[Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the August 2017 issue of Grassroots Motorsports.]
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Meet Our Expert:
As with any project, I always look for the best body I can find in a color I can live with. Body and paint work typically comprise 50 percent of the build budget, so if you can avoid that portion, you have more money and time to spend on other go-fast goodies. The ’78-’88 G-body vehicles are mechanically near identical, varying only by body shape and interior style. It’s your time and money going into this project, so make sure you pick out the body style you truly like the best.
The G-body suffers the same inverted camber curve problems that the first-generation Camaros and Chevelles did. We use a taller upper ball joint to resolve that.
GM also used a generous amount of rubber in the front suspension control arm pivots to improve ride quality. While polyurethane has long been considered an “upgrade,” poly also imparts a huge amount of “sticktion” in the suspension that results in uncontrolled initial spring rate and squeaky bushings. We use Delrin bushings that require no lubrication, allow no uncontrolled lateral movement, and allow smooth rotational movement. The net result is dramatically improved ride quality and handling, with no noise.
We use a dropped spindle and dual-rate coil springs (in our StreetGrip kit) or coil-overs to lower the ride height and optimize ride quality and handling.
From there we up the diameter of the front sway bar–which is also mounted in Delrin bushings–to minimize body roll, and include rebound-adjustable monotube shocks so the customer can tune the ride and handling to their liking.
On the rear we include dual-rate coils (also in our StreetGrip kit) or coil-overs, and a slightly larger rear sway bar. We specifically do not use Delrin or poly bushings in the rear four-link bars because those bars need to articulate to do their job properly. Limiting that articulation binds the rear of the car up and creates excessive stress on the bars and their mounts.
Turn One and Borgeson offer a faster-ratio steering box for the G-body. We like to use a flow-matched pump from Turn One to get the best feel and performance.
A 17- or 18-inch wheel diameter seems to offer the widest selection of tire choices for about any style of driving you may want. These cars will fit a 275/35R18 tire in the back and a 255/35R18 in the front. Braver hotrodders have fit a 275mm tire even on the front, depending on final ride height. Nineteen- and 20-inch wheels seem to look a bit awkward on these cars and have a smaller selection of tires. Performance tire selection is also limited for 15- and 16-inch wheels.
If your main purpose is cruising with only an occasional autocross, the BFG Sport Comp 2 is a nice tire. The more serious autocrosser or track day guy might like the Falken RT615K+. The current king of the grippy tire wars is the BFG Rival, but they do sacrifice tire life to achieve that.
The stock brakes on any car up to around 1995 are marginal in a performance setting. Any time you intend to accelerate and corner faster, you will also want to stop faster. Baer and Wilwood both have fine offerings for these cars.
The GM G-body is a great platform for any kind of racing or performance driving. The G-body’s 108-inch wheelbase is the same as the early Camaro–short enough to turn well and long enough to ride comfortably. In addition they are lightweight–around 3300 pounds, about the same as an early Camaro as well. OEM and aftermarket parts are plentiful and mostly interchangeable. It’s certainly a fun car for any budget.