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1996 Impala SS
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello Everyone, those of you running tubular control arms either Global West, or Speedtech Performance, we’re you guy’s able to set the alignment back to GM spec’s or we’re you given recommended spec’s from the manufacturer’s, any abnormal wear patterns on your tires, does the car still track straight.

How does the car handle with your set up, ect?

Any feedback is appreciated, everyone can chime in.

Thanks in advance
 

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Speedtech here. Manufacturer has 3 different recommended alignment specs depending on the driving (racing) you're doing.

No significant problems getting either the factory or manufacturer's alignment specs for caster/camber. I recall it was close (couldn't adjust it to "anything") but it was possible.

I'd love to have some tire wear to report, but not yet :(
 

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1993 RMW, 1996 RMW, 1992 OCC
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My tubular upper control arms have about +5 degrees of caster built in. That's +5 degrees beyond what the OEM control arms have. Typically these cars want a LOT of caster. That just means that I have more room for shims to get the camber right and then add even more caster (I've been aiming for +8 degrees of caster).

Often, lower tubular control arms will have yet more caster built into them, like another +5 degrees or so. The point of that is to bring the wheel back into its intended position. Adding all the caster using just the upper control arm and alignment shims means you're tilting the wheel waaaay back into the wheel well. But if you've got +5 degrees of caster in the upper arm (top of the spindle pulled backwards) and +5 degrees in the lower arm (bottom of the spindle pulled forward), then you've go +10 total degrees of caster and your wheel hasn't budged fore/aft from its original location. Then you have ALL the space on the upper control arm mounting studs to get the camber right.

Most tubular control arms do not change the camber. The whole point of building in caster is to leave more room on the upper control arm mounting studs to get the camber correct while still getting plenty of caster, which isn't always possible using stock control arms.
 

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I think the below link is the same as what was in my kit - Not sure about the "Factory Specs"? The caster is what really makes the car drive well and gives a nice "on-center" feel.

I've only driven it a couple hundred miles, and half of that was with some pretty terrible bump steer so really no useful info from me on this part.
I ran an 80's g-body (regal) with ~7 degrees of caster and "deep dish" wheels and it was the closest thing to autonomous driving at the time (late 90's) :).


 

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1993 RMW, 1996 RMW, 1992 OCC
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On my '93 Roadmaster wagon, Super Street A-arm kit: control arms
On my '77 Trans Am I'm running the Comp upper control arms on that same page. They're pretty much interchangeable.
I don't currently run tubular lower control arms.
 

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1993 RMW, 1996 RMW, 1992 OCC
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Stay close to the GM specs for camber and toe, and tire wear will be fine. Caster doesn't affect tire wear much, so there's nothing wrong with going beyond the original specs on that. It improves steering feel very noticeably. It might wear out your ball joints a little faster. A little bit of negative camber might wear the inside edge of the tire a little faster, but it'll also give you better grip in the turns. Honestly, if you're just gonna stay strictly with GM specs and you're that concerned with tire wear, there's no point going with tubular control arms. Their benefit is in added caster and, to a lesser extent, reduced unsprung weight. If you're gonna stay with OEM specs, stick with OEM control arms. You could always switch the bushings to polyurethane or Delrin if all you're after is a sportier ride.

Some aftermarket tubular control arms use a proprietary ball joint. I think that sucks, because you can't just walk into a generic parts store and buy a new one. I try to stick with control arms that use standard ball joints. Some people like the proprietary ball joints because they're "rebuildable", for whatever that's worth. To each his own.
 

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Global West uses solid poly bushings so you will have more noise and feel the pot holes more. The Impala / Caprice frame has the stiffness of a wet noodle so the improvements you can make to handling are limited. Driving a road course is like sailing a boat. Aim for the exit and use the throttle to tack through the corner.
 

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The Impala / Caprice (sedan) frame has the stiffness of a wet noodle, so the improvements you can make to handling are limited.
Parenthesis mine ...
Two proofs:
1. Jack up either of a wagon's front wheels.
Go high enough, and that REAR wheel will ALSO lift off the ground.
Now jack up either of a sedan's front wheels, same height.
Sedan's rear wheel will still be on the ground.

2. With that wagon's front wheel jacked up high enough to lift both that side's wheels, open the front door.
If the wagon's frame is in good shape, the door will easily close.
Even if the sedan's frame is in good shape, the door may not close.

