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Old 02-23-2010, 05:15 PM   #1
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Hotchkis versus Pfadt Sway Bars

Can I get some Forum expert opinions?

I was leaning towards the Hotchkis set because their complete package includes that sweet subframe chassis bracket. However, since reading some posts (the one in particular that explains how tubular bars are not as strong and prone to weak points at the bends), I'm having second thoughts.

Can the heavy weights on this forum weigh in on my observations/assumptions about these two sway bars and let me know if they are correct?

Bar Geometry:
The Hotchkis front bar replicates the stock bar (it needs to be re-installed under between the engine and chassis). The Pfadt bar is not as convoluted and is installed in a more traditional sense. My intuition tells me that the bar with fewer bends will be more stable and stronger. Minus one for Hotchkis.

Bar Type (hollow vs solid):
My initial impression of the Hotchkis bar was that hollow would offer weight savings, but (as was pointed out in another thread) if it only saves <10 lbs, then how much can this matter? Also, as I watched and re-watched the Hotchkis install video, I notice that the major bends in their bar indeed seems to be pinched down and oval (like a poorly made exhaust bend). Even with properly heat treated bending, the bar at this point would not offer the same stability and strength. Minus one for Hotchkis.

Bar End:
The Pfadt bar shows a welded bar end whereas the Hotchkis is a pressed end. Not entirely certain which is better (if there is a difference). But from reading the forum, it sounds like the welded bar end is the preferred choice. Minus one for Hotchkis.

Well, there you have it, no points for the Hotchkis bars (at least the front one).

Please make your comments and correct my assumptions if they are erroneous.

Thanks
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Old 02-23-2010, 05:44 PM   #2
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I would love to help. But you said heavyweights.
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Old 02-23-2010, 07:17 PM   #3
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I was wrong once a long time ago, but I think they're both hollow bars.
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Old 02-23-2010, 08:13 PM   #4
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Ya but one is hollowier than the other.
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Old 02-24-2010, 02:56 AM   #5
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both make a great product but in the end i went with the hotchkis track pac. it's a complete package designed to work together. i love my track pac.
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Old 02-24-2010, 12:51 PM   #6
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Hi Avalnch,

I hope I'm not intruding on this thread, but since it is specifically mentioning our products, please allow me to explain why we have made specific decisions on the design of our sway bars (If it wasn't your intention to have manufacturers chime in, just let me know). My comments below are meant to be referencing Pfadt Race Engineering products only. We stay away from commenting specifically on the products of a competitor, as often as necessary.

Our Pfadt Sport Package swaybars, include the following: A solid front bar with one position attachment machined ends, and a hollow rear bar, with three position (adjustable) attachment machined ends. In both cases, we started with specific rates we wanted to achieve for what we consider an appropriate "balance" of the Camaro chassis, with both stock springs and upgraded drop springs.

We chose a solid front bar design because it achieved the rate we wanted, with the geometry we chose, and had a minimum weight disadvantage compared to the hollow front bar we had also designed and tested. Quite simply, using the hollow design (of Pfadt Front sway bars, not speaking for competitors) did not have any monumental advantages, due to the weight decrease not being a large percentage (for the rate Pfadt chose).

The rear bar, on the other hand, allowed for hollow bar application on a simpler geometry, to achieve the rate that we wanted and delivered a large weight savings. Quite honestly, some people like light components on their car, some are indifferent. We want to convey that it was very advantageous in the design our our Sport Rear Sway Bar, to have the weight savings over an appropriately sized solid rear bar (achieving the same roll resistance). Since the design options allowed us to achieve the same rate, with a heavier design, or a lighter design, we obviously chose the lighter design. This lighter design carries absolutely no negative effects as a result.

Both front and rear bars have our machined ends, welded in, and is just one of those design decisions we make to control tolerances better in our manufacturing process, and produce a better product for the customer.

We are looking into adding other Pfadt components to our Pfadt Sport Package, for an added cost savings to the customer. These componetns are all designed to work together. There are a couple of directions we may go in. Look for an announcement very soon for details. Or PM me for more info.

