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Top Line Parts - MaXX Struts

By Ryan Ballou

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 place.
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.
Click 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. Click 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. Click
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.
Click 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 completely functional. Click
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.
Click 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. Click 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.
  Click 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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