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550 ground clearance: question from Belgium

Discussion in '456/550/575' started by Simmerl, Mar 24, 2019.

  1. Simmerl

    Simmerl Rookie

    Sep 25, 2018
    5
    Brussels
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    Simon Baumann
    Hi everyone,
    I'm fairly new to this forum, and not yet a Ferrari owner, but I'm about to change that in the coming months
    Just a few words about me: car enthusiast, theoretically a Millenial, and I once had the great idea to buy and maintain a 1974 Mark2 Jag XJ V12 during my studies. Since then I've also owned a BMW E32 750i, so you could say I've seen both ends of the V12 spectrum, the painful one and the very painful one. Guess where the Jag is located.
    I've always had a weak spot for the early Montezemolo cars, the 456, 550 and F355, and can consider myself lucky enough now to actually think about getting my hands on one. The 550 is my car of choice, had a poster of it on my walls as a child.
    Here's where my questions start (and apologies if there's already a thread here, couldn't find one...):

    1. I understand the groudn clearance of the 550 is fairly generous with 135mm and the dampers are also adjustable by 50mm. Is that standard for all cars or does it only come with the Fiorano package?
    2. The driveway to our garage has a very light incline, plus there's ca. 2cm of drop kerb at the end. From what I've read in the forum here so far the long front overhang is the cause of a lot of pain with expensive damage to the fiberglass edges. How "Bad" is the effect of the overhang on ground clearance if you compare it to cars of the likes of a E46 BMW M3 or a 996/7 911? Is it very limiting on normal roads and in normal situations?
    3. A question aimed at Belgian owners (if there are any...): Brussels is basically plastered with speed bumps, and I've spent some time watching several 911's and one particular GTC4Lusso tackling them. It looked like they had no issue with it, but it might be due to a lifting system, didn't observe that close. Are speedbumps a general threat to 550s here in Brussels?

    Thanks in advance to everyone, I really appreciate the attitude that I've observed in this forum so far. Glad taht there's such a strong community helping each other out. I hope I can contribute to that soon!

    One last thing: If there's any 550 owner in the Brussels area who would be willing to have a chat about the car and share some experiences and what to really look out for, just DM me!

    Cheers.
     
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  2. GTS Bruce

    GTS Bruce Pisses in your Cheerios

    Oct 10, 2012
    654
    Orchard Park NY
    Full Name:
    Bruce Roche
    Your driveway and the speed bumps should be no problem at normal height going slowly. However when in doubt go slow and cross at a 45 degree angle.
     
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  3. tazandjan

    tazandjan Three Time F1 World Champ
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    Jul 19, 2008
    30,312
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    Terry H Phillips
    The shocks on all 550s are adjustable for ride height, but varying it more than 15-20 mm from stock (normal or FHP) will likely have negative effects on handling, ride, etc. After altering ride height, camber and toe need to be adjusted.

    There are not that many FHP 550s out there.

    Incidentally the revised front bumper on the 575M both has increased ground clearance and provides better down force. At least one 550 owner fitted a 575M bumper for extra ground clearance. We also have one owner who put a lift kit on his front suspension.
     
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  4. Bas Jaski

    Bas Jaski Two Time F1 World Champ

    Mar 24, 2008
    29,137
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    The problem with the 550 is the front overhang. They will bottom out on Belgian speedbumps...can't avoid it. Accept it and get any damage fixed at yearly service.
     
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  5. F456M

    F456M Formula 3
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    Jan 8, 2010
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    Hi Simon.

