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I'm looking to upgrade the suspension for my '96 Grand Prix and I'm not sure where I should start. Are there any parts that should be upgraded before I consider anything else? Additionally, I've seen all the posts about different ways to give 1st gen w bodies coil overs but I'm not sure what would be the least headache-inducing.

Any advice is appreciated, this is my first project and what I'm really learning to work on cars with.

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It depends on what you want to do.  Because our cars are so old, "upgrade" might mean just replacing worn components.  If you're just looking for a comfortable ride, the stock setup is a great option.  I'd start with new struts all around and go from there.

If you want coil overs because you want to lower it, that's a different story.  I have coil overs in the rear and cut donor springs in the front.  The ride isn't as smooth as the stock setup, but it's certainly daily driver material.

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3 hours ago, MemphisMan said:

It depends on what you want to do.  Because our cars are so old, "upgrade" might mean just replacing worn components.  If you're just looking for a comfortable ride, the stock setup is a great option.  I'd start with new struts all around and go from there.

If you want coil overs because you want to lower it, that's a different story.  I have coil overs in the rear and cut donor springs in the front.  The ride isn't as smooth as the stock setup, but it's certainly daily driver material. 

I plan on going to autocross events with this car (This isn't my daily driver), so I'm looking at performance over comfort. What did you have to do to get coil overs in the rear? I know my monoleaf is sagging a bit and It is probably best to replace that at some point.

Edited by Amanita

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Okay, that helps.  I installed coil overs strictly to lower it.  I'm not educated in the performance advantages of putting coil overs on w-bodys so I'm no help there.  I chose to remove my monoleaf at the recommendation of others who installed coil overs before me.  It's thought that some lateral stability could be lost when you remove the monoleaf, which makes sense to me, but I don't do any hard cornering in my vert so I can't say for sure.  Installing rear coil overs are really straight forward.  The parts list and pricing is here: https://www.w-body.com/topic/55347-lowered-the-rear-of-my-cutty/  

 

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1 hour ago, MemphisMan said:

Okay, that helps.  I installed coil overs strictly to lower it.  I'm not educated in the performance advantages of putting coil overs on w-bodys so I'm no help there.  I chose to remove my monoleaf at the recommendation of others who installed coil overs before me.  It's thought that some lateral stability could be lost when you remove the monoleaf, which makes sense to me, but I don't do any hard cornering in my vert so I can't say for sure.  Installing rear coil overs are really straight forward.  The parts list and pricing is here: https://www.w-body.com/topic/55347-lowered-the-rear-of-my-cutty/   

 

I intended to install the stiffer sway bar from a Monte Carlo Z34 so that might help deal with the potential loss in lateral stability. Thanks for the link!

55 minutes ago, vipmiller803 said:

If you don't want to ditch the monoleaf setup, you can get one in steel. It makes things hella stiff and lowers the car. It sounds like that's what you want.

If I were to do this instead, I assume I have to custom order it. Is there anybody you'd recommend?

Edited by Amanita

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If you DO ditch the Mono-Jeaf setup, it is recommended to add a larger diameter Anti-Sway bar... They can be sourced from another car... Michael from Fast Forward Performance modded one for his Z34... Can't tell you what car he got it from tho... Also numerous companies make larger diameter sway bars... That should make up for any loss of rigidity from removing the mono-leaf...

Tom B...

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1 hour ago, Amanita said:

If I were to do this instead, I assume I have to custom order it. Is there anybody you'd recommend?

I had a three leaf steel one on the buick I sold recently. That was installed maybe 6 years ago. At the time, I found it from JCWhitney online I believe. I tried to order it and they refunded me saying they no longer carry it. I somehow got them to cough up their supplier and it turned out to be a local shop to me, so that's where I got mine. I was appalled that they had them already made for this application. Either way, you might have to special order. Due to the size and weight, I'd recommend a local spring shop. The ends are very simple, they're just flattened as to ride on top of the pucks in the knuckle pocket. I mounted it with the original rubber that I scraped off the old leaf using longer bolts to reach around the three leaves.

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On 1/14/2019 at 8:30 PM, Imp558 said:

Strut tower bars would be a nice start, unless you need suspension components as a priority due to wear.

Checking everything out is a nice idea too.

Should this one fit? It says fits all 1996-2006 w-bodies but I'm questioning that claim.

https://www.bmrsuspension.com/?page=products&productid=217&superpro=0

Additionally, the rear one only fits 1997 and up. Is there anybody that makes rear strut bars specifically for 1st gen W bodies?

Edit: Ordered a rear strut bar from GOT2B GM today! Going to call BMR later this week and check that their front strut bar does actually fit a '96 grand prix. Also, now that the snow has finally melted I got under the car and checked the suspension. Everything seems to be in decent shape thankfully.

