While we had the front of the car apart we decided to install Nagisa's Auto Gacchiri Supports under the front fenders. Nagisa is a small supplier of very trick suspension parts in Japan, specializing in bearing-equipped adjustable suspension links and braces to stiffen the chassis beyond the typical strut tower and lower control arm brace. We've always been impressed by the innovation and quality of Nagisa's parts and have used them successfully in several other street and race car projects over the years with great success.
The main problem with Nagisa's parts was that they were very hard to get in the U.S. We had to get one of our friends, who is stationed in Japan for a work assignment, to buy the parts at retail performance parts outfits and ship them to us. This was a hassle and very expensive. More Japan, which started to import and inventory many of Nagisa's trick parts right here in the U.S., has helped solve this problem. Now the parts can be bought with a phone call or a click of the mouse.
The braces require the removal of the front fenders and the entire front bumper fascia, which is slightly tricky because the Evo has a somewhat delicate aluminum front fenders and some hidden snap-type fasteners in the lower part of the fender that require some care to pop loose without distorting or scratching the fender. Work slowly and carefully here. The stock fenders are very light, probably lighter than many of the carbon or fiberglass replacement parts on the market. After carefully removing the fenders, the braces bolt to the door hinges holes, and the forward part of the brace bolts to the unibody about even with the shock tower using one existing hole and requiring that another hole must be drilled in the unibody at this point as well.
Once installed the Gacchiri brace triangulates this highly stressed part of the chassis, much like how extending a rollcage through the firewall does. Now the upper part of our unibody is reinforced with braces spreading torsional and bending loads over a wide area of the unibody.
Upon reassembly of the front end, we were simply amazed at the difference. We felt that these braces would make little difference because of the rigid and triangulated WORKS front-strut tower brace and the extensive matrix of Cusco Power Braces fortifying the underbody. We were wrong; these braces make a bigger difference in body stiffness than any one single brace that we've installed so far. We noticed a difference in ride comfort right away. A stiff chassis allows suspension to work better at absorbing bumps and, believe it or not, the braces made our stiff competition sprung Moton shocks and stiff sidewalled Nitto NT01 tires ride about as well or better as a stock Evo.
An Evo isn't known for refinement and they exhibit a pretty large amount of squeaks and rattles from the factory compared to a luxury car like a Lexus. Our Evo has had its share of squeaks coming from the dash and cowl area of the car. Amazingly, the braces stopped the majority of undesirable noises coming from this area. The stiffness is very apparent when jacking up our Evo compared to unbraced Evos. When jacked from one corner, our car doesn't flex or sag like stock Evos. The whole car lifts at once, much like a car with a rollcage. Even when one corner of the car is jacked by itself, the doors all open and close easily. When driving up steep driveways on a diagonal, sometimes one or two wheels are lifted off the ground.
When driven there's an amazing difference in the solidness feel between our chassis and a stock Evo. Our car feels much like a caged car and the steering response is tight and solid. Although these braces have zero bling factor since you'll be the only one who knows they're there, they're probably the first brace we'd recommend installing.
With our ultimate suspension and brakes, we will now have to focus our attention to the engine in our ongoing quest to build the ultimate performance family car.