    I read your new thread with great interest. You are spot on checking things like this before you buy a car like this. I have owned a 1974 XJ12L too. A beautiful car with a terrible quality compared to a Ferrari of the late 90-ies! In addition, my everyday car for two years was a E46 M3. That car has a very short overhang, and much stiffer suspention compared to my 550. So it almost never touched the ground. The 550 is much more comfortable, and about the same stability at high speeds. The suspention is actually not very adjustable on a 550 because when you do that you change the complete set-up of the car. It is perfect from the factory. What you could do is to try to fit «air cups». That is a device between the spring and the upper spring support that can be filled with air from a tank with the press of a switch. This is not air suspention. It is just a simple way to get a lift kit. I really want this for my 550 because in France the speed bumps and underground garages are a real nightmare. I am not saying you can’t drive there, but it require some skills. Some of the beauty of the 550 is that it is not a car for beginners... It must be treated with respect and some knowledge about cars. Then it is the best! And I think they will go more up in value based on how rare and how nice they really are. I have not yet found a dealer or manufacturer who can get me some air cups that fit the car, but when I do I will fit them! When on long journeys (small fairytales) you don’t know what you arrive to, and to get that car up 50 mm. can be a really good thing because by doing that, 90% of all the problems hitting the ground will disappear! Try going down a big underground parking garage in Nice downtown when you have 15 city cars behind you who honk the horn and expect you to move on when you can’t.... Just my advice. But it would not avoid me to buy such a great car. And in Belgium, you can go fast! I was in Antwerpen last summer with mine. Belgium and The Netherlands are very good countries to buy from. There is a true 550-specialist in Netherland. Good luck ! And this is the best forum!

    Erik,
    Oslo
     
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  6. Bas Jaski

    Bas Jaski Two Time F1 World Champ

    Mar 24, 2008
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    The aircups are a great device, they really do not interfere with handling (I have a few friends that run them on track cars even). The biggest downside is that they are noisy. Seriously so. You have a compressor tank in the boot of your car and that needs filling up, they're as loud as any other compressor tank, and you'll need to charge it after 2 lifts.

    Here's a video explaining them, time marked to where you can hear it charge (4 mins 20 sec if it doesn't work):


    If it was noiseless it would be an absolute no-brainer for me, but the noise ruins it personally.
     
  7. F456M

    F456M Formula 3
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    Agree, this pump is too noisy. I wonder if a Mercedes self leveling air compressor for the rear air bags could do the same job? It is almost noise less. And it could be running for a longer time between each lift up, but that does not make it less practical. Just more silent.
     
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  8. Bas Jaski

    Bas Jaski Two Time F1 World Champ

    Mar 24, 2008
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    that's a good point and I didn't think of that. Would for sure be a better way to do it I'd say! I assume the Mercedes system works the same? their quiet air compressor fills aircups? the ''fix'' would be the Driftworks air cups and the mercedes compressor.
     
  9. tazandjan

    tazandjan Three Time F1 World Champ
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    Jul 19, 2008
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    Late MB vehicles are available with air suspension and use a silent pump to maintain ride height. On the SUVs, the air suspension even allows raising the ride height for extra clearance off-road. Probably relatively easy to adapt parts of the system to other vehicles and might even negate the need for a large air tank. Lots of used systems out there in salvage yards. My wife's totaled GL 550 salvaged out for $3296 and had a complete operational system in it.
     
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  10. F456M

    F456M Formula 3
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    I really want to look deeper into this. I have no idea if the pressure is higher in the air cup tank but a compressor can’t be to difficult to obtain. The compressor in the video is probably the cheapest part possible to make it work. Would Sticky no more be able to laser etch a sticker to fit an original switch for the mid console? It should say LIFT and two arrows pointing up and down. Then it would be really the first upgrade for the car I would spend my money on....
     
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  11. Bas Jaski

    Bas Jaski Two Time F1 World Champ

    Mar 24, 2008
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    Here is a video how they install the air cups. The air cups are really simple.


