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510 Front Coilovers


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I was doing a quick brake pad replacement on the 510 wagon, and found out my rotors are past limits to turn. I was going to replace the rotors, but this got me thinking about long term plans for suspension and brakes. I'm mainly concerned with the front as I just plan to put some blocks in back and call it good.


I know this has been covered, and I read a bunch here and on the Realm, but I'm not sure I've got it all straight in my head. Also, most suspension mods that are discussed, are more performance oriented, and I'm looking for something more budget oriented :) I'm not looking for race suspension. Mainly want to lower for looks, and I think I'm okay with stock brakes for now.


From what I've read, I'm thinking of just putting Ground Control coilovers on my stock struts. I would plan to cut the stock perch off, and weld a collar on. Here are my questions:


-Will this work?


-If I use the stock strut/insert, will I have much travel left?


-If I want more travel, what's the next step from this setup?



Edited by 72wagun
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Get ahold of Nelson at AMI in Newberg? Tualatin? and get a set of their bmw bumpstops. They're a really firm urethane. Then you can just cut the coils and not slam.


On my first wgn....I only used half the length of the stops and my shocks were complete toast!! I drove on those for a couple of years.....now Dave has well over a year on them too.


check this out and see if it's something you can do yourself. Just shortening the main tube....not the cartridge :)



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That a good write up what Mike sent


when I first got my beater I cut too many coils ,maybe 2.5 or so where it had maybe a half inch travel as I had a 510 Long strut.As there were 3 sizes on 510s.Running on the bump stops or hitting them would cause my alternator bolts to break as the L16 used the smaller bolts and they would shear in the lower mount.

Whats the trick is to get the shorter strut but run a longer spring.

On 510 struts people would get the 280zx cartridge and size the 510 strut to this. Then maybe run a performance spring like a Susp tequicks(sp) or maybe cut half a coil. so you can still run some travel with bottoming out.


remember if you lower the spring perch make sure the tire doesnt hit it. or if you upsize the tire it dont hit either. If you know what I mean.


Most people just get the 280zx struts now but then there can be wheel offset issues if you have a certain wheel spec but most times it not a proplem(like what I have, I bought some ROTA+25mm 15x7s they will fit a stock 510 strut but rim will hit the strut tube if on a 280zx hub) Just to let you know



Im running stock rims with Hubcaps now and like it!!!!!!!!!

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Hey Guys, thanks for the info.




It looks like AMI is working on getting their website up:




I'll have to check out the bumpstops.


On the thread that you linked, I've actually read through it several times. Maybe I'm not quite understanding what your doing, but I was under the impression that to shorten the outer strut tube, you have to cut out a section and reweld the top back so that you still have threads. I don't have a lathe like you. I guess I could cut it with a bandsaw, and true up the ends with a belt sander an attempt to reweld. I'm not sure I could get it true enough or smooth enough (inside) to get the cartridge back in. Or am I completely misunderstanding what your suggesting :D




I read most of the treads about 280zx struts, so I kind of understand the advantages of going that route. I also see why so many people are doing that. From what I understand, the advantages are:


-Shorter strut to start with (I think. I notice some mention shortened 280zx struts)

-Better brakes

-Better parts availability


The reasons I'm thinking of going with the Ground Control coil overs with stock 510 struts are:


-Relatively cheap ($199 if all you get are the front coilovers)

-Seems pretty easy

-I don't have a lot of time right now to hunt down some 280zx struts

-From what I've read, you can do this without camber plates because your not changing the spindle angle (like 280zx struts do)... I think :confused:

-It looks like the coilovers provide pretty good wheel clearance because they are smaller diameter than the stock springs

-I can just replace the stock rotors for now, and finish up my brake job

-Adjustable ride height for fine tuning (I'd like to match the front end to the blocks I put in back)


I've read about the different 510 strut lengths you mentioned. Since mine is a 72, I think I read that it isn't the longest one, and it isn't the shortest one. It's right in the middle. I like the idea you mentioned about basically mixing years of springs and struts (if I undersood correctly).


