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Make Your A-Body Hook - GM A-Body Suspension From DMR

Make That Big Car Hook With A GM A-Body Suspension.

By Bart Quick, Photography by Bart Quick

Consulting For Speed
In the process of doing the upgrade in this story, we reached out to the owner of one of the quickest streetable Buick Skylarks in the country. Steve Cagle has gone 9.49 seconds at 146 mph with a 1.36 60-foot time in a 3,500-pound '71 Buick.

When asked about getting the car to launch, Cagle said, "We spent a lot of time with the stock rear suspension and eventually installed a fully fabricated racing suspension. The Dick Miller pieces and Strange shocks are great with the stock suspension and can be installed by someone in his driveway. We ran the rebound in the rears set at seven clicks toward stiff and the fronts at halfway to stiff. I'd set the pinion angle at 3 degrees down with the Dick Miller suspension. We put a lot of pressure in the slicks compared to a lighter car, like 1111/42 to 13 psi, and with the vehicle weight, I think that would help you-we also ran tubes in our slicks. My car worked well with Moroso big-block drag springs up front, but with the front-end weight of your vehicle, I don't think they'll work."

We did try the Moroso front drag springs, which were very difficult to install as they're very long. Unfortunately, the nose weight was too much-the springs were in full coil-bind with the car at rest, so the stock front springs were reinstalled for all the runs.

Cagle went on to add, "Any weight you can get out of the front of the vehicle will help a bunch at the launch." We looked at removing weight, but decided to just focus on the suspension for this story.

Cagle's advice helped a lot. One example was his recommended optimal front-suspension alignment-which saved time for us. We suggest finding someone who has gone fast with the same type or a similar-type vehicle to give you speed tips. Don't be a pest: You'll need to make it a win-win somehow-and we're sure they are as busy as everyone else. Basic recommendations for alignment are to set the alignment with the car raised 1 inch from ride hieght. Shoot for 3-4 degrees of positive caster and 0 camber, and a total of 11/416-inch toe-in. The positive caster helps with high-speed stability.

One important caution: You will need to make sure the vehicle is similar enough to yours to translate. If the package is dramatically different from what you have, there is little to learn-but what do you have to lose in asking?

By Bart Quick
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