Off Road Suspension – Making It Strong


Last time we showed you how the Pajero extra cab was created. Go here if you missed it.

Obviously in off road racing, a decent suspension package is critical. There are endless ways to set up off road suspension. What follows is an outline of what we chose to do on the rally Paj – keeping in mind the budget is pretty tight!


Gen 3 Front And Rear Cradles – A Good Foundation

Gen 3 Pajero suspension cradles are widely used in off road racing – and not only in Pajeros. Quite simply, they’re strong.

The diffs, CVs and hubs will take brutal punishment and insane amounts of torque. The cradles themselves are easily adaptable to many vehicles because they’re compact and modular. Diff ratios can be changed simply by swapping out the diff from a diesel, petrol, auto or manual to get what you need. Suspension travel can be increased relatively easily by changing control arms. The cradles are a good all round package – and spare parts are cheap.


Shocks And Coils

So we had a solid basis to start with. And what exactly did we have? Well, the Paj came with upgraded coils to give it a 40mm lift and a stiffer ride through corners as a road car. It also had Polyair bags inside the rear springs, but they weren’t needed any more. The shocks were Old Man Emu in the rear and Pedders in the front (don’t ask!).






This wouldn’t be nearly enough. The shocks had proven they could cop lots of punishment when used under severe conditions in a road-registered 4WD. But there’s no way they would cope with the rigours of off road racing.

Dave happened to know of a set of shocks available for sale. They had been fitted to an off road racing Paj. It had been written off in a rollover and the shocks were nearly new. They had remote reservoirs, independently adjustable damping for both up and down strokes and internal adjustable hydraulic bump stops. Perfect!

The original rubber bump stop has been cut out. Off Road Suspension.
The original rubber bump stop has been removed and the mounts cut off.
New mount fitted for second shock absorber. Off Road Suspension.
New shock absorber mount welded on (at left of original top shock mount).
Lower rear control arm with extra bracket to mount second shock absorber. Off Road Suspension.
Lower rear control arm with extra bracket to mount second shock absorber. Painted and ready to install.
Checking shock absorber travel. Off Road Suspension.
Triple-checking new shock absorber travel.
Test fitting everything. Off Road Suspension.
Test-fitting everything. Hydraulic bump stop is at right – see below for more details.
Left rear suspension is almost complete. Off Road Suspension.
Pretty well everything is shown fitted here.
A shot from underneath of the rear suspension. Off Road Suspension.
A shot from underneath of the rear suspension.
Another shot of the rear suspension. Off Road Suspension.
Another angle. The drive shafts are yet to be fitted.
Rear left showing remote reservoir mounted. Off Road Suspension.
Rear left showing remote reservoir mounted.
Another shot of completed front suspension. Off Road Suspension.
The front received similar treatment to the rear. Second shock fits in neatly.





Front right showing reservoir mounted. Off Road Suspension.
Front right showing remote reservoir mounted.

So the shocks were fitted – not an easy job, as space is limited. The remote reservoirs were mounted on custom-made brackets close by.

What about the coils? Well, we suspect they might be too stiff considering how much weight this Paj has shed. For now, we’ll play it by ear. We’ll see how it handles and take it from there.


Hydraulic Bump Stops

Dave had hydraulic bump stops from his last Pajero rally car. These are fantastic for preventing the suspension from bottoming out and cushion the vehicle from big shock loads. So they were positioned and mounted in the rear. Dave custom made some retaining brackets and welded a tab onto the upper control arms for the bump stop to hit.

Mount for hydraulic bump stop beginning to take shape. Off Road Suspension.
Hydraulic bump stop mounts during fabrication. Still some work to be done on them yet!
Hydraulic bump stop mounted. Bump plate also tacked onto upper control arm. Off Road Suspension.
Hydraulic bump stop test-fitted. Bump plate also tacked onto upper control arm.


Widening The Wheel Track… Without Breaking The Bank!

Obviously you want a wide wheel track on an off road car. The wider the better – these things tend to fall over otherwise. Obviously, one way to do this is to completely modify the suspension – longer control arms and so forth.






Another low cost way to gain some extra width is by using wheel spacers. Dave had made a set for his old Pajero and they gave an extra 40mm wheel track each side. So these were pressed into service once again. 80mm extra track might not sound like much, however it does make a huge difference to stability.

Rear wheels spacers to widen the wheel track. Off Road Suspension.
Rear wheels spacers to widen the wheel track.
Rear wheels spacers to widen the wheel track. Off Road Suspension.
Front wheel spacer.
Front right wheel, showing how far wheel sits off brake rotor with wheel spacer fitted. Off Road Suspension.
Front right wheel, showing how far wheel sits off brake rotor with wheel spacer fitted.
Along with an offset rim, the wheel spacers do make a difference. Off Road Suspension.
Along with an offset rim, the wheel spacers do make a difference.


How well will this spring and shock absorber package work together? We’re not sure yet. When the Paj is running we’ll get it out for some testing and let you know how it goes!

Next time: Welding the front body panels for extra strength.

Any questions or comments? Go to the Comments below or join us on Facebook or Twitter.

Any errors or omissions are mine alone.


Want to know more about off road racing? Then go here.



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