Project Drift King Suzuki Equator Part I: Suspension Makeover

Part 1: Custom Spindles, Coilovers, and a Three-link

Dan WardJun 1, 2011
Apair of roller skates without the wheels is just an ugly pair of shoes and similarly, we couldn’t exactly call our ’09 Suzuki Equator "Project Drift King" if it didn’t have a stellar suspension that could withstand the beatings we had planned. Thankfully, a creative plan was devised to turn the not-so-easy-to-lower Equator/Frontier platform into a real beast of a midsized pickup. Back when phantom dualies were all the rage in the early’90s, coilovers were booming because of the Pro Street roots many of those custom trucks shared. Coilovers are a great upgrade to most suspensions because they allow proper fine-tuning and can be easily adjusted to meet different driving/track conditions. For Drift King, we called up QA1 and ordered a set of their trick double-adjustable shocks along with the proper length and rate coil springs. This combo would allow us to manipulate the Equator’s ride height and handling characteristics for picture-perfect drifts.
Coilovers by themselves will only lift or lower a truck a small amount and in order to get the Suzuki down to the desired ride height, we contacted Max Fish of Bio Kustoms, in lovely Winchester, California. Max gladly accepted our challenge to modify our factory spindles and transform them into three-inch drop spindles. With the front figured out, we turned our focus on the rear suspension. We had big plans for the Suzuki’s 4.0L V-6 and were hoping to make more than 300 hp to the rear tires, so whatever suspension setup we went with needed to handle serious abuse. The primary downside to rear coilover conversions on trucks is the fabrication involved, but after talking with our buddies at Street Shock, in Redondo Beach, California, they talked us into allowing them to ditch our factory leaf springs and shocks and let them fabricate a wishbone three-link. This new rear setup would center the driveshaft, plant the axle, take the horsepower abuse, and be ideal for the new QA1 coilover kit. To help our Equator perform more admirably and to make it look the part, we ordered a set of 20-inch MB Motoring Gunner 6 wheels from Discount Tire Direct. Wanting to get the most out of our new performance suspension, we wrapped the new MB Wheels in Continental CrossContact UHP high-performance light-truck tires sized 255/45R20. Bigger wheels meant better brakes, so a quick and easy Stillen Sport Rotor upgrade would handle that concern. The new wheel and tire combo really set the truck off and made us eager to get out and beat on our latest project. Read along and see how Drift King went from completely stock to ready to tear up our test course in just one day.
From the Editor:
It should be noted that the owner of Street Shock decided to retire and Project Drift King was one of the shop’s last projects. We say "Thank You" for all of their hard work every time we pull the e-brake and smoke the tires in a sideways fury.
From the Driver Seat
Having spent extensive time behind the wheel of both factory and lowered Equators, I was blown away by the improvement in both ride and handling of Drift King. Corner turn-in is now nice and neutral without the typical push of rear-wheel-drive trucks. The ride is stiff, yet compliant enough for long drives and freeway cruising. Bumpsteer is nonexistent and traction is incrediblethere’s no axle wrap or tire hop. Lock-to-lock steering will quickly cause the shortened spindles to run out of room, which decreases overall turning radius, but with a midsized crew cab truck, turning radius was never impressive to start with. Overall, we’re extremely pleased with the Equator’s suspension transformation and we’re looking forward to dialing it in with a bigger front sway bar to help control the body roll.

Your Questions Answered:
Time spent working: 10 hours
Degree of Difficulty: Professional
Tools Needed: Assorted metric wrenches and sockets, grinder, welder, drill, cut-off wheel or plasma cutter, angle finder
Parts Used:
Continental CrossContact UHP 255/45R20 Tires $305.00 (x4)
MB Wheels Gunner 6 20x8.5-inch wheels $156.00 (x4)
Stillen front sport rotors NIS5600 $255.75
Stillen rear sport rotos NIS5750 $232.18
QA1 double adjustable front shcoks DDR7855P $349.00 (x2)
QA1 double adjustable rear shocks DDR5855P $329.00 (x2)
Total: $3,687.93

Sources

Stillen
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
800-891-1058
http://www.stillen.com
Continental Tires
www.ContinentalTire.com
QA1 Motorsports
Lakeville, MN 55044
800-721-7761
www.qa1.net
Bio Kustumz
Hemet, CA
951-654-3195
http://www.biokustumz.com
Porter's Alignment & Brake Service
Redondo Beach, CA 90278
1-310-318-1682

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