Edited by Amanita

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On 1/15/2019 at 10:35 AM, MemphisMan said:

Okay, that helps.  I installed coil overs strictly to lower it.  I'm not educated in the performance advantages of putting coil overs on w-bodys so I'm no help there.  I chose to remove my monoleaf at the recommendation of others who installed coil overs before me.  It's thought that some lateral stability could be lost when you remove the monoleaf, which makes sense to me, but I don't do any hard cornering in my vert so I can't say for sure.  Installing rear coil overs are really straight forward.  The parts list and pricing is here: https://www.w-body.com/topic/55347-lowered-the-rear-of-my-cutty/  

 

How do you like the 250lb springs?  I bought the progressive rate springs as they were supposed to be better but I'm not crazy about them.  Considering changing the spring for either 250s or 300s.

Edited by Dark Ride

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That front bar is nice but that's pricey, every once in a while someone here will sell a factory first gen one but they're a bit rarish.

My front bar is an abundant second gen bar welded across the tower caps. Effective for under  $20.

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59 minutes ago, Imp558 said:

That front bar is nice but that's pricey, every once in a while someone here will sell a factory first gen one but they're a bit rarish.

My front bar is an abundant second gen bar welded across the tower caps. Effective for under  $20.

What models/trims could come with a factory front strut bar? I might do some digging in my area and see if I can come across one.

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 check out the last couple of pictures under the hood in my Regal's old thread, that's a second gen bar that you can find at every wrecking yard everywhere for a few bucks welded across a set of 1st Gen caps. Don't look closely at the welds - I did it on the end of an extension cord, LOL.

 

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14 hours ago, Dark Ride said:

How do you like the 250lb springs?  I bought the progressive rate springs as they were supposed to be better but I'm not crazy about them.  Considering changing the spring for either 250s or 300s.

I like them just fine, but I've never experienced 300s so I don't know.  They don't seem harsh or jarring at all and they daily just fine.  I'll be lowering my CS coupe soon and am pondering if the weight difference between the coupe and vert warrants a different spring rate.  I was recommended the 250lb rate from George, which is what he used on his vert.   

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Michael at FFP also recommended 250s... He said that was about the stock rate... I wanted some more stiffness,,, SO,,, I went with 300s... I had no complaints with that...However they made a lot of banging noises on bumps... Turns out the camber was WAY out... Had to file the bottom slot in the struts longer to adjust camber... Once I got it quieted down everything was cool... Michael had never really dealt with this issue before, BUT, he had had some questions asked about noise... We figured that was what was going on with other customers who had noise and he advised them of my problem/solution...

So,,, in my opinion 300s are stiffer, but good...

Tom B...

Edited by walterdude

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I did coils on my 91 GTP and found the 250s were to soft I’d also recommend  300. 

You can use the rear sway bar out of a 97 montecarlo if you can find one. It’s the largest stock bar there is. 95-96 might also have these as well.

I have a powder coated strut tower bar from a 96’ cutty vert. In my 91 it rubbed ever so annoyingly on the EGR so I took it off. I’ve posted it on eBay here and there but did not sell. If you’re interested I’d sell it on for a low price but couldn’t say what shipping would be or if it would rub your EGR as well. It’s more likely to as they’re both 1st gen GPS?

Edited by GTP091

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13 hours ago, GTP091 said:

I did coils on my 91 GTP and found the 250s were to soft I’d also recommend  300. 

You can use the rear sway bar out of a 97 montecarlo if you can find one. It’s the largest stock bar there is. 95-96 might also have these as well.

I have a powder coated strut tower bar from a 96’ cutty vert. In my 91 it rubbed ever so annoyingly on the EGR so I took it off. I’ve posted it on eBay here and there but did not sell. If you’re interested I’d sell it on for a low price but couldn’t say what shipping would be or if it would rub your EGR as well. It’s more likely to as they’re both 1st gen GPS?

Do you have any pictures of it on your car? I might be interested, was it from a 3.4 or 3.1 model?

Edited by Amanita

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If you ordered a rear strut bar from GOT2B GM, well done, I think you got his last one. You are going to love what this does. I have one of these in mine and I got his 2nd from last one for my brother who got my old 1994 CS from my Dad. Huge improvement and others look into the trunk they won't even know it's there. This piece, coupled with a front STB from the CS convertibles and a set of KYB's in all 4 corners really make one heck of a difference. All the better. I bought the new Coopers for the car as well. Right now the car is laid up until Spring, looking forward to Another year with this car.

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I used to run Cooper, they're soft and sticky but they just don't live long. I was doing a pair every two years. If the alignment wasn't just perfect it would eat a tire in a year or less.

My Yokohama Envigors have 4 years of driving and they're about half tread. In the end they're more cost effective.

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 I never seem to get that far with any of my tires. They age out on me and need to be replaced (for safety reasons)way before they ever wear out. That even goes for my snows I have on my truck, they are going on their 8th year (which I've decided will be the last) and they are nowhere near the wear marks.

I went with those new Cooper CS-5 Ultra Touring tires, 215-60R-16, V rated. So far so good with these. I had 225's (Uniroyal Tiger Paw) initially but my brother badly needed a set for his 1994 CS and the 225's were a better fit for the 3.4 package which his car has. So he got those and I went with the Coopers mounted on my refurbished 5 spokes.

Edited by bluecalais79

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