex tool to hold the strut rod from turning. This operation may loosen the strut fasteners underneath, which require a special tool to tighten and loosen, unless you want to gouge them up with a hammer and screwdriver. Drilling the four holes in the strut towers has a quirk to it - the towers are double walled. The outer holes, while not perpendicular to the surface, are fairly easy to drill. The inner ones, especially some of them, are at a very oblique angle to the drill bit, and I threw away a couple of the smaller pilot bits I was using. Fished out their missing tips afterwards with a magnet.

The 8mm bolt lengths I wound up using were 30 and 35 mm on the left and 37 twice on the right. The latter three were cut down 40's. There are two constraints - having the bolt long enough to put hardware on the top (I used a flat washer, a lock washer, and acorn nuts, all stainless steel), and yet short enough to fish up through the holes past the spring top plate - or whatever that thing was I had to work around blind! The clearance there increases a little with the car jacked up. It probably increases a lot if you drop the strut, but mine didn't fall out...

The interesting thing to me was the result - I expected this to be largely a "vanity" project, just for show and boasting, since I don't race, and rarely get the safe legal opportunity to really push my car. Yet even trying to compensate for the DIY "placebo" effect, I am noticing a big difference under normal driving conditions. Maybe my strut nuts were loose and that's the difference, but what I notice is a much firmer steering response and "cutting" or "carving" feel on normal everyday cornering. On mid-range cornering I also notice less body roll. This is on curves I consistently take at the same speed. At first I thought there was no difference because I took a few hard corners and the body roll was as much as I remembered, but these were not turns I was familiar with.

The car actually feels and handles differently and it will take a tiny bit of getting used to the new way the weight shifts (or doesn't?) on corners. Overall I am very glad I did it.

and I'm not the only one who thinks these bars are the greatest thing since sliced milk...

FWIW, I absolutely agree with Huw's assessment of the front stress bar. It is the best mod I have ever done to my Audis when bang per buck is considered (yes I paid for my Stage II boxes). I want to add that IMO the stress bar isn't just for those qlisters who drive hard or head for the track - although it certainly shines in those conditions. In everyday driving at any speed the added stability is very noticeable. Makes the type 44 chassis much more solid feeling and less squirmy/rattley/mushy.

Matt Pfeffer - 89 200QW - Stage II and front stress bar (3/11/98)