The Full Monte: GM G-Body Tips

Our Expert: Bret Voelkel


President, Ridetech
ridetech.com
(812) 481-4787

As with any project, I always look for the best body I can find in a color I can live with. Body and paint work typically comprise 50 percent of the build budget, so if you can avoid that portion, you have more money and time to spend on other go-fast goodies. The ’78–’88 G-body vehicles are mechanically near identical, varying only by body shape and interior style. It’s your time and money going into this project, so make sure you pick out the body style you truly like the best.

The G-body suffers the same inverted camber curve problems that the first-generation Camaros and Chevelles did. We use a taller upper ball joint to resolve that.

GM also used a generous amount of rubber in the front suspension control arm pivots to improve ride quality. While polyurethane has long been considered an “upgrade,” poly also imparts a huge amount of “sticktion” in the suspension that results in uncontrolled initial spring rate and squeaky bushings. We use Delrin bushings that require no lubrication, allow no uncontrolled lateral movement, and allow smooth rotational movement. The net result is dramatically improved ride quality and handling, with no noise.

We use a dropped spindle and dual-rate coil springs (in our StreetGrip kit) or coil-overs to lower the ride height and optimize ride quality and handling.

From there we up the diameter of the front sway bar–which is also mounted in Delrin bushings–to minimize body roll, and include rebound-adjustable monotube shocks so the customer can tune the ride and handling to their liking.

On the rear we include dual-rate coils (also in our StreetGrip kit) or coil-overs, and a slightly larger rear sway bar. We specifically do not use Delrin or poly bushings in the rear four-link bars because those bars need to articulate to do their job properly. Limiting that articulation binds the rear of the car up and creates excessive stress on the bars and their mounts.

Turn One and Borgeson offer a faster-ratio steering box for the G-body. We like to use a flow-matched pump from Turn One to get the best feel and performance.

A 17- or 18-inch wheel diameter seems to offer the widest selection of tire choices for about any style of driving you may want. These cars will fit a 275/35R18 tire in the back and a 255/35R18 in the front. Braver hotrodders have fit a 275mm tire even on the front, depending on final ride height. Nineteen- and 20-inch wheels seem to look a bit awkward on these cars and have a smaller selection of tires. Performance tire selection is also limited for 15- and 16-inch wheels.

If your main purpose is cruising with only an occasional autocross, the BFG Sport Comp 2 is a nice tire. The more serious autocrosser or track day guy might like the Falken RT615K+. The current king of the grippy tire wars is the BFG Rival, but they do sacrifice tire life to achieve that.

The stock brakes on any car up to around 1995 are marginal in a performance setting. Any time you intend to accelerate and corner faster, you will also want to stop faster. Baer and Wilwood both have fine offerings for these cars.

The GM G-body is a great platform for any kind of racing or performance driving. The G-body’s 108-inch wheelbase is the same as the early Camaro–short enough to turn well and long enough to ride comfortably. In addition they are lightweight–around 3300 pounds, about the same as an early Camaro as well. OEM and aftermarket parts are plentiful and mostly interchangeable. It’s certainly a fun car for any budget.

Join Free Join our community to easily find more Buick, Chevrolet, GMC, Oldsmobile and Pontiac articles.
Comments
View comments on the GRM forums
ascott
ascott New Reader
11/22/18 9:23 a.m.

You can run them. You can even qualify for prestigious national events with them.

My investment was far lower than my competition. I'm never last.

Photo: Kaleb Kelley

te72
te72 Reader
11/22/18 12:58 p.m.

In reply to ascott :

I never would have thought a G-body for turning. Drag racing, oh yeah, but turning? The very concept is about as strange as towing with a Miata to me, something I'll admit to have done myself haha.

 

Your car looks rad though, I'm sure it's quite imposing to see that thing coming down on you in the mirror...

Wally
Wally MegaDork
11/22/18 1:01 p.m.

While my Monte was severely underpowered compared to a GN it handled very well for little money.

MotorsportsGordon
MotorsportsGordon Reader
11/22/18 3:18 p.m.
te72 said:

In reply to ascott :

I never would have thought a G-body for turning. Drag racing, oh yeah, but turning? The very concept is about as strange as towing with a Miata to me, something I'll admit to have done myself haha.

