|[Click on Photo] |
Figure 1: Complete Front Sway Bar Setup
Figure 2: Front Sway Bar Drop Link Setup
Figure 3: U-tab Attached to A-Arm
Front Sway Bar Mounting Drawing for 914s
Front Sway Bar Mounting Drawing for Early 911s
Front Sway Bar Mounting Bracket
Top View, Front Sway Bar Mounting Bracket
Figure 8: Drop Link Shown Attached to A-Arm
Figure 9: View of Sway Bar Attachmentto U-tab
Figure 10: Bulkhead Bracket in Front Wheel Well
Figure 11: Bulkhead Bracket Near Front Strut
| Most 914s did not come with the factory sway bars installed. Even some of the early 911s didn't either. I've often heard that the 914 handling is best described as 'interesting' without a set of sway bars. I've put the factory sway bars on my own car (shown in the pictures) and the difference is like night vs. day. The car is much more stiffer and can take quick curves without blinking an eye. It's especially useful when trying to catch the end of a yellow light while making a left turn. |
The first step in adding sway bars to your car is to install the front sway bar. It is not recommended that you install the rear bar without the front one, as this will make the handling of the car very unpredictable. The sway bar adds stiffness to the suspension by coupling the spring effects of one side with the other. The sway bar acts as a torsion bar that resists suspension displacement across the WIDTH of the car. When one side of the car starts to dip, the torsion bar (connected to the other side) acts to pull it back up. Through this coupling effect, the car maintains an increased stiffness and reduces side-to-side sway.
The tools and parts required for this job depend upon your car's original configuration. For cars originally equipped with sway bars, the installation process is simple. The complexity of this job lies in the installation of the mounts that were originally installed at the factory. Assuming that your car was unequipped with sway bars, you will need the following parts and special tools:
- Complete front sway bar setup including drop links
- New drop link bushings
- New bushings for sway bar mounts
- Sway bar mounting kit for bulkhead
- U-tab mounting kit for A-arm
- 1" hole saw
- Dremmel tool with cut-off & grinding wheels
A complete sway bar setup is shown in Figure 1. This includes the bar, arms, drop links, and mounting pieces that attach the bar to the car's inner bulkhead. When you are purchasing your sway bar, make sure it comes with all the components that you need. A close-up of the drop link is shown in Figure 2. If you are interested in tuning your sway bar to account for different driving habits, you can add a set of adjustable drop links. These allow you to adjust the distance between the sway bar arm and the A-arm of the suspension. Any variations in car dynamics side-to-side can be tuned out by adjusting this distance.
The first step in installing the sway bar is to attach the U-tabs that attach the drop links to the A-arms. It is wise to start with the A-arms, so that your car is not disabled completely during the entire installation process. The U-tabs are easily installed by drilling a hole through both the top and bottom metal of the A-arm. The U-tab kit attached to the A-arm is shown in Figure 3. Make sure that you drill straight through and not on an angle. If may be wise to create a quick jig using a block of wood drilled on a drillpress to guide you perpendicular to the surface of the A-arm. I installed the U-tabs on my A-arms exactly 5 1/8th inches from the ball joint. This location can be seen in the parts diagrams section.
The next step involves the installation of the sway bar mounts. This is the piece that sandwiches the sway bar bushings to the car's inner fender bulkhead. There are kits out there that can install the bar without removing the gas tank. However, these kits do not mount the bar as secure as the triangular mount (used in this installation). If you are taking the time to do an installation, the right way to go is to use the triangular mounts, and remove the gas tank. Installation on a 911 doesn't require the removal of the gas tank.
To remove the gas tank, refer to the Pelican article, Replacing the 914Gas Lines. You can also check out Brian Kumamoto's article on Gas Tank Removal and Reconditioning. That article contains all the tip and tricks for removing your gas tank without creating a Superfund cleanup site. Once the gas tank is removed, you should have easy access to the bulkhead area where the sway bar mounts are to be installed. It may be a wise idea to to some clean-up and painting in this area with the gas tank removed from the car.
