It’s A New MOD: QA1 Introduces The Next Great Step In Shock Tuning

The 21st Century performance demands a car to do it all – and do it well. It should turn corners with 1.0g-plus control, it should stop violently-quick and yes, it must accelerate with eyeball-flattening ferocity. The new performance enthusiast expects this almost as a matter of course. The latest generation supercars can perform these near-miracles as long as you can afford the high tariff owner’s fee. The much more difficult trick is to pull this off with an older, modified car that does not enjoy the benefit of millions of factory research and development test dollars thrown its way.

Much of this ability has to do with suspension control. With big horsepower, the ability to rule the suspension and application of power to the tires often comes down to the shock absorbers – or more accurately, suspension dampeners. While double-adjustable shocks can get you close, the tuning range necessary to control a car within multiple regimes such as drag racing, turning corners, and optimal braking performance demands radical changes in shock tuning ranges. This requires an extremely wide range of force control – which generally means custom-tuned shocks for each different regime.

But what if there was a way to quickly change the force-tuning schemes on a single shock in a matter of minutes that still offers the immense tuning range of a double adjustable? That time is here with QA1’s new MOD Series Shocks.

The QA1 MOD Shock is immediately identifiable by the two large valve adjustment packs located at the base of the shock. All the initial MOD Shocks will come in a coilover configuration. Adjustability is the name of the game, the external pressure canister can either be integrated into the lower shock body or mounted remotely.

Until now, if you needed more force ability from your double-adjustable shock, this major valve upgrade required removing the shock from the car and sending it either to the manufacturer or a custom shock tuner for major changes to the valving. QA1 identified this as a limitation and created the MOD Shock, which is short for Modular, that offers an externally-located pair of valve packs – one each for compression and rebound control.

Each of these modular packs creates an adjustable range of shock forces for both compression and rebound — actually changing the valving of the shock — not just the damping. QA1’s MOD Shock will come with a mid-point valve pack for both compression and rebound and you can purchase separate MOD valve packs that can either increase or decrease the force required to do the job.

This closer view reveals the placement of the valve packs. The compression (right) and rebound valving (left) are each retained by five Allen head bolts that making changing the packs very quick and easy with no loss of shock pressure or fluid.

So first off, the question becomes “Where’s the benefit?” Right up front let’s make the point that this is not the end-all shock for every application. An average street machine owner who never feels the need to adjust his shocks (or does so only occasionally) may not feel the need to benefit from this technology – although he certainly could.

But, for those enthusiasts who live to compete in events where a road course is followed by an autocross and then a brake stop event and perhaps a drag strip pass or two, then the MOD is perfectly positioned to offer a performance advantage. A good road racer will tell you that a superior handling car will outperform a similar machine with more horsepower. So you could think of the MOD shock almost as a power-adder. Here’s a scenario.

We’re at a multi-venue event where the car will compete in three different tests. The first is an autocross, followed by a 1,000-foot straight-line acceleration and braking test, immediately trailed by timed laps on a high-speed road course. In the past, the typical approach was to select a compromise shock setting that would work for all three events. But a chassis tuner would suggest that each of these venues could easily require its own shock or at least a significantly different shock tuning configuration.

This is the force curve generated by the standard valve pack as measured on QA1’s shock dyno. Each line represents the force generated from every two clicks from full soft to full hard with the low-speed adjuster set on full stiff.

The MOD design gives you the ability to quickly change major shock-force settings between each venue. This could give the car a competitive advantage. An even better point is that these new MOD shocks offer a significant price advantage over competitive shocks that do not offer the same range of adjustment.

Here’s how the new QA1 MOD shock works. The shock body includes a much larger 35mm piston but is a twin-tube design. So when the piston is compressed, the fluid travels through a foot valve and into the outer portion of the shock body for cooling. The separate canister contains a low, 65 psi nitrogen gas charge that is used to minimize trapped air in the oil which can lead to shock oil cavitation — never desirable in a hydraulic circuit.

This version of the MOD Shock integrates the pressure canister into the mount. Also note in the center between the compression and rebound packs is the low-speed bleed adjusters with a single lock screw in the center. There is a low-speed adjuster for both compression and rebound.

The MOD shock operates just like a typical double-adjustable with coarse (also called high-speed) adjustments for both compression and rebound. But, what sets the QA1 Mod Shock apart is the MOD valve packs. These can quickly be changed to create a higher or lower force range. With previous shocks, doing this required a complete disassembly of the shock to perform this conversion, usually by a tuner. Now the driver could become the tuner and simply swap packs in a matter of minutes.

The valve pack conversion is accomplished by removing five small Allen bolts and no fluid or pressure is lost during the conversion, making it both simple and easy to change the range of force for the shock. Each pack is designed with a given force range for both compression and rebound with a 24-click adjustment range within each pack.

While one set of valve packs come with each shock, optional packs are available to give the tuner an incredible range of force options. Each pack offers a 24-position range of adjustments.

Additionally, the low-speed adjustment fixture located in between the compression and rebound valve packs is considered a fine-tuning adjustment compared to individual clicks on the valve packs. This offers extreme fine-tuning adjustment range for both the compression and rebound.

Currently, the MOD line of shocks will be offered in several different coilover configurations intended either with twin-spherical-eyelet mounting points or for specific coilover conversions for GM A-, B-, F- and G-body configurations with others to follow. There’s also significant initial lengths and ranges offered for custom coilover applications.

Adjustability is the name of the game with this shock, and not just in the valving either. The MOD is completely indexable! In the past, the compression and rebound knobs were at a set point on the bottom of the shock. You had to either have it in the stock position or you could turn it 180 degrees, that was it. If you needed the knobs to be at 90 degrees to be able to access them easier, you were out of luck. Now, you can put the knobs where you need them. Additionally, the gas canister can be attached to the bottom of the shock (in one of two positions) or can be tethered remotely if the confines are too tight.

Brake stop challenges offer a completely different set of shock tuning requirements that fit right into the tuning opportunities offered by the MOD Shock breadth of force changes.

The QA1 MOD shock lends itself to literally all different types of motorsports and street applications, although initially it will likely be embraced by the Pro Touring community. However, it could easily fit into a wide range of motorsports like drag racing, asphalt and dirt circle track, road racing, and certainly autocross applications. Here is an excellent video by Dave Kass of QA1 explaining the benefits of the shocks for different types of racing.

There’s much more to this MOD Shock story in terms of specific application information and shock-body dimensions that are available online at including vehicle application details. This could easily be the next big leap for shock tuning that could make the difference between an also-ran setup and the best lap times your car has ever run!

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About the author

Jeff Smith

Jeff Smith, a 35-year veteran of automotive journalism, comes to Power Automedia after serving as the senior technical editor at Car Craft magazine. An Iowa native, Smith served a variety of roles at Car Craft before moving to the senior editor role at Hot Rod and Chevy High Performance, and ultimately returning to Car Craft. An accomplished engine builder and technical expert, he will focus on the tech-heavy content that is the foundation of EngineLabs.
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