Page created: 13-May-05

Re-published: 1-Nov-09


Wheels & Tyres

Technical: Discovery I

When I purchased my Discovery the existing standard suspension was rather tired, which is not surprising as I suspect that both the springs and dampers were those originally fitted by the factory. I already knew that I wanted to upgrade the suspension as I needed to be able to travel fully loaded over rough terrain and tow a large caravan. I was also conscious of the fact that some of the other modifications I had planned such as steering guard, rock sliders and a substantial roof rack would add a significant amount of dead weight to the vehicle.

I knew several people that had bought 1 and 2 inch suspension lift packages from Scorpion Racing comprising De Carbon dampers and their own brand springs. This seemed an obvious solution and I initially thought that a 1-inch lift would be appropriate.

However, when I described what I wanted together with the other modifications I had planned to the Service Manager at KeithCamel Trophy Discovery - if it's good enough for them....... Gott Land Rovers, he advised against a suspension lift. His reasoning was this: Lifting the suspension raises the center of gravity, changes the steering castor angle and changes the prop-shaft angles. The first two, when combined with a heavily loaded roof rack, will adversely affect the vehicle handling and the latter will increase wear on the universal joints. As I was keen to maintain good mechanical integrity, and I wasnít after ultimate off-road performance, this all seemed to make sense. He recommended that I fit new standard front sprints and up-rate the rear springs to original equipment heavy-duty items Ė the same as fitted to Camel Trophy Discoveryís. He also recommended Koni adjustable gas dampers. These have three levels of stiffness, set during installation, and the recommendation was to set them on their softest level at the front and firmest at the rear.

During fitting, the front springs were actually deemed to be ok and so were not replaced.

Fully laden in the Moroccan High Atlas MountainsAfter the suspension was upgraded in this way, the transformation was immediately noticeable. The vehicle felt much more taught and stable through corners, and the back end was no longer lower than the front. Overall the vehicle was slightly higher than before, even at the front which retained the original springs. This is due to the dampers, which are positively pressurised and so provide a certain amount of lift.

Over the longer term, this suspension set-up has more than lived up to itsí expectations. During our trip to Morocco the vehicle was very heavily laden but it remained level whilst still being able to soak up the rough terrain and provide a comfortable ride. More recently, whilst towing our Desert Wolf trailer, the rear end of the vehicle drops no more than 25mm when hitched up.  

Hitched up to Desert Wolf trailer in Norway

All suspension has its' limits!Iíve also toyed with the idea of installing quick disconnect fittings on the rear anti-roll bar, which was a recommendation from Scorpion Racing. This is supposed to increase axle articulation. I eventually decided against it as really I donít need that level of extreme off-road ability for the majority of my driving and I didnít fancy crawling underneath on a regular basis to connect or disconnect it.