VIP Custom Parts – 23mm Solid 4140 Chromoly Sway Bar with Forged Ends

The VIP Custom Parts 23mm Solid 4140 Chromoly Sway Bar solves a particular problem, keeping your rear end on the road. That may sound simple, but it is a little more complex than that.

When I went shopping for a new car I had to have one that was practical for what I do. I would love to be one of those people who can afford to have a stable of vehicles, each one with its purpose, but I am just not. While practical, I also wanted my vehicle to be fun, and since it was a MINI, I wanted it to be real fun without sacrificing the ability of the vehicle to be a practical daily driver and to take on long trips.

A sway bar, or more accurately an anti-sway bar, connects one side of the suspension to the other to keep the car from swaying, or rolling, when in a corner. You want a little sway or the ride turns to garbage and it starts to actually hurt your cornering, but there is a lot of room for improvement.

Depending on your options on a 2015 MINI Countryman your rear sway bar was either a 16mm or 17mm. As a general rule the larger the bar the better (to a point). Another consideration is if the bar is solid or a hollow tube. Hollow tubes are fairly common on larger inexpensive bars.

One of my favorite performance parts manufacturers, M7 Speed, makes two sway bars for my Countryman, a 19mm solid and a 22mm hollow. NM Engineering makes a nice 22mm solid. Then there is the VIP 23mm I found.

What got my attention with this bar is, of course, it is a 23mm solid bar which means it is by nature stiffer than the 19mm and 22mm versions from other vendors, but also the fact that it is a solid piece of 4140 Chromoly steel with forged ends. This makes it incredibly strong and exceptionally good at transferring weight from one side of the vehicle to the other. It also comes with grease fittings on the bushings and is painted bright red. We all know red parts make the car faster, right?

Installing this guy would be simple on the old Camaros I used to work on, but with the MINI it required dropping the rear end and seeing as I don’t have a lift or even a concrete driveway, this would be difficult. I decided to have it installed and my mechanic charged me one hour of labor to install it and I had it back the same day, done deal.

Stats are nice, cool paint is nice, but the whole point of putting this thing in was to make Buster corner better (not that he wasn’t good to start with mind you). How did it work? In a word, awesome.

After excellent tires, the VIP 23mm sway bar is the single biggest handling improvement I have made to Buster. Immediately after installing it the improvement was obvious and dramatic. The first serious run using the sway bar had me keeping up with the fast group without a problem. I should mention, Buster was the only Countryman in the group and there were a lot of surprised faces at the first stop as I pulled up right in line with the rest of them.

I did notice this upgrade starts to show deficiencies in other areas of the suspension such as my front end needing a strut tower brace to help stiffen it, which I did, and that is another whole story. It is also worth mentioning that installing the bar had no effect at all on my alignment, but that is a common question I seem to get asked.

Now a couple of years later, what do I think? Would I buy the same bar again or go with a different one?

I absolutely am completely happy with the VIP 23mm sway bar and have had no reason to consider a different bar.

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