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Old 05-04-2009, 11:15 AM
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GM B-Body Suspension

I have a 1980 Buick Lesabre Sport that I race at local circle tracks. My class is the entry class referred to as econo, bomber or enduro depending on what track I'm actually at. All of my competitors regardless of track are always looking for a way to get more power from their motors without being caught by the track inspectors. However I've decided to go the other direction and try to improve my suspension and cornering thinking that if I can carry an extra 1 mph in the corners then I'll automatically get 1 mph extra on the straights!

So my question is this, on my car, which is a GM B-body, where would I be able to impact my setup the most while not breaking the bank. The economy, etc etc, means I don't have a lot of cash to spare. My car is basically stock right now, I swapped the V6 that was in the car for a small block chevy but everything else remains basically as it was when it was manufactured.

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Old 05-04-2009, 11:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bull_81073
...I've decided to go the other direction and try to improve my suspension and cornering thinking that if I can carry an extra 1 mph in the corners then I'll automatically get 1 mph extra on the straights!
Darned good for you!!! And you will see more than just a 1 mph increase at the end of the straight, to boot!

That said, all I can do is recommend you look at Circle Track magazine HERE.

They go to great lengths to improve the metric chassis for circle track racing.

Good luck!
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Old 05-04-2009, 11:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bull_81073
I have a 1980 Buick Lesabre Sport that I race at local circle tracks. My class is the entry class referred to as econo, bomber or enduro depending on what track I'm actually at. All of my competitors regardless of track are always looking for a way to get more power from their motors without being caught by the track inspectors. However I've decided to go the other direction and try to improve my suspension and cornering thinking that if I can carry an extra 1 mph in the corners then I'll automatically get 1 mph extra on the straights!

So my question is this, on my car, which is a GM B-body, where would I be able to impact my setup the most while not breaking the bank. The economy, etc etc, means I don't have a lot of cash to spare. My car is basically stock right now, I swapped the V6 that was in the car for a small block chevy but everything else remains basically as it was when it was manufactured.
The 1977-1996 B-body chassis is the same, so sway bars and rear disk brakes from an Impala SS (or whale-body cop car) will bolt on. With a V6, your Buick probably has the 5 x 4.75" bolt circle, however. Get the front spindles and rear axle from the Impala and along with the larger 12" front brakes you'll have the 5 x 5" bolt circle. Note that the B-body wagons use a different rear axle and rear suspension from the sedans and that won't interchange. If your class won't let you run the rear disks on your 1980, you can at least upgrade to the wagon rear drums, which are 11x2, as opposed to 9.5x2.
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Old 05-04-2009, 12:28 PM
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Sorry I'm probably showing my ignorance here, but "whale-body cop car"? I don't know what that refers to but I love the imagery!

Also, I'm not dissatisfied with my current brakes, can you explain to me how upgrading the brakes will help out. I know I probably sound ignorant but I just don't understand that much about suspensions and I'm a big picture person I have to understand the whole system before I'm comfortable messing with individual parts
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Old 05-04-2009, 12:28 PM
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Change the springs and shocks first.Without being there my best guess for a starting point would be 1200 right front, 1000 left front. 225 left rear, 200 right rear.Can you scale it and get us some numbers? are weight jacks allowed? Or adjustable spring spacers or must you use stock appearing.also ditch the sway bars for now.
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Old 05-04-2009, 12:33 PM
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It does have to be stock appearing barnym17. I won't be able to get a scale right away but I should be able to do that over the weekend.

Ditch the swaybars? Can you describe what that will do to the handling? I thought they were there to help minimize body roll.
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Old 05-04-2009, 12:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bull_81073
Sorry I'm probably showing my ignorance here, but "whale-body cop car"? I don't know what that refers to but I love the imagery!
Comes from too many runs to Dunkin Donuts...

