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Rear torsion strength
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Thread: Rear torsion strength

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    Moderator map's Avatar
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    Rear torsion strength

    Let's see if I have this correct; please correct my misunderstanding.

    In the Fiat, the rear suspension is trailing arm. Unlike some cars I'm used to, both wheels are tied together by a solid "axle" (#5 in picture 1). In cornering the outer wheel will lift the inner wheel somewhat. But, as DNA says "The standard rear suspension has a very low torsional stiffness. This causes the under steer of the vehicle, thus limiting the performance." Basically, the "axle" bar is not stiff enough and/or is too far enough forward, and that the entire unit twists. Without the Abarth torsion bar, both rear wheels can bounce when one wheel hits a speed bump, but there's a some independence to the wheel travel.
    1.jpg
    The Abarth adds parts #1 & #3. Bolted to the wheel flanges, it provides leverage points further rearward, and the bar is also in torsion "boxing" the suspension... thus the term torsion bar. This can't be added to the standard 500, without replacing the rear axle assembly. (The Pop's wheel flanges are different.)

    DNA's system clamps and/or bolts bushings to the "axle" and the torsion bar ends attach to the shock mounts. Tie rods are length adjustable and can be positioned in 3 holes in the bracket, and they claim that makes it more adjustable. It also reduces ground clearance, perhaps a problem when going over speed bumps with one rear wheel. (The EU model drills/bolts to the rear axle, the US model clamps in place.)

    1.jpg

    I notice STS says their torsion bar doesn't fit the 2018... though eBay says it does.



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    Senior Member HalfPint's Avatar
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    The stock twist beam design is a sort of semi-independent system, with the twist beam providing some of the function of a sway bar (torsion bar). If you want additional roll resistance you have to add an additional bar. Still, the wheels cannot move completely interdependently either, where a roll bar usually has end links that don't allow one wheel's movement to move the other side too much.

    I've always sort of despised this rear suspension design since GM started putting it on everything, especially since I've have had several excellent handling cars with the dual lateral link fully independent rear pioneered by Lancia. But it's cheap and does not intrude on passenger space so everyone else is using it now too. We've got one on a 2015 Hyundai Elantra GT, at Fiesta ST and the 500 Abarth, and I have to say the latter two do work quite well anyway. The Elantra GT is a very nice handling car but it's a bit softer, and there you can really feel it step out in turns when you hit a bump - I can't really call it bump steer as it's more just axle hop and a loss of traction.
    Last edited by HalfPint; 02-16-2020 at 09:23 AM.
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    Senior Member lammie200's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by map View Post
    ... thus the term torsion bar. This can't be added to the standard 500, without replacing the rear axle assembly. (The Pop's wheel flanges are different.)
    ST makes one that can be added to Pops, Sports, Lounges, older Turbos, etc. All the cars that didn't come with the Abarth setup can use it. I put one on my Sport. In some ways it is a simpler item and actually more effective since it doesn't rely on the very little surface area that you have for clamping with the Abarth type of bar. It baffles me that FIAT didn't use a design similar to ST's design and made theirs three separate pieces compared to only one with the way ST did theirs.
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    I often wonder if the whole back end of the 500 was a stealth design for the later incorporation of a rear mounted two cylinder engine.

    tEdolph

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    Senior Member smark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tedolph View Post
    I often wonder if the whole back end of the 500 was a stealth design for the later incorporation of a rear mounted two cylinder engine.

    tEdolph
    Like a Corvair!

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    Senior Member HalfPint's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by smark View Post
    Like a Corvair!
    Or a Fiat 500?
    Completely stock 2016 500 Abarth, Rhino & Nero
    "Speak if you can improve upon the silence"

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    Quote Originally Posted by lammie200 View Post
    ST makes one that can be added to Pops, Sports, Lounges, older Turbos, etc. All the cars that didn't come with the Abarth setup can use it. I put one on my Sport. In some ways it is a simpler item and actually more effective since it doesn't rely on the very little surface area that you have for clamping with the Abarth type of bar. It baffles me that FIAT didn't use a design similar to ST's design and made theirs three separate pieces compared to only one with the way ST did theirs.
    I'd like to verify with the mfgr, as it should fit, but they didn't respond. I'll try again if/when I'm ready to install. Summit and other vendors show it fitting only 2012 - 2017. STS's site has it listed for 2012+ but, when searched by year, it doesn't come up as a fit for 2018-19.

    STS's design is a fair upgrade for a Pop, but I don't think you'd find any Abarth owners wanting to switch over.

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    Some info on the rear suspension. When the 500 Hatch was first introduced in Europe in 2007, there was no sway bar. Some reviewers were lukewarm on the ride, so Fiat revised the suspension in 2008. What they did is soften the rear springs and add a sway bar, improving the ride. Check out this article for more info on the suspension from 2010.

    Examining the Fiat 500's Suspension

    Comparison of the European 500 and NAFTA 500's suspension in the link below:

    The 2012 Fiat 500: Improved and Refined (part 1)

    When Fiat revised the cars for NAFTA for 2011, they took the opportunity to redesign the rear torsion beam. It is 300% stiffer than the European model, further improving handling and ride. Abarth torsion beams feature reinforced spring seats to take the abuse this model would see on a track. The sway bar for the US model is different than the Euro model.




    Euro Fiat 500 Factory Sway Bar above.

    The US Factory sway bar below. Note the prototype rear sway bar. A little trivia is I took that image in November 2011, but held off publishing it so as to not confuse people.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fiat500USA View Post
    One from the prototype (this is different than production):



    One from the Venom:

    One thing to keep in mind with the 500 is it is a low priced car competing in a segment with slim profits and things like suspension architecture were locked in and came with the Small Car Platform Fiat used for the 500. Maximizing interior space is important in this car segment. The article in the first link shows some of the thinking that went into the tweaking of the rear torsion beam in the quest of space utilization.


    One of the areas Fiat spent a lot of the money on was in the quest of safety. In fact, the tagline for the model was "safety at all cost, with no impact on pricing". The proof was the 500 was the first car of its size to earn a 5 star crash rating from Euro NCAP. NCAP said the car would have earned a 6th star if they had implemented that rating.

    Check the link below for articles on Fiat Safety. Page through them to the beginning to find a lot of articles on the NAFTA and Euro 500.

    Fiat Safety Articles


    Enjoy!

    Quote Originally Posted by Fiat500USA View Post
    I may have some front images. I'll check it out...

    Also, the rear beam on the NAFTA car is 300 percent stiffer (as I'm sure you know). Recollecting back to a 2011 meeting I had, I was told the engineers took advantage of the NAFTA update period to redesign the axle. The Chrysler engineers optimized the older design and the result is the stiffer beam. The advantage is the car can now have softer springs for better ride qualities. Fiat SpA was so impressed with the design they are said to use it in Europe at some point. The NAFTA Abarth also has reinforced spring perches and the add on swaybar. I'm thinking there isn't much advantage to using a Euro beam, but it is 3 AM and it's hard to think!

    I used to have some axle specs around here, I'll see if I can find them.
    Last edited by Fiat500USA; 02-17-2020 at 01:12 AM. Reason: spelling and adding more description
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    Update: Apparently part# 51600 fits the 2018 500.

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    Quote Originally Posted by map View Post
    Update: Apparently part# 51600 fits the 2018 500.
    I have that one on my 2019. It fits just fine.

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