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 Let's say I want to make an Impala REALLY Handle well...For an Impala...

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Pooge



Posts : 1697
Join date : 2009-03-24

PostSubject: Let's say I want to make an Impala REALLY Handle well...For an Impala...   Fri Dec 30, 2011 9:08 am

I know I could really search for this info in a million posts on the big board, but I'd rather get some pointed advice from people I know and without folks assing up my thread with nonsense now that that place is a lawless playground...

My question is, being such a big car, can I really make this thing handle well? I know it will never be a Vette, but let's face it, I have a lot invested in this car and some serious sentimental value with all the time I have put into it, seems silly to jump right into another project right away. Maybe delay my next LS swap long enough to put a few bucks into the Impala and make it a little more fun to drive.

Am I wrong to think my first steps should be boxed and tubed rear control arms (Seams the stamped ones are a SERIOUS weak point), front and rear sway bars, and quality lowering springs?

Will tubular front control arms make a big difference for how much they cost? Assuming I have done the previous?

And once we have answered those questions, lets hear everyone's experience with certain brands....

It all boils down to this...Im not a top end speed guy. I much prefer low end power and a car that has some resemblance of handling. I love my Impalas for all the right reasons, but handling has never been one of them. Is it possible to make it a fun winding road car or would I be throwing money at an impossible dream?

Feel free to open this up to any and all aspects of suspension in regards to handling, I'd love to hear about everyone's experience as well as what they would have done differently... I'm thinking if we can get this all in one thread it might make it easier for others to find this info on here later.

Thanks

Doug

_________________
1996 Impala SS - 45K original miles - 5.3 LS swap - Brand new Bilsteins...WHAT A DIFFERENCE!


Last edited by Pooge on Thu Dec 13, 2012 1:46 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Let's say I want to make an Impala REALLY Handle well...For an Impala...   Fri Dec 30, 2011 10:08 am

Doug
First off, figure a budget. You need to know how much you want to spend before you start. I would replace all bushings, ball joints, tie rod ends and so forth with at least moog problem solvers, or a good aftermarket brand. If everything is new, it will feel better. Might even look into replacing body mounts along with adding the missing ones that only the 9c1s got.
With that said, I would replace all the rear control arms with tubular versions. Used is ok, as long as the bushings are in good shape.
A set of monroe severe service shocks, or at least some Gabrial police shocks. Hotchkis springs and sway bars. If there is play in the steering box, you might consider a reman Jeep grand cherokee box. It is the only way to guarantee to get a fast ratio box. Trying to get one for a b-body is hit or miss since a few ratios were offered, and most reman units for b-bodys list one part number for caprice or impala. Scoring some used front tubular a-arms would help too. At least upper ones. Do a search on the big forum. There are alignment specs for better handling over the stock specs. They are a little harder on the rubber, but make a difference. And lastly, some sticky rubber. If you can't get the power to the ground, it won't matter. The Falkens I had on the wagon worked well, as does Kumho Ecsta SPT. Maybe some 275/40/17s. And air bags in the rear springs.

Good luck
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Pooge



Posts : 1697
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PostSubject: Re: Let's say I want to make an Impala REALLY Handle well...For an Impala...   Fri Dec 30, 2011 11:53 am

Thanks Billy, I don't want to set a budget, because I plan to do this over a period of time, so as long as I can get there I don't mind throwing some money at it, as long as I can spread it out a little.

If I am going to spend the money on a front end rebuild, is there a certain company that makes a better complete solution? I recall some recent talk about once place in particular, but I can't recall it...maybe a guy named Zack?

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1996 Impala SS - 45K original miles - 5.3 LS swap - Brand new Bilsteins...WHAT A DIFFERENCE!
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boojum



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PostSubject: Re: Let's say I want to make an Impala REALLY Handle well...For an Impala...   Fri Dec 30, 2011 12:03 pm

I have always wanted to try 750 lb. front springs, like Moog 7268.

