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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Sorry I had to separate this into multiple posts, the text was about 3 times too large for one post and you are limited to 20 pictures per post.

Don't forget to vote up my rep for this post if you like what you see.

If you have any questions or suggestions of things I missed, please PM or email me so I can add it in line with my other posts so it is smooth flowing and easy to read. Thanks!

This is a thread to help give ideas about setting up the suspension of your car, as well as giving you 360 degree views of the car with the body off, and show you some of my progress. Prices that I list are for parts bought new and if I listed labor, it is in terms of what someone who is doing none of the work themselves would pay. A lot of the labor I had my buddies who own customizing shops down here do for a significantly reduced price, but it still added up. So here we go. These are the two el camino's I bought as a package deal.




I pretty much took every good part from the one, and put it on the other, junking the second El Camino (The frame was bent and was rusting.) The end result was fun to play with for a few months.





To start the frame up build, we cut the frame for mini tubs. This process can be completed with the vehicle on the car, though it does make the project MUCH more difficult, and costly if you are paying for the labor. To begin my project, we pulled the body off the car, along with the motor, tranny, and all of the other components. Aside from the dual exhaust the car came with, and the 8.5" rear end I got from a guy with a GN who was going 9", everything is completely stock back there.
























With everything now off, the line in the first picture was just to give a rough idea of where I was going and how much can be potentially gained, I went past the seam, almost to the line, though I have seen where people go all the way to the inside skin and add extra re-enforcement on the inside.

NOTE: If you are not a pro, I would not recommend trying this. Cutting the frame will weaken it, and if you weld it back together and it doesn't have the exact same geometry, the body bolts will not line up.








The next step was to take the bare frame to the shop so he can cut and weld my frame. Before this project was started, the frame was cross measured about 4 times, it was then cut, re-measured, welded, and again re-measured to make sure every part of the frame was in its proper place so that the body will easily go back on.






















 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)





















I brought this home and was quite pleased with the work.







































 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)







Not only was trailering the frame on my boat trailer ghetto, it also seemed unsafe, so I bought a trailer for it.


The next step was to get the entire frame sand blasted and powder coated before the fresh welds started to rust. The end result was quite nice.










This would be the end as far as the frame notch goes. The exact amount that I have taken off as shown above, I can tap the fender wall in a tad here or there with a tire against the skin of the frame and not have to worry about adding tubs. Though if you were running a tall tire for racing you would hands down have to change the inner fender. I am though, going to widen them by welding in tubs. Not really for clearance issues, but for looks. My bed is in need of some resto. I am not sure what tire you are looking to run on a notch or how much you are looking to bring the frame in, but I'm pretty sure at stock height with a 285/295 or smaller you could get away with stock tubs... anything bigger and I would be taking measurements.

Many have asked "Is the amount of work required worth the extra 1" - 2" of clearance?" My response is simple. That is up to you. The world record in the outlaw 8.5 class is 5.19 @ 140 MPH in the 1/8 mile. That means to me if you are doing this just for drag racing, you should focus more on suspension. If you are doing it because you have already maxed out suspension potential, then chop away. Heck, some guys do half backs just for the look. I did mine mostly for looks.

Back to my vehicle, the next step was beginning to reassemble with better parts. The 8.5" rear end below is out of a 1987 Buick Grand National.




NOTE: If you get an 8.5" out of a GBODY, they fit perfectly. BEWARE: Non Gbody 8.5" rears were made other years and may need to be shortened, suspension placement will be different, etc. You would be looking for an 8.5" out of a 1984-87 turbo Buick cars (turbo regal, GN), the 1984 Hurst Oldsmobile, and the 1985 - 1987 Oldsmobile 442.

Back to the build, mine got 28 spline Moser axles, I destroyed the Eaton posi that it came with so it was replaced with a Detroit Truetrac differential and a set of 3.73 gears because the 3.42 gears were warped.

The entire car got Polyurethane bushings. Along with that came adjustable upper control arms and solid lower control arms. I'm not racing in any classes, so I didn't have to worry about stock style or location suspension. My options were unlimited, stock replacement springs and shock, coil overs, air bags, etc. I decided to go with QA1 12 pt adjustable coil overs. If you are not a pro, you should pay someone to weld these in. If you are off by just a little, the end result could be a lot more costly.

Sorry for the dust in the next set of pictures.




























Now that the car rolls and has it's new suspension installed, it was time for the new rims and tires.








They are iForged Aero's. The front are 19x8 and the rear are 20x10. They were ordered with the wrong offset so wheel adapters had to be used to mount them on. Since they are two piece rims, I am sending them back to the manufacturer shortly to have them cut the center piece from the barrel. With the correct offset's, I should gain about an inch and a half more lip on the front and 2 or so inches in the back.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
A lot of people are against 20" rims in the back, but luckily I managed to get some good tires. The front are Nitto NT555 245/35/19's and the rear are Nitto NT555R 305/35/20's. That is a 20" drag radial and it does a pretty good job of gripping the ground.





From here, I test fit the wheels as well as the new fenders and Choo Choo style nose.










