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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone,

So I saved enough money to upgrade my suspension on my stock 1996 Impala, sparing no expense with the best performance parts out there. My set-up plan is to keep it stock aside from the suspension and drive it on the weekends only, but I want to maximize (with stock seatbelt) the driving response on cutting the corners without wearing a seat belt harness.

Option 1
- QA1 Level 1 with QA1 Sway & Upper/Lower Control arms
If anyone is running this set up, let me know if you have any regrets?

My original plan was option 1, but if there is a better performance set-up out there that's recommended, then i don't mind mix matching (a la carte - Option 2) with any of the brands below:

Option 2
Coil Overs:
  • Speed Tech
  • QA1
  • Am I missing one?

Sway Bars:
  • BMR
  • Hotchkis
  • UMI Performance
  • METCO
  • SpeedTech
  • PMT Fabrications
  • BellTech
  • Eibach

Rear Upper & Lower Control Arms"
  • BMR
  • Hotchkis
  • UMI Performance
  • METCO
  • SpeedTech
  • PMT Fabrications

Any input from my fellow experts would be greatly appreciated before I pull the trigger.

Salutations.

Chavo96
 

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I can't speak to coilovers but a tried and tested combo by many on the ISSF is.

Moog 750# pound springs up front, stock rear springs, bilstein shocks. Then adjust camber to -2.5 degrees up front and as much caster as possible

And then put the money into doing like a 3.73 rear-end or something like that.

This by itself will make the car feel a lot better, a lot of guys here run a small bar out back and a big one up front so they can power out of turns earlier however every single one has some sort of harness. I found the BMR bars would kick the back out before you could get tossed in your seat so I'm running that but I do think if I had a harness/bucket seat I would try the small bar out back again.

Just another option that's out there. In terms of comfort it obviously will not be like the floaty 400# stock springs
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I can't speak to coilovers but a tried and tested combo by many on the ISSF is.

Moog 750# pound springs up front, stock rear springs, bilstein shocks. Then adjust camber to -2.5 degrees up front and as much caster as possible

And then put the money into doing like a 3.73 rear-end or something like that.

This by itself will make the car feel a lot better, a lot of guys here run a small bar out back and a big one up front so they can power out of turns earlier however every single one has some sort of harness. I found the BMR bars would kick the back out before you could get tossed in your seat so I'm running that but I do think if I had a harness/bucket seat I would try the small bar out back again.

Just another option that's out there. In terms of comfort it obviously will not be like the floaty 400# stock springs
Gracias toonwarrior,

I had the Vogtlands spring cut down to get the stance that I wanted on my 1st Impala before I sold in 2012. The ride was ok but did not like re-cutting them to get the stance that I wanted.
On this go round I want to go with the coil overs because I’m picky and can adjust accordingly.

I hear you on the 3.73 gears, I had them with the Eaton posi on previous car and plan on adding them to this vehicle.

For now, I’m really just trying to get the suspension done first.

Thank you again for the input.
 

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I want to maximize (with stock seatbelt) the driving response on cutting the corners without wearing a seat belt harness.
The emphasis on turn in response has (in my opinion) as much to do with chassis stiffening as with roll bars, springs and dampers. To be clear, this chassis will never be an NA Miata, but there are significant improvements to be had.

Before investing in any suspension hardware, start with stiffening up the chassis. None of the hardware can do its job effectively if bolted to a wet noodle.

  • Box the frame
  • Rear frame brace or tow hitch
  • New body mounts all around
  • Install some sort of front frame brace immediately under the steering box
  • Wheels/tires

Then you can start looking into suspension hardware.

I've all the above stiffening modifications and I went with the SpeedTech system (control arms & sway bars) with Viking double adjustable coil overs all around. I specifically wanted a frame mounted rear sway bar which SpeedTech offered and I bought into their rear control arm twisting thing, which is likely better than nothing, but not as good as a true multi-axis pivot at the chassis and rear end. I'm running 255/55/20's all around and with the dampers set to +6 of 18 clicks from full soft on rebound and full soft on compression, it has very nice, crisp turn in for the boat that it is. Nothing like stock.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The emphasis on turn in response has (in my opinion) as much to do with chassis stiffening as with roll bars, springs and dampers. To be clear, this chassis will never be an NA Miata, but there are significant improvements to be had.

