More Than Shocks
If you think high performance suspension components are only for the performance
shop in town, think again. You can tap into this market as well ®“ if you know which products to offer. And, you probably already have all of the equipment and skill you need to get started right now.
We’re talking more than shocks and struts here. There are a range of simple add-ons that enhance a customer’s ride ®“ and your bottom line.
First, take a look at Global West. This company offers products for muscle cars, such as Chevelles, Camaros, Mustangs and even Monte Carlos. Some of these cars are at least 20 years old and in desperate need of upgrading. With components like its Del-a-lum bushings and spherical rod end control arms, these older cars can outperform almost any new performance car.
"These bushings are proprietary and offer several advantages over stock rubber bushings, such as zero deflection without suspension bind, grease fittings and grease grooves," says Steve Gregorowich, sales tech for GW. "They are perfect for drag, road-race, and street applications."
GW’s rear control arm links have spherical rod bearings on the frame side and Del-a-lum bushings on the differential side. This rod end allows the rear end to articulate without binding. According to GW, this helps provide a smoother ride. The supplier does not recommend using polyurethane bushings on both ends, except in drag racing applications.
To complement these products, GW also offers tubular A-arms with welded crossmembers and a tubular tie rod sleeve that eliminates traditional gap, linear rate springs and sway bars.
All of these components work together, so anyone interested in buying one part will most likely purchase the rest of them. As a dealer, you can buy directly from Global West for as little as $2,000 and make a modest 15% gross profit, or go all the way to a $12,000 buy in with 25% gross profit.
When looking at potential products for any given vehicle, it doesn’t take long to add up. You could sell $2,000 to $3,000 on one ticket. Many people want to do the work themselves, so don’t discount cash-and-carry either. Sure, you lose the service work, but you’re still making a good profit and not tying up a bay.
To round out the line, GW offers strut tower braces and sub-frame connectors for late model Mustangs, as well. The strut tower braces are bolt-on, but you will have to weld the sub-frame connectors.
Another well-known product is Eibach. The name recognition alone should add credibility to your product line. From F1 to NASCAR to SCCA, performance cars all have Eibach in common. Eibach offers a variety of suspension kits to meet different demands and a wide assortment of applications.
Eibach’s Pro Kit is a mild drop, usually .75- to 1.5-inch. These are progressive-rate springs, which offer a smooth highway ride but quickly increase the spring rate in a corner-to-corner weight transfer. For more extreme applications, the company offers the Sportline Kit. This is a shorter performance spring that will lower the center of a vehicle’s gravity up to 2.5 inches from stock. Cornering will improve, but the customer should expect to give up some ride comfort due to the shorter suspension travel.
For the drag racer, Eibach offers a Drag Launch Kit. The kit includes matching front and rear springs with a high spring rate on the right rear and an inflatable air bag stuffed inside the coils. This is a popular kit for Mustangs and Camaros.
If you cater to the high-end European sports car clientele, Eibach offers a Pro-Tronic control device, which will work on Mercedes-Benz cars equipped with automatic body control. This plug-in device changes the programmable suspension of these cars and allows for another 40 mm of lowering from stock without affecting ride quality.
Urethane bushings are also popular items. Energy Suspension offers a huge selection of polyurethane bushings, tie rod and ball joint boots, and motor and transmission mounts for imports and domestic applications. Its Master Bushing kits are vehicle specific and have everything you need to complete the job or sell over the counter.
The added stress that large tire and wheel packages place on OE rubber bushings can lead to worn bushings, causing alignment and driveability problems. While making that tire and wheel sale, offer the benefits of polyurethane because there’s a good chance your customers will need it in the near future.
Another company, Prothane, has some unique products, as well. Prothane not only offers kits for street rods and late-model sports cars but also coil spring lift spacers for trucks that install above the factory spring and add varying amounts of lift.
Also, sway bars are an easy install with performance shocks. Be sure to work with your supplier’s or manufacturer’s technical support to choose the correct diameter sway bar. Bigger isn’t always best; a sway bar needs to match the springs and shocks being installed to get the most benefit.
Speaking of shocks, QA-1 offers an externally adjustable shock with 12 settings. Customers can tune this shock from soft to firm to reflect how they want the car to handle.
And, check out the cool rod ends that QA-1 offers. "Rod ends are the way to go, especially in rock crawling," says Pat Lavalle, tech specialist. "The amount of articulation is incredible. And, there is good profit in all of their products, up to 34% with just a $5,000 buy in."
This is the best time of year for tire and wheel sales, so don’t waste any time. Get in high gear with easy-to-sell-and-install add-ons.