The way the rims currently fit, I am close to the frame but have quite a bit of room left between the fender and tire. That said, if I roll the fender lip and get the offset just right, I may be able to tuck a 345/30R18 back there for racing... or at least a 335. But as I said, backspacing would have to be perfect and I would have to dial in my rear suspension just right.

Since everything was powder coated, I didn't want to start drilling or cutting into my flange and there is only 1 company that makes direct bolt in kits for an 8.5" rear end and that is Baer. I was disappointed that the calipers weren't a little more for show and that I couldn't upgrade them any further, but they said I was limited because it was a GM 8.5" and nobody really makes anything too crazy for it. After shopping at willwood, Aerospace, etc., they were correct. This kit DID include the emergency brake cable but lets face it, I drive the car less than once a month, I'll never park it on a hill, and it's an automatic. It wasn't worth it for my to tear up my powder coating so I'm not going to worry about it. :::knock on wood:::

Note: I purchased a Baer brake adjustable proportioning valve to accurately adjust front to rear brake bias. This item is quite necessary when upgrading to 4 wheel disc from drums because drums are designed for a different amount of brake pressure.

Here are some pictures of the kit installed.



















And here are some photo's of my tire clearance.








Notching and Frame Strength: There are many other people out there who notch the frame. A frame notch is simply bringing the rear frame rail section in where the tires are located to fit a wider tire without modifying where the stock spring pocket or shock mounting location.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
The following are NOT of my car, but more pictures that may be able to help you see the process better.























As you can see in the next set of pictures, these guys took their notch all the way back to the inner skin. This type of notch would certainly call for some frame bracing.

















 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)



A lot of people who do this kind of bracing also box the frame. This simply means to add more strength to the core of your frame, IE. each side behind where the trans crossmember mounts. Stock, our frames are basically a 'C' channel. Boxing the frame is simply welding in a piece of metal to complete the C shape into a full square.











The next step up from here would be adding a roll cage.

Tires: Everyone posts in a million threads will this fit or will that fit. If you are buying a rim and tire combo, my opinion is don't ask someone online, as the person you are purchasing from. That way if they give you the incorrect information, it falls back on them, not on you.

Brakes: From the factory, Gbodys only came with either steel or aluminum drums. There are numerous types of do it yourself disc brake kits up to expensive bolt ons.

Traction/Suspension: For more traction some people decide to go the route of traction bars or lift bars. The purpose of these is to basically use the torque to lift and load the chassis and force the tires downward into the pavement. These are supposedly only good on lower powered cars.

On a little cheaper side, you could get LCA (lower control arm) relocation brackets. It is a bolt on piece that drops the lower control arms down a little to fine tune it. It is supposed to help the car squat better during a launch.

You won't really have to worry about ladder bars unless you are going to half back your car... and if you are doing that, you aren't reading my thread. :)

Misc: please please PLEASE!!! PM me questions. Please learn from my mistakes. For instance, unless you get a 8.5" for dirt cheap or have a reason for wanting to stay GM... if I could go back in time, I would go Ford 9" all the way. From my research, they are a LOT more common, with a LOT more accessories, and a LOT cheaper in the long run.

I paid $1,000 for my 8.5" from a GN. Everyone claims their 8.5" is actually from a GN... but I doubt there are that many hacked up Nationals out there. I was there as they took it off the GN, not like it really matters, because Monte Carlo SS, 442, or what ever, a GM 8.5 is an 8.5. For those who think I over paid, the average going price is $800 - $1000 and it had a brand new auburn posi in it with 3.42s. Those prices are accurate as I check several forums and have been a member to here and MalibuRacing for years.. Yes, every once in a while some random lucky Joe will find one for $400 or even $200, but they look nasty and have stock internals.

When I took it up north and beat the snot out of it, I cracked the spider gears in the auburn which ARE NOT rebuild-able, so I had to dish out $460 for a Detroit Truetrac differential and another $100 for a set of 3.73 gears since mine were a tad warped. That brings me to $1560. The rear brake kit was $1600, which now takes me to $3160. This does not include labor, the cost of welding brackets for new suspension parts, or sand blasting and powder coating. You can buy a brand new completed 9" for much less, with everything you want already done. There are many companies online that sell modified 9" rear ends just for G-bodies. You can buy a used performance rear end for about 1/3 of what I put into mine just so it would be brand new. Granted, mine will mostly be for show. The rims were about $5,000 and like I said the tires were $300 each. So just to make my rear end roll, without labor or the powder coating added in, or without the suspension added in I am currently at $8,760. Also, since I didn't have anyone to help me with my measurements and I thought I would take them myself... I was off a bit and had to use wheel spacers. Sending them back will cost me about $100 in shipping and $900 for the new barrels, so thanks to that mistake I am now at $9,760 just so my rear end will roll back and fourth and have to wait 2 - 3 months to get my rims back. Factor in if you did a mini tub like mine, if you are not doing the work yourself, you can pay upwards of $1000. I went to a guy who did charge a lot, but he does the BEST fabrication work and I was not about to go cheap on welding my rear end back together. One wrong calculation and the body won't go back on properly. Like I said, if you are not worried about appearance, then just some hammering to the wheel well and you are good, otherwise new wheel wells will run you about $100 each which doesn't include the labor to weld them in or cut your old ones out. Bringing you to $10,960+. Paying to have the fenders rolled is another cost if you want it for show and don't want to risk cracking the paint, cutting it wrong, or just don't want to be ghetto and use an old baseball bat.


