Yes, it’s been a little while since we last brought you an update on our wagon, a 1982 Caprice whose longing to see 11’s and still be nimble enough to master the autocross track. Yes, our ambitions are high, and to be honest, saying our wagon was a little weak in the knees would be like saying a Corvette is a little faster than the Prius – a huge understatement.
This abused wagon was in desperate need of major surgery to repair the crumbled bones and joints that were the shocks, control arms, and pretty much every suspension part on this car. If we were going to be able to claim this car a success, this is where we really needed to shine. We got in touch with some of the wizards in suspension technology over at RideTech to get a handle on this well over 2 ton behemoth.
But before jumping straight into mastering the air element, we needed to lay a strong foundation on which to operate around our fine tuned air bags. Here’s a quick recap on where we’ve beefed up our wagon, all in the ongoing quest to install our mean 655hp Dart big block 509.
Wait, a what? That’s right, we somehow convinced Dart to build us this wickedly potent 650-plus-horsepower powerplant for good ol’ Gramps. This monster rat started with a Dart Big M block, with a stout 4-inch-stroked Howards Pro Max crank, billet rods, SRP pistons, a COMP Xtreme Energy Hydraulic Roller cam, topped with a Dart single plane intake and a Quickfuel Q 850cfm carb. When dyno’ed, this big ol’ boy pumped out 655hp at the flywheel.
Thanks to help from Spohn Suspension and Energy Suspension, our wagon was outfitted with new rear control arms, front sway bar, and steering – plus we were able to completely rebuild the front control arms. We knew that our 509 was going to push our Caprice’s suspension to its limits, so new, stronger and lightweight control arms and sway bars were just what the doctor ordered.
You could say that the guys over at Currie Enterprises technically kicked off the RideTech install. They built a big 35-spline 9-inch with an Eaton Detroit Locker and were kind enough to weld on the necessary brackets where the rear air springs will attach.
We decided to start with giving the major components a solid place to mount inside of our wagon. These included the 22-gallon air tank, two high power compressors, a set of valves, along with the ECU and the screen to control it. Being that the car is a wagon, we wanted to keep all those awesome wagon perks – like being able to seat 8 passengers or fold all the rear seats down. So mounting just in the middle of the trunk wasn’t an option. We took advantage of the large cavities hidden behind what is now brittle interior pieces.
On the driver side, the rear of the car had a small compartment with a latch where we decided to build a simple angle-iron box to mount the valves that could be easily accessed. We had planned to also mount the ECU here as well, but after underestimating the length of our car, the ECI’s final mounting place ended up being around 11-inches forward of this to ensure we had the proper length of wire to each to all ends of the car.
On the opposite side of the car sat the spare tire. With no need for the 30 year old rubber, we built another mount using some angle-iron and round tubing to mount it it’s place. After some carefully placed bolts were welded on, we were able to mount both compressors underneath the air tank, and keep it all hidden behind the factory dress up.
We’ve got a complete tech install article coming out soon covering this install fully. Hell, we’ll even through in a video of us testing the new air suspension the best we can with the wimpy stock 305 SBC. For now, we’ll leave you with a little preview video of what is to come.
Check back for more updates!