A few weeks ago, I wrote about the super rare 1999 3000GT VR4 I bought from a reader. Even though I thoroughly enjoyed the car, it needed that extra something that made it look more contemporary and less 4x4-ish. Here's how I did it.
Right after doing all the required 120k maintenance (timing belt, water pump, tensioners, pulleys, plugs/plug wires, oil, and other odds and ends), I decided that what the car needed is a change in stance and overall appearance, as the stock height appearance left a lot to be desired, not to mention that the aftermarket Fittipaldi wheels were curbed, too small, and didn't compliment the look of the car at all. Here's what it looked like when I got it:
After doing some research on various 3000GT/Stealth forums, I gathered that the perfect combination of looks, performance, and price was a set of Hyper Black 18 x 9.5" Rota P45R wheels, with 265/35/18 tires all around. The +30mm offset was perfect for the body of the car, and more importantly, it didn't break the bank at around $800 for a brand new set on eBay, with hub-centric rings. I found a great used set of tires (Pirelli PZero and Continental ContiSport tires) and had them mounted and balanced locally.
I couldn't use the stock lug nuts as they were too wide for the aftermarket wheels, so I got a set of locking painted lug nuts, in gloss black to match the exterior accents of the car.
The car obviously needed to be lowered, as this was a grand tourer, not a rock crawler. It didn't need a two-fisted wheel gap with 37 inches of suspension travel. At first, I thought I'd end the suspension at a simple lowering spring install, but after seeing the state of the shocks (weeping oil, bouncy as all hell), I wanted to source something more robust. I managed to find a set of Tein Type Flex Coilovers with EDFC, lightly used from a forum member upgrading his car to a more track-focused setup.
This Japanese name-brand setup is highly sought after, so I'm likely putting value back in the car by installing these high quality components. If the next owner wants, I'll include the stock suspension as part of the sale, should they ever want to revert to the 4x4 wheel gap.
The EDFC portion of this suspension is an in-car controller than can adjust the dampening on the fly. It's like the ECS system used on earlier 3000GTs, which would adjust suspension stiffness, but infinitely more adjustable and usable.
I posted on twitter about the install, putting a before and after pic on the front of the car.
Feel free to follow me as I install/modify/break things in this car. The more support and more opinions I have, the better informed I'll be.
On top of being adjustable in ride height and dampening, there is full adjustability on toe and camber at the top of the strut, allowing me to dial in exactly what I want in an alignment.
The actual installation couldn't have been easier. Three 14mm bolts on top, 2 17mm bolts on the bottom for the front, and 2 14mm bolts up top and 1 17mm bolt on bottom for the rears. Since the coilovers were sealed units, it was as simple of removing and installing, no dangerous spring compression required.
I settled on having a small wheel gap, as it's much more practical, looks more refined, and doesn't allow the tire to rub on the inner fender well on turns and hard bumps. Here's the progression from when I got the car to now, I can't believe it's the same car:
I still haven't installed the EDFC portion of the suspension, and the car will still a need a good detailing, but so far, I'm supremely impressed with this car.
Want a 3000GT VR4 project of your own? Find one and make it freaking spectacular. Then tell me about it.
Tavarish is the founder of APiDA Online and writes about buying and selling cool cars on the internet. He owns the world's cheapest Mercedes S-Class, a graffiti-bombed Lexus, and he's the only Jalopnik author that has never driven a Miata. He also has a real name that he didn't feel was journalist-y enough so he used a pen name and this was the best he could do.