If you are not doing the work yourself, assuming you know how and your not taking a shot in the dark, try to set aside 2 to 3 times what you think the project will run you so when you go over its no big deal and if you stay on budget, you have some extra funds for another modification. This way you won't be annoyed with tremendous down time.


1983SS454 pointed out: "I agree on the 9" rear end, mine was $2,400 shipped to my door with a tru trac, moser axles, and disc brakes. Worth in my mind to have something rated to 850 Hp"

So, I hope I help at least one person who is thinking about spending some money on their car. I write these as I go because these are the realizations I come to. Everyone who I have approached with questions has been VERY helpful, but at the same time, I have to ask them the right questions. The reasons I make these mistakes is because I don't know to ask them before hand. If I knew, I wouldn't make the mistake. So hopefully reading this before diving into a project will be a help. Lastly, if you are a do-it-yourself mechanic type, please understand I am not making posts such as this for people like you. I am writing it for the people with limited time, limited funds, or limited knowledge. I would be the later.

I would like to extend my biggest thanks to the person from this forum who has been most helpful to me. 464elky has helped me a great deal along the way and without his direction I may be writing about more mistakes I had made or walls I had run into. I would also like to thank Kenrogers1 for helping me to set these stickys up.

Prices:
8.5" rear end: $1000
Detroit Truetrac differential: $460
3.73 gears: $100
Baer brake kit: $1600
iForged rims: $5,000
20" radials: 736.18 for 2
19" tires: $567.98
Wheel well tubs: $100
UMI Control Arms:
- Adjustable Upper: $169.99
- Solid lower: $199.99
- Adjustable Upper and Solid lower kit: $379.93
Control Arm Reinforcement/Frame Braces: $99.99
QA1 Coil Overs:
- Single Adjustable: $499.99
- Double Adjustable: $693.99

My total roughly without labor, sand blasting, or powder coating: $10,544.07

Special Thanks!!!

I would like to give a special thanks to some people who have helped me make this possible. A big thanks to kenrogers1 for helping me edit this post and looking it over. A HUGE thanks to 464elky, without your help on some of these things I don't know where I would be. Your knowledge still surprises me. Thanks for everything.
 

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drooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooool!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!bowtie smile i have no questions but you have what is going to be a masterpiece when its done!:beer:
 

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I agree on the 9" rear end, mine was $2,400 shipped to my door with a tru trac, moser axles, and disc brakes. Worth in my mind to have something rated to 850 Hp
 

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El Corvino,,,, Nice wheels & tires!!! Those sizes are perfect!! I thought 18`s looked good,,, those 20`s on the rear look killer,,,, I will have to rethink my wheel selection when the times comes,, I wrote down those sizes in my little black book,, that is green,, Thanks for the info & pics,, keep them coming,, Matty man
That is an old thread,,, but good info!!!
 

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It is ironic that Steve and Matty Man recently posted on this older thread . We haven`t heard from Michael for the longest time here in Region 6 , Fl. and I keep wondering how he is doing and if he is still working on the Camino . . The thought , time , effort and $ he has put into this build is impressive and we hope that he will bring us up to date . I remember he was also attending , I believe the U. Of Miami medical school at the time . I will send him another PM and check on him . p.s. I just sent him another PM but his box is full and not taking new PM s .
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Hey Hey! Glad to hear you guys are thinking about me! I have been in the books 7 days a week for the last year. Finally made it to summer.

Little update... I was attending the Univeristy of Miami, I have sinced moved up to Delaware for my last 2 years of school (I now have 1 left). I should be done in about 11 months. The Elky is all back together and in my warehouse down South. When I graduate I plan on taking a few months off so I can follow the end stages through. Needs to complete the interior, body work, and paint. I figure I'm looking at another 15 to 20K to see it through. I wanted to continue the same quality and class all the way through. This is getting a totally custom fabricated interior.

I plan on having this thing trailer queen quality but I'll definately give it h3ll on the streets. I don't intend on bringing it up north. These cops are VERY strict with their speed limits and these deer scare the heck out of me... aside from the fact that it would never pass inspections.

Lenny, I'll clean up my PM's right now!
 

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Good to hear from you and that all is going well. Drop in a little more often.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I plan on it. I kind of vanished from everywhere to stay focused. This last semester was probably the hardest I've had yet. I HATE mornings and I had to wake up at 4 AM for clinicals at the hospital. Should be smooth sailing from here on out and then it's back to my Elky.

I bought a 4x4 jeep grand cherokee to bring up here this past year and no snow! Not even an inch on the roads! I got robbed! haha
 
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