 

Your car looks rad though, I'm sure it's quite imposing to see that thing coming down on you in the mirror...

Lots of the metric/gbody frame used in oval racing 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFNjXc557KI

ascott
ascott New Reader
11/22/18 3:34 p.m.
MotorsportsGordon said:

Lots of the metric/gbody frame used in oval racing 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFNjXc557KI

Shush. You’re going to let the secret out. How are people going to sell parts if you tell them you can get it done from the circle track catalog for $10 and a case of beer?

 

te72
te72 Reader
11/23/18 12:01 p.m.

In reply to MotorsportsGordon :

Now that's a sight I'm more familiar with among these cars. I know this is gonna not sit well with some folks, but I've never much cared for oval racing, if only because I need right hand turns too. Life's just not balanced enough only going left (or right, if anyone's running clockwise out there), ya know? I still want to see cars like these driven on balanced tracks with a variety of turns. Think trophy / stadium truck racing, but with cars like this!

 

It is pretty impressive though, to corner on three wheels, no matter if it's dirt track or FWD at an autocross driven well!

ascott
ascott New Reader
11/23/18 2:50 p.m.

In reply to te72 :

The thing about the oval guys, you take what they use to go left, and repeat it on the other side of the car. Sure, you lose a bit of the maximum effort they can get from only having to turn one direction, but those guys know what they're doing, and they've been doing it for forty years.

And they're so hard on parts they go through them at a ridiculous rate. Add in the fact they're not afraid of an install which requires a welder, and the prices are LOW.

A 401 CJ
A 401 CJ Dork
11/23/18 3:51 p.m.
ascott said:

In reply to te72 :

The thing about the oval guys, you take what they use to go left, and repeat it on the other side of the car. Sure, you lose a bit of the maximum effort they can get from only having to turn one direction, but those guys know what they're doing, and they've been doing it for forty years.

And they're so hard on parts they go through them at a ridiculous rate. Add in the fact they're not afraid of an install which requires a welder, and the prices are LOW.

You’re point is well taken.  But to paraphrase something Boris Said said, that group doesn’t know much about brakes.  How to set them up or use them on a road course.  

MotorsportsGordon
MotorsportsGordon Reader
11/23/18 7:47 p.m.
te72 said:

In reply to MotorsportsGordon :

Now that's a sight I'm more familiar with among these cars. I know this is gonna not sit well with some folks, but I've never much cared for oval racing, if only because I need right hand turns too. Life's just not balanced enough only going left (or right, if anyone's running clockwise out there), ya know? I still want to see cars like these driven on balanced tracks with a variety of turns. Think trophy / stadium truck racing, but with cars like this!

 

It is pretty impressive though, to corner on three wheels, no matter if it's dirt track or FWD at an autocross driven well!

Well in fairness in dirt oval racing there is more right turning then in pavement oval racing.

ascott
ascott New Reader
11/24/18 9:41 a.m.
A 401 CJ said:

You’re point is well taken.  But to paraphrase something Boris Said said, that group doesn’t know much about brakes.  How to set them up or use them on a road course.  

Yeah. That's true.

You have to treat it like a giant Miata. Get it set up as a momentum car and just don't use the brakes much.

noddaz
noddaz SuperDork
11/24/18 1:03 p.m.

Is there anything to be gained from boxing the frame on these cars?  AFAIK the frame is C channel from fender to 1/4 panel...

And of course after reading this, I HAD to go to CL and look for G-bodys...   It seems many have been turned into race cars over the years.

Wally
Wally MegaDork
11/24/18 3:04 p.m.

I would guess boxing should help a street car.  I’ve only boxed a couple on stock cars and no one felt they were worth the effort/weight on a fully caged chassis.

ascott
ascott New Reader
11/24/18 3:55 p.m.
noddaz said:

Is there anything to be gained from boxing the frame on these cars?  AFAIK the frame is C channel from fender to 1/4 panel...

And of course after reading this, I HAD to go to CL and look for G-bodys...   It seems many have been turned into race cars over the years.

There's a lot of different opinions on boxing the frame. Some people think the frame is noodly and requires 80 lbs of steel plate to close the c-channel between the front and rear subframes.

