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Hummer H3 lift kit - Lets get down to it

PHR

Sponsor
Messages
5
Location
Phoenix, AZ
Hey Everyone,
As most have heard, we acquired the take off suspension kit from (Vay) Vdawg from his Hummer H3. Our intentions are to make a comparable, but upgraded kit available to all of you for purchase.

Before we get started on machining these parts we wanted to chat with the community to verify our direction and see if anyone had any input.

The knuckle, we all know this is the piece of the puzzle that is most crucial to these kits. There are other areas for improvement, but we know that this is the key piece.
Our design incorporates a 1 PIECE BILLET STEEL, knuckle.
This is something that we have decided on that makes the kit unique in its entirety but also yields us the ability to make improvements on the previous executions. The obvious advantages of Billet vs Cast make this very appealing.

The rest of the kit will be of our own unique design, with a similar end result to previous 4" kits.

Our main reason for reaching out to you all, the community, is to help us gauge if we are going overkill with our ideas. We want to bring the best possible quality product to the market but this also has to be a worthy business call for us. The raw material alone for the knuckles is not something we are willing to absorb in the midst of market testing, we want to verify you are all supportive before we go for it.

Previously, and almost as standard, a USED suspension lift kit (4" Hummer H3) in the market is $3-6k depending on condition, location, use, kit complete, etc.
When new, They were retailed In the close range of $5k.

For us to produce this kit, as designed with the 1 Piece Billet upright / Knuckle, We are in the neighborhood of $6,500 plus freight.
These are current projections, material costs have gone through the roof lately and may be different when we get to market.



We are looking for feedback, suggestions, all things of this nature pertaining to a new styled lift kit for the H3.
Lets all work together and get you guys the most badass H3 lift kit possible to date.



Looking forward to your responses,
PHR
 

jakesz28

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,023
Location
Cabool MO
At $6500 I don't see you selling many 4" lift kits. A 4" BDS lift kit for a ZR2 is $2200. I think to make it practical you need to find a foundry to cast the knuckles. The machine time making a knuckle from a solid piece of steel it too expensive.

Or look towards Dirt King or Bajakits and come up with a mid travel coil over kit.
The H3 is losing value and most new owners will want something affordable or if they are spending money they will want more than a dropped crossmember lift. I hate to be that guy.
 

Acer4LO

Well-Known Member
Messages
693
Location
Illinois
Hey PHR! I definitely applaud you guys for taking such an interest in making a 4in lift kit for the H3 since we have been without a proper suspension lift now since 2016. One thing that I do want to mention is that the original Rancho did not retail for around $5K, but rather about $2500 without shocks. Shocks from Rancho that work with the lift kit costed around $500 and that brings the grand total to around $3000 before tax and shipping. One question I have, is the number you calculated for your ballpark price: Does that include shocks?

So I know you said are looking for feedback about your estimated price. I believe that a price of $6500 would be way too high for a majority of H3 owners. While I do believe your version of a 4in lift kit could bring a lot of value and benefits vs the Rancho lift kit, I think it is very important to consider the market conditions. Many H3s have a current value of anywhere from from $6K to $20K and most of those values most likely lie around 11K. Owners who have a cheaper H3 are going to be far less likely to consider this lift kit as a viable option if it is worth 50%-80% of the value of the purchase price of the vehicle. From my experience a lot of H3 owners are cheap and frugal with their money. If that figure you estimated were to be the final price, a lot of them would just complain in the comments about how it is too expensive. Also let’s remember that $6500 is just your retail price. We must add on another ~$400 for tax and ~$300 for freight bringing the grand total to around $7200 to get the kit to your door. Now I know a lot of H3 enthusiasts are mechanically savy, but installing a lift is a big job. Many H3 owners will have to take their H3 to a shop to get it done and it could cost a couple grand to get this kit installed. If you are talking a total completed price of around $10K, even the H3 owners who have the disposable income to make this happen would most likely choose to spend that money on a solid axle swap.

