With the rolling stock and brakes squared away, it was time to address the suspension. To my untrained eyes and ears, I could tell that the bushings and mounts were all shot, the car bottomed out on hard bumps and the front tires had a comical amount of caster. I’d been stockpiling parts in plans to tackle the entire thing at once. Thanks to this site (again) as well as @BLUNT I had accumulated what I needed:
- Steering links
- Tie rods
- Lower control arms
- All front bushings
- Ball joints
- Upper strut mounts
- Fixed camber plates
- All rear bushings
- Subframe mounts and urethane inserts
- One-dot rear pads
- New upper and lower spring pads throughout
- Bilstein HD struts
- H&R springs
- Ireland 22mm sway bars and end links
I continue to have great luck with this car, as the exhaust shop that rolled my fenders turned out to be run by a 2002 guy, and his head mechanic is an old school 2002 guy with a hot tii track car. Since we just had our second child, I opted to have this shop do the install with the exception of the sway bars. I had just completed a full gut bathroom remodel by myself and was tapped out. I wish I could have performed this work myself, but it was completed in a couple of days and everything was safety wired correctly.
This totally transformed the car. Everything David E. Davis Jr. wrote about in Car and Driver was being transmitted through the car and into me. The car begged to be flogged, seemed happiest being wrung out and was always ready for more. I’d previously owned a car where I chased big power before addressing the chassis and brakes, but this tiny little go kart has changed the game for me. I don’t think I can emphasize how electrifying this car became, and practically overnight.
I still had a touch of understeer, so I installed the IE sways during our kids’ nap time one day and it was solved. The car was neutral and rotated, and I had a touch of bling underneath the car.
At at this point I began driving the car everywhere. To the store, to drop kids at school, basically any excuse to take it out was good enough for me. As summer rolled on I took it out for early morning thrashes before the family woke up, took it up to Tahoe and back, and generally put as many miles on it as possible.
I changed out smaller parts as they wore- new starter, chased bad grounds, removed the prehistoric smog equipment and gave it a full tune up. It’s happy, I’m happy. The more I drive it the less I care about cosmetics. It’ll eventually be repainted but it’s a driver that I’m not afraid to depend on.