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Hagerty Employee

The Suspension of Disbelief: The "Wet Strut"

I say this over and over: I'm an enthusiast, not a collector. I buy what I like and what I can afford, not what I think will appreciate in value. And I'm certainly not seeking out the best cars in the best possible condition. Instead, I'm a bottom-feeder.

Rob, I'm totally in agreement with you on both counts. While reading the article, I was uncomfortable in my chair until I reached the point where you rescued the original parts from the trash! You now have a car you can enjoy plus some peace of mind. I can't tell you how many times I have silently cursed previous owners of my cars for removing parts and items that I have had to source and painfully replace, and not like yours that seriously affect driveability and safety.

So, to you, from some unknown future owner of your car many years hence, thank you in advance!
New Driver

I am genuinely surprised your reasonable reserve was above 25k for this 2002. $25k seems like a good selling price.

Good tires and shocks do not take away from the survivor concept of this car. It has enough miles you can drive it occasionally. I think.

Have you relisted with the new inflated pricing we have on our hands?
Advanced Driver

Joey, no. I'll be holding onto the car.
Intermediate Driver

"no. I'll be holding onto the car."

Ha!, as soon as I finished reading Joey's question, I knew that would be Rob's answer.
Rob bonded with him over the suspension project and Hampton evolved from an investment to a fun driver. Yup, makes perfect sense.
Intermediate Driver

I only wish the rear shocks on the E39 were that easy! Disassembling half the rear seating area, no make that the whole area, is not fun.
I'm a little confused though. My E24 has inserts and when I replaced them, the manual said to replace the oil as it helps in cooling the unit.
Is the 2002 insert not self-contained and actually using the fluid for damping?
Advanced Driver

Driver17, yes, there is a distinction between a wet strut that it actually bathed in oil in the strut tube and uses it as a reservoir, versus a sealed strut cartridge that is surrounded in a little oil to help it with cooling. The original 2002 strut cartridges were the former. You can go down the rabbit hole and look at the latter issue of using oil to surround a sealed strut, or at least a little oil at the bottom to prevent it from rusting itself there after decades. Interestingly, the instructions for using Bilstein struts, at least in vintage BMWs, specify to drain any oil and insert them dry.
Advanced Driver

Can't tell you how parts I threw out years back that I now wish I hadn't...

Flat spotted tires can indeed be "restored". Over inflate them by about 20psi and drive them hard in really hot weather for a few days. Not telling how I know.
Advanced Driver

As I keep upgrading my 560SL I keep all the original parts just in case the next owner wants them. My wife just does not understand why, has told me if you go before me what am I supposed to do with them. I tell her give them to the next owner, they might say, why did he keep this, or may say wow, that is great. I also like to keep them to show why I replaced. However, I am the type that loves to drive, so probably won't be worth a lot. I have put over 20,000 miles on it since I bought it and have gone over the 100,000 mile mark and that probably cost me a couple thousand. I however believe cars are meant to be DRIVEN.

I like to keep cars as close to original as possible - but I also like to drive them. Like the author, I am also a bottom-feeder who looks for the less-than-perfect, high mileage, off the collector mainstream versions. My 65 Impala came to me with a 2-speed automatic and single-circuit drum brakes. While I wrestled with the prospect of tampering, I also discovered that the floor pans were virtually nonexistent and the drivetrain was a paperweight. I now have dual circuit brakes with discs up front (completely reversible) and a 4-speed automatic which required modification to the (replacement) floor pans and transmission tunnel. The original drivetrain is also still lurking in my garage. But now, when I am finally finished, I will have a highway-driveable car that is a lot safer than the original
New Driver

Rob, I'm curious as to which bottom-feeder 185/70 tires you chose. On my 1952 MG TD, I had confidently stated I wanted Vredestein tires until I priced them, and later learned that the classic VW community had blessed a Korean tire, same size (165/80-15), at about a third the price. I bought five of those online from Walmart, shipped free to the store, and have been quite happy with them.
New Driver

You could leave the old struts and shocks in the trunk (probably in a better box).