Obviously, I realize that you aren’t going to be able to sell a lift kit at around the same MSRP as the Rancho kit because you don’t have the same economies of scale and the ability to make them in-house like Rancho does. What I am saying is the more affordable you can make this lift kit while still offering the same quality or better, the larger the pool of interested buyers will be. That being said, if you aren’t interested in selling a large number of these kits, and instead want to sell less of them at a higher price to a select number of H3 owners that are willing to pay, I could see this working out.

I do realize in today’s economic climate material costs are on the rise and inflation is making everything more expensive, but if we could try and find a middle ground where the lift kit is affordable and it makes economic sense for you guys to produce, I think it could work. That being said, personally I would rather see you guys make a kit even if it is more expensive vs not making one at all.

Hope this helps!
 

rascole

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,374
Location
Bellflower, CA
I agree with everything said above. The return on investment would be negative, not something we would want for a H4O sponsor. With the rear leaf springs not factored in, that will add another @ $600+. The knuckles are you're road block, the cost is high unless you go with a welded knuckles to drop it a bit.
 

Jeeper360

Member
Messages
22
Location
NJ
I am in for this and would be on the first group buy but at the cost of $6,500.00 i would start looking at a SAS 3link instead you got to get that cost down.
could a lift knuckles for a zr2 be made to work?
 

3Hummers

Super Moderator
Staff member
Messages
10,228
Location
Central Texas
While some of the comments above have good validity I think they may be missing the point. Building a wildly capable off road vehicle is never a cheap endeavor. Getting to start from a 10-15K value vehicle is a plus for a serious off road guy. The $6500.00 would be nothing compared to what you gain. Now if this is also your DD and on occasion off road vehicle then $6500.00 may be prohibitive. If I were going to build an H3 for significant off road play the $6500.00 would not deter me one bit.
 

alrock

El Diablo
Staff member
Messages
10,148
Location
Scottsdale
Interesting discussion. 3Hummer has a good point that all-in it's not a bad price between a used H3 and the lift, but that's also a hefty investment to still be using the stock H3 front diff. I do think there would be very limited sales at that $6500 price point and while there some people that might see the value, I suspect it's going to be limited.
 

PHR

Sponsor
Messages
5
Location
Phoenix, AZ
Our listed price of 5k was wrong, but is what has been seen lately for current price of a used kit.

We are in agreement with most of your concerns on this kit, The issue is in fact, Material cost.
Price of Steel has gone up an astronomical amount from 2017-2022, and the comparable kits mentioned were manufactured almost a decade before that data.

There is some appeal to swapping over to a different setup with a coil-over. Torsion bars are dried up from OE supply and aftermarket is a dice roll for how used up the bar itself is.
New issue that comes with that, the cost of the coil over units themselves. In common application sizes (GM 1500), Just the front is $1700 retail for the brands we would feel comfortable using. This added $1700 does not include the material, design time, fabrication, etc all needed to execute this either. The shock upright would need to be made and also a heavier lower control arm to accept the forces being loaded differently into the arm itself. The torsion bar is also removed as being a 3rd point stabilizer to the geometry of the lower arm.


Our offering at the $6,500 price point was the whole truck, front to back, complete kit - Leaf packs included.
This would be of torsion design, If we need to revisit the program to go for a coil over, as mentioned, the cost would be more....