Thank you for considering our products, let us know if you have any questions!
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Old 02-24-2010, 02:38 PM   #7
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Ya but one is hollowier than the other.
I stand corrected LOL
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Old 02-24-2010, 03:03 PM   #8
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Thanks Pfadt, your response and comments are exactly what I was looking for.

Do you have a chassis brace in the works? What's your view on this item? In my past SOLO-II days running my '84 Z28, there were lots of folks installing poly (or even solid) sub-frame bushings. I don't want to go that far, but I think a chassis brace would defintely help.

Thanks again for your valuable input.
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Old 02-24-2010, 03:07 PM   #9
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I was wrong once NOT long ago, but I think they're both hollow bars.
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Originally Posted by MisterCamaro69 View Post
I stand corrected LOL

There, I fixed it for ya.

Sorry, couldn't resist.
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Old 02-25-2010, 12:57 AM   #10
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Serious question here. All aftermarket part are superior to the OEM equipment correct? (or are supposed to be or there would be no reason to do it) (well...... to get the stickers maybe lol)

Is there really THAT much of a difference in them. I mean if the OEM stuff gets a rating say 60 out of 100, is it really so bad to buy a product that gets you a 90 out of 100 and worry about if you might have gotten 91 out of 100?

Basically, are the differences going to be all that much?
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Old 02-25-2010, 08:33 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Avalnch View Post
Thanks Pfadt, your response and comments are exactly what I was looking for.

Do you have a chassis brace in the works? What's your view on this item? In my past SOLO-II days running my '84 Z28, there were lots of folks installing poly (or even solid) sub-frame bushings. I don't want to go that far, but I think a chassis brace would defintely help.

Thanks again for your valuable input.
They have tinkered around with some computer drawings but nothing final as of yet.



Regards
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Old 02-25-2010, 08:40 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PQ View Post
Serious question here. All aftermarket part are superior to the OEM equipment correct? (or are supposed to be or there would be no reason to do it) (well...... to get the stickers maybe lol)

Is there really THAT much of a difference in them. I mean if the OEM stuff gets a rating say 60 out of 100, is it really so bad to buy a product that gets you a 90 out of 100 and worry about if you might have gotten 91 out of 100?

Basically, are the differences going to be all that much?
PQ, you bring up a good point. Its my opinion that it isn't necessarily that straightforward of a scale though, when customers are considering the purchase of upgraded components. If you are simply entering a engineering competition, then yes, it seems like you could use a scale of that resolution to determine a products "effectiveness". But a problem arises when you introduce cost and value to a customer. This is really where matters get subjective, and customers have different opinions on if the differences are "worth" it.

To put it simply, some customers when "thin-slicing" a products value, will rate the difference between two products (in the example you mentioned), a 90 and 91. But another customer may have the opinion that certain differences are more valuable, and would rate those same two products at a 65 and 95.

So it really just comes down to the customers attitude on the situation and the "resolution" in their scale, if that makes sense. Pfadt likes to supply products to meet the demands of all "scales" being considered.

With that said, I think the point you are trying to make is that customers are going to see an improvement from all after market products, and people will not be dissappointed with the decision they come to (as long as its not keeping the stock components ). I will agree with you, but the key is determining the value of "improvement" relative to another product.
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Old 03-01-2010, 08:52 PM   #13
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Hi Avalnch - Seems like you've already made up your mind based on info in the forums, some of which came from less than neutral sources. Just to clarify - most OEM bars on high performance vehicles are made from hollow-tube high-strength steel. This is the case with the Z06, the SS, Porsches and others. We respect those who go with solid and could easily do so if we thought it was the way to go, but we choose hollow. Since we actually design/manufacture bars for OEs as well as the aftermarket, our parts undergo rigorous durability, performance and track testing.

We feel hollow is just better due to excellent strength and weight savings. Factory Camaro sway bars are hollow, and the bottom line is the necking down does not create a weaker point as others are erroneously claiming.

The welded on ends are fine. We like using the same material throughout the sway bar for maximum material consistency. Therefore, we forge our sway bar ends which is a complicated process involving a special furnace, custom tooling and machinery and a metalsmith. As long as sound engineering principals are followed either method works well.

