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Past Director Region 13, Senior Member
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Any experience / thoughts on best 5th Gen suspension improvements for a daily driver - without breaking the bank? I'm wondering about tubular control arms and coilovers. Thanks
 

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I asked the owner G-Speed down at the Motorsports Ranch in Cresson that exact question. I've known him for around 30 years so I'm going to take his word for it. He recommended this.(he is also the reason I went LS) The price hit me pretty hard but after looking at everything else it starts to sound a little better. Honestly, the shocks alone add $800 to the price but have a million mile warranty. Also, where I am on suspension so far, the rear sway bar will be the only thing duplicated when I get this package.

Joe

 

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Think about Bilstien Shocks, and adding a rear sway bar. The rear bar really makes a difference. I don't think you will see much improvement on a DD with the coilovers and tubular control arms. You can also upgrade the front sway bar to the hollow 36mm version. Just make sure the rear sway bar is smaller than the front.
 

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Before you spend money , read. It'll save you oney, and call him after you've read it if you have questions.
Savitske Classsic & Custom
Hellertown pa
How to Make Your Muscle Car Handle: Revised Edition Revised Edition
by Mark Savitske (Author)

 

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Before you spend money , read. It'll save you oney, and call him after you've read it if you have questions.
Savitske Classsic & Custom
Hellertown pa
How to Make Your Muscle Car Handle: Revised Edition Revised Edition

I haven't read that one and I'm sure you are correct about saving a lot of cash,SC&C knows their stuff. I bought my rear control arms from them. The reason I like the Ridetech package is the progressive wound springs and adjustable rebound shocks. I feel it will be a bit smoother on the street, and I will only lower the front by 1". SC&C basic package is cheaper and a good choice for starters, they even offer Ridetech shocks as an up-grade.

This is just my opinion and honestly there is no one size fits all package. That's what is great about this forum. Lots of ideas and reasons to choose what will make us happy!

Joe
 

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Think about Bilstien Shocks, and adding a rear sway bar. The rear bar really makes a difference. I don't think you will see much improvement on a DD with the coilovers and tubular control arms. You can also upgrade the front sway bar to the hollow 36mm version. Just make sure the rear sway bar is smaller than the front.
That's a good point. I posed pretty much this same question a while back and got some great input. I put some KYB shocks and a new UMI rear sway bar and instantly felt the difference! For some that might be all the improvement needed. I just wanted a bit more, so I got some roto-joint control arms for the rear and now the front end and springs need attention. Seems to be a non-stop ride. Hopefully after I save up enough to get my suggestion installed I'll be happy enough to stop! Of course I'm also replacing the steering box(Lee 800 series as suggested on another thread) and the rest of the steering linkage not in the package!

Joe
 

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I have a street only car. I have the SC&C Stage III suspension. It comes with .9 and .5 taller Howe ball joints. The SC&C package is the ONLY place you can get these ball joints on these arms.. These ball joints are amazing once they burnish in after a few thousand miles. My steering is so smooth. I also have a 14:1 Lee 800 Series steering box. I got the 30 pound valving to make it close to manual without it being hard to park. This box is amazing, its one of those things your always so happy you bought.. I put a big Helwig front sway bar on it too..
For the rear I used Spohn Performance Del-Sphere Tubular Rear Upper Control Arms.. These were the lest expensive while giving me adjustability. If you by the Spohn arms make sure you get the heavy duty Del-Sphere bushings..
I used Bilstine shocks all the way around. I also used Porterfield shoes and pads on the stock disc/drum brake system. It stops my car on the dime... It is so important to have al least 18" of vacuum for a power booster to work correctly, no amount of cans will correct this..
 

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It all depends on what you want out of the car. I did KYB Gas adjust all around, urethane bushings but some prefer rubber, sway bars, air lift bags rear, and rear control bars only because the bushings were bad. The roads in FL are in decent shape and it works well for me. I don't drive my car hard enough to justify the higher cost upgrades. I may do springs just for the stance but my existing ones serve me well.
 

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@Skylarkul Thanks for asking, as I've been researching this topic.
A Stage 1 , 2 this or that would no doubt be the way to go....but $$$.

I already bought (not installed) Bilstein front shocks. I want to replace the front sway bar with an UMI, since I'll be under there.

@darbysan Im not currently running a rear sway bar. I'm curious why smaller in rear? Can you recommend size (thinking 1.25" for front) for front and back?
Solid, hollow? What are the benefits of hollow...weight savings? Definitely will buy one...air bags and new rear shocks too.

@pitts64 Sounds like you've got a fortune in your suspension. Did you need to go that route because of the power your putting down or because a '64 OEM suspension is a more dated design?

Thxs
 

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I learned a lot reading some of these guys posts. I can say without a doubt, there are more ways to go than I ever imagined and no one is wrong. Research everything you can find and throw it all into your head, spin it around, and make the decision that works for you! After way more thinking than I ever want to go through again one of the outstanding things was stiffening up the chassis. Thanks to many posters on this site my knowledge of how flexible the frame on our cars took a whole new meaning. I knew the flex, I'm an old school body and frame guy with more time straightening frames than I'll admit to, but never understood it's connection to handling and traction. Best of luck in your decisions, I threw mine out there hoping I made the right choice. I guess if I don't get it right I'll have a few parts for sale in the future!

Joe
 

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My car is my only hobby that takes money, so I can put a decent amount of money into it.. Our roads here in Western Pennsylvania are very steep and twisty, you have to have a decent suspension if you want to stay up with modern traffic, I like to be able to go a little faster lol.. My car has a stock 1978 truck 454-Th400-2:78 rear end, it does have a lot of power and gets over the 100 mph mark very quickly.
 

