For many, the name ‘Eibach’ is already a familiar one. Whether you have sampled one of their much-vaunted Pro-Kits on your road car, set up your track weapon on their ERS range or just seen their sticker on some random race exotica, you will probably already know that this well-known company sits comfortably at the top table of component manufacturers.
Boasting rights include global sales of £60 million, subsidiaries on all five continents, factories in Germany and the US and some 490 employees. It’s an impressive set of statistics that become all the more impressive – and endearing – when you learn that Eibach is not run by a faceless corporation, but by one Mr Wilfried Eibach and his daughter Swantje.
Amazingly in this global age of takeover and merger, the Eibach family has not only managed to retain financial control of the firm that their father and grandfather started over six decades ago, but also still ‘steer the ship’ in terms of where they’re going, what they’re making and who for.
From humble beginnings in a small workshop in Ronkhausen, Germany, Wilfried inherited the firm in 1967 from his father, Heinrich. With a passion and enthusiasm that is still evident today, Wilfried set about transforming the company from its fine engineering base into a leading suspension manufacturer.
By 1975, the Eibach name had become a benchmark in the spring industry for a plethora of applications. While the company is also the leading global supplier of precision-manufactured springs for a variety of applications, including trains, boat engines, playgrounds, ski-lifts and industrial conveyors, it’s the automotive side that is of particular interest here.
The company’s motto, ‘The Will to Win’, was forged the day they wound their first competition spring. Although a cynic would assume this was dreamt up by the marketing department, a trip to the Finnentrop factory reveals it’s more likely to have emanated from the engineering floor.
They are serious about their race programme, supplying to the vast majority of the teams in F1, WRC, NASCAR, BTCC, Baja, WTCC, DTM and GT with both chassis and engine valve springs. They’re also dominating BTCC, where Honda relied on Eibach last season to provide them with a tractable chassis to match the talents of their driving team.
Many BTCC teams also benefit from Eibach’s know-how in producing stage winners, as proven by their official tie-up with Honda Yuasa. Closer to home, the new 918 hybrid uses components exclusively designed and manufactured in Eibach’s German facility, and there’s a wealth of aftermarket fitments for most cars.
Speaking to the engineers, there’s obviously a ‘trickle-down’ from the motorsport departments to the aftermarket and OEM programmes. As Wilfried puts it, “Motorsport is where we really do our product testing.”
While that’s clearly true, all of Eibach’s manufacturing facilities boast cutting-edge testing and development areas where production runs as small as one unit can be designed, evaluated, tested and produced in as little as five days.
At the other end of the scale, their investment in the realms of quality mass-production has made them the go-to for original equipment set both at manufacturer level for most of the major players including Ferrari, Maserati, Bugatti, McLaren and, of course, Porsche – but also at secondary OE level for hallowed names like Shelby, Oettinger and even the VW Group.
As well as offering road and race springs, the company has diversified into wheel spacers, damper units, alignment and antiroll bar kits. The vast majority of these components are produced in-house, usually from raw materials.
For production ranges, everything is fabricated on CNC or robotic lines to ensure consistency throughout production, and every single element of the process, from phosphate coating to final finish and paint, is tightly monitored. On our visit to the factory, it was this obsession with quality that probably struck the most.
Not only is every plant and subsidiary subjected to the gruelling ISO/DIN type quality management processes, but Eibach continually checks each stage of the process as it progresses through the plant, with sample analysis, Magnaflux crack detection and spot checking being the order of the day.
Moreover, every single spring is tested prior to passing for finishing. There’s no batch or random checking here; they all get stuck on a jig and compared to their design data. “We only manufacture to one quality,” says Eibach, “and this has to be suitable for all of our end users: driving enthusiasts, race teams and manufacturers. Every new product is as important as the last.”
This philosophy is backed up in practice, with each and every road car application being subjected to the rigours of TUV approval prior to being offered for sale. This predilection for perfection also means that Eibach are often ahead of the curve when producing accessory spring kits for new cars.
Their unique relationship with most major manufacturers and market standing means that access to pre-production information is usually forthcoming. This often leads to instances where the Eibach Pro-Kit is on the shelves before the car has even hit the showrooms – the new VW Beetle being an example of this.
So what’s next? Expansion into China has been the latest development, with an impressive new factory and R&D centre – but not for the reasons you might think. “While China is a very important market for us,” explains Wilfried.
“Our new facility there is simply to service the burgeoning domestic market who are crying out for cost-effective products tempered with our level of quality control. All motorsport applications and aftermarket products will continue to be made in Germany and America, where our ‘speed to market’ for models available in the EU and US is imperative.”
So if you’re stuck for choice when scouring suspension or chassis upgrades, you could do a lot worse than invest in a set of Eibachs. It may even give you an extra spring in your step!
|Most commonly fitted 911?||996 and 964|
|Rarest/Most unusual 911?||That’s Top Secret!|
|Most expensive spring?||Hollow titanium for a Bugatti Veyron, or any bespoke F1 spring|
|Most unusual fact?||Almost every playground in the world uses Eibach springs on the ‘bouncy’ rides|