Apr 7, 2020 update to the Elva Mk VI project car

Project Elva: Restoring the Dampers

According to the build sheet, our 1962 Elva Mk6 originally came equipped with Koni dampers at the rear and Armstrongs up front. 

When we bought our car, however, it wore a full set of Konis. Because we’ve had tremendous luck with Konis on both race and street cars over the decades, we were eager to retain them. But first, two questions: What type of Konis did we actually have, and could they be saved? 

Koni no longer directly refurbishes shocks, leaving that to its authorized rebuilders. But since we have a nearly four-decade-long relationship with the folks at Koni, and since this was for a magazine project car, they were willing to help us.

Lee Grimes, automotive product manager at Koni, sent us a report on the dampers:

  • These parts are No. 80H 1480 up front (the shorter ones) and No. 80H 1481 in the rear. Back in the day, the catalog actually listed the fronts for the Elva Courier Mk2 and Mk6; the rears were listed for the Elva Courier Mk2, Mk3 and Mk6.  
  • These are not the original shocks for this car and, unfortunately, they wouldn’t have been present at the early Sebring race. Both rear shocks have a manufacturing date code of December 1966, while the fronts have mismatched date codes—November 1966 on one and April 1967 on the other. They’re still worth redoing, I think, as they are 50-plus years old and played some role in the car’s life.
  • The rears have a big, 1.25ish-inch rubber sitting on the lower spring perch that looks to me like a spring spacer that someone has added to allow the use of a shorter spring in the place of a longer one. Rubber is certainly not ideal material for that, nor have I ever seen Koni or anyone else use a rubber piece for that, so it was probably an owner’s own solution. Koni is not going to have fresh versions of that rubber since it almost certainly never came from them, but later we can discuss how we want to deal with that.

After that initial inspection, Lee ran all four dampers on the dyno. 

Would you believe that the fronts were in good functional order and matched each other’s damping forces almost identically?” he replied. “Not bad for 50-plus-year-old shocks.”

The other two dampers didn’t yield such good news. “The rear shocks were not working properly so they truly needed the full go-through, as expected,” Lee reported. 

Even though the fronts yielded good dyno data, Lee said that Koni would go through all four units, replacing their inner workings with modern, lower-friction materials and seals as well as new, smooth chrome piston rods. Fresh parts would come from Holland. 

As expected, the Koni crew was able to save our dampers. They now look and function as new.

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View comments on the CMS forums
dougie Reader
4/8/20 11:49 p.m.

Sweet! Nice to have the same manufacture in business to do the rebuild on the original part.

Tim Suddard
Tim Suddard Publisher
4/10/20 9:59 a.m.

In reply to dougie :

Yes, its pretty cool that they can tell you exactly what you have and make it like new again.

jr02518 HalfDork
4/11/20 12:48 p.m.

What will you be using for the external "bump stops"?

rsikes New Reader
4/12/20 9:08 a.m.

A shock dyno?  That would be interesting!  So my, bounce the corner of the car, method isn't comprehensive! 

Cool Stuff!   

What's the plan for the springs?

Tim Suddard
Tim Suddard Publisher
4/13/20 1:39 p.m.

In reply to rsikes :

I have what I think are the original coils. I will make sure they are right, and if not, I have the specs for what should be original. I would then test the spring rates to make sure they have not failed and then test to see what adjustments need to be made. As they are simple coil springs, replacement should be pretty straight forward, as long ass I know what to ask for.


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