We respect the Pfadt products because like us they use sound engineering and meaningful design. Canít comment on some of the other brands mentioned in this thread because they seem to be perpetually out of stock and claim to be changing the design often. We read that their front bar will be four position adjustable on the next run. We prefer to determine, through track and street testing, the maximum sway bar rate for the front and then fine tune, adjust roll stiffness/ handling balance with the rear sway bar. The method always worked well on our race cars.

Bottom line: our parts are designed, track tested, and built for maximum durability, performance, ride comfort and simple installation. The track pack (Chassis Brace, Springs and Sways Bars) is a proven performer that works extremely well with fantastic handling and a ride that won't get old after a few weeks.
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Old 03-01-2010, 09:06 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PfadtRacing View Post
Hi Avalnch,

I hope I'm not intruding on this thread, but since it is specifically mentioning our products, please allow me to explain why we have made specific decisions on the design of our sway bars (If it wasn't your intention to have manufacturers chime in, just let me know). My comments below are meant to be referencing Pfadt Race Engineering products only. We stay away from commenting specifically on the products of a competitor, as often as necessary.

Our Pfadt Sport Package swaybars, include the following: A solid front bar with one position attachment machined ends, and a hollow rear bar, with three position (adjustable) attachment machined ends. In both cases, we started with specific rates we wanted to achieve for what we consider an appropriate "balance" of the Camaro chassis, with both stock springs and upgraded drop springs.

We chose a solid front bar design because it achieved the rate we wanted, with the geometry we chose, and had a minimum weight disadvantage compared to the hollow front bar we had also designed and tested. Quite simply, using the hollow design (of Pfadt Front sway bars, not speaking for competitors) did not have any monumental advantages, due to the weight decrease not being a large percentage (for the rate Pfadt chose).

The rear bar, on the other hand, allowed for hollow bar application on a simpler geometry, to achieve the rate that we wanted and delivered a large weight savings. Quite honestly, some people like light components on their car, some are indifferent. We want to convey that it was very advantageous in the design our our Sport Rear Sway Bar, to have the weight savings over an appropriately sized solid rear bar (achieving the same roll resistance). Since the design options allowed us to achieve the same rate, with a heavier design, or a lighter design, we obviously chose the lighter design. This lighter design carries absolutely no negative effects as a result.

Both front and rear bars have our machined ends, welded in, and is just one of those design decisions we make to control tolerances better in our manufacturing process, and produce a better product for the customer.

We are looking into adding other Pfadt components to our Pfadt Sport Package, for an added cost savings to the customer. These componetns are all designed to work together. There are a couple of directions we may go in. Look for an announcement very soon for details. Or PM me for more info.

Thank you for considering our products, let us know if you have any questions!

Hey Aaron, I am VERY interested in the additional products you will be adding to the sport package. I just bought some BMR Trailing Arms, but I haven't installed them, and would really like to have a package that is all designed to work together instead of having BMR trailing arms/toe rods and Pfadt springs/sways. Let me know, Im willing to hold out but the wait is killing me!!
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Old 03-01-2010, 10:34 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Hotchkis View Post
Hi Avalnch - Seems like you've already made up your mind based on info in the forums, some of which came from less than neutral sources. Just to clarify - most OEM bars on high performance vehicles are made from hollow-tube high-strength steel. This is the case with the Z06, the SS, Porsches and others. We respect those who go with solid and could easily do so if we thought it was the way to go, but we choose hollow. Since we actually design/manufacture bars for OEs as well as the aftermarket, our parts undergo rigorous durability, performance and track testing.

We feel hollow is just better due to excellent strength and weight savings. Factory Camaro sway bars are hollow, and the bottom line is the necking down does not create a weaker point as others are erroneously claiming.

The welded on ends are fine. We like using the same material throughout the sway bar for maximum material consistency. Therefore, we forge our sway bar ends which is a complicated process involving a special furnace, custom tooling and machinery and a metalsmith. As long as sound engineering principals are followed either method works well.

We respect the Pfadt products because like us they use sound engineering and meaningful design. Canít comment on some of the other brands mentioned in this thread because they seem to be perpetually out of stock and claim to be changing the design often. We read that their front bar will be four position adjustable on the next run. We prefer to determine, through track and street testing, the maximum sway bar rate for the front and then fine tune, adjust roll stiffness/ handling balance with the rear sway bar. The method always worked well on our race cars.