If we break it down, Say you were able to get an aftermarket H3 knuckle setup elsewhere in the realm of $2,500. Fabricated, cast, whatever. (Ours would be billet STEEL - NOT ALUMINUM)


-You then need to get the center support / diff drop setup and skid plate. To have this one off made, copied, etc, would most likely be $1500 (low end figure), for the amount of bends, pieces, material, powder coat, bushings, etc. (Now around 4k total)
- Then there the adapter for the torsion bar - These need to be made of heavier material as for the obvious forces transferred within it - Machined part x 2, Est $500-750 (Now around $4500-$4750)
- Strut / support arms - These hold the front diff support in place when its lowered down, There are also bars to extend the sway bar - To get these made, you'd be in the realm of $750 - 1000 (Now $5250 - 5,750)
- Rear leaf packs $ 750-$1250 depending on brand (Now $6k - $7k)
- Shocks $750 (fox 2.0 (Non reservoir) for factory height is around $700....) (now $6750 - $7750)


Possible arguable adjustments - Why not do a fabricated knuckle? This would still require a machined piece for the hub face (Thats the only way we would consider) Then there's the material, and added labor cost of the welder! These would need to be laser cut, fixtured, Tig welded, then prepped and coated. The added time in man hours on the Fabricated side makes them just as, if not more expensive.


If there is more interest in a more involved kit - even if it is the SAS stuff, were happy to get on the project, but we aren't going to go one direction and have it compared to the other. The cost of axles alone has gone through the roof lately, and lead times are stupid. We could assist in getting the lead times down but the raw cost of the axles alone won't get any cheaper. Talk to a few of the members with currently SAS, compared there parts costs to when they purchased vs now.

We had even debated the idea of doing a portal front to assist with the weak front diff, The ratios could be made within 3% from front to back (5.13 rear, 2.73 front, factory H1 portal gears - we need to verify fitment of the 2.73 in front diff but sets are available) , which in theory could be absorbed by planatery slip in the TCase - much like turning the vehicle. However, the cost of the portals would easily add $$ It would need a different CV axle - custom, Modification of a factory Hummer H1 knuckle (roughly 2k a piece to start - 4k per truck - available cheaper, but need rebuild and put cost @ 2k a piece again) That would all be under TOTAL ASSUMPTION that the factory h3 upper and lower arm would work, which we all no the answer to already, They won't. The weight of the knuckle alone would destroy the factory arms. Making this idea easily a $12k+ setup......And it would need a unique brake setup

These are all things we've considered and are willing to execute, but we can't take the leap without the support of the community and acceptance of actual costs to produce what's desired.

Happy to hear any type of input and discuss other options, this is why we started this thread. Lets get a solution readily available.

Thanks,
PHR
 

jakesz28

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,023
Location
Cabool MO
If you could pull off a kit like the Marlin Crawler RCLA (Rock Crawling Long Arm) then the price likely won't matter. But a simply dropped crossmember 4" lift is a $2500 to $3000 investment.


I just started acquiring all the stuff to swap in a pair of 14 bolt axles in my H3. So maybe my current opion is biased. You can get 55 tooth ABS unit bearing for the 05+ superduty knuckles. I hope to come in around 8000 for my SAS. The 2 biggest cost items are the ARB air locker and coil overs.
 

PHR

Sponsor
Messages
5
Location
Phoenix, AZ
Jakesz28,
That is quite a nice setup! If you cruise the website a little further you'll see that setup is over $10k with shipping for their lesser optioned kit..... They then advertise a freight fee of $200.

https://www.marlincrawler.com/suspension/rclt/rclt-hd

They show, $9,715 (Intro priced @ $6,999 - Compared to now - $7,699) = $9,715 + $700 difference = $10,415 + $200 freight = $10,615
Still need the rear half of the truck......
Add a leaf pack and rear shocks to be comparable to function of the front, Now you're asking for Deavers and another pair of coils that are in the vicinity of $2k a pair.
So on the low side, an additional $3.25k for the rear + Freight on leafs - Still might need brackets or limit straps.... could cost more.

Low side ball park comparable figure to the data you provided
$14,865
Over double the cost of what we had initiated discussions with

----------------------

SAS - They are in the range of 10-14k depending on if DIY, Or installed. Weve consulted with enough members and executed builds to know what these figures are. Sure, parts, used, acquired for 8K is reasonable. but there's more to it then that, and we won't sell used parts in a kit wed offer. Full rebuild / reman at minimum.


