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Old 01-15-2006, 12:26 PM
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To sway or not??

I am wondering if I need to keep a sway bar on the front suspension . The question arose because i am using a 78 chevy camaro subframe, and it came with one on it. I don't think I need to use it anymore. I am building a 1941 studebaker champion into a modern hotrod. The car probable weighs 1-1 1/2 tons. Can anybody that has used a front subframe help me with this dilemma?
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Old 01-15-2006, 01:50 PM
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I would say YES keep it. It can always be removed later. You will have to have different springs.

Personally I prefer a different front end, but Camaros have been used on many vehicles with good results.
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Old 01-15-2006, 02:12 PM
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On a street driven car you will want a sway bar, especially on something that big, might want to look for larger aftermarket offerings. Just because it didnt come with one new (on the original suspension) doesnt mean it couldnt benefit from one.

Any pics??
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Old 01-16-2006, 09:43 PM
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If I end up owning a vehicle without a swaybar, you can bet I'll be very shortly puting one on it. I like sway bars very much. My 80's F150 didn't have one, it weighs in at 4100 pounds. The contrast in handling and "feel" before and after adding a front bar was striking. (OK, so I didn't have very good shocks there for a while either) Sudden lane changes (think "emergency avoidance") are ever so much more controlled instead of scary. Long sweeping highway onramps are more enjoyable, the truck doesn't feel like it's going to fall over. It got even better when I put fresh gas shocks on. I liked it so much I even added a rear sway bar. It made the truck noticeably more well behaved when towing. A vehicle that regularly feels like it's almost going out of your control isn't very enjoyable to drive.
I know this is a bigger, heavier, and higher centered vehicle, I'm just pointing out that swaybars can have value beyond just "performance" handling. Similar benefits can be realized on lighter vehicles, they're generally not as extremely noticeable though.
Do you need one? Up to you. If you really want a smoother ride you might choose to do without. A swaybar doesn't add much stiffness but it's tough to get a Cadillac ride with a lightweight car and every little bit can help. Depends on what you want out of the car. If you never plan on driving in situations where a swaybar adds particular benefit then it's weight you can do without. An interesting compromise might be a smaller bar if you can find one. In the end, it's only about 6 bolts to deal with. When you get to that point, drive it with and without. See what you like. You can actually disconnect the end links of a sway bar (dragracers do it all the time) and drive that way. Perhaps you already have a driveable vehicle around you could experiment with and see what it's like to drive without it connected. See what you think.
My latest acquisition is a 2200 pound VW. No front swaybar. I'm busy looking for one right now. I'm pretty sure I don't really need a rear one, but if I run across a good deal....
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Old 01-16-2006, 11:29 PM
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Absolutely keep the sway bar. A front clip that already had one, no mods to make, whats it cost to keep it. Handling is far better with one.


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Old 01-17-2006, 12:16 AM
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You pretty much need a sway bar with just about any independant or coil spring suspension. It ties the two sides back to the body to prevent excess roll (or sway) when turning. Otherwise you might need really really stiff springs... and shocks.
With a solid leaf spring axle, the spring shackles and mounts tie the axle to the body to prevent roll, so sway bars are seldom needed.
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Old 01-17-2006, 06:36 AM
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The manufacturers would just as soon avoid the swaybars. It's just extra cost. But, at the same time, they realize the bars allow them to reduce the wheel rate while retaining the same roll stiffness. Before accurate computer simulation during the design stage, the decision to add a front bar often didn't come until prototypes were available for testing. As a general rule, the addition of a front swaybar will promote the tendency to "push." (If you watch the NASCAR races, you know that, when a car doesn't want to turn, it's said to "push"; when it wants to swap ends, it's said to be "loose.") A car that pushes is easily driven by all drivers. It's said to be "stable." A car with a tendency to be loose, however, can be a handful with many drivers. So, when these prototypes were tested, they loaded the trunk with more than would usually ever be carried, filled the gas tank, and then checked to see if the car was at all loose. If it was, they opted for the front swaybar.

Notice that I said that it was "a general rule" that the addition of a front swaybar will promote push. The exception will be in that case when hard cornering causes so much chassis roll that camber control of the outside tire is lost and, as a result, tire patch area (the spot of rubber in contact with the road surface) is drastically reduced. In these cases, the addition of a front swaybar might actually reduce push, as the increase in contact area more than compensates for the increase in front roll stiffness. This is generally not the case, however, with a modern car, as chassis roll has been drastically reduced since, say, the sixties.

With a modern front wheel drive car, you might not have a front swaybar. With all that weight up there, you certainly don't want anything which will further increase push. Swaybars aside, you can usually see what's going on by checking out the wheel rates. Just walk up to a FWD car and push down on the front and rear fenders near the tires. The front will usually feel much softer than the rear. Now, do the same thing with an old RWD VW Beetle. Just the opposite. The front and rear roll stiffnesses are adjusted in accordance with the weight distribution.

So, back to the original question: If the car is wallowing through the corners, then, yes, you would probably benefit from the addition of a front swaybar. If, however, it is not, remember that the manufacturer has sacrificed some of the car's handling by deliberately building in considerable push, so you might want to install a REAR swaybar instead or, if you're interested in running some SCCA Solo 2's, bars at both ends.

But, I still haven't gotten to the '41 Studebaker. With this arrangement, you probably will be happy without the bar, but, as has been pointed out, it's simple enough to add or remove (or disable) at any time to check out the difference.
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