Brake bolt mod if you haven't already done it.
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No Moa



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Age : 44
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PostSubject: Re: Let's say I want to make an Impala REALLY Handle well...For an Impala...   Fri Dec 30, 2011 12:31 pm

Hotchkis made a huge difference in my 95. I have the huge sway bars, rear arms, QA1 shocks, engine bay brace. Its amazing how it handles.
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Machine-De-Zine



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Age : 59
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PostSubject: Re: Let's say I want to make an Impala REALLY Handle well...For an Impala...   Fri Dec 30, 2011 1:49 pm

-
Our B-body suspension is actually very good from a design potential standpoint, being borrowed directly from 2nd gen F-bodies.

The main goal to strive for is getting really good tires to stay properly in contact with the road (geometrically and with consistent loading) so as to take advantage of their best attributes.

I would consider acquiring front control arms that improve caster angles up to around 8 to 10 degrees, and front lowers will have the B/Js moved forward nearly an inch to allow the upper adjustable arm to rotate back.

I recommend front U&L control arms made by SPC, then you might try shock absorbers made by VariShock, their quality and adjustability are superior.

Boxing the chassis side channels is easy enough to do and will pay huge dividends, and of course tight body-mount bushings are a must.

The rear "triangulated" 4 link suspension is going to be less co-operative in your efforts, due to the built-in high roll center & kinematic binding, those issues are actually made worse by installing super stiff rear U&L control arms.

Check out SA Design book > How to Make Your Muscle Car Handle by Mark Savitske, it will cover many of the best strategies for accomplishing what you seek.

If you like, I can list all the components I've purchased, because it would seem that I am seeking the same goals as those you describe.

We do have a few other guys here on this forum that have done some really good suspension work on their B-bodies, & they will have valuable inputs on the subject.

Be patient, so you can develop a smart plan, as there are many, many options, and beware, often the best advertised and prettiest parts will NOT deliver to your car what you want.
-
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Pooge



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PostSubject: Re: Let's say I want to make an Impala REALLY Handle well...For an Impala...   Fri Dec 30, 2011 3:04 pm

Thanks for the feedback so far guys, I'm in no rush, so lets fill this up with as much good info as we can!

Machine-De-Zine wrote:
-

Boxing the chassis side channels is easy enough to do and will pay huge dividends, and of course tight body-mount bushings are a must.
-

This is something else I was wondering, seems the C channels are a pretty weak spot on our frames.

From day one I have wanted to build a frame in the garage to put under my car after doing all the little tweaks and changes, rather than having my car be a rolling, ever changing project. I have a nice SS frame under the current parts car that will be just dandy for this type of project. I can then keep my eyes on here and the big board for good prices on used stuff or group buys I can get in on. By having the extra frame it should be a great way to enjoy my car while working on making all the changes.

Keep it up guys, love were this is going so far.

_________________
1996 Impala SS - 45K original miles - 5.3 LS swap - Brand new Bilsteins...WHAT A DIFFERENCE!
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PostSubject: Re: Let's say I want to make an Impala REALLY Handle well...For an Impala...   Fri Dec 30, 2011 4:33 pm

A buick brace or even just a bar welded to the frame in the back, and even one on the front will help since the frame only has three cross braces. Boxing the frame is a great idea.
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sdstick



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PostSubject: Re: Let's say I want to make an Impala REALLY Handle well...For an Impala...   Fri Dec 30, 2011 5:23 pm

Machine-De-Zine wrote:
-

If you like, I can list all the components I've purchased, because it would seem that I am seeking the same goals as those you describe.
-

Please do, I may have another body in the works (slow time table too)
Posting here would help

_________________
Steve


96BBB 28K 3.42 Bolt-ons
95BBB 100K 3.73 383 New DD...already broke fixt the 4L60E twice
95 Black WB4 Hole...ee...grail
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Whine..eee...Silver LS6
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GasTT



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PostSubject: Re: Let's say I want to make an Impala REALLY Handle well...For an Impala...   Fri Dec 30, 2011 5:42 pm

I am following here. Looking to have my Fleetwood handle better.
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Matt Trakker



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PostSubject: Re: Let's say I want to make an Impala REALLY Handle well...For an Impala...   Fri Dec 30, 2011 6:13 pm

Ooooh, this is going to be a good thread...I'm glad MDZ chimed in. That car he has set up is amazing. I hope "Scot" does too, he had some crazy stuff I saw in person that made my jaw drop. And there are others on here with great experience as well.