Then there are people that actually look at the car and how it was designed. It's not a full-frame car. It's a hybrid unibody with independent front and rear subframes that are tied together by C-channel in the middle to make assembling it on a line that used to make full frame cars easier (the plants were all rigged to lower a body onto a rolling frame, not shove subframe assemblies up into a body running overhead).

If you replace the worn out rubber body bushings with new ones, the floorpan becomes the structural part of the car it was supposed to be, and the whole thing tightens right up. The windows seal and the doors close properly. With zero extra weight.

 

noddaz
noddaz SuperDork
11/24/18 4:15 p.m.

If you replace the worn out rubber body bushings with new ones, the floorpan becomes the structural part of the car it was supposed to be, and the whole thing tightens right up. The windows seal and the doors close properly. With zero extra weight.

 

Good to know!  Always something to learn.

te72
te72 Reader
11/27/18 9:40 p.m.

You guys make fair points, and illustrate why there's a market for these sorts of cars. I just think it's cool to see them set up for road racing, being that you don't often see that. We have a local with a newer Buick Regal at the autocross, he's quite quick, and a sight to behold, all things considered, for similar reasons.

 

And Gordon, I'd only correct your point that while you're often *steering* right, you're still always turning left, assuming all is going according to plan haha!

MotorsportsGordon
MotorsportsGordon Reader
11/28/18 12:38 a.m.
te72 said:

You guys make fair points, and illustrate why there's a market for these sorts of cars. I just think it's cool to see them set up for road racing, being that you don't often see that. We have a local with a newer Buick Regal at the autocross, he's quite quick, and a sight to behold, all things considered, for similar reasons.

 

And Gordon, I'd only correct your point that while you're often *steering* right, you're still always turning left, assuming all is going according to plan haha!

Very true but in many of the stock v8 and 4 cylinder classes they are more due to set ups the always built like that especially compared to cars with purpose built chassis. A couple good examples up here at times guys have raced in the mini stock class with the same car they have used in ice or road racing. Also race city used to have the oval enduro class on the road course a couple times of year I saw that once and they actually did great and was fun to watch.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UberDork
11/28/18 6:31 a.m.

In reply to Wally :

So, you've mentioned how well your G-Body seemed to handle off pavement- any idea on total suspension travel for these things?  Asking for no reason at all...

ascott
ascott New Reader
11/29/18 9:08 p.m.
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ said:

In reply to Wally :

So, you've mentioned how well your G-Body seemed to handle off pavement- any idea on total suspension travel for these things?  Asking for no reason at all...

Front is about 6” total travel. Rear is closer to 12”. 

At Stock ride height. Lower it and stuff gets weird fast. 

akylekoz
akylekoz Dork
11/30/18 5:51 a.m.

I owned at least two G bodies, 81 Regal and 84 GN, maybe a Monte in there too.  I never expected them to handle, but never really complained about them either.

So if you were to ditch the four link for a panhard and torque arm out of an F body, would that fix the four link.  I'm assuming GM's four link has the same problems as Ford's fox chassis.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
11/30/18 1:43 p.m.
te72 said:

In reply to ascott :

I never would have thought a G-body for turning. Drag racing, oh yeah, but turning? The very concept is about as strange as towing with a Miata to me, something I'll admit to have done myself haha.

 

Your car looks rad though, I'm sure it's quite imposing to see that thing coming down on you in the mirror...

Yeah, something different. Since we're seeing more G-bodies in pro touring autocrosses (and here on the site), we figured we'd offer some tech to help.

Also, I drove my parents' '78 Malibu while in high school. Does that count?

Wally
Wally MegaDork
11/30/18 5:19 p.m.

In reply to ascott :

Thanks for posting the suspension travel. I never measured mine but I found out there are rallycrosses near me so I may need to do some research.

ascott
ascott New Reader
11/30/18 5:27 p.m.

In reply to akylekoz :

Same problems as the Fox, but worse. The rear UCA angles are more severe, so the thrust angle wanders all over the place in roll and the factory roll center is in the middle of the trunk area.

Lots of ways to calm it down. I chose a Watts link. 

Our Preferred Partners
91TOZus91rq4uQoCARilu9DV7DlHwhvIQIIWixRapC5LIFffJv1gaFFeF3KGELBh