In the ongoing
pursuit of performance, a problem that will frequently arise is one
of traction. The best setup in the world isn't worth a thing if you
can't keep your tires connected to the ground. While many people instantly
think of the rear tires, some of us that prefer cars that 'turn' will
look to the front tires. Unfortunately there exists a limit for how
wide of a tire you can run on a Super Beetle and it's dictated by the
point at which your tires start to rub your springs. Fortunately for
people like myself, Top Line Parts has the perfect solution for this
exact problem, the MaXX Strut.
Top Line Parts
has always been the 'go to' shop when it comes to Super Beetle suspension
parts with their innovative lowering kits and suspension upgrades. Their
mainstay in the market has been their Adjust-A-Strut design with a moveable
lower spring perch. With the rise of the German Look styled cars came
the desire to run larger 17" Porsche wheels. The problem not being
the diameter of the wheel rather the width at 7" vs. the stock
rim width of 4.5".
Before the introduction of the MaXX Strut you were forced to either
run a combination of wheel spacers and widened fenders, or very expensive
coil-over struts easily costing over $1000. Top Line's solution was
to take their existing design and improve upon it, giving us the MaXX
Strut. The top of the strut housing is no longer flared making it possible
to use a smaller diameter 80mm spring. Custom billet spring holders
were also developed to keep the package together yielding more than
a three quarter of an inch increase in clearance between the spring
coils and the tire/rim combo. All this while retaining the ability to
lower your front end just like the original Adjust-A-Strut.
For those that just want the lowered stance but don't need the added
clearance, a stripped down version called the Versa Strut is available
that uses the same strut housing but keeps the stock diameter spring.
This design is virtually identical to the original Adjust-A-Strut with
the exception of having done away with the flared opening. This leaves
the end user a clear upgrade path to the MaXX Strut design by purchasing
an upgrade package at a later date.
A few things worth noting about the package that Top Line has put together.
They are the only company that fully supports our hobby by working with
their customers to improve upon their product quality. This was quite
obvious once I opened up the packing and began inspecting the parts.
The first thing that jumped out at me was a set of Boge Turbo gas charged
strut cartridges, not some no-name import strut that you'll find in
most kits. Next, the billet hardware is a work of art. The closing nut
was a welcome change to the stamped steel nut used in other lowering
kits. Not to mention the spring cups, solid, beefy and 100% functional.
Then there were the urethane bump stops that were included. These actually
fit the reduced shaft size of the Boge strut and were a perfect fit
in the upper spring cup. Also included was a part that was new to me,
a centering ring to keep the strut cartridge located properly in the
strut housing. Until Top Line started having these made, the only way
to keep the strut from banging around was to wrap the base in tape to
take up the slack, it's nice to see a real manufactured solution for
this finally. Also included is a set of castor fix bushings. These are
a black urethane bushing with an offset sway bar mounting hole to help
regain castor lost in the lower process. Lastly there was a set of brake
line hose clamps included to secure the soft lines in place. These are
needed as the new strut housings do not have provisions for the stock
clips to the secure the lines. It's worth mentioning that no other brand
of lower strut has this provision either so it's nice to see a solution
for this included in the kit as well.
In addition to the MaXX Strut kit was a Camber+ bushing kit which is
sold separately. Essentially this is the normal black urethane control
arm bushing set, but with a larger center hole to house an offset designed
center shaft. This allows for an additional 6mm of travel when setting
camber. For cars that have been severely lowered this will allow you
to bring your suspension back into spec so you're not stuck with excessively
negative camber. Another common use for these is to help correct the
alignment of a car that has been damaged in an accident and was previously
unable to brought back into spec.
Installation of the kit was very straight forward having recently installed
another lowering kit on my car. My goal was to maintain the same ride
height but eliminate the rubbing that was evidenced by tire marks on
my springs. I spoke with Jon (owner) at Top Line and asked for advice
to preset the ride height rather than having to go the trial and error
route like last time. He suggestion was right on the money as I later
found out when dropping the front end back to the pavement.
My first impressions of quality were backed up almost immediately with
my first test drive around the block. An odd knocking noise I'd been
experiencing was gone. I can only guess this was the strut cartridge
bouncing around the housing due to the poor closing nut design and lack
of centering ring, both problems solved in with Top Line's kit. The
next improvement became obvious over my first set of speed bumps. The
Boge strut cartridges performed flawlessly as the front end rode firm
but comfortably over the bumps, something I'd been missing for a while
now. Finally and probably most important, the springs are quality pieces
with matching spring rates. As my previous set of springs settled with
use it became obvious that the passenger side was riding 3/8" lower
than the drivers side. The springs included with Top Line's kit are
guaranteed to not sag with age and at approximately 1 month of daily
driving use/abuse they are still riding in exactly the same spot.
Once again Top
Line Parts has come through with a truly innovative and high quality
design that is sure to satisfy even the pickiest drivers out there like
myself. So drop it, and drive it like you stole it!
1-I have everything
laid out here to give the kit a once over for any potential install
issues. Everything looked perfect and ready to go.
2-The billet closing nut was a nice piece to have in the kit. I
KNOW this will stay secure and hold the strut cartridge firmly in
3-A look at the top and bottom spring holders. These are billet
aluminum pieces that are simply a work of art. The fit on the strut
housing is perfect as is the fit of the springs on them.
4-These are castor fix bushings. When installed they pull the sway
bar forward slightly to make up for castor lost in the lowering
process. Topline sells these separately as well and I personally
ran these even when my ride height was stock. The improvement in
handling was noticeable.
5-Here we have the brake line holders. Aftermarket strut housings
do not have provisions for the clips that hold the lines in place
on OE struts. This is a perfect fix.
6-This is the Camber+ kit. People have been asking for something
like this for years to correct camber issues in lowered cars or
just in older sagging frames. These allow for about 1 degree of
adjustability in either direction over the stock design.
7-This is the centering ring used to keep the base of the strut
cartridge from moving around in the housing. A simple design, yet
8-If you look carefully, you can see the centering ring in the base
of the housing. The ball radius on the base of the strut will self
center in the opening in this ring and under the clamping pressure
of the closing nut will stay put indefinitely.
9-Strut cartridges installed, spring perches set for height and
we're ready to go. I used a few drops of Loctite on the threads
of the closing nuts for piece of mind.
10-It's tough to see in this pic, but the clearance here is only
about a quarter inch. When the wheels came off it was obvious that
the tires had been rubbing against the springs in some conditions,
and these are only 5.5" rims with 205/50s mounted on them.
11-Here it's pretty easy to see the obvious difference in size between
the two assemblies. Clearance aside, these will also shave a little
weight off your suspension setup, and that's always a good thing.
12-The install for these went as smooth as you could ever hope for.
I think the whole process took less than 2 hours, and that's counting
time for take all the pictures.
13-Pretty easy to see how much room I gained here. There's no chance
I'll be rubbing the springs now.
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