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    Front End Tubular A-Arms for 78 Caprice Classic

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    olbaldi
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    Front End Tubular A-Arms for 78 Caprice Classic

    Post  olbaldi on Wed Jun 24, 2015 11:20 pm

    I am doing a complete body off resto/mod of a 78 Classic. Everything is off, the frame has been media-blasted and repainted and it's now time to start putting all of the new pieces in. I have purchased an LS3/480 Connect and Cruise package from Chevy Performance with a 4L70E transmission. With that much power, the stock A-arms aren't going to cut it so I am attempting to find performance lower and upper A-arms for my project only to find that there aren't many places that make both. I can get a pair of Upper A-Arms from Global West but they are $600/pair. SPC has adjustable uppers that will work with 78 B-body for $480/pair and also make a set of lower arms for around $500.

    Has anyone used an adjustable upper? How do you feel about using one suppliers upper (global west) and anothers lower?
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    Sweet Seventy9
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    Re: Front End Tubular A-Arms for 78 Caprice Classic

    Post  Sweet Seventy9 on Thu Jun 25, 2015 2:19 am

    olbaldi wrote:I am doing a complete body off resto/mod of a 78 Classic. Everything is off, the frame has been media-blasted and repainted and it's now time to start putting all of the new pieces in. I have purchased an LS3/480 Connect and Cruise package from Chevy Performance with a 4L70E transmission. With that much power, the stock A-arms aren't going to cut it so I am attempting to find performance lower and upper A-arms for my project only to find that there aren't many places that make both. I can get a pair of Upper A-Arms from Global West but they are $600/pair. SPC has adjustable uppers that will work with 78 B-body for $480/pair and also make a set of lower arms for around $500.

    Has anyone used an adjustable upper? How do you feel about using one suppliers upper (global west) and anothers lower?

    Hi! Welcome to the forum.
    Oooh!  A body off resto? Pics Pics Pics please!   Laughing   We like pics.

    I've used adjustable uppers.  TBH, you'd probably be better off not using them.  They're not really meant for street use.  I mean, can they be used?  Yes.  Should they be used?  Probably not on a car that will be regularly driven on the street.

    Most people don't know it but 2nd Gen F-body A arms are interchangeable.  Yup, we share the same front suspension as the Camaro.
    That should make your search easier.

    Global West 1996 Impala A arms.




    Global West 1980 Camaro A arms.




    I hope this helps.


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    Camaro A-Arm working with Caprice Classic

    Post  olbaldi on Thu Jun 25, 2015 5:10 pm

    Thanks for your reply and the advice concerning the adjustable upper a-arms. The documentation attached with your information about 2ndGen F body (Camaro) suspension parts being interchangeable with Impala/Caprice
    showed 1996 Impala A-Arms compared to 1980 Camaro A-Arms. Are you saying that the A-Arms used in the 1980 Camaro will work in a 1978 Caprice? I have researched the part numbers used on the Caprice UpperA-arm from 1975-1989 and found the same part number specified. In 1990 the part number changed when GM modified the style of the Caprice. I will have to go back and research the part numbers on the 1980 Camaros to see if they would match with a 1978 Caprice since every time I put in the 1978 Caprice designation on the parts sites I receive a message "This part will not work in your application".

    I tried to send pics taken during the strip down phase but the forum says I have no storage space. I will have to figure that one out Question

    It took me about a week to get the car stripped to the frame. My job was greatly enhanced by the use of a high school buddy's garage, lift, hoist, steam cleaner, and assistance from time to time...
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    Sweet Seventy9
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    Re: Front End Tubular A-Arms for 78 Caprice Classic

    Post  Sweet Seventy9 on Thu Jun 25, 2015 8:15 pm

    Sometimes you have to ignore what the manufacturer or some website is telling you about compatibility.  Most manufacturers don't know their 1996 Impala parts are a direct fit on a 77 Caprice.  Or their 91 Caddy parts are a direct bolt on to a 79 Impala.  