I have to say with some of the people on this "small" forum so to speak, a B-body handling Bible could be created here. Laughing
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PostSubject: Re: Let's say I want to make an Impala REALLY Handle well...For an Impala...   Fri Dec 30, 2011 6:30 pm

Fisher in 3. 2. 1.
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Fishah



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PostSubject: Re: Let's say I want to make an Impala REALLY Handle well...For an Impala...   Fri Dec 30, 2011 9:17 pm

Did somebody say my name?

There are tons of different opinions on how to make the B-body handle the best. You've got to decide if you want to make the car handle REALLY well, or if you want a good compromise between ride and handling.

If it was me this is what I would do:

Full front end rebuilt kid - www.proforged.com (Formerly PPM)
Hotchkis Springs
Hotchkis Swaybars Front & Rear
Bilstein Sports (Or HAL QA1 if you have unlimited budget)

Front Tubular arms will help, but are not cheap. You can get away with just replacing the bushings. Either rubber, poly, or hard plastic)

For rear arms, you only really need to replace the lowers and boxed units will work fine without spending the extra dough on tubular. www.umiperformance.com
I would simply replace the uppers with new OEM units, or just replace the bushings. Upper boxed are bad news bears.

You'll also want a new steering box. Do a search on the big forum. There is some REALLY good info regarding steering boxes posted by Erik. A good steering box will make a huge difference.

Also tires are going to be a huge factor. If performance is really important, make sure you pick a pure summer tire. Do your research on tires dilligently because this will have the largest affect on handling bar none. A poor tire choice will also negate ANY money spent on suspension upgrades.

Also don't forget ZQ8 bumpstops, and that you'll need to cut them.

---

This combination will provide the best combination of ride & handling. Car will ride amazing (on smooth pavement) down the street and handle like a slot car at the same time. You could use a stiffer front spring than the Hotchkis if you wanted. The 750# is a good option, but just remember you'll get an extra pounding on your seat.

Notes:

Don't buy the BMR swaybar set as they're too big and provide dangerous oversteer when used on stiff springs.
If you put a REALLY stiff spring on the front, you're probably better off with a stock rear swaybar or you risk dangerous oversteer.
Don't forget to Torque the new control arms only after the car is off the jacks.

--

Also you'll need to get a good alignment once you do everything. Specs:



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toomanytoyz
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PostSubject: Re: Let's say I want to make an Impala REALLY Handle well...For an Impala...   Fri Dec 30, 2011 9:51 pm

I've really enjoyed my Hotchkis/Vogtland Springs. I loved my Hotchkis bars on my SS, too, but they tended towards understeer. Also, Bilstein HD shocks are a must if you're going for the good parts. Go with UMI Performance rear control arms as they are cheap and are great pieces. That's the set-up I had on my SS and there wasn't much on the street that could get away from me in the corners. I kicked ass on the autocrosses, too. That and the whole setup won't break the bank. You could reproduce that whole suspension, brand new, for right around a grand.

Don't forget brakes. C5 13" front kits are very affordable, around $500, and are well worth it. Should clear SS wheels, too. Wink

I'd stay away from the front tubular arms. They aren't really necessary and everyone I've heard who ran them had problems. Besides, they are stupid expensive.

_________________
Bill "The Verb" Crovo - Resident Car Slut & Unicorn Hunter

A Toasted Marshmallow, A Long German, A Lame Suburban and expensive dreams...
Missing all my previous B's, D's and V... Sad
American Ricer
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"Ooooh! Look! Something shiny!"
NO MORE UNICORNS!!!!!