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I'm surprised no one on here has mentioned the G body F41 suspension bits yet. I have the full kit on mine along with new KYB shocks and Moog springs and the car handles pretty well now. All of the stuff was pretty inexpensive.
Upper and lower rear control arms are a good bang for buck mod as well but I mainly replaced mine to fix some pinion angle issues.
 

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In answer to the smaller rear sway bar... Balance is key. The engine weight in front needs to be considered. No engine weight in rear means smaller bar needed. Otherwise you'd be unbalanced. ;)
 

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I'm surprised no one on here has mentioned the G body F41 suspension bits yet. I have the full kit on mine along with new KYB shocks and Moog springs and the car handles pretty well now. All of the stuff was pretty inexpensive.
Upper and lower rear control arms are a good bang for buck mod as well but I mainly replaced mine to fix some pinion angle issues.
I mentioned stiffening the frame but forgot to mention the F41 braces. Anything that helps reduce flex will help with handling. I'm saving for the G-body kit from UMI that has the front braces, rear control arm braces and shock tower brace all in one package. I'm rapidly getting to the point that my suspension is beginning to rival the price of the LS swap! Oh well, I'm having fun!

Joe
 

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Before you spend money , read. It'll save you oney, and call him after you've read it if you have questions.
Savitske Classsic & Custom
Hellertown pa
How to Make Your Muscle Car Handle: Revised Edition Revised Edition
by Mark Savitske (Author)

Great book. I'd also recommend this one: GM G-Body Performance Upgrades
 

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I would just get the Lee 14:1 box with a Grant 13" steering wheel along with four Bilstine shocks and see what that's like. Have the car aligned with 4 degrees caster drivers side, 4-1/2 degrees positive caster passenger side and a 1/2 degree of negative camber and 1/32 toe in on both sides. The Lee box is amazing.. Have them set it up for 20 pounds..
 

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@darbysan Im not currently running a rear sway bar. I'm curious why smaller in rear? Can you recommend size (thinking 1.25" for front) for front and back?
Solid, hollow? What are the benefits of hollow...weight savings? Definitely will buy one...air bags and new rear shocks too.
Joe,
The smaller rear bar is necessary for balance, as mentioned. If they are the same size, or the rear is larger, then the front starts to do crazy things on hard cornering, and the rear may come around on you unexpectedly. ON mine, I have the hollow 36mm (1 7/16") F body front bar ( Hollow saves weight), and a stock G-body rear bar ( I think either 1" or 7/8"). The F41 parts help a little in stiffening the frame, but the shocks and rear sway bar are the big contributors. If you get to the point of rebuilding the A arms, then I would use Poly-graphite up front ( stiffer, better heat protections) and rubber in the rear ( too stiff in the back can cause the rear to bind up). Last upgrade would be adjustable upper rear arms (PMT Fabrication- good prices. They have sway bars too! 1978-1987 El Camino | pmtfabrication.com ), and add in the Firestone 1000 air springs supports in the rear.
 

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Im not currently running a rear sway bar. I'm curious why smaller in rear? Can you recommend size (thinking 1.25" for front) for front and back?
Solid, hollow? What are the benefits of hollow...weight savings? Definitely will buy one...air bags and new rear shocks too.
I won't go into too much technical detail, but the principle behind sway bar balance between front to rear, termed "roll couple", is to control which end of the car breaks loose first when at the limits of lateral acceleration. Too much rear bar and the rear can snap loose, sometimes violently, depending on corner speed and severity of the turn. I've run the stock 1" front bar in my Camino with the factory G-Body rear bar and it was a bit tail-happy at the limits, good for tossing the rear around a tight autocross course at relatively low speeds, but not for the street or track. Going up to the 1.25" front bar made it a lot more neutral cornering.
The hollow bar is all about saving weight. When you consider where the front sway bar is located, it not only adds to the front weight percentage, but also reduces weight on the rear, since it's in front of the front wheels. It's a very minimal amount, but we certainly don't need to take weight away from the rear on an El Camino.

Bill
 

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Our roads here in Western Pennsylvania are very steep and twisty,
it does have a lot of power and gets over the 100 mph mark very quickly.
I drove that National Pike south of Uniontown 30 years ago on a Valentine's Day weekend, back before it had a median barrier. First time I ever saw road signs directing truckers that they WILL pull over halfway down and inspect their brakes. Less than 4 hrs later I'm caught in a big blizzard with black ice in western Ohio. I shudder to think what would have happened on that Uniontown hill.
 

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That's a good point. I posed pretty much this same question a while back and got some great input. I put some KYB shocks and a new UMI rear sway bar and instantly felt the difference! For some that might be all the improvement needed. I just wanted a bit more, so I got some roto-joint control arms for the rear and now the front end and springs need attention. Seems to be a non-stop ride. Hopefully after I save up enough to get my suggestion installed I'll be happy enough to stop! Of course I'm also replacing the steering box(Lee 800 series as suggested on another thread) and the rest of the steering linkage not in the package!

Joe
I actually got time today to install my new rear control arms! Spohn UCA with Del-sphere joints and UMI roto-joint LCA. The difference is amazing. The first up-grade with shocks and rear sway bar (UMI) made an instant difference! After the control arm change the entire rear changed attitude and now gives back traction and a feel of the road that it never had until now. I feel the rear is pretty much under control now except for some minor tweaking. My next big purchase will be the Ridetech street grip package. This will probably be another 3-6 months and I'll have a slightly used rear sway bar for sale on the cheap. Again, this sway bar and shocks made a world of difference. The control arms finished the squishy feeling my rear had. If nothing else, start there, it's pretty unbelievable how much difference it made!

Joe
 
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