Also, I'm running stock wheels right now, but I think I'll end up with Rota RBs. Not sure of size yet. Probably not that big, medium width. Probably a little wider in back.


Here are the things I'm basically trying to do when I lower it:


-Keep the cost to a few hundred bucks

-End up with suspension that's not that much firmer than stock (I drive this thing every day)

-Not slam it. I'm only looking to lower it about 2"-3"


Thanks again for the help

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A lot of that thread was just me playing around with shortening the inside pieces too. You only need to shorten the outside tube. You can use a manila folder or card stock to mark the tubes for cutting. You want something with some stiffness, but will still wrap around the tube. When they overlap and you line them up with each other, you have an edge you can scribe/mark a line against. You can do that after you've taken the spring perch off. You can section the spring perch section out or just above it depending on how much you're taking out. You can cut it with a hacksaw if you're careful. The blue angle iron in the pics was used to hold the two pieces of tube perfectly inline with each other. You can file/grind the ends you cut until they match up nicely, then clamp them to the angle iron and weld them. I'd run about 6 good tack welds around it to make sure it didn't move on you. The copper piece I made was to let me weld the heck out of it without worrying about burn through. If you're careful, you don't need it.


Here's my thoughts on what may be the most bang for the buck.


280zx struts assy's. I think they're short enough for what you're looking to do so that will save that cost/grief of shortening them. Parts are easier and cheaper to find. Damon put his in his 510 with out changing the bottom perch....said they only hit under really hard bumps. You might look him up on here or at Canby and check it out. I think he said he simply changed the springs over and the top hats.


To compensate for the chamber difference.....Bill's Datsun in Clackamas, OR still sells adjustable lower control arm bushings for under $100(I think $80?). Instead of pulling the top of the strut in, you push the lower control arm out. Much cheaper than chamber plates and the "correct" way to do it according to the guy at Bill's.


The 280 hub pulls the wheel in a bit and can be a prob if you have deep wheels. I'd have to run spacers to put my 300zx wheels back on, but I'm switching to snowflakes which should work perfectly with the 280 stuff. If I can get something else on the wgn before Canby, I may just be selling the 300 rims with the 195-50/15 tires. We'll see if I get to it...anyway.....


If you don't like the idea of putting the 510 springs in the 280 perches(which are too big), you can cut the perches off with a hacksaw. On the 280 struts, grind everything clean($14 HF 4.5" grinder works fine). You can use muffler clamps to support the 510 perch on the strut tube to test the ride height. You just want long bolts to clamp two of the saddles around the tube. There's info on here or the realm about this method. The will hold the vehicle. You can set the rig down on the ground, roll it back and forth a bit, bounce on the fender......check to see if the height is what you want. If you like it, weld the perch to the tube. I've heard of one guy that just left his like that and says they've never slipped.


The reality is that those $200 springs you're looking at will only get adjusted once. If you were going back and forth to the track, you'd want adjustables. Not needed for a daily driver.


I'm planning on getting a set of the cheap $60 coilovers off of ebay to play with on mine. The aluminum adjusters look cool, but I have no plans of continually tweaking them.


I don't remember if I kept my 210 springs. They have a smaller diameter and can be cut to 12". According to Dave B...they work great. More tire clearance, firmer ride.


Speaking of them....I'm supposed to be rounding up stuff for the swap meet and since I've got a couple sets of those.....at least one set will be going to canby :)


I'd better get busy :)

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-I don't have a lot of time right now to hunt down some 280zx struts


-Keep the cost to a few hundred bucks


get a set @ canby.

when you stop looking hard, they drop in your lap ;)


thats pretty much what ive done. not installed yet.

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Thanks for all the info Mike! This gives me a lot of information to consider. After reading through your suggestions, I'm thinking I'll probably go for the 280zx struts.