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1984twodoor



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PostSubject: Re: Let's say I want to make an Impala REALLY Handle well...For an Impala...   Sat Dec 31, 2011 1:39 am

I'm all ears for this thread! I've got a golden opportunity to make mine handle like it's on rails! Will be watching this thread like a hawk! cyclops
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phantom 309



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PostSubject: Re: Let's say I want to make an Impala REALLY Handle well...For an Impala...   Sat Dec 31, 2011 2:32 am

interesting thread,.
what are you willing to put up with,. i,ve played around with handling on b-body sedans/wagons, and if you're willing to trade ride quality,. then stiffen it up,.
i personally don't mind some body roll and flex,. it helps get theweight to the outside etc,. there are simple tricks for tracking the car ,. like 4 lengths of chain,. you can preload the suspension and eliminate roll,. but it,s a rough street ride,. you can do poly body bushings an 8 point cage,. killer sticky tires that burn off in 5000miles,.yada yada,. it will eat money,. it all depends if you are serious,. or just want a nimble street car,. invest in a set of eibach springs, their progressive rates are great they tighten up quick when pushed but they will give a decent ride,. a set of adjustable shocks,. a properly matched set of sway bars,. not some oversized rear bar that makes the car tail happy,. too big a bar in the front and it'll push bad in the corners,.
Most guys are happy with decent springs and shox, and medium stiff sway bars,.a really sticky set of tires will make a huge difference,.
leave the race car stuff on the track,. all these braces, haven't made any difference to my cars,. and i,ve sold them off,. (buick brace, underhood brace etc,.) Alot of the cars handling comes from the pilot too,. at the nationals i pushed a bone stock suspension wagon around the track faster than a few of the prepared cars,. take note of guys like fisher that can push an ugly little honda around an autocross track pretty well for a stocker,. or look up a guy called david hulshoff that piloted a bone stock roady wagon around the track faster than the 2nd place winner in the class above him for prepared cars at the nationals a few years back,.
invest in a course at your local track on race driving techniques,. and you'll find once you learn some of the tricks,. you'll be able to out drive better cars with inferior drivers,.and as bill said,. once you start driving these cars on the edge,. you'll soon want brakes that actually stop the car like it should stop,.13" 4 piston on the front and 12" 4 piston on the back is a good place to start,. before you up grade to 20 " rims to clear the 14" 8 piston on the front , 13" 6 piston on the back,. 10:1 steering box,. . yada yada,. yada,.

JM2C from years of playing with these cars,.
nick
bought the first 9c1 in 1998,.and learnt later on that wagons handle better,. Wink
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Pooge



Posts : 1697
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PostSubject: Re: Let's say I want to make an Impala REALLY Handle well...For an Impala...   Sat Dec 31, 2011 9:40 am

Thanks for all the great info guys, keep it coming!

Personally I think I should have labeled this a little better. I want a car that will handle, but it should be a decent car to drive daily though. I like the setups that Fisher has described. As I read more I am finding myself being worried about making the car too stiff and handling too rough for a car I plan to drive everyday in the summer.

Thanks guys, this is turning into a very informative thread.

Doug

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1996 Impala SS - 45K original miles - 5.3 LS swap - Brand new Bilsteins...WHAT A DIFFERENCE!
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PostSubject: Re: Let's say I want to make an Impala REALLY Handle well...For an Impala...   Sat Dec 31, 2011 9:59 am

I will summarize my thoughts. Bill Fisher is dead on. If you have ever seen pics or video of his car in action, you will see very little body roll.
I really would not wast time with boxing the frame. Upgrades to what you have will net big gains. Tubular rear control arms, good shocks,
sticky 275/40/17 rubber, replacing worn parts throughout with moog or energy suspension, buick brace, and the use of Hotchkis springs and sway bars will make it handle like it is on rails, and still feel comfortable to drive. I would recommend a buick/cadillac center link and steering
dampener too, and panhard bar too. The panhard bar will keep the rearend centered in turns, and the centerlink will make road imperfections from translating to the steering wheel.
This is a fun thread because the sky is the limit. Plus you get to find out what works best for you. Arrow
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Pooge



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PostSubject: Re: Let's say I want to make an Impala REALLY Handle well...For an Impala...   Sat Dec 31, 2011 11:06 am

Quick peek under the car this morning reminded me that it actually already has some sort of tubular lower rear control arms, no idea what brand. SCORE! Being a low mileage car the upper arms are actually in very nice condition for stock and I seem to be getting the impression from most of you that those are not worth replacing due to possible binding?