Before investing in any suspension hardware, start with stiffening up the chassis. None of the hardware can do its job effectively if bolted to a wet noodle.

  • Box the frame
  • Rear frame brace or tow hitch
  • New body mounts all around
  • Install some sort of front frame brace immediately under the steering box
  • Wheels/tires

Then you can start looking into suspension hardware.

I've all the above stiffening modifications and I went with the SpeedTech system (control arms & sway bars) with Viking double adjustable coil overs all around. I specifically wanted a frame mounted rear sway bar which SpeedTech offered and I bought into their rear control arm twisting thing, which is likely better than nothing, but not as good as a true multi-axis pivot at the chassis and rear end. I'm running 255/55/20's all around and with the dampers set to +6 of 18 clicks from full soft on rebound and full soft on compression, it has very nice, crisp turn in for the boat that it is. Nothing like stock.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Great input Fix Until Broke,

Thank you for reminding me about the body mounts. Now I have some homework to do on the braces.
 

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I'm running Speedtech coil overs, A arms and sway bars. I'm using my own UCA's with offset clevis, rubber bushing in diff end and Currie johnny joint and Currie lower trailing arms with poly/johnny joints. I've always liked Viking better than QA1 for street car use. QA1 has always worked really well on drag cars i've worked on and I've heard they work great on road courses, but cars I've driven with Viking coil overs just seemed to feel better on the street. A car I drove with RideTech though felt better than both, and many other's seem to agree there but I don't think they make anything for our cars.

Overall I'm really happy with everything but a few things irked me. Using their front sway bar and tubular A arms, the wheel/tire will contact the sway bar long before the steering stops. You'd think they'd build the steering stop so it actually worked with their sway bar but I guess it's not an issue when using a factory bar.

The rear shock mounts are really nice but some of the hardware they included only protruded 1 thread out from the nylock when torqued down. cutting it kind of close there.

Using their rear chassis mounted sway bar, I wasn't happy with the mounting bracket for the end links they provided. Kind of cheesy and didn't seem to drop the bar down far enough. Ended up using Detroit Speed mounting brackets and sourcing my own rod ends for the end links.

Overall, the car feels way nicer to drive than it did on hotchkis/bilstein and corners beautifully. Haven't had a chance to really push it on a road course or autoX but I think it's going to do very well. Love being able to dial in ride height/stance and adjust rebound/compression easily. Coil overs have more moving parts/wear parts though so I probably wouldn't run them on a daily driver.


Probably the same with QA1, but you definitely notice a few things on the Speedtech setup that make you realize this stuff was never designed for a B body. Just recycled stuff they probably built for F bodies, A bodies or whatever and it shows in some of the small details. It works but for the cost things could work a little better.
 
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I'm running Speedtech coil overs, A arms and sway bars. I'm using my own UCA's with offset clevis, rubber bushing in diff end and Currie johnny joint and Currie lower trailing arms with poly/johnny joints. I've always liked Viking better than QA1 for street car use. QA1 has always worked really well on drag cars i've worked on and I've heard they work great on road courses, but cars I've driven with Viking coil overs just seemed to feel better on the street. A car I drove with RideTech though felt better than both, and many other's seem to agree there but I don't think they make anything for our cars.

Overall I'm really happy with everything but a few things irked me. Using their front sway bar and tubular A arms, the wheel/tire will contact the sway bar long before the steering stops. You'd think they'd build the steering stop so it actually worked with their sway bar but I guess it's not an issue when using a factory bar.

The rear shock mounts are really nice but some of the hardware they included only protruded 1 thread out from the nylock when torqued down. cutting it kind of close there.