    I personally have used camaro A arms.  Everything is the same right down to the ball joints.  Back in the 80s and early 90s nobody made anything for our cars.  It wasn't until the mid 90s Impala SS that aftermarket companies started making stuff for us.   It wasn't until recently that they started listing the proper years and not all of them have caught up.  We seem to be pretty much ignored so you have to look deeper into what interchanges on to what.

    If you have doubt about the Camaro A arms, just research it.  The info is out there.  It's not just the 80 Camaro, like I said it's the 2nd Gen Camaros, 1970-1981.  I just happened to type in 80 Camaro.
    You won't find a cross-reference for them either.  GM wants it that way.  Just imagine if Camaro owners all started buying the less expensive B body parts.  

    Having a performance orientated front suspension is just one of the many reasons why I love these cars so much!


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    solo79
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    Re: Front End Tubular A-Arms for 78 Caprice Classic

    Post  solo79 on Thu Jun 25, 2015 8:37 pm

    Welcome to the Forum!! Yes, please post pics of the body off restoration!! I'm undertaking that myself and I'm also replacing the entire floor pan. As has been stated, thanks to the popularity of the 94-96 Impala SS, anything made for the frame/suspension for those cars will bolt right on to our 77-79s no problem. Generally, when I'm searching for performance parts and upgrades, I just search for 94-96 Impala SS and there's all sorts of goodies. I never search 79 Caprice because the manufacturers are clueless that we have the same exact frame and floor pan. I'm putting a floor pan from a 94 Buick Roadmaster in my 79 caprice if that tells you anything. Even though that car is a 4-door and has a totally different shape, the pan is 99% identical to the one in my 2-door 79. Since no one offers replacement pans (yet), that's the only option. In a nutshell, 77-96 B-Body cars are all the same platform. There are some light subtle differences here and there, but generally speaking, totally interchangeable which is great news for us!


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    olbaldi
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    Re: Front End Tubular A-Arms for 78 Caprice Classic

    Post  olbaldi on Fri Jun 26, 2015 8:31 am

    That is really great news! I'll start looking for my parts there. I really appreciate the advice. Researching this has been a nightmare from the performance side.

    My next quest is to purchase a Moser 9" rear end. My plan is to get a 31 spline tru-trac middle with a 3.70 gear ratio. I want to shorten the axles by an inch and guess I can just tell Moser to do that. I am wondering what kind of wheels will look best. I like the old 5 spoke Krager style from the 70's and am researching (for myself) about offsets, flanges, etc to see what kind of brake kit to order. You might be able to help me on this a bit...I believe the bolt pattern is 5x4.75 and the lug diameter is 1/2". What is the length of the lugs? I also want to put 18" wheels on the rear and 17" on the front. I know I have plenty of room in the wheel well to shorten the axles but am wondering how much space I have from the center of the wheel to the top of the inside wheel well both front and back. This will help to pick the right tire diameter and brake set as well as inform me how much I can drop the body without rubbing. Do you happen to know that spec? Also, any advice as to the width of the rear tires?

    I've got a lot of questions if you don't mind sharing your knowledge...BTW how do I upload pics. There is an option for doing that but I get a message that I don't have any storage capacity. Do I have to put them in picassa or drop box and send links?

    I appreciate the help and will be happy to share my experiences.
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    Sweet Seventy9
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    Re: Front End Tubular A-Arms for 78 Caprice Classic

    Post  Sweet Seventy9 on Fri Jun 26, 2015 11:12 am

    https://www.gmbbodyforum.com/t315-how-to-upload-pics

    Are you building a track car or a street car?  Some of the parts you're asking about like adjustable A arms need regular attention.  You can't just set them and forget about them.  

    I'm curious.... why do you want to shorten your axles by an inch on either side?  An inch won't make a bit of a difference when it comes to axle strength if that's you're thinking.  

    Clearance wise, as is, you can easily fit a 10" wide wheel (5" back spacing, zero offset) with a 295 tire with plenty of clearance.  Some people run a 315 tire.  Here's 15x10 with a 295/50 tire:

         

    Lotsa clearance.


