Our '01 WS-6 has been on hiatus for a few issues, but we're happy to report that all is well on the Firebird front. Having completed the installation of a homebuilt 383 back in the January 2007 issue ("My First Stroker, Part 4"), we've logged a few thousand miles in this Trans Am without a hiccup. So far, we have been thoroughly enjoying the car's newfound power and sound, and continue to be pleased with its retained driveability. There have even been attempts at traversing the quarter full-bore, but with the stock 10-bolt still out back, adding sticky tires and "going for broke"-literally and figuratively-could be a folly of the expensive-and-dangerous sort.
Fear not, race fans: a tough rear and the obligatory aftereffects (like reactivation of our direct-port nitrous) are on the way. But let's not forget the raison d'tre of this project vehicle-to be a daily-driveable muscle machine-and that translates to a car that's equally at home on the twisties (be it on the Jersey backroads or otherwise) as it is in a straight line. So, while awaiting drivetrain parts that will withstand the test of the strip, why not add some chassis and suspension upgrades that will pay dividends in all areas of performance?
Pontiac did a pretty respectable job on the WS-6 Performance Package, with its specifically tuned suspension upgrades like deCarbon shocks and stiffer antiroll bars. Never looking to mess with success, we've decided to leave the good stuff alone and replace only what we consider true shortcomings in the factory's design. BMR Fabrication is no stranger to the late-model GM performance market, and it offers more than a few performance parts for the beloved Fourth Gen F-body. A pick-through of the company's online catalog revealed just what we were looking for: a bevy of chassis and suspension upgrades that would be equally at home on the street and at the track, be it a dragstrip, road course, or anything in between. After some careful selection, we came up with a set of items we thought would best address factory F-car failings, without going overboard into the oft-traversed realm of "too much is never enough."
The unibody construction of an F-car isn't without its share of flex, and an ideal chassis provides virtually none whatsoever. That's why we grabbed a BMR shock tower brace and a set of subframe connectors to help eliminate it. On a similar note, BMR's Panhard rod relocation kit stiffens the Panhard-rod mounting location, although it is primarily aimed at providing more room for the F-body's much-maligned single-overaxle pipe routing (we were experiencing exhaust rattle that no amount of adjustment seemed to cure). To better keep rear axle movement in check, a set of tubular lower control arms and a Panhard rod were selected, the latter being adjustable to allow precise rearend alignment. Finally, a set of beefier antiroll bars was chosen to reduce body roll on cornering-bars that are reportedly 40 percent stiffer than the popular GM 1LE units. With one exception you'll read about in the captions, all suspension parts include low-deflection, high-durometer polyurethane bushings made especially for BMR, and they only add to the increased rigidity and control that these parts provide.