Bottom line: our parts are designed, track tested, and built for maximum durability, performance, ride comfort and simple installation. The track pack (Chassis Brace, Springs and Sways Bars) is a proven performer that works extremely well with fantastic handling and a ride that won't get old after a few weeks.
As an engineer and a former racer, I can attest to the quality built into both Pfadt and Hotchkis components. I have run both in the past and I can honestly say the difference to me wasn't much more than feel. At all levels, both performed well and do everything you would expect them to do for the price. Both are huge improvements over stock, but one design is bound to feel more comfortable to a driver and that will vary from driver to driver.

For me, the Hotchkis stuff felt better and inspired more confidence with better track times. I have friends who are the exact opposite and swear by Pfadt. On a different level, it's the same reason Hendrick can't put the 48 car's setup on the 24 car and expect Jeff to like it as much as Jimmie does and run as fast. Personal preferences come into play. Bottom line, you can't go wrong with either but, if you can, experience both first on another Camaro. You are bound to like one better.

Reading this post and others in the suspension threads on Camaro5, you can learn a lot about the big players who are competing for your business. I think a company shows it's true colors when they have the class to mention a competitor in a respectful manner while sharing the benefits of their own product. It shows a blend of confidence in their product with humility. Both the Pfadt and Hotchkis guys have been nothing but honest, informative and respectful. For me, that earns my business and recommendation.
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Old 03-02-2010, 01:18 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Hopper View Post
As an engineer and a former racer, I can attest to the quality built into both Pfadt and Hotchkis components. I have run both in the past and I can honestly say the difference to me wasn't much more than feel. At all levels, both performed well and do everything you would expect them to do for the price. Both are huge improvements over stock, but one design is bound to feel more comfortable to a driver and that will vary from driver to driver.

For me, the Hotchkis stuff felt better and inspired more confidence with better track times. I have friends who are the exact opposite and swear by Pfadt. On a different level, it's the same reason Hendrick can't put the 48 car's setup on the 24 car and expect Jeff to like it as much as Jimmie does and run as fast. Personal preferences come into play. Bottom line, you can't go wrong with either but, if you can, experience both first on another Camaro. You are bound to like one better.

Reading this post and others in the suspension threads on Camaro5, you can learn a lot about the big players who are competing for your business. I think a company shows it's true colors when they have the class to mention a competitor in a respectful manner while sharing the benefits of their own product. It shows a blend of confidence in their product with humility. Both the Pfadt and Hotchkis guys have been nothing but honest, informative and respectful. For me, that earns my business and recommendation.
Thanks for the comments, Hopper. You bring up an excellent point on it coming down to personal preference.

This is tangent, but I see you are from Danbury. Ever take a walk over to Highcroft? Just curious. Thanks!
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Old 03-02-2010, 01:20 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Hotchkis View Post
Hi Avalnch - Seems like you've already made up your mind based on info in the forums, some of which came from less than neutral sources. Just to clarify - most OEM bars on high performance vehicles are made from hollow-tube high-strength steel. This is the case with the Z06, the SS, Porsches and others. We respect those who go with solid and could easily do so if we thought it was the way to go, but we choose hollow. Since we actually design/manufacture bars for OEs as well as the aftermarket, our parts undergo rigorous durability, performance and track testing.

We feel hollow is just better due to excellent strength and weight savings. Factory Camaro sway bars are hollow, and the bottom line is the necking down does not create a weaker point as others are erroneously claiming.

The welded on ends are fine. We like using the same material throughout the sway bar for maximum material consistency. Therefore, we forge our sway bar ends which is a complicated process involving a special furnace, custom tooling and machinery and a metalsmith. As long as sound engineering principals are followed either method works well.

We respect the Pfadt products because like us they use sound engineering and meaningful design. Canít comment on some of the other brands mentioned in this thread because they seem to be perpetually out of stock and claim to be changing the design often. We read that their front bar will be four position adjustable on the next run. We prefer to determine, through track and street testing, the maximum sway bar rate for the front and then fine tune, adjust roll stiffness/ handling balance with the rear sway bar. The method always worked well on our race cars.