    Link below shows more in detail with some important drawings. They fit most coilovers. Is the Mercedes self leveling system able to lower/raise on demand?
    https://www.driftworks.com/air-cups-only-pair.html
     
  12. Bas Jaski

    Bas Jaski Two Time F1 World Champ

    Mar 24, 2008
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    I'm sure they could. Otherwise the suspension lift button from for example the 458 should be easily fitted. A quiet system is essential IMO, it's what will make the system feel factory. The cups are cheap at £200 a corner.
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  13. Simmerl

    Simmerl Rookie

    Sep 25, 2018
    5
    Brussels
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    Simon Baumann
    Thanks everyone for the tips and comments, really appreciate it!
    Tackling the exit of my garage in a 45 degree angle sounds good, but I'm sadly very restricted by the narrow driveway and then by parked cars on both sides of the exit. The aftermarket lifting option sounds actually like a pretty good thing, as long as it is easy to build back to factory standard. But as far as I understand you just attach it to the damper. But the compressor is definitely an issue. It takes quite a lot of space and makes an awful lot of noise. I believe KW offers a lift kit which works hydraulic, but I'm not sure if that's available for the 550. And the question is also if you need to swap the standard damers for KW ones.

    Erik, thanks for the tips and the encouragement. Glad to read you enjoyed the Jag as well. The best thing about the Jag is: even if she has one of her moments and doesn't want to run properly, she's gorgeus to look at. Really miss that car...my financial situation back then only allowed for a model from the cheaper end, but I still thoroughly enjoyed it and got my hands dirty as often as possible. It's hard to find a smoother ride.

    Simon
     
  14. Bas Jaski

    Bas Jaski Two Time F1 World Champ

    Mar 24, 2008
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    The KW lift kit is sadly not available for the 550
     
  15. Simmerl

    Simmerl Rookie

    Sep 25, 2018
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    Brussels
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    Simon Baumann
    That was one of the questions I actually forgot to ask: does anyone know a good 550 specialist in Belgium, the Netherlands or on the German side of the border? With BMW and Jaguar, my experience has been the independent specialist will do a better job (and charge you less, on top) than the official dealer. I guess it’s the same with Ferrari.



    Sent from my iPhone using FerrariChat.com mobile app
     
  16. Bas Jaski

    Bas Jaski Two Time F1 World Champ

    Mar 24, 2008
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    Forza Service in Oss I hear loads of good things about. Not far from Belgian border
     
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  17. F456M

    F456M Formula 3
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    Yes. Alex Janssen at Forza Service have the best reputation according to my senior Ferrari mentor Oistein Hagfors.
     
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  18. 308 GTB

    308 GTB F1 Veteran
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    John (Cribbj) solved the problem with his Maranello Skunk Works Hydraulic Front Lift Kit...







     
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  19. F456M

    F456M Formula 3
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    How does this work? In my opinion, the car should be higher than standard when lifted. This one is lower when lowered.. :)
     
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  20. tazandjan

    tazandjan Three Time F1 World Champ
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    Jul 19, 2008
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    Erik- The video shows the 550 about to bottom out on a driveway. The nose is then raised.
     
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  21. Cribbj

    Cribbj Formula 3
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    And at the time I made this video, my 550 had been lowered to racing spec, so the front splitter/spoiler was catching on anything taller than a cockroach :)
     
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  22. F456M

    F456M Formula 3
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    OK stupid me, I did not think of that. Would be cool to see how it is fitted, as this obviously is not the mentioned air cups. How is the hydraulic working when you drive the car and the wishbones go rapidly up and down...? Must be some kind of «released» mode...?!?! Thanks.
     
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  23. Bas Jaski

    Bas Jaski Two Time F1 World Champ

    Mar 24, 2008
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    I'm also keen to find out! This seems to be the best solution.
     
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  24. F456M

    F456M Formula 3
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    I got some measurements from a fellow 550 owner here in Norway. The spring is 13 cm outer diameter, and 10cm inner diameter. The shock is 5,2 cm outer diameter and the top rubber protector is 8,4 cm outer diameter... It might not be as easy to fit air cups as one could wish. Maybe something hydraulic on the outside would be just as good?
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  25. timeckart

    timeckart Formula Junior

    Apr 9, 2015
    396
    Wildeck in Germany
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    Tim Eckart
    The problem is that almost all 550 lower forward with age as the springs become lame. That's the same with mine. If you look at the brochures and the cars where are sold you can see that the front are too deep. The long snout intensifies the problem. Simply install new springs at the front or adjust the level to the values in the workshop manual.
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