With that being said, Would there be interest in a full inclusive SAS kit ?
Weve been doing some digging on that side of things also, Tons.....Like we said, lets do this.

This is the type of package we have considered.

Pass drop D60 - Trussed and bracketed for 3 link + FJ80 steering
3 Link arm kit - Frame brackets for customer to weld
Sterling / Ford 10.5 rear end (Tons of locker options - Extremely common axle) Or 14 bolt If desired (option)
FJ80 Box and links , mounts
Custom rear leaf pack
Shocks - All 4 corners (We like stuff like Bilstein 5130, Fox 2.5 Reservoir, etc)

- Axles full rebuilt - New Gear sets, Bearings, seals, (Lockers available for additional)

This would be around 12k.......Im sure there are other things, This was quick math for posting sake

OR

We can build up some D44 fronts - Truss and bracketed
3 link kits
fj80 steering
driveshaft

And then you can do a spring over in the rear, or we can provide a leaf pack for the rear, and you can play with the 10 bolt


-------------------
Just let us know ! This is the chance to get a kit made up , But personal opinions on what you "feel" it should be priced, comparatively to a program that's pumping out thousands of kits vs this application and purchasing community - Can't be a big part of this equation or discussion, Understandably it has to be a justifiable purchase price and something the willing purchasing community can afford.

The likely hood of every red neck, farmer, high school kid, old man who couldn't afford it when it was new. etc, lifting their 1973 to newer GM truck is near 100% ha, But in all seriousness, A majority of H3 owners do not purchase them with the intention of lifting them, which makes this a lower volume project.
If it were arguable in the other direction, rancho etc would have never dropped their programs.

We're happy to do whatever you all as the community want. We understand you can do things for cheaper if you are capable, handy, have the time, space, and already purchased the equipment, invested the time to learn, time to wait for that unicorn of a deal on an axle that your grandpas buddy had a truck in a field. etc.

We want to do this! We can compare fruit all day - Lets pick which tree you want and well make it grow.

Here are the options were willing to go after -

$ 4" Cross Member drop style lift - Factory axles - Torsion
$$ 4" Cross Member drop - Factory axles - Coilover
$$$ RCLA / Long travel kit (Coilover)


$$ SAS - D44 setup , Your 10 Bolt
$$$ SAS - D60 Setup, Sterling rear (Optional 14 bolt)


Keep the feedback and discussions coming along. We want to make this happen!

Alternative is we install the kit on an h3 and send it......We don't want this but we are a business and can't sit on this forever, Now is the chance!


Thanks for the positive interactions,
PHR
 

ponchoV8

Active Member
Messages
37
Location
Florida
I’ve seen IFS lift kits where they add a spacer to the upper ball joint, though I would assume for durability purposes they are weak for folks that would actually wheel their rides. Perhaps a cost savings would be a redesigned upper control arm that incorporates a “lowered” ball joint to compensate for the diff/knuckle drop utilizing the factory knuckle rather than having to machine a new knuckle?

Also, how about a reinforced front diff cover/girdle with extra bearing supports?

Appreciate the effort for the H3 community.
 

PHR

Sponsor
Messages
5
Location
Phoenix, AZ
We don't have any interest in the upper ball joint spacer / extension. Durability / strength, and liability are the main reasons.

Interesting idea with the upper arm, not sure if this would be possible.

The diff cover / girdle is one of the components to the 4" kit, we were going to improve upon the previous 15 year old design and add things to make it more "hardcore"

Weve had a few people call in to chat verbally on the phone since we have posted - We need you all to band together on here and get us a list of people who want these kits. Were happy to do a run of an agreed upon design and agreed price point that's fair to both sides. Even in low volume.
 

ponchoV8

Active Member
Messages
37
Location
Florida
Correct me if I’m wrong but I believe I read somewhere the old Rancho lift required wheel spacers to reuse the factory wheels, would this kit encounter a similar problem?
 