Using their rear chassis mounted sway bar, I wasn't happy with the mounting bracket for the end links they provided. Kind of cheesy and didn't seem to drop the bar down far enough. Ended up using Detroit Speed mounting brackets and sourcing my own rod ends for the end links.

Overall, the car feels way nicer to drive than it did on hotchkis/bilstein and corners beautifully. Haven't had a chance to really push it on a road course or autoX but I think it's going to do very well. Love being able to dial in ride height/stance and adjust rebound/compression easily. Coil overs have more moving parts/wear parts though so I probably wouldn't run them on a daily driver.


Probably the same with QA1, but you definitely notice a few things on the Speedtech setup that make you realize this stuff was never designed for a B body. Just recycled stuff they probably built for F bodies, A bodies or whatever and it shows in some of the small details. It works but for the cost things could work a little better.
I'm running Speedtech coil overs, A arms and sway bars. I'm using my own UCA's with offset clevis, rubber bushing in diff end and Currie johnny joint and Currie lower trailing arms with poly/johnny joints. I've always liked Viking better than QA1 for street car use. QA1 has always worked really well on drag cars i've worked on and I've heard they work great on road courses, but cars I've driven with Viking coil overs just seemed to feel better on the street. A car I drove with RideTech though felt better than both, and many other's seem to agree there but I don't think they make anything for our cars.

Overall I'm really happy with everything but a few things irked me. Using their front sway bar and tubular A arms, the wheel/tire will contact the sway bar long before the steering stops. You'd think they'd build the steering stop so it actually worked with their sway bar but I guess it's not an issue when using a factory bar.

The rear shock mounts are really nice but some of the hardware they included only protruded 1 thread out from the nylock when torqued down. cutting it kind of close there.

Using their rear chassis mounted sway bar, I wasn't happy with the mounting bracket for the end links they provided. Kind of cheesy and didn't seem to drop the bar down far enough. Ended up using Detroit Speed mounting brackets and sourcing my own rod ends for the end links.

Overall, the car feels way nicer to drive than it did on hotchkis/bilstein and corners beautifully. Haven't had a chance to really push it on a road course or autoX but I think it's going to do very well. Love being able to dial in ride height/stance and adjust rebound/compression easily. Coil overs have more moving parts/wear parts though so I probably wouldn't run them on a daily driver.


Probably the same with QA1, but you definitely notice a few things on the Speedtech setup that make you realize this stuff was never designed for a B body. Just recycled stuff they probably built for F bodies, A bodies or whatever and it shows in some of the small details. It works but for the cost things could work a little better.
Great input Mr. SSandman,

I'm now leaning towards SpeedTech, but the installation doesn't always seem to be straight forward with this vehicle.
She's almost like my wife, she is stubborn and doesn't like change!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
The emphasis on turn in response has (in my opinion) as much to do with chassis stiffening as with roll bars, springs and dampers. To be clear, this chassis will never be an NA Miata, but there are significant improvements to be had.

Before investing in any suspension hardware, start with stiffening up the chassis. None of the hardware can do its job effectively if bolted to a wet noodle.

  • Box the frame
  • Rear frame brace or tow hitch
  • New body mounts all around
  • Install some sort of front frame brace immediately under the steering box
  • Wheels/tires

Then you can start looking into suspension hardware.

I've all the above stiffening modifications and I went with the SpeedTech system (control arms & sway bars) with Viking double adjustable coil overs all around. I specifically wanted a frame mounted rear sway bar which SpeedTech offered and I bought into their rear control arm twisting thing, which is likely better than nothing, but not as good as a true multi-axis pivot at the chassis and rear end. I'm running 255/55/20's all around and with the dampers set to +6 of 18 clicks from full soft on rebound and full soft on compression, it has very nice, crisp turn in for the boat that it is. Nothing like stock.
Fix Until Broke:
Do you know a good source where purchase the items below:
  • Box the frame
  • Rear frame brace
  • New body mounts all around (I'm assuming OEM???)
  • Install some sort of front frame brace immediately under the steering box
Thanks.
 