Seriously, the rounded 1991-1996 Caprice/Impala bodies are affectionately known as "whale body" cars (as opposed to the boxy 1977-1990 B-bodies) for rather obvious reasons (particularly when painted black and white).
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Old 05-04-2009, 01:32 PM
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I am assuming dirt track due to your location am I correct?Sway bars work on parking lots(asphalt racing) not so well on dirt.The stiffer springs will control the body roll. On dirt the ability of each wheel to react independently to ruts and bumps is very important that is why sway bars don't seem to work well on this surface.Also body roll is not always bad it can be used to roll steer the car keeping the rearend always hooked up.You are going about this the right way setup=speed. 1mph in the corner can 5 to 10 at the end of the straight.
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Old 05-04-2009, 02:19 PM
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Ok, so you've convinced me to ditch the sway-bars, and yes you're correct that I'm on dirt. So as far as springs, is there a way to tell what weight the springs I have now are? I know they're stock but further than that I don't know and being that it has a V6 originally... well I don't know what that might mean to the existing suspension.

If I am looking at a salvage yard is there a way to tell spring weight there or do I have to guess based on the engine and car?
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Old 05-04-2009, 02:33 PM
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well if youre after heavier load springs then the best bet would be to locate a 9C6 or 9C1 car or one with towing package(all have rear sway bad and 8.5" axle) look for 9C6 or 9C1 on the RPO label on the underside of the trunk deck glued to it. dont know the RPO for the towing package but if its got an 8.5" rear and sway bar then its going to have heavier springs all around it.

also the wagons are the same suspension nothing different than the others except the rear arms are spaced apart a little further on the rear axle thats all.

yours was probably the 3.8L 231 buick and not the chevy 229 3.8L right ?

i had an '84 impala with the 229 and liked it alot miss it still, ran great. but the '77 electra with the 403 ran even better haha


good luck
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Old 05-04-2009, 03:17 PM
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Yea I believe I had the buick 231. It's been a couple of years since I swapped it out though.

Anyway, any idea how I can tell what weight springs I have now are? Also, I'm planning on sneakin to the track this weekend. If I can't find any springs before then, do you think I would benefit by removing the swaybar and running my stock springs?
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Old 05-04-2009, 04:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bull_81073
Yea I believe I had the buick 231. It's been a couple of years since I swapped it out though.

Anyway, any idea how I can tell what weight springs I have now are? Also, I'm planning on sneakin to the track this weekend. If I can't find any springs before then, do you think I would benefit by removing the swaybar and running my stock springs?
this should give an idea. http://www.stockcarproducts.com/pstech10.htm you will need a dial caliper to find out what your coil diameter is.
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Old 05-05-2009, 12:10 AM
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Thanks for all the help guys, I think I'm planning on getting access to some scales and getting a 4-corner weight. I'll have to wait untill this weekend to start on that, but I am planning on racing this saturday, so my question for the moment is would I be better off removing the sway-bars and running it with my stock springs?

If I do that would I need to also adjust my tire pressures? I have gotten pretty adept at reading my track and adjusting my pressures, but if I lose the sway-bars should I automatically increase my pressures?
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Old 05-05-2009, 05:02 AM
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With the stockers leave the sway bar hooked up for now they are way to soft.The best way to do this is order stock appearing springs from speedway motors.Your competitors don't mind bending the rules (as seen from the engine comment) so neither should you.Strip the paint from the springs with stripper, set em in a bucket of water for a couple of days they will look just like 30 year old stockers and you will know what you've got.You have to get a baseline setup and go from there.Suggest looking on thedirtforum.com for info.
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Old 05-05-2009, 12:19 PM
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thanks barnym, I appreciate all your help. I am going to try to see if I can find any springs from our local salvage yard first and then go the speedway route. The junk dealer here also races with us (but in a different class) and so he might be able/willing to help me find a spring setup.

If that falls through I'm still going to try to get it scaled. I don't have a set of scales and the prices I found on speedway, well lets just say after I choked my balls back down where they were supposed to be, I decided that wasn't going to happen any time soon. I am hopeful that I can find an alternative or someone with a set at our track. I'll post back here with any results and see what I might need to buy weight wise.
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