I wasn't even thinking about lowering yet until I was working on the brakes, and thought I should think about new rotors. I think I'll just through the old ones back on for now, and start the search for struts.


As far as the adjustablility goes, I agree totally. The only reason I wanted some adjustment was for initial setup. Like you said, once It's set I don't plan on changing it. The clamp idea sounds perfect for this.


For this car, I actually like the idea of factory parts instead of the fancy anodized billet parts. Nothing against billet, but I'm thinking I'd like the wagon to look like a car that was customized back in the 70s. I know the Rota RBs I'm wanting to put on look a little different than the older versions of this style, but in general I want a "70s" datsun feel. I know I'm probably weird:D That's another reason I kind of like not using anodized camber plates (stock looking shock towers)


No offense to those with more modern looking datsuns. If I had the money, I'd probably have an SR20, all after market brake and suspension parts, perfect paint and interior, etc, etc. A datsun from the 70s fits my budget I guess:D




get a set @ canby.

when you stop looking hard, they drop in your lap ;)


thats pretty much what ive done. not installed yet.


If I don't have them by Canby, I'll probably be looking:D

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I just went and looked at your brake thread. Your stuff doesn't look completely toasted.......so, if you or a buddy can do the welding, you could put 280zx inserts in there and shorten up the tubes. You'd get it a bit lower (2")...depending on how much you lower the spring perch or cut the springs. You'd get a nice ride with the new inserts. I never had a prob with the stock brakes, so if yours still have a lot of life in them......you could get shorter, better ride for basically, just the cost of new inserts. And if you actually bought new ones, they'd still be good if/when you switch to 280zx tubes.


.....not to confuse you, but I have a work around on the chamber plates too :) I just haven't done it yet. I'm thinking it just might be a nice water jet project :) Basically....same thing as the coilovers.....they only get adjusted once. So...if you had a fixed plate up top that simply moved the top of the strut in about 5/8" and back 3/4", you should have a pretty streetable setting. Don't quote me on those numbers....it's been a couple of years since I've looked at them....but that's roughly what it takes to get the 280 strut into the right position....depending on which 280 strut it is....yep...sorry.....two different struts out there.


Anyway....if you're going absolute cheapest, just shorten the stock tubes you have.


If you have the money to pay someone....pm me :) You're close enough to drive up :)

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PS If I remember correctly after 3inches the driveline might hit the pan underneath or something so maybe best to lower the rear 2inches and drop the front a litlle more to get that look

But really a wagon guy needs to awnser about the rear ,how low it can go before it hits stuff and becomes a annoyance.


late build yr 72s had the 11inch strut(listed as 73s I believe)

nobody lista cardrige for these but you buy a 280zx cartridge and use a spacer or steel washer at the bottom of the strut tube so the new cap in the kit holds down the new cartridge.

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Thanks guys for all the information. After reading all this, I've been searching the archives and the internet for details relating to your suggestions. There's a lot here, so it will take me some time to process. I'll probably be back with more dumb Qs after more research...


One other side note. I noticed in my Haynes manual that there is a rubber isolator at the top of the stock strut. I've read comments that switching to camber plates increases road noise because it iliminates the isolator. Again, thinking daily driver here, I want to keep the noise down as much I can for an old datsun. Would this make much difference?

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I have a wagon and I used for the front 280ZX strut assemblies and brakes with tokico shocks and ground control coil overs with 300 lb springs with bumpsteer spacers,1" swaybar and I replaced all bushings and ball joints and tie rods and got a alignment and used 14" rims and the car drives good for san francisco streets. I am not very low but low enough to have a nice look. on the freeway it drives smooth. If you want you can also go short stroke shock and that should help with ride comfort. In the back I personally do not like being low. I am 2" with blocks and I believe that is good enough but depends on where you live. san francisco streets are not low friendly.

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