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Fix Until Broke:
Do you know a good source where purchase the items below:
  • Box the frame
  • Rear frame brace
  • New body mounts all around (I'm assuming OEM???)
  • Install some sort of front frame brace immediately under the steering box
Thanks.
Unless you DIY I'd look for a local chassis shop that can box the c channels

Problem is most will want to remove frame from car so finding one that is reputable and can do it without removing the frame is the hard part.

I plan on getting it done but later down the road
 

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Fix Until Broke:
Do you know a good source where purchase the items below:
  • Box the frame
  • Rear frame brace
  • New body mounts all around (I'm assuming OEM???)
  • Install some sort of front frame brace immediately under the steering box
Thanks.
Well...How are your metal fabrication skills? If you're gong to install coil overs all around, you're going to need some, so this is as good of a place as any to start...

  • Box the frame - I started with a Roadmaster Wagon and the frame is fully enclosed from the factory so I cheated a bit on that one :). Start just below the front door hinges and go all the way back with some ~1/8" x ~4" flat steel cut to fit inside the C of the frame, welded top and bottom (does not have to be continuous)
  • Rear frame brace - I built a hitch that goes inside the rear frame rails...
  • New body mounts all around (I'm assuming OEM???) - Most upgrade to something a bit stiffer than the soft OEM rubber like polyurethane/polygraphite
  • Install some sort of front frame brace immediately under the steering box
 

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Well...How are your metal fabrication skills? If you're gong to install coil overs all around, you're going to need some,
Wondering what you mean by this? The speed tech kit is all "bolt in" other than having to drill a few holes in the rear shock mounts on the diff. The front coil overs simply fit up into the spring pocket and bolt into their lower tubular A arm's t bar. You do need their tubular A arms though (at least the lowers) otherwise you'd probably have to reinforce the factory shock mount area of a factory control arm and that would involve welding.

I've seen other coil overs sold with chicane style mounts that get welded in to the upper spring pocket and I fail to see why anyone would go through that trouble or why they'd want a small bracket welded to the pocket supporting the weight of the car when they could have it sitting on the spring as it would from the factory inside the spring pocket. I guess it's nice being able to remove the coil over as one piece but that's about it.


As far as boxing the chassis goes, I definitely agree it's very beneficial but most lowered/aftermarket suspension B bodies out there don't have any weld on chassis stiffening mods and still do great. I wouldn't say that you must or even should be doing chassis boxing, weld in braces etc... before doing any suspension mods, just that doing so will get you the most out of those suspension mods. For most people though, the coil overs alone (or most other aftermarket lowering spring/performance shock combo) will improve cornering greatly.

Hate to put made up numbers to it but the way I see it is all the bolt on suspension mods (springs, shocks, trailing arms, sway bars) will get you 75% of the way to having a great handling B body. The chassis stiffening stuff gets you the extra 25%, if even that much. Some of that 25% can be made up for with bolt ons like DMR triangulation bars, bolt in RMS brace and poly body bushings to help the body do a better job at supporting the chassis but you won't really be 100% effective without boxing the chassis and welding in a more solid RMS brace.

Most people are more than happy with the 75% improvement though versus the more difficult and permanent job of weld in chassis stiffening parts .

you also go down the rabbit hole with chassis stiffening. boxing the chassis is great and all, but still won't give this chassis the rigidity of an Art Morrison max G chassis. Some type of serious X bracing is really needed. Even then, if you want the chassis to really perform like a modern unit body car, you're going to need a 10 point cage with additional "sportsman" bars running from the front frame horns to a dash bar across the windshield bars to control chassis flex on all planes, up and down and side to side. Luckily I decided a while ago I no longer wish to add weight to my car so these things aren't as tempting as they used to be LOL
 
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A lot of good tips here with everyone's input. I recently installed QA-1 coil overs in rear. Love them for the great feel and the feature of ride height adjustability over standard coil springs and shocks. My '96 SS is lowered 2 inches all around. However, after the install I noticed the rear pinion operating angle had changed to 8 degrees down. As a result I needed to change out the rear upper control arms for adjustable ones (Spohn) to get the angle inside of 3 degrees and to match the front operating angle of tranny output shaft and driveshaft. I'd advise taking measurements of the operating angles at the tranny output shaft and rear pinion before and after the coil over install. You may or may not see an unfavorable change in the driveline. Check out these links for help.

