As hot rodders, it’s in our DNA to change our cars. Sometimes it’s for function and other times it’s for looks, and when you can have both, we’re not sure there’s anything sweeter. BMR tubular K-members fall into this category. They knock a good amount of weight off the front of the car and look infinitely better than the stock K-member.
In the case of this third-gen Camaro project resurrected from a few years back, we were looking at doing an LS swap. Since the old small-block had been removed, it seemed like a good time to tackle the K-member. Aside from the aforementioned weight savings, the tubular K-member would give us additional oil pan and header clearance. Also, since we were able to order the K-member with LS engine mount provisions, it saved us one more headache once we started with the LS swap.
Of course, there are things to keep in mind: The aftermarket BMR K-member will not work with stock control arms, but our Camaro already had their tubular pieces. It also, to save weight, is missing spring pockets, so your car will need to have a coilover system unless you pick up BMR’s Upper Spring Mounts (PN USP001). Even with these spring pockets, the assembly would be quite a bit lighter than stock. Our Camaro already had coilover shocks so it was just a matter of swapping K-members. If you’re going to install one of these, and your engine is still in the car, then you will need to either support the engine from the bottom or lift it up a bit from the top so you can manage the swap. You also might need to reconfigure a few brake lines to contour the new K-member, although this is more for aesthetic reasons.
01. The stock GM K-member won’t win any beauty contests, but it does a great job of supporting an engine and providing a home for the coil springs.
02. The K-member was held to the frame by three bolts on each side. Two of these bolts were on the K-member itself and one was on the triangular bracket that was bolted to the front of the K-member. Six bolts in total support the weight of the engine and part of the suspension. You can also see the factory brake line that needs to be removed or bent out of the way.
03. After disconnecting the sway bar endlinks, we removed the lower control arms from the car. If you have stock arms, you’ll either need BMR control arms PN AA008, and if you are reusing the factory coil springs and their upper spring mounts, use PN USP001, or PN AA007K if you have or are converting to a coilover system.
04. We then started unbolting the GM K-member from the Camaro. As mentioned, it’s held to the frame by six bolts. If you’re doing this with the engine still in the car, you’ll want to make sure it is properly supported before moving to this step.
05. The factory K-member weighs about 50 pounds, so we used a transmission jack to lower it from under the car. But if you have a helper, it can easily be done by hand.
06. The BMR K-member for our third-gen Camaro (PN KM008) comes in red or black hammertone powdercoat. It’s made from 1 1/2-inch x 0.120 wall DOM steel tubing and 3/16-inch laser-cut, CNC-formed steel plates. This makes for a very strong and lightweight piece that is more ridged than the stamped steel factory K-member. It also saves weight due to the integrated frame stands that replace the factory cast-iron stands. We ordered our K-member set up for an LS engine. Here, it’s easy to see the six points where the K-member bolts to the Camaro’s frame.
07. The size difference between the stock and BMR K-members is pretty amazing. It’s also easy to see how the BMR K-member would give more clearance around the engine. The stock K-member weighed around 50 pounds while the BMR piece came in around half of that.
08. The lightness of the new K-member meant that we could easily lift it under the Camaro by hand and attach it to the frame using a mix of stock and BMR-provided fasteners and washers.
09. We could then reinstall our BMR tubular control arms and the existing coilover system.
10. We did find it necessary to flip around the front bolt holding the lower control arm to the new K-member since having it the other way caused an interference issue with the tie rods.
11. We then reattached the sway bar to the lower control arms.
12. And, just like that, we were done. With no engine in the car, the install took less than 2 hours.
13. We could have reused the factory brake line, but for a cleaner look, we opted to bend a new one to better fit the smaller shape of the new K-member. This view also shows how much better looking the new K-member is and how it will help us clear the oil pan and headers of our new Chevrolet Performance crate engine.
14. We also decided to upgrade our non-adjustable front coilovers to a pair of QA1 HS-Series struts (PN HS606SR). These have a single external dial-in adjustment that simultaneously changes the compression and rebound settings with the click of a knob. To this we added QA1’s conversion kit C0K103, which converted the strut from standard to coilover.
15. For added strength and more suspension adjustability, we added a pair of these TIG-welded QA1 camber plates (PN CPK106). It also incorporates a specifically engineered asymmetrical bearing that improves load distribution and will hold up to hard use without becoming sloppy over time, like OEM bearings tend to. Here you can see it next to a stock camber plate.