I have front Bilstein shocks new in box from the old car that I never replace, so I just need to find some rears.

Things are looking good! Looks like I need to find me a group purchase on some Hotchkis parts and then replace worn pieces and I will be well on my way to were I need to be, perhaps that will get me to a comfortable point and I can play from there.

After looking at some pics of the way the Hotchkis springs sit on the SS, specifically Husker's car on ISSF, I am really digging how they look too!

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toomanytoyz
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PostSubject: Re: Let's say I want to make an Impala REALLY Handle well...For an Impala...   Sat Dec 31, 2011 11:31 am

Mine also sat on Hotchkis. You took that car for a rip a couple years ago, didn't you? That was set up exactly as you are describing now. Very Happy

_________________
Bill "The Verb" Crovo - Resident Car Slut & Unicorn Hunter

A Toasted Marshmallow, A Long German, A Lame Suburban and expensive dreams...
Missing all my previous B's, D's and V... Sad
American Ricer
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"Ooooh! Look! Something shiny!"
NO MORE UNICORNS!!!!!

LOWER IT!!! Wink
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Pooge



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PostSubject: Re: Let's say I want to make an Impala REALLY Handle well...For an Impala...   Sat Dec 31, 2011 11:51 am

toomanytoyz wrote:
Mine also sat on Hotchkis. You took that car for a rip a couple years ago, didn't you? That was set up exactly as you are describing now. Very Happy

Haha, yah. but I think it was the first time I met you, so I was really pussy footing it. LOL

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1996 Impala SS - 45K original miles - 5.3 LS swap - Brand new Bilsteins...WHAT A DIFFERENCE!
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GasTT



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PostSubject: Re: Let's say I want to make an Impala REALLY Handle well...For an Impala...   Sat Dec 31, 2011 12:36 pm

I pussy footed the t56 imp too. He laughed at me and told me it actually revs past 3k.
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PostSubject: Re: Let's say I want to make an Impala REALLY Handle well...For an Impala...   Sat Dec 31, 2011 12:37 pm

Pooge wrote:
toomanytoyz wrote:
Mine also sat on Hotchkis. You took that car for a rip a couple years ago, didn't you? That was set up exactly as you are describing now. Very Happy

Haha, yah. but I think it was the first time I met you, so I was really pussy footing it. LOL
I know he said, "Drive it like an asshole! I do!" Because he said it to me. Like a Star @ heaven
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toomanytoyz
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PostSubject: Re: Let's say I want to make an Impala REALLY Handle well...For an Impala...   Sat Dec 31, 2011 1:55 pm

Buncha pussies. Razz

_________________
Bill "The Verb" Crovo - Resident Car Slut & Unicorn Hunter

A Toasted Marshmallow, A Long German, A Lame Suburban and expensive dreams...
Missing all my previous B's, D's and V... Sad
American Ricer
www.badassofne.net
"Ooooh! Look! Something shiny!"
NO MORE UNICORNS!!!!!

LOWER IT!!! Wink
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http://impalass.uniquekind.net/
GasTT



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PostSubject: Re: Let's say I want to make an Impala REALLY Handle well...For an Impala...   Mon Jan 02, 2012 1:57 pm

Bill or glen, do you have part numbers for the Hotchkis front and rear sway bar kit?

I'm seeing 2 different kits. One has bigger bars. I see some suggestions here for going with the smaller diameter.

edit

I guess I was looking wrong. The kit number is 2205 for the front and rear hollow sway bars. About $530 from summit.

Hotchkis lowering spring part# 1922

Free shipping on Hotchkis parts and the Umi brand stuff is on sale right now too.

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No Moa



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PostSubject: Re: Let's say I want to make an Impala REALLY Handle well...For an Impala...   Mon Jan 02, 2012 2:42 pm

I don't have any numbers Tim, all my stuff came on the car I bought. Some good info, I'm going to look into a Buick brace.
The tube arms did nothing for my car other than lower the weight a little. I sold the lowers, they uppers were an fbody set Jon had specially made, not sure why, but they worked for him. And they looked cool.