I also installed a frame-mounted sway bar that fits the Impala SS 94-96 perfectly.

I also installed some relocation shock mounts which were essential for more clearance for the coil overs in order not to make contact with the sway bar. See pg. 30.

As you can see, installing coil overs and a sway bar can lead to several other parts that will need to be modified in order to accomadate the new set up.
 

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Well...How are your metal fabrication skills? If you're gong to install coil overs all around, you're going to need some, so this is as good of a place as any to start...
Wondering what you mean by this? The speed tech kit is all "bolt in" other than having to drill a few holes in the rear shock mounts on the diff. The front coil overs simply fit up into the spring pocket and bolt into their lower tubular A arm's t bar. You do need their tubular A arms though (at least the lowers) otherwise you'd probably have to reinforce the factory shock mount area of a factory control arm and that would involve welding.

I've seen other coil overs sold with chicane style mounts that get welded in to the upper spring pocket and I fail to see why anyone would go through that trouble or why they'd want a small bracket welded to the pocket supporting the weight of the car when they could have it sitting on the spring as it would from the factory inside the spring pocket. I guess it's nice being able to remove the coil over as one piece but that's about it.
You can go with the hybrid spring option and have it be bolt in, however by doing so there are fewer spring options as well as less damper travel available (maybe not true about damper travel - see posts below.) In my (admittedly unique) application, I wanted as much damper travel and as many spring options as I could get. For lowered applications where the car spends as much of the suspension travel on the bump stops or the S-10 bumpstops are used, the damper travel of the hybrid option may be acceptable, and the spring rate doesn't matter much with the bump stops being in play :).

No comment on the structure/strength of the chicane mounts vs the factory coil spring - we've had that discussion before.
 

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A lot of good tips here with everyone's input. I recently installed QA-1 coil overs in rear. Love them for the great feel and the feature of ride height adjustability over standard coil springs and shocks. My '96 SS is lowered 2 inches all around. However, after the install I noticed the rear pinion operating angle had changed to 8 degrees down. As a result I needed to change out the rear upper control arms for adjustable ones (Spohn) to get the angle inside of 3 degrees and to match the front operating angle of tranny output shaft and driveshaft.

As you can see, installing coil overs and a sway bar can lead to several other parts that will need to be modified in order to accomadate the new set up.
Good call on the trailing arms, although that's not specific to just coil over setups. Any lowering spring dropping the car 2" will likely require a pinion angle correction. Nice thing about coil overs too is you can drop the car 2", or drop it 1" or anything in between

FWIW, the Speedtech sway bars, though the tire does rub at max steering travel because of the bumpstop issue I mentioned, neither the front or rear bar has any clearance issue with the coil overs. Chassis mounted sway bar may have clearance issues with exhaust, I did with my Spinach 3" XL muffs but that's probably a larger muff than most are running. I ended up with magna flow bullets anyway.


Fix Until Broke, could you explain the shock travel thing? Failing to see how a chicane mount would provide more shock travel. i'm not doubting it, just need some help picturing why
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Well...How are your metal fabrication skills? If you're gong to install coil overs all around, you're going to need some, so this is as good of a place as any to start...

  • Box the frame - I started with a Roadmaster Wagon and the frame is fully enclosed from the factory so I cheated a bit on that one :). Start just below the front door hinges and go all the way back with some ~1/8" x ~4" flat steel cut to fit inside the C of the frame, welded top and bottom (does not have to be continuous)
  • Rear frame brace - I built a hitch that goes inside the rear frame rails...
  • New body mounts all around (I'm assuming OEM???) - Most upgrade to something a bit stiffer than the soft OEM rubber like polyurethane/polygraphite
  • Install some sort of front frame brace immediately under the steering box
Mr. Fix Until Fix,

You lost me after you said "How are your metal fabrication skills? " ..... just bein honest.

