As soon as I picked up my S13 I knew exactly what my first major modification needed to be: coilovers! In all honesty I found the standard ride height pretty offensive to look at, which, coupled with the horrendously soft dampening, made the car pretty uninspiring to drive (not to mention an absolute handful in the corners). I needed coilovers urgently and, after struggling to find a decent reasonably priced set available second hand, I decided to bite the bullet and order a brand new set of HSD DTs from Driftworks.
The DT model is the most recent addition to the HSD range and (from what I could make out from my research) not an awful lot was known about them. It seemed few people had been prepared to bit the bullet and splash out on what appeared to be a relatively unknown product. With the CS2 coilovers sitting at the top of the HSD range, these DTs are positioned a little lower, aimed at drivers with a budget in mind and who aren’t after the absolute pinnacle in suspension performance. While the DTs still offer 14-way dampening, preload and height adjustment, they are built as a twin tube setup, as opposed to the monotube design used in top of the range coilovers.
Considering that when I actually get chance to make it to a drift day or event I’m usually behind a lens trying to get as many pictures as possible, I don’t really need the absolute best in suspension technology. What I needed was a set of coilovers that would be perfectly fine on a day to day basis but that would also be up to the task of an occasional drift day or a slightly less legitimate skid session.
I decided to take the plunge and order the HSD DTs that promptly arrived the next day, I can’t complain at that! Thankfully, fitting coilovers is a relatively easy task and so, on Saturday afternoon (with the help of BDC driver Alex Law who arrived looking like a coilover-fitting Sith Lord) we decided to give it a go and get my S13 sat on the floor.
We started off at the rear of the car where the Apex shocks only took a couple of minutes to remove. After they were out of the way it was a simple case of reversing the steps to get the coilovers fitted; three nuts each side and we were done!
Afterwards it was onto the fronts which we knew were going to be slightly more complicated. Thankfully for us though the Apex shocks mustn’t have been fitted that long ago so there were no seized or rusty bolts to deal with. After disconnecting the brake line clips from the shocks and moving the ABS sensor wires out of the way it was out with the old…
…and in with the new!
We resisted the urge to dial in as much negative camber as possible and stuck to the nice and safe middle ground…for now.
Before fitting the coilovers we’d made sure that the front and rear pairs were set equally side to side when it came to ride height and preload so it left us with minimal work to do once they were attached to the car. The rear ride height setting was perfectly fine out of the box but the front end of the car was now higher than it was with the Apex shocks! After a quick winding down session we set the fronts with a 10mm gap between the locking collars which left me with the desired effect front and rear.
As for the damping settings, we decided to set the fronts to the softest setting and turn them five clicks towards the hardest setting. For the rears we chose to set them as hard as we could and then wound them back five clicks softer.
After a quick trip down the road to take a few pictures we ended up going on a short drive to see if any adjustments needed to be made. I was expecting to be scraping left right and centre, but in fact it was only the front lip and the central exhaust mount that were catching on only the harshest of undulations (and speed bumps, of course!)
After taking in a variety of different road types we both found our settings to be pretty much spot on. The ride quality was (surprisingly) no worse than the Apex dampers that were on the car before. You could even call it comfortable! As for the damping settings, for every day driving I think the settings we chose are a great starting point. There is very little body roll at high speed and running over an object such as a small stone doesn’t require a call to a chiropractor afterwards (unlike my Rx-7 did). They aren’t too “springy” either, meaning you can really push on with confidence. Obviously I need to see how they will react when drifting as I obviously didn’t buy them just to improve my daily commute to work, but I’m confident that the adjustability will allow me to fine tune them to my driving style and the conditions.
Overall then, a big thumbs up from me! I’ve used coilovers from a number of different manufacturers in the past (Meister-R, Kei Office and Jamex) and I can safely say that the HSD DTs are definitely up there with the more expensive Meister-Rs when it comes to build quality, ease of fitting, road manners and adjustability. For the price, I definitely can’t grumble.
This however brings me onto my next modification: wheels! I’m really keen to stick with the S13’s standard 4×114.3 stud pattern (rather than upgrading to 5×114.3 hubs) so I’ve narrowed myself down to two different sets. I’m currently torn between a set of Rota Grid Drifts (16×8, et10) or XXR 002s (16×8, et0). I’m very tempted by the Rotas due to their ease of availability (should one of them greet a hard obstacle while skidding) and also I really think the bronze finish would look great against the 13’s battered and bruised exterior. On the other hand, the deep dish of the XXRs is very tempting, as well as the slightly more arch filling offset. If I can’t find any second hand then I’ll have to take the plunge and order a brand new set of whichever takes my fancy…watch this space.