New York has been unusually wet this year. I'm not going to back this claim up with any real research about rainfall per month, but I don't think I'm wrong. After 26 years in one state, you sort of get a feel for its weather patterns. Thankfully, I own a Porsche, which means I don't need to be scared away by a drizzle or a torrential downpour. Despite our recent bout of foul weather, I've undertaken the first steps in Project 944 GTS: The addition of upgraded sway bars. Unfortunately, because of the near-constant wetness I have not been able to give the 944 a good test, but for now we'll work with what we have.
Before we get started with this post, we need to thank Michelin. As many of you know, Michelin is a long-time sponsor of FLATSIXES.com. Recently, they have generously offered to sponsor Project 944 GTS as part of their involvement with our site. Please consider checking out what Michelin has to offer by clicking their banners on this page. Without Michelin's support, and others like them, this site really wouldn't be possible.
Picking Sway Bars for a Porsche 944
This is more of a challenge than it sounds. If we just look at factory bars, there are about 12 different front sway bars for the 944, and five different rear bars. The aftermarket has numerous options as well, ranging from stock-style, to fully hollow, infinitely adjustable units. I opted to track closer to the factory, largely because the range of options is so large.
My particular 944 was not equipped with the M030 sport suspension option, which means that stock equipment in my Porscher consisted of a 21.5mm front bar, and no rear bar(Clark's Garage shows an 18mm rear bar as stock on the 944S, but it appears that this is incorrect based on other sources and my mechanic, himself a 944 fan and multiple owner). A 944S with the M030 option would be equipped with a 23mm front bar and a 20mm rear bar. I opted to skip this step entirely.
If you follow the 944 family right out to the end, you find that the 968 was also available with the M030 package. The M030 package in the 968 was the most extreme of the transaxle Porsches, and utilized a massive 30mm front bar and 19mm rear bar with 3-way adjustability.
This, of course, is what I went for. I opted for a setup from Lindsey Racing which mimics the stock setup, but with 5-way adjustability on the rear bar rather than three. Because the front bar is so large, and because many other elements in the suspension will be altered as well, I wanted a wide range of adjustment so I can fine-tune how my 944 behaves.
Fitting the Bars
I grew up on watercooled VWs so I was fully prepared for the front sway bar to be a monumental pain in the butt, and fully obscured by the front subframe. I could not have been more wrong. The front bar on the 944 is the most accessible I've ever seen. Once you remove the front plastic undertray the swaybar is right out in the open. To remove, take off six nuts(two on each inner bracket, and one on each end link), remove the bolts, and it's off.
Before installing the new bar, we made one minor addition. On a stock 944 the center mounts fall vertically from the front frame member, to help cope with the loads of the new larger new bar we added a set of angled brackets which triangulate the mount using the lower motor mount bolt. The M030 bar is substantially larger than the stock bar(a full 8.5mm), but uses the same mounts with a larger inner diameter on the bushing for a perfect fitment.
The rear bar is also fairly simple. The inner mounts are part of the torsion bar mount, and can be seen above. Whether or not your Porsche has a rear bar, these mounts are in place. The removable brackets are readily available, and are shared with a Volkswagen Beetle(they have a 113 part number, as do the bushings).
Because the rear bar I used is 5-way adjustable, the stock sway bar links were not going to cut it. To get the length to reach the innermost and outermost adjustments I opted for a set of heim-jointed adjustable length links. In addition to making up the extra length, these can be fine-tuned to avoid any preload from left to right.
The rear links bolt to the camber adjustment bolts. With the sway bar bolted to the center mounts it becomes a very simple thing to get everything aligned. Before fitting the links it is important to match the lengths of the two links. Provided your 944 is set up with truly uniform ride height from left to right, this will be perfectly adequate for initial setup to avoid preload from left to right. If your Porsche is not level from left to right, your setup may vary.
So How Does It Work?
Long story short: I'm not 100% certain yet. It seems like every single time I've tried to get in my 944 since installing the sway bars it's been raining(it's only been a few days so far). Perhaps more interestingly, the front bar and the rear bar were installed on different days. With just a 30mm front bar and no rear bar the Porsche understeered very badly in conditions where I've never seen understeer in this 944 before. So far, with both bars, the Porsche has felt neutral. As things dry out, I will drive the car more, and report back as things progress.
Catch Up On Project 944 GTS: