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The Truth About Bilstein Suspension

Fitment Industries Author | | August 23rd, 2018 |

  • - You know, when we look at a suspension companies there's usually ones that have really weird names and any single time that there's one with a really weird name we just assume that it's been existing for like 200,000 years because it seems like the old school suspension companies were a suspension company before cars were a thing. Which is a little weird. So we were gonna talk about something that wasn't so old and dated but we figured since all of you guys in the comments have been asking us for this specific shock supplier power house we thought we would talk about it which is none other than Bilstein shocks Or Bil-steen, or Bil-stine depending on how you want to pronounce it. There's like six German people that watch our videos that are gonna correct us in the comments so go right down there, type it in, good luck let's get in to it. Bilstein was founded in Altenvoerde in 1873 by a man named August you guessed it, Bilstein. Back in the day there weren't really a whole lot of cars running around in Germany in 1873 so instead the company started off by making metal window finishings and furnishings and gaskets and stuff. They made stuff for windows. But in short, they really just were a company that was trying to get involved in anything that could really make them money. The difference was that August had a way with just getting involved with everything possible. But besides just getting involved in everything, August would acquire and manage as many patents as he possibly could considering he was in the late 1800. Now it wasn't called Bilstein back in the day because for window and metal fitting and things like that, Bilstein was just not one you wanted to use.

    So instead he decided to shorten up his name and he called it Audi which is short for obviously, his name. It didn't take long for him to realize that really metal window fittings weren't like a good way to make a million dollars so instead he decided to change with the market. The company was doing so well that besides all the patents they were accumulating, August Bilstein just continued to acquire as much resources as possible. They got so much involved that they ended up purchasing an iron mill factory so that they could have the metal needed to make really whatever the hell that they wanted because they just had the money to do so. In fact it's considered that August's foundation of the Bilstein company was pretty much because of the amount of things he required almost 150 years ago on today's date to pretty much establish the company to do whatever they wanted. It wasn't until Hans came back from America, which if you didn't know is August's son, to decide that he also wanted to get involved in the Bilstein company name. The one thing that was happening in America that wasn't happening in Germany, though, was there was a lot of nickel and chrome plating going on that was going to take over the market by storm. And Bil-steen, Bil-Stine, Bill whatever, Bill Cosby [Loud Music] said, well why don't we do that? So the nickel and chrome plating business started to move because Bilstein wanted to make products so they got all the stuff that they needed from the mills, they got all the innovations and patents that they needed and they started making stuff. Really they didn't really make anything but they made it. Does that make sense? They made stuff. What did they make? We don't know, because they just made everything it was like the Walmart of the automotive scene. Partnering with the company called LHF which has a long German name but I was gonna try and memorize it but I couldn't figure it out for the life of me. Bilstein started to make automotive accessories for the booming car industry. Now back in the day really the biggest one that Bilstein could get involved in that involved chrome plating which would might be something you can guess was front bumpers. It was one of the biggest things that the company could get involved in but on top of that there was a lot of internal pieces and things like that that the Bilstein company could then actually chrome plate, sell back to manufacturers and make a little bit of money. But because they had such a strangle-hold on everything from the metal to the end result Bilstein was able to do very well for themselves in fact it put them in such a good position that it allowed them to continuously grow enter into the Americas, enter into different countries, and just make products for anybody that wanted them.

    In 1928, Bilstein was making car jacks and other sort of floor jacks and things like that for cars because nobody else was doing it at the time and for the next 30 years the company just continued to produce products that people wanted. Then the early '50s came around and well Bilstein ran into a conundrum. A problem if you will. An issue at hand. They had a situation that needed to be resolved. They had a problem with no solution. Wow. See there was a man named Professor Bourcier de Carbon. He wanted to see if there was a way to isolate vibrations of an automobile better than what was currently existing at the time. See back in the day pretty much what existed was a very fundamental fork-style shock absorber and besides other competitors trying to solve the problem, the professor really didn't know who to go to. That was until he heard of Bilstein and they were trying to get involved in the automotive suspension business as well. They didn't know how to figure it out. All they knew was that they had a lot of money a lot of time and they were gonna figure out how to make a product that was better than pretty much anything else out there. So a few years pass and Bilstein finally introduced a product that would revolutionize what a suspension system ultimately consisted of back in the late '50s. And Bilstein was like [German Accent] We can do that because we are German. Do Germans do this? Or is this Italians? These guys spent an enormous amount of time on producing this product until they came up with the first gas pressured mono-tube shock absorber which was absolutely revolutionary at the time. It was so good that they a-- they were [spits] and with partnering with Mercedes-Benz convinced people that this was the future and it was the best way to go. The company was one of the first to practice this specific product and because they were and because Mercedes hopped on board right away it gave them the foundation they needed to become one of the biggest shock absorber companies in the world. Everything that Bilstein was touching once you got into the '60s and '70s meant that it was just a good car. That same shock would go into the Monte Carlo Rally clipped on a Mercedes-Benz and they won. It was the first time out of pretty much any story we've ever told about a suspension company going into a race event and actually winning that Bilstein won the competition on their first try. Shortly after that, everything associated with Mercedes-Benz, AMG and S-classes and anything that Bilstein could get involved in they were doing really well. And from there the Bilstein name never left motorsport. You had names like Dale Earnheardt, Ivan Stewart, Klaus Ludwig, Sterling Marlin and nobody else because I couldn't remember any of the names.

    They were doing so well that Bilstein just became the name that was synonymous with the suspension that you put on the racetrack. And if there were any more reason to brag about your company, they were first, second, and third place at the Nürburgring 24-hour ring for placing with Bilstein shocks. In fact, all AMG Mercedes are equipped with the Bilstein shocks, if necessary for the vehicle. And over half of the vehicles that participate in the DTM Motorsport are equipped with some form of Bilstein product. By the late 1980s they partnered with Thyssenkrupp technologies until they were wholly invested by 2005. That's a really fancy way of saying that they got acquired by another company until they were ultimately purchased out. But they're still allowed to do what they do because they do it really well. Bilstein's success came from just an era of continuous growth and essentially having a really good foundation from a company and a man and his son that really wanted the company to thrive and Bilstein, even though I'm likely pronouncing it incorrectly is a company that most people are associated with it's a brand that a lot of people know and a lot of people love. At the same time it's one of those companies that will likely see well past my very short life and probably will be here until, like ever. So if you're interested in Bilstein products check out Fitmentindustries.com we have our programmers AKA nerds in the background that they're gonna plug into the website so we can actually get you guys the products that you need. That was a joke, please don't get mad at me if you're a programmer and you're watching this video. But if you're looking at wheels, tires or suspension, airlift out there too, feel free to hit up fitmentindustries.com, we have all of it there. And don't forget to subscribe. My name is Alex from Fitment Industries. You thought we were doing a giveaway and we actually are. I want you guys to drop a comment on what suspension you're running in your car and we'll just pick some random lucky winner on next episode of this which is tire history for next week. But I'm Alex from Fitment Industries and we'll see you later. Peace.