How To Articles

How To: Improve Handling

How do I make my B-body handle better?

First off let me say that this is directed primarily at the 77-90 cars, those without the F41 or 9c1 suspensions and is directed at the budget minded owner. This is not the ultimate handling setup for a B-body, it's how to make it much better for very little money.

Change your front sway bar
Most 77-90 B-bodies, that don't have the F41 suspension package, have hollow front sway bars. You can determine this by looking at the ends of the sway bar. Near the holes for the end links, on the bottom side of the sway bar, you will see a drain hole. There should be one on each side. These bars are nothing more than hollow pipe and they will rust from the inside out and break. Change that out for a 9C1 sway bar, GM P/N 457923 using the stock end links and bushing will net a big improvement in handling and a considerable drop in body roll during cornering.

Want even better handling?
A 2nd generation F-car('70-'81) WS6 front sway bar, GM P/N 356534. This part is no longer available new from GM. But thousands are out there in junkyards, go get dirty for once.
Combine this with the '95-'96 1LE sway bar end links, GM P/N 10221779. You'll need two(2). And also the 4th gen. ('93-present) F-car sway bar bushing, GM P/N 10288551. You'll need two(2).

More? You want more?? Replace your Bumpstops.

Add the 2nd design S-10 ZQ8 micro-cellular progressive jounce bumper, or the foamy bumpstop GM P/N 15956547. You'll need one for each side.

Add a rear sway bar - The sway bar mentioned below applies only to sedans. This swaybar will NOT fit wagons.
Quite a few, perhaps most, 1977-1990 Bodies came without a rear sway bar. In this case you will need to change the rear lower control arms to be able to add the rear sway bar. The cheapest way to do this that I've found is the 9C1 Lower Control Arm Kit GM P/N 10289786. The Lower Control Arm kit is an upgraded pair of LCAs and the necessary mounting hardware from a technical service bulletin(PRODUCT SAFETY CAMPAIGN 96-C-18) for 91-96 9C1 and 9C6 equipped Caprices. These will also fit all 77-90 model b-bodies. If your car is not equipped with a factory rear sway bar, these or an aftermarket set of LCAs will be required to install a rear sway bar.

The kit includes:
2 Lower Control Arms
4 LCA Attaching Bolts
4 LCA Attaching Nuts
4 Stabilizer Bar Attaching Bolts
4 Stabilizer Bar Attaching Nuts
4 Stabilizer Bar Washers
4 Stabilizer Bar Brackets
4 Stabilizer Bar Adapters

The best bang for the money rear sway bar would be the 9C1 rear sway bar. It is still availble thru GM P/N 10207649.
A great improvement over this would be the HO rear sway bar for the 1994-1996 ImpalaSS.
Check with Summit Racing or Jegs for these.
For you wagon owners get in touch with Bruce Allison at Malibu Performance. e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (818) 222-6725. He should be able to set you up with an HO rear sway bar for the b-body wagon.

For swaybars, also check with Year One. They offer Addco bars(front and rear) for sedans AND wagons.

Add the Buick Frame Brace
The Buick Frame Brace, GM P/N 10225142, from TSB #921046. This will help on two fronts. One - it reduces exhaust noise or "droan" by stiffening the frame. And two - Guess what else stiffening the frame does....Makes the car handle better! This is literally the cheapest and easiest handling modification that you can do. Want the same benefits of this and be able to tow something??? Installing a hitch will have the same effects. Once again the Buick Frame Brace will fit only sedans and will not fit on wagons.

Add Airlift 1000 air bags
The Airlift1000 air bags will do a couple of things. First, they will give you added load hauling capabilities. Second, they will give you the ability to adjust the preload on the suspension to aid the off the line traction for accleration. I recommend installing them with seperate air lines for each bag rather than using the "T" fitting included in the kit. You can drill two holes behind the license plate braket to mount the air valves. That way they are both hidden and you have easy access to them.

Change your shock absorbers
Even if you don't have a 9C1(Police Package) B-body, I recommend getting a set of shocks for a 9C1 in your favorite brand. I used the cheapest ones I could find, Gabriel Red Ryders, on my 1986 Caprice. This modification turned the mushy, couch driving ride into a more responsive, firmer ride.

Change Your Springs
Now if you want to do this on the cheap, I usually do. Get a set of used 1994-1996 ImpalaSS springs. They will lower the car an inch or so overall. If you have more $$$, get a set of lowering springs made for the 1994-1996 ImpalaSS. These will lower the car even more. Your ride will suffer though.