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GasTT



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PostSubject: Re: Let's say I want to make an Impala REALLY Handle well...For an Impala...   Mon Jan 02, 2012 2:46 pm

When I put the trailer hitch on my Buick I gained the frame brace for my Caprice. I've yet to install it. I looked underneath my Fleetwood the other day, it looks as if it already has a steel bar welded on the frame rails where the Buick frame brace would go.



Here you can see the frame brace on a Buick.



Here is a pic I just took of my Fleetwood.
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Machine-De-Zine



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PostSubject: Re: Let's say I want to make an Impala REALLY Handle well...For an Impala...   Mon Jan 02, 2012 5:19 pm

-
I wouldn't get too caught up in sway bars & their part numbers until more important issues are resolved. They are little more than tuning aids, after the springs are chosen.

Seems that the man is well positioned for building this thing the right way, direct, low drama, and optimized for value vs money and time invested.

Doing a rolling chassis is best, one step short of fabricating this thing from tubes on a full scale jig-plate.

If you can weld, you have the opportunity to very easily increase the rigidity of this car's foundation. I stripped mine & blasted it down to bare metal, thats how I found more cracks.

You don't have to be building a "race car" to realize amazing improvements in handling by making the suspension's pick-up points more resistant to load/resonance induced migration.

Since the chassis will be bare, you can painlessly address all of it's weaknesses as well (such as cracks and rust thinning) that would otherwise further compromise your goals.

After a little studying, you may come to realize that the most difficult decision will be how to deal with the triangulated 4 link OEM engineering disaster.

I am working on several strategies right now with my bare rolling 9C1 chassis for my 96 SS. This car's tail-high roll-axis with the rear OEM set-up is a dilemma worth trying to solve.

If you decide not to pursue re-designing the whole rear suspension, then "band-aids" WILL work, if you are not concerned with that last bit of potential, like against stiff competition.

For me, , ,
First choice; three killer spherical rod-end longitudinal parallel links (two lowers & one up top in the center) with an adjustable Watts link for the lateral location. Chassis-hung sway bar.
Second choice; same as above but with an adjustable Panhard bar, as long as humanly possible and still fit in there.
Third choice; same two lower control arms as above, but with no top arm, in it's place a long torque arm like the third gen. F-body. Once again, either Watts or Panhard for lateral loads.
Forth; Truck arms like nascar, ala Hot Rods to Hell. This choice will present a serious issue later on when you go to install a quiet exhaust system, as it occupies all of that real estate!
Fifth; stock location uppers and lowers, Currie monster (double pivot) Johnny-Joint rear LCAs & and Currie J-J rear UCAs but with stock soft rubber bushings only in the axle "ears".

Also, I very, very strongly recommend spending what ever you can afford on the very best shocks you can find, as they are way more important than they are generally given credit for.
I'm not a fan of Hal/QA1 products. I prefer VariShocks at this time. I'm running front- #VAS 14145-515, & the rear- #VAS14169-715 QuickSet 1 (single adjustable) best for my budget.

As far as handling is concerned, tubular front control arms will give you basically "zip-point-sh!t" unless they are intelligently engineered to improve upon your stock factory geometry,
like raising the upper B/J pivot point, adding positive caster, minimizing bump toe & bump steer, roll steer, camber loss, deflection toe, roll center migration, etc.

I'm no master of chassis tuning, but I don't like variable rate springs, as I believe they are primarily for a soft ride but then will provide extra load capacity when hauling heavy loads.

My most recent springs are Canucks, #21-2712, - (F) 690 lbs/in linear (2.5" drop) USA hot-wound, shot-peened SAE 5160 steel, (R) 240 lbs/in linear (1.5" drop) chrome silicon wire.
Did tons of checking B/4 buying, the landscape has changed dramatically in recent years. My Canucks hit my doorstep fast for $204. Spoke to the owner Ray, who is the head engineer.
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PostSubject: Re: Let's say I want to make an Impala REALLY Handle well...For an Impala...   Today at 3:20 am

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