SUSPENSION AND STEERING
Koni dampers and matched lowering springs were standard ST200 equipment, although we’d be surprised if factory parts remain in place on the car you’re looking at. If they are, we dread to think what condition they’ll be in, so factor in the cost of buying new dampers and springs when haggling on price. Shock and spring combinations from Bilsten and Eibach have proved popular in recent years, while GAZ offers a complete coilover suspension solution for the Vectra B.
The ST200’s original ride was suitably firm. That said, if replacing springs, we’d recommend a drop of no more than 40mm front and back to lower the car’s centre of gravity and eliminate any ‘wallowy’ handling you might detect being produced by stock-spec parts. GAZ adjustable coilovers will be of use if you’re planning track time, where bump, rebound and ride height settings can be adjusted to suit the driving conditions and surface you find yourself tackling.
Elsewhere, standard Vectra B V6 supporting components and steering equipment are in use, including bushes, balljoints, track rod ends, inner arms and strut top mounts. These items are all prone to wear over time. Anti-roll bar drop links can fail too, causing clunking over rough road and encouraging vague steering. Powerflex polyurethane bushes will stiffen the chassis, and double up as a true ‘fit and forget’ solution. Furthermore, they can be ordered in options to suit race or road. Of course, standard rubber bushes are in plentiful supply from the aforementioned retailers for those of you who like the idea of staying true to factory specification.
ST200 steering racks are nothing special. They’re standard-issue parts prone to leaks around banjo bolt seals. Check for evidence of what looks like red power steering fluid around the base of the rack and along the power steering pipework. Also check for whines or groans when the steering is turned full lock. This may indicate low fluid levels, which, in turn, may indicate a leak is present. New seals are cheap, but replacing them is time consuming.
Wear and tear in steering componentry should be expected of a decades-old used car, but check for play in the steering and knocking from the base of the steering column anyway. Rock the steering wheel from side to side. Knocking might suggest a loose or worn universal joint.