Your set up looks BulletProof! What I lack in fabrication skills I gain in ratchet to socket tightening skills, so the more bolt on the better. If you decide to start manufacturing & selling them front-end braces, please let me know.

Thank you very much!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
Wondering what you mean by this? The speed tech kit is all "bolt in" other than having to drill a few holes in the rear shock mounts on the diff. The front coil overs simply fit up into the spring pocket and bolt into their lower tubular A arm's t bar. You do need their tubular A arms though (at least the lowers) otherwise you'd probably have to reinforce the factory shock mount area of a factory control arm and that would involve welding.

I've seen other coil overs sold with chicane style mounts that get welded in to the upper spring pocket and I fail to see why anyone would go through that trouble or why they'd want a small bracket welded to the pocket supporting the weight of the car when they could have it sitting on the spring as it would from the factory inside the spring pocket. I guess it's nice being able to remove the coil over as one piece but that's about it.


As far as boxing the chassis goes, I definitely agree it's very beneficial but most lowered/aftermarket suspension B bodies out there don't have any weld on chassis stiffening mods and still do great. I wouldn't say that you must or even should be doing chassis boxing, weld in braces etc... before doing any suspension mods, just that doing so will get you the most out of those suspension mods. For most people though, the coil overs alone (or most other aftermarket lowering spring/performance shock combo) will improve cornering greatly.

Hate to put made up numbers to it but the way I see it is all the bolt on suspension mods (springs, shocks, trailing arms, sway bars) will get you 75% of the way to having a great handling B body. The chassis stiffening stuff gets you the extra 25%, if even that much. Some of that 25% can be made up for with bolt ons like DMR triangulation bars, bolt in RMS brace and poly body bushings to help the body do a better job at supporting the chassis but you won't really be 100% effective without boxing the chassis and welding in a more solid RMS brace.

Most people are more than happy with the 75% improvement though versus the more difficult and permanent job of weld in chassis stiffening parts .

you also go down the rabbit hole with chassis stiffening. boxing the chassis is great and all, but still won't give this chassis the rigidity of an Art Morrison max G chassis. Some type of serious X bracing is really needed. Even then, if you want the chassis to really perform like a modern unit body car, you're going to need a 10 point cage with additional "sportsman" bars running from the front frame horns to a dash bar across the windshield bars to control chassis flex on all planes, up and down and side to side. Luckily I decided a while ago I no longer wish to add weight to my car so these things aren't as tempting as they used to be LOL
Great analogy Mr. Ssandman,

I'm definitely a 75% guy who’s looking to buy a plug & play set up.

This was very helpful, you deserve a raise.
 

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Fix Until Broke, could you explain the shock travel thing? Failing to see how a chicane mount would provide more shock travel. i'm not doubting it, just need some help picturing why
I recall looking into this option in detail, however must not have documented it in my spredsheet - From memory the damper itself had less travel on the hybrid option, but I can't confirm that now. Looking at the pictures with your question in mind, I understand your suspicion. It may have come down to selection of springs was much better for the standard coilover.

Sorry I can't clarify or confirm for you.
 

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Mr. Fix Until Fix,

You lost me after you said "How are your metal fabrication skills? " ..... just bein honest.

Your set up looks BulletProof! What I lack in fabrication skills I gain in ratchet to socket tightening skills, so the more bolt on the better. If you decide to start manufacturing & selling them front-end braces, please let me know.

Thank you very much!
Fair enough - No plans to manufacture anything here (it would require welding to install anyway).

For a more/less stock car, the hybrid coil over option in front is a good one in my opinion. For that matter, you could just get the double adjustable damper and use the stock springs. The damper settings and sway bars are what will dominate turn-in - the springs won't have much effect.
 
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