Bottom line: our parts are designed, track tested, and built for maximum durability, performance, ride comfort and simple installation. The track pack (Chassis Brace, Springs and Sways Bars) is a proven performer that works extremely well with fantastic handling and a ride that won't get old after a few weeks.
And we certainly appreciate the comments, Hotchkis. The feeling is mutual and thanks for keeping things professional.
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Old 03-02-2010, 02:03 PM   #18
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There, I fixed it for ya.

Sorry, couldn't resist.
Tough crowd LOL

.... Hey, I was just half wrong, so does that mean I was half right?

I appreciate all the vendors saving the technical information for these threads, and the sales pitches in the For Sale section. You're all a welcome benefit to the site
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Old 03-02-2010, 02:06 PM   #19
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In reading this thread, as well as other threads about other aftermarket products, I have determined the difference for the "average" guy (read: I am not a racer on the track and have no idea what most of the technical stuff even means or how it applies to my car and me driving) is what kind of deal can I get on the product (since, to me, they are the same performance-wise) and which one I like the looks of better.
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Old 03-02-2010, 09:16 PM   #20
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Thanks for the comments, Hopper. You bring up an excellent point on it coming down to personal preference.

This is tangent, but I see you are from Danbury. Ever take a walk over to Highcroft? Just curious. Thanks!
Haven't been down to their shop yet, but would like to drop by sometime. I would spend all my free time at the track or bumming around race shops if I could, but then I wouldn't have a wife to come home to! They might run me out of the place if they found out I work for Chevy. Not to mention the grief I would get from the Corvette Racing guys if they caught me in an Acura shop.
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Old 03-02-2010, 11:05 PM   #21
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Hopper, sent you a PM
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Old 03-03-2010, 12:17 AM   #22
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solid verses tubular, which is stronger?

I remember many years ago watching Mr. Wizard and he talked about this very thing. A solid bar took less pressure to bend then the tube of the same dia. Why, because the solid bar had but one point of resistance and the tube has 2 points of resistance. I believe that is why they make tube chassis and a roll cage is made out of steel tubing, for strength and weight savings.
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Old 03-03-2010, 12:36 AM   #23
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solid verses tubular, which is stronger?

I remember many years ago watching Mr. Wizard and he talked about this very thing. A solid bar took less pressure to bend then the tube of the same dia. Why, because the solid bar had but one point of resistance and the tube has 2 points of resistance. I believe that is why they make tube chassis and a roll cage is made out of steel tubing, for strength and weight savings.
Hi kga10734, I get the point you are making, unfortunately it is just never that cut and dry. To say something is "stronger" than something else isn't pertinent in a general sense, unless specific values are given, and all assumptions are removed.

Everything is relative to the application (just like your roll cage example using tubing in lieu of bar), and in the instance of torsional stiffness, a hollow bar, OR solid bar, can both be used to achieve the exact same strength (in torsion) and roll-stiffness rate. The weights will be different, the diameters will be different as well, they may have other minor feature changes, but controlling for geometry, both bars can be engineered appropriately to achieve the desired effect on the vehicles handling.
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Old 03-03-2010, 07:45 AM   #24
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That's kinda what I figured after reading a lot of threads on this site. That's why I went with Pfadt. I personaly don't know anyone the has ever bent a sway bar. If the ones I'm putting on the car are bigger, stronger, and improve the handling over the stock bars, then I am happy with my purchase.
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Old 03-03-2010, 09:02 AM   #25
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Quote:
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I personally don't know anyone the has ever bent a sway bar.
Nope, not without hitting something....In aggressive "non-contact" driving, the end links are gonna go first and you are gonna know about that immediately!

To the OP:

For me it came down to a specific correction (understeer and the ability to set a "designed-in" neutral position with their bars) that I was looking for. Aaron (Pfadt) took my phone call and answered ALL my technical questions (I was a paid master ASE tech for 20 years w/ 10 undercar) without a thought for the time he was spending with me.

I have the Pfadt bars and they work as stated. Body roll is gone, car is neutral at the limit, this is good. But be forewarned that improving this area will only serve to highlight and aggravate the deficiencies of the stock shocks\springs, this is bad!! But then that is what coil-overs are for! (if I can only get me hands on them )
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