Stefano Pasini


Fitting the original Armstrong 'Selectaride' rear dampers (June 2012)

Bristol 409 Armstrong Selectaride rear dampers
Bristol 409 Armstrong Selectaride rear dampers
Bristol 409 Armstrong Selectaride rear dampers

June 2012. I must thank my good friend Greg Lowe for having let me have a pair of extremely nice NOS Armstrong Selectaride rear dampers.

As every Bristol V8 owner knows, the Selectarides were a standard fitting from the 408 onwards. The idea was stunning, as they offered to the customers of those luxury sporting saloons the choice of 4 different degrees of damper stiffness. From '1', the 'Comfort' setting, the driver could choose to harden the dampers setting simply turning clockwise the rotary switch conveniently placed under the steering wheel.

This was a brilliant concept, but, alas, a bit ahead of its time. The electrohydraulic system didn't work very well after the first years and the fact that many users forgot them caused probably some 'gumming' of the oil in the adjustable part of the dampers and many of them began to work erratically. The great LJK Setright did not agree with this negative vision of the Selectarides and declared that the problems were due to the users' inability to keep the system working with periodical use of all the 4 available positions.

Anyway, once it was proved impossible (or, anyway, uneconomical) to repair or overhaul the Selectarides, unhappy owners resorted to eliminating them and fitting standard Konis or similar high-quality shocks. Usually the electrical cables commanding the electrohydraulic shocks were cut mercilessly when the Selectarides were removed and junked; luckily we found that the original connectors were still present and therefore connecting the Armstrongs was not a problem.

The top picture shows the Selectaride ready to be fitted on the LH rear suspension, the middle one shows the original connectors over the rear axle and the bottom pic shows the Selectaride in place. The 'Armstrong' original lettering is visible at the top of the bottom part of the damper

August 2015: I need a new knob
Bristol 409 Selectaride switch Bristol 409 Selectaride switch

The Selectaride setting is controlled by a four-position switch placed under the steering column on the mani facia. This is my original one but the clip behind, that has to 'grip' the shaft of the switch to turn it in the desired position, is broken. Any idea to fix this delicate spring or, better still, is there anyone who could supply a good one? Thanks