Sledder10

Member
Messages
12
Location
Mississippi
My votes for the lift kit with accommodations for a coilover conversion. Or maybe even as an option, just a coilover conversion kit, without the drop-bracket lift. In my speculation, the people who may be willing to cough up the $5K+ for a lift for their H3 are hardcore enough about the performance and upgradeability of the H3 to be hesitant about spending that much money while still retaining the crappy discontinued torsion bars. Just my opinion. My torsion bars will only last so long, and the only path forward will be coils in some form or another. Whether it be SAS or a custom "RCLT".
 

Kuntry

Probationary Member
Messages
2
Location
Tonopah
Honestly 7k isn’t a bad price for this lift I have built custom trucks that had 15k in frame and suspension to lay to lay the truck flat on the ground (bagged and bodied) with the cost of materials we have to remember we are a niche market and like it or not this has to be economically feasible for PHR… MMW is building a set of welded spindles not billet and they are like 2k and solid milled billet is far superior my only issue is the torsion bars would much rather see coil overs solely to be able to get over bigger tires and have more articulation…. Plus the custom i ability of spring rates to account for things like steel bumpers and engine swaps… I will say this I am glad to see some support for h3s coming back because we aren’t wranglers (the Honda Civic of the offroad world) I for one would be like to see what they can do if they get 6-8 of us willing to put down a deposit on a suspension system and give them a direction we wanna see wether it’s SAS with 60/80 or independent with upgraded diffs that allow for gear ratio swaps…. No matter what anyone else decides when I am ready PHR will get my h3 because honestly after talkin to multiple shops some won’t even touch our trucks and others see hummer and think we can afford 15-20 for an SAS
 

PHR

Sponsor
Messages
5
Location
Phoenix, AZ
Bump,
Its been about 45 days and we don't have a group consensus or much traction going on here.

Were doing a coilover install on a JL next week.
4 fox coils, springs, upper coil mounts, bumpstop extensions, and sway extensions. $7,250

$6,500 would have been a steal for a full kit.
If you guys can assemble yourselves into a group with a decisive / single desired design type. we are happy to tackle the project.
Until then, we are moving on

50/50 chance the used kit we currently possess will be either for sale or installed locally. we've got money into this project already and had hopes the community would be receptive to a new setup. We tried....




Cheers,
PHR
 

alrock

El Diablo
Staff member
Messages
10,148
Location
Scottsdale
You did put out a good idea but members here also put out good ideas and concerns. $6500 might be a good value in today's market but it's still a challenging concept to accept knowing they were much less a while ago. Charging $5000 for new old stock was considered a ripoff not too long ago. Yes, steel and other things have changed but it's hard to get the head wrapped around that, even if it is the correct pricing. It's also hard for me to get around $5 for a gallon of bleach or $10 for a lb of ground beef.

I think the stated concern regarding the availability of torsion bars is a really good concern. I've got a spare set of takeoffs for when my current ones wear out but after that I can't count on anything being available. Engineering a work-around for this would create more value for buyers, and minimizing what you need to fabricate in mass vs. purchase off the shelf or fabricate to order would perhaps help on costs. You've probably thought all of this out; I bet I'm not saying anything new.

The SAS approach, even while it's more money, has attractive options for owners. Parts can be bought over time, lessening the one-time impact. There are options to keep the builds less expensive or make them more robust. The proprietary fabrication is minimized though the labor is increased significantly. I've also lost all trust in the OE front diff and the Rancho/springover lift I put on my H3 has become more decorative than functional.

For me, there would be greater value in a more robust kit but at the same time I'm not a likely buyer for a while, even though I'd want to upgrade. Call it uncertainty in the economy for my personal situation.
 

alrock

El Diablo
Staff member
Messages
10,148
Location
Scottsdale
The other thing to consider, and I hate saying this, is that the forum traffic is way down and you have a limited audience here. You may need to consider other marketing and research efforts like FB. (Ugh). You will likely get a lot more interest.
 
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