Suspension & Exhaust Upgrade – Toyota GT86

Suspension & Exhaust upgrade – Toyota GT86 – After having the 86 for 3 months, I started feeling the need to do something more than just putting a lovely sounding Circuit Sports Cat-Back on it. Modding is a bug, and I’m sure some of you can relate, so when you start, you want more and more and it’s very difficult to stop. I had a short list of basic modifications before I even got the car, so I knew exactly what I was going to do, but after getting the car, I had to start prioritising things. Money always plays its role in this game, so the intervals between each “bigger” mod are rather long.

I have managed to get my hands on a beautiful Circuit Sports Cat-Back system, and later that week I fitted it with a little help from Richard, one of the guys who work here.

It’s a beautiful kit of stainless steel, and rather large tips with engraved CS on them.

Just for comparison, this is what they look like next to the standard tips.

At that point, I was in the middle of sorting out the suspension. What I ended up going for was not something I considered before, to be completely honest. Originally, I was thinking about coilover suspension from the best aftermarket manufacturer of suspension parts for Japanese cars out there. Yes, it is Cusco. Specifically, Cusco Street Zero were the coilovers I was thinking about. That being said, later on I asked myself a question. “Do I need coilovers?” Absolutely not, and then I found Cusco Touring A adjustable dampers.

Touring A is an OEM replacement shock absorber and strut assembly, that will let you “fine-tune” your suspension set up thanks to its 40-way adjustable damping. Make it soft for daily driving to work, or turn it up, increase the stiffness and take it to the track. The Cusco Street Zero coilovers, I originally wanted are really good coilovers, but they only give you the advantage of height & camber adjustability. Driving my 86 everyday, I wanted something a little bit more comfortable, so the Touring A were the best option for me. Camber plates are available for these as well, but I didn’t have them, as Whiteline Camber Bolts will give me enough negative camber at the front. You might be wondering if I kept the stock springs, I didn’t. Not only I wanted my car to handle better, but I also wanted it to look better, so Whiteline 25mm Lowering Springs were the way to go. We have them on our promo MK7 Golf GTI, and they feel good, so I had no reason not to go with those. They are also cheaper than competition, so win win.

As you can see, Cusco blue and Whiteline silver go very well together – just as well as the whole set up with my GT86. The car handles so much better now, I could feel it straight away. Handling is what makes these cars so excellent, but there is always room for improvement, and I feel like this is what was needed. Going around bends feels so much better now, there is virtually no body roll, and it doesn’t matter if you’re doing 30mph or 60mph, you can feel the difference at all times, oh and if you go over speed bumps, there is no knocking, that you usually get when having coilover suspension on your car, so this car has become a perfect daily/street car. Town, country roads or track, it’s all just a matter of setting up the damping to your desired level and you’re good to go to enjoy yourself.

All you need to do is turn this little “end” that sits on top of the strut and adjust the damping. There are 4, (one for each strut) you can set your front end to a different level than the back or have every corner different. It allows you to adjust them individually. You don’t need to modify anything in order to have these front ones there, just remove the little plastic cap that is in the middle of the top mount. The rear, however, is a bit different. You don’t see anything when you look in the boot, because it’s covered with the carpet. So, in order to access these, I had to cut into the carpet just to get them through. Other than that, no modifications are needed.


The process of installing this kit is very straight forward. All you need is a bunch of basic tools, a spring compressor and not a lot of time.

First, we put the car on the lift, took the wheels off and started laying out the tools we thought we were going to need.

Once you take the wheels off, you can go ahead and start un-clipping lines. We used a flat-head screwdriver, just to pop it out.

When all the lines are unhooked, start loosening the drop link, and then move on to the 2 big bolts holding the knuckle in place. You might want to use some WD40 on everything, we had to use it on the drop links.

Take the bolts out, pull and it’ll disconnect.


All you need to do now is undo the top three nuts.


Nuts off, and the strut will drop, so don’t forget to hold it as you’re undoing the nuts.


Welcome to stage 2, now you need to use spring compressors, to keep the springs compressed until you take the top mount off.

Simply undo the nut at the top, and you’re done. Now you need to take the top mount, bump stop & dust guard off and put it on the Cusco strut. We didn’t need to use the compressors to put the Whiteline springs on because they are shorter.

The top mount goes on exactly the same way you took it off. Optional Camber Plates are available for this kit, but I’m fine with Whiteline camber bolts.

This is the difference between the stock suspension and my setup. As you can see, it looks very similar, but don’t get fooled, it’s actually very different on the inside.

Put them back on the same way you took them off, and you’re good to move on to the rear!

The rear was very easy, no brake lines in the way, just a few nuts here and there, but before you can access the upper rear nuts, you have to remove the carpets in the boot. When you come across these black “caps”, just grab a flat-head screwdriver and pop it out.

Get the carpet off, and you will see these two nuts. Loosen them, but don’t take them off and move on the bottom.

You will see two nuts on the lower control arm. One for the sway bar link and the other, the bigger nut is the one for your strut. Remove both nuts, just to get the arm to drop a bit lower. It will be easier to get it out. You might want to use some WD40 here again.

Now, go back up, take the nuts off and take the bolt out of the lower arm. We had to use a crowbar to get the strut out, because it was stuck.

When you finally get the strut out, repeat the beginning of stage 2 – put the spring compressors on, remove the top mount, bump stop and dust guard, put it all on the new strut, and put it all back on the car.



I think that, the results are brilliant, the car looks so much better, handles better, there are no knocks when you go over speed bumps, which you could expect from some coilovers and it’s generally very comfortable to drive despite having a sports suspension.


List of parts:

Cusco Touring A – Adjustable Dampers – Front – 96565TF

Cusco Touring A – Adjustable Dampers – Rear – 96565TR

Whiteline – 25mm Lowering Springs – WSK-SUB006


See you at the next one, Lucas!
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[…] you may know from my previous blog, I’ve got a Circuit Sports U.S.A Resonated Cat-Back and Cusco Touring A 40-step […]

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