10 Tips to Better Handling

C4 ('84-'96) suspension secrets

Cam Benty Jul 20, 2004 0 Comment(s)

Those '84 through '96 Corvettes are everywhere. Cheap and fast, they are, as Dick Guldstrand would say, "America's hot rods of today." Best of all, parts for these vintage Corvettes are readily available and the cars are easy to work on. So how come they have such suspension handling woes?

Well here's a chance to fix up your C4 and have it ready for the Solo I competition in your town next weekend. The following are 10 tips from the great mind of legendary Corvette race driver Dick Guldstrand to help get your Corvette handling like a dream. The vehicle used to demonstrate our "10 improvements" was one of Dick Guldstrand's original GS 80 cars used for the detail photography within this story. For a time, this specific GS 80 held the closed-course record of over 170 mph at the Talladega International Raceway. A good testbed for suspension pieces for your Corvette? We think so.

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1. Ditch the rubber. As these cars reach the 100,000 or more milemarker, it's time to get rid of the rubber bushings and firm up thesuspension. Rubber is a great compromise for the factory, but you don'thave to put up with it. Best of all, while polyurethane used to be sohard that it became a torsional piece of the suspension, these dayspolyurethane has advanced and become more compliant, cushioningsuspension dynamics. Lubricate the pieces adequately upon installationto help break in and avoid that annoying polyurethane squeak.

2. Make it safe. These cars are certainly aging. At least do acheck of the firmness of the front-end ball joints, wheel bearings, andbrakes to make certain they are not allowing the wheel to move out ofalignment. This is a simple check that can reap big rewards. AsGuldstrand always notes, "We want the customer safe long enough to payhis bill. Suspension first, engine second." This '88 Corvette held theclosed-course record at Talladega for several years. This was thetestbed for many Guldstrand Motorsports components, which are engineeredto handle any standard street challenge as well as Solo I, autocrosscompetition, and beyond.

3. Ditch the pre-'88 single-disc front calipers. If you have the'84 through '87 calipers, upgrade to the dual-piston units used startingin 1988. The earlier calipers were woefully inadequate and thechangeover is simple. Moving up to an aftermarket caliper like the BaerRacing EradiSpeed calipers/rotor package is a great idea.

4. Consider switching to coilover shocks. Here's a radicalthought: Get rid of the transverse leaf springs and mount up coilovershocks. Bilstein makes coilover shocks that bolt right into the stockshock mounts (slight widening of the shock mount is required up front).With the high cost of replacement transverse leaf springs, this may notbe as expensive a swap as you might think, and you can reduce the weightof the suspension by completely removing the leaf springs. Specialbonus! With the coilovers, you can adjust the ride height of yourCorvette for different tire and wheel packages in a matter of minutes.Try that with your leaf springs!

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