    As for wheels, I'm Old Skool.  Something with the 5 spoke pattern like the Cragar SS or Foose Nitrous series, or the classic GM Rally wheel look dynamite on these cars.  I ran 88 IROC-Z wheels for a while on one of mine back in like 88 or 89.  I really like the Diamond spoke pattern too.  Those are GTA Trans Am wheels from 87 or 88, I forget which year.

       


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    Re: Front End Tubular A-Arms for 78 Caprice Classic

    Post  Myloth on Fri Jun 26, 2015 12:11 pm

    Don't forget the sway bar(1.25) from the F -Body 2nd gen they bolt right up to B Bodies and they do make a big difference

    my front end is quite stiff. I went stock with the Moog replacements and have no complaints but I wasn't planning

    a road racer or serious drag machine. But with the plain old Gabriel HD shocks ,poly links , bushings and SS springs

    my Imp rides like a 96' SS with a bigger sway bar . I am just saying you may not have to break the bank you can spend

    money all day on air ride, Billet parts and double adjustable shocks if you want. Don't get me wrong air ride is nice and

    double adjustable shocks are sweet but it all depends on the size of your wallet. I spent about 700 redoing my front end

    that included arms upper and lower, the aforementioned 1.25 sway bar, links and bushings, SS springs , the Gabriel

    shocks and an alignment by a local shop.
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    scy135
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    Re: Front End Tubular A-Arms for 78 Caprice Classic

    Post  scy135 on Thu Jul 02, 2015 11:50 pm

    Hey guys quick question my car is a 78 wagon. will suspension and other parts fit mine like the 2nd Gen f body parts?

    olbaldi
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    Thanks for advice...I appreciate input

    Post  olbaldi on Fri Jul 03, 2015 1:10 am

    In answer to the question of track or street, the answer is street. With the LS3/480 I believe I'm going to need a pretty sturdy front end and from what I've seen the difference from the stamped steel parts and the tubular parts is pretty significant. No that I am able to go with 80 Camaro parts in my searches I'm finding a lot of options that will rule out the need for adjustable upper A-arms.

    I want to shorten the axle because I plan to drop the stance of the car to cover 17" or 18" wheels and want to make sure I have the clearance to allow the fender to cover the top of the tire without rubbing.

    I definitely have not forgotten sway bars and plan to rebuild the front end steering as well as adding both front and rear sway bars.

    Have any of you used a 2" drop spindle on the front? I'm still trying to work out the geometry of the front end with 16" wheels and wilwood brakes. I'm still working on my understanding of offsets in the brakes and how that relates to the type of wheels I get. I will be using a minimum of 12" disks and possible 13", which will still fit on a 16" wheel in the front.

    Will I have the same issue with constantly needing to adjust the adjustable rear A-arms like the front? It seems to me that using adjustable arms in the rear will be helpful in terms of flexibility in making everything fit. Spohn appears to have some pretty decent parts and they are less pricey than hotchkiss.

    I am planning on using adjustable coilovers. Do you think a 200 spring in the back and a 400 spring in the front will work? Will I need higher in the front with the big engine?

    Well, enough questions for now. I will post some pics when I get to the computer that has them. Right now I'm in St Louis visiting my daughter and we're planning to go to the Cardinals game tomorrow night.
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    Re: Front End Tubular A-Arms for 78 Caprice Classic

    Post  Myloth on Mon Jul 06, 2015 11:33 am

    In my limited opinion you won't have much worry in the front other than your wheel offsets and good motor mounts.

    Your front springs aren't a big issue because you are putting in an all aluminum engine I doubt it weighs the same as

    an all iron 305 so any regular spring will work as far as motor weight issues. Stance is different as I mentioned before

    I swapped in 96' SS springs which significantly lowered mine and I still have room for 19"s with any size brake. However

    if you go lower and with custom A arms you would need a custom master plan to make it line up. Especially if you

    want a low tight fit ,which is not what I wanted or have, mine is just few inches lower than the 4x4 factory height lol.