Frame Reinforcements:
1. BOX THE FRAME! Cannot stress this enough (pun intended). Wagons skip this step.
2. Body Bushings. Replace the old ones, install the ones GM intentionally left missing.
PolyGRAPHITE bushings have all of the advantages of polyurethane, and almost none of the drawbacks.
Our frames date back to 1977; bushings for closely related cars are also compatible.
3. Either a tow hitch, or anything that ties the rear frame horns together like a tow hitch.
Keeps the rear frame from twisting.
4. Dick Miller Racing Rear Triangulation Braces.
Removes stress from the rear upper control arm connection points, keeps the rear axle better centered.
5. Altering the rear antisway bar so it acts on the axle vs the frame, instead of on the rear control arms.
Rear control arms are flimsy enough for normal people's bare hands to twist them.
Merely stiffening the rear control arms transfers stress to their attachment points.
6. Front Swaybar Reinforcement Plate. Acts like a 'wonderbar', ties the front frame horns together.
7. (Something else to add more rigidity to the front frame / suspension that I apologize for forgetting).
 
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7. (Something else to add more rigidity to the front frame / suspension that I apologize for forgetting).
I forget, do sedans have that brace that triangulates the rear mount of the front lower control arm? It starts at the side rail, bolts to the back of the control arm mount, and ends at the crossmember that runs under the engine. I only have wagons, and they all have those braces. I ended up buying some NOS ones on eBay and I added them to my 2nd gen F-body instead of the more common WS6 brace which only spans half the distance but basically serves the same purpose.
 

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I forget, do sedans have that brace that triangulates the rear mount of the front lower control arm? It starts at the side rail, bolts to the back of the control arm mount, and ends at the crossmember that runs under the engine. I only have wagons, and they all have those braces. I ended up buying some NOS ones on eBay and I added them to my 2nd gen F-body instead of the more common WS6 brace which only spans half the distance but basically serves the same purpose.
All of the B-body cars have the brace.
 

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On my speed tech upper and lower A arms with coil overs I had a little bit of an issue with excessive negative camber (for street use anyway) when the car was sitting at a low ride height, probably about a 1.75-2" drop. I was getting about 2.5* of negative camber with no shims, which is a little more than Speedtech recommends for their street specs and also more than factory alignment specs.

The car ended up being too low anyway for me to drive without bottoming out everywhere so I raised it up a bit, but I was surprised because this kit was designed to able to accomidate over a 2" drop, but clearly there was too much negative camber built into the arm to do that and maintain the recommended camber specs.

I have since raised the car up a little to what looks more like probably a 1.5" drop and on my DIY alignment tool (take it with a grain of salt, may not be perfectly accurate) I'm getting -.5 of camber which i'm happy with.


Two things that may be affecting it though, first is I purchased the upper arms YEARS before the lower so i'm wondering if maybe things have changed with their upper arm specs. Speedtech told me no, but i'm not ruling it out. the offset on the cross shaft doesn't seem to be as pronounced as the way the new ones look in pictures, so that might be it.

Second is I have ES poly body bushings so the body is probably sitting higher than most stock B bodies with over a decade on the body bushings, so when i'm gunning for a certain height by looking at the wheel gap I am probably actually sitting the chassis much lower than any other b body would need to be to accomplish that same wheel gap.

An easy solution, if I did want to go lower and try to gain a little camber back, is to mill the cross bars just a little bit. They are plenty thick so i'm sure I could mill enough off to get what I need and not affect anything.

As far as driving straight, I did the alignment with my DIY tool to the speed tech "street" specs and the car drives great, tracks straight as an arrow. Can't comment on tire wear yet, don't have enough mileage on the tires.
 

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1995 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham
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I ran an 80's g-body (regal)
Man... I had an 84 LeSabre in that exact same color. Thanks for the memory!

7. (Something else to add more rigidity to the front frame / suspension that I apologize for forgetting).
I can't help but chuckle at the number of times I've seen you repost this list with the missing #7... :LOL:
 

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I can't help but chuckle at the number of times I've seen you repost this list with the missing #7... :LOL:
My hope is that (one or some of) those with better knowledge will eventually fill in #7, either from having seen something(s) GM did to frames with higher enthusiast aspirations, or from imagination tempered by lived experiences.

The point of that post is that, the older these frames get, the more one should be aware of that fact, even if they do not intend to prolong their serviceable lifespan.

The ISSF has archived at least one post about a B-sedan whose body was holding the frame together after the latter cracked in the middle (see #1), nevermind how many posts I do not wish to see about failed frames in the future.
 

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nevermind how many posts I do not wish to see about failed frames in the future.
Honestly, in this part of the country, most of the B-bodies on the road are probably totaled from frame rust and the owner has no idea.
 

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Honestly, in this part of the country, most of the B-bodies on the road are probably totaled from frame rust and the owner has no idea.
The older these cars get, the more that bothers me.
In less salty parts of the country, there are cars older than ours, some on aftermarket frames with better suspension geometry.
B- & D-cars deserve similar.
 
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