The first step in installing the sway bar mount is to drill the three holes required to mount the bracket to the bulkhead. To do this you need to have both front wheels removed, and the car placed on jack stands. Figure 4 shows the mounting diagram that comes with the brackets. Make a printout or photo copy of the picture and line it up against the 914 inner wheel bulkhead. The 911 counter-part is shown in Figure 5, and there is no cutting required for installation on the early 911s. I would advise the use of tape for attaching the template to the car. You also might want to clean the inside fender well before you tape the template to it. Drill the top forward hole of the three mounting holes first, from outside the fender well into the gas tank compartment. Remember to use a center punch to guide the drill. At this point, you may want to bolt on the mounting bracket (on the outside of the fender well) to use it as a guide for the rest of the holes. I find that this works quite well.
After you drill the three mounting holes, then bolt up the mount on the outside of the fender well using the top two screws. You should have a nice guide now to drill the 1 inch hole in the center. Drill slowly, and don't apply too much force, the hole saw (if appropriately sharp) will cut all by itself. When you're finished with one side, I recommend that you drill the holes on the other side of the car while you have all of the tools nearby.
Once you have all of the holes drilled, you then need to remove a small piece of the 914 inner sheet metal. The triangular bracket that holds the entire sway bar on each side of the car mounts to the inside of the wheel well, just next to the gas tank. In order to get the bracket to fit in this area, you need to remove some of the sheet metal from inside the gas tank area. The total that you need to remove is pretty small - it won't have an effect on the structural integrity of the car chassis. You need to grind away just enough material so that the triangular bracket will line up with the holes you previously drilled. The triangular mounting bracket is shown in Figure 6, mounted on the inside of the gas tank compartment. The bottom nut is not visible because it fits into the little notch that is created by cutting through the sheet metal. If you look carefully at the picture, it should be apparent what needs to be done. Another view of the same mount is shown in Figure 7. The viewpoint for this picture is looking down towards the ground inside the gas tank compartment, with the tank removed. You can see the WIDTH of the notch that had to be cut in order to get the mount to fit.
After you have installed the mounts for the sway bar, you then need to install the bar itself. If I remember correctly, it was very difficult to get the bar into the bushings. You basically need to attach the mounts that sandwich the bushing to either side of the car, and then slide the bar through. Leave the nuts pretty loose, as you don't want to compress the bushing while you're sliding the bar through. Luckily, you can put the bar through the bushing on one side before you install it on the car. It's a wise idea to use new bushings for this process, because once the bar is in, it is difficult to take out. This process is a pain because the diameter of the end of the bar is bigger than the bar itself. Once you have the bar through both sets of bushings and mounted to the car, then tighten the mounts. At this point, you can reinstall the gas tank. Again, refer to the Pelican article, Replacing the 914Gas Lines, and don't forget to check to make sure you have all straps, fuel lines, and electrical lines out of the way prior to putting the tank back in.
Now you can install and adjust the drop links on the sway bar. If you look carefully, it's obvious how the drop links attach, as shown in Figure 8. They should easily attach to the A-arm U-tabs that you previously installed. Make sure that you use new drop link bushings when installing the drop links. When you attach the drop link to the U-tab, as shown in Figure 9, make sure that the link clears all brakes lines and the strut. When attaching the connecting arm to the sway bar, Figure 10, make sure that the proper left to right distance is maintained. Failing to have an equal distance between left and right arms will cause your sway bar to possibly have a preload, and it may also cause some interference with the strut, shown in Figure 11.
Putting the wheel back on just about completes the job. There should be a distinct improvement in the handling of your car. Adding the front sway bar generates a night/day effect. You'll wonder how you drove the car without it. If you thought the 914 was stiff and tight in cornering before you installed the sway bar, then look out! You will be pleasantly surprised. Now you're ready to check out our Pelican Technical Article, Installing a 914 Rear Sway Bar. If you have any questions about this job, drop us line...