    Lots of people cut factory springs or get lowering springs for that tight fit though. My point is front spring rate is less

    an issue than it's rated height under load as your front end weight will be within factory specs it'd be different story

    with say 454 which was never an option and weighs a lot more than a 350. Our cars come with lots of negative offset

    and with Big Brakes wheel size is the issue other than it won't factor much in your game plan unless you plan to use a

    custom hub\spindle with custom control arms. If you wanted say a late model Vette look with lots of positive offset

    you again are entering a realm of custom fab that needs thought and a plan. Going back to the motor mounts you

    might want to consider one solid and one stock or one poly and one chain or two polys lol that 6.2l will rip stock

    mounts to shreds. Others may have different ideas as I don't feel the urge to wander too far from stock my only non

    stock part is the rear control arms (mine are SouthSide Machine) which are flimsy sheet metal junk from the factory .

    Even more so than the front as the rear is where all the torque and twisting take place except the aforementioned

    motor mounts.

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    96 Impala SS Springs for 78 Caprice

    Post  olbaldi on Mon Jul 06, 2015 2:01 pm

    Thanks for the feedback about the 96 Impala SS springs. I've been looking at lowering kits that include springs, shocks, and a 2" drop spindle. From what I hear you saying, swapping in the 96 Impalas SS springs still allowed you to use a 19" front wheel...correct? My plan is for 18" on the back and 17" on the front, so it would appear that there still plenty of room for me to drop another 2" with the drop spindle. If I use the drop spindle will I need to use lowering springs as well?

    The LS3/480 comes with new adjustable motor mounts that will work with lots of body styles, so I'm not too concerned about the torque ripping out my mounts.

    The look I want is definitely lower than stock but not on the ground. I'd like to cover just the tops of the tires.

    I've got to make some decisions pretty soon so I can get parts to start rebuilding the frame in early August...

    Thanks again!
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    Re: Front End Tubular A-Arms for 78 Caprice Classic

    Post  Myloth on Mon Jul 06, 2015 4:39 pm

    Here are snaps of my wheel wells. The fronts are 225-70-15 and rear are 295-50-15







    and the front is raked a bit and it's still higher than some people like though. I think on these cars only when you get into

    20s and bigger is it an issue the B Body wheel wells are gigantic compared to other cars.

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    Re: Front End Tubular A-Arms for 78 Caprice Classic

    Post  olbaldi on Tue Jul 07, 2015 1:07 pm

    Thanks...here are some pics of the teardown.

    Before...Front Clip Removed...Front Clip...Body Removed using Lift




    [/url]

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    Re: Front End Tubular A-Arms for 78 Caprice Classic

    Post  Str8pipe79 on Wed Sep 23, 2015 6:31 pm

    Hey guys im having a slight toe in issue with my 79 impala I just added bigger tires not to much bigger than original 235 75 15 and I would hate for a freash set of wheels to go to Hell but any way how can I adjust my front end
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    Re: Front End Tubular A-Arms for 78 Caprice Classic

    Post  GM B-Body Forum on Wed Sep 23, 2015 6:43 pm

    Toe adjustment is all in the adjusting sleeves on the tie rods, not something i recommend you doing at home though. Then there is caster and camber, id definitely take it to a shop that can do alignments. But welcome to the forum!


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    Re: Front End Tubular A-Arms for 78 Caprice Classic

    Post  solo79 on Wed Sep 23, 2015 8:31 pm

    olbaldi wrote:Thanks...here are some pics of the teardown.

    Before...Front Clip Removed...Front Clip...Body Removed using Lift




    [/url]

    Wow, looks like you're well on your way there. Mine is basically ready to come off the frame, but I'm planning on replacing the floor in it while it's still on the frame to minimize flex since I'm replacing the whole floor front to back. Definitely keep us posted on your progress. Looking good!!


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