By on March 14, 2017

1994 Buick Roadmaster Sedan, Image: General Motors

Timothy writes:

I need help bringing my 1994 Buick Roadmaster out of the dark ages.

This sedan was the last car my parents bought and I’ve had it for several years now (143,000 miles). I love the huge interior and I’ve always been a fan of Buicks for general motoring. (See what I did there?)

Seriously, I like the car a lot, but it’s so … wallowy, if that’s a word, that I don’t drive it much. I’d love to have a more European tautness to the suspension and steering. The trouble is that I know nothing about cars. You guys talk about the W126 Mercedes and Fox body Fords and I get lost real quick. I’ve inherited a garage full of tools, and since I don’t use the car as everyday transport, I’d like to try and do a few things myself. Bigger things will be done by my trusted mechanic.

And please, I’d rather not get as involved as your Valentino swap, which is awesome!

How can I upgrade the suspension and steering, yet still keep that awesome Buickness?

Once that’s straightened out, I’d like to know more about why the heater core needs to be “blown out” twice a year.

Sajeev answers:

Son, I like the cut of your jib. And everything I’ve resto-modded on my Valentino directly correlates to the B-Body underneath your LT-1 powered Roadmaster. You have the 9C1 (Cop car) Caprice and the Impala SS at your part-bin disposal to keep the classic American Sedan swagger while removing the slop of the last 23 years and 143,000 miles.

You will keep that “awesome Buickness” because you won’t do stereotypical restomod:

With all due respect to The Smoking Tire, saying the “ride quality is really good, it rides just beautifully” on a vehicle with Delrin bushings (suspension details here) is over the top … unless the roads reviewed come with the car! That’s not hate; just putting things in context.

Speaking from experience with polyurethane-intensive Fox Body Griggs parts, muscle cars with a Mustang-II style front clips, and as someone who handled Delrin bushings during my Mark VIII’s headlight rejuvenationnon-bushy bushings stress out driver and passengers with mad NVH ignorance, thus ruining the American Car raison d’être.

Why go down this tangent? Because this “restomod mistake” is readily available with aftermarket alternatives for the Impala SS. If you need NVH control on the streets, a factory suspension with big, juicy rubber bushings is ideal. So resto-mod like your boy Sanjeev.

  • New coil springs, but use factory ’94-96 Impala SS specifications for a lower stance and better roll control.
  • Koni or Bilstein shocks for the ’77-’96 General Motors B-Body.
  • Impala SS spec front and rear anti-roll bars.
  • Install the SS/9C1-spec steering box.
  • Replace any worn item seen while installing the above (that’s the resto part of a restomod).
  • Upgrade the brakes to 9C1/Impala spec, or consider this wicked upgrade.
  • Build a 2.25- or 2.5-inch exhaust with high-flow cats behind these headers and use take off mufflers from a late model, LS-powered GM product for stealth.
  • Delete the insane intake silencers, but do it on the cheap via capping off the stock elbow, drilling out the airbox at its leading edge, etc. No aftermarket Hot Air Induction systems, please!
  • Get someone to do a computer re-tune.
  • Consider a bespoke torque convertor with a slightly looser stall; so much fun to out-launch everything but Teslas!
  • Do the Z28 full gauge cluster swap. Oh, hell yes!
  • Don’t like that column shifter post Z28 gauge swap? Bravada the interior!
  • Install a Retrosound Newport head unit (or go custom 2-DIN stereo conversion so you can have Apple Carplay/Android Auto). Upgrade speakers/amp to your taste.
  • Install the slick Corvette LT-1 fuel rail and matching composite valve covers just to screw with people (says the guy with a GT-40 intake on his Valentino).
  • The GM 5 on 5 bolt pattern has some decent upgrades thanks to Chevy Trucks. Or maybe some stylish VIP chrome wheels or Swangas with adapters? Whatever you choose, stick with 17-inch wheels for ride/handling balance.
  • I assume your heater core’s issues stem from Dex-Cool contamination? Not the end of the world, but you might have a rather cruddy radiator, too. Check the forums and replace everything with 9C1 upgrades, if applicable.

Good luck with your project. I’d be jealous if it weren’t for my own project keeping me so busy.

[Image: General Motors, Flickr]

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

73 Comments on “Piston Slap: B-Bodies Shall Master the Road Once More!...”


  • avatar
    tedward

    “I’d rather not get as involved”

    Lol, good luck with that.

    The response reads like mine would if you had just bought a compact car. I’d say start with the shocks and springs and then evaluate further. Definitely follow the no polyurethane and delrin advice. Comprehensively replace rubber pieces as you do any job. That’s where a ton of the vehicle’s apparent age comes from.

    And if you do go for bilsteins or Konis get the right ones. For the love of god no HD’s if you go the bilstein route for instance.

    • 0 avatar
      N8iveVA

      I was thinking the same thing. Start with the shocks and springs and reevaluate. He may be satisfied with that level of control and less wallowing. Then go for the computer tune. :)

  • avatar
    CV Neuves

    Cool car from an era when American cars had not yet taken to the global one look fits all approach. True diversity. Lots of fun with it!

  • avatar
    OldManPants

    “bringing my 1994 Buick Roadmaster out of the dark ages”

    “yet still keep that awesome Buickness”

    o_O …And those “dark ages” now seem like a sunlit vista.

    This car was for old folks who *craved* soft and wallowy because the beginnings of their lives were rock crushers.

    Their generation *built* the nice broad & straight roads for which classic Buicks were intended. Twisties were for inferiors like Europeans.

    • 0 avatar

      “The beginnings of their lives were rock crushers.”

      How true. How many of them left college or the farm to fight in WWII. To them, soft and wallowy was luxury. The B-body and the Panther platform was the last in a line of V8 barges they piloted, starting from when Ike was president.

  • avatar

    Camaro Z-28 gauges? Bespoke torque convertor that will let you out-launch everything but Teslas?

    Supposedly you can also swap the 4 speed auto with a 5 speed from a Camaro/Firebird as well.

    Now you got me trawling the interwebs looking for a B-body. Except I’d probably go with a late 80’s Caprice for the squared off body.

  • avatar
    Detroit-Iron

    This is a really great platform, because you are a caretaker in the sense that the car is cool enough that you should always strive to keep it running, but you are under no obligation to keep it original like you might be with a more traditional classic car.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “You have the 9C1 (Cop car) Caprice and the Impala SS at your part-bin disposal to keep the classic American Sedan swagger”

    YES

    “Don’t like that column shifter post Z28 gauge swap? Bravada the interior!”

    YES

    “Or maybe some stylish VIP chrome wheels or Swangas with adapters?”

    YES

    This whole post is down with the sickness.

    “I assume your heater core’s issues stem from Dex-Cool contamination?”

    Dex-Cool didn’t come out until around MY97 IIRC. This example should be save from Orange Death.

    • 0 avatar
      smartascii

      You are correct re: Dex-Cool. These cars had some sort of clay “conditioning tablet” put into the coolant system at the factory. It was mean to dissolve into the coolant and do… something. I’m not sure what. Anyway, most of them just broke into pieces and jam themselves in the smallest place in the cooling system, which is the heater core. If you keep the faith and keep flushing the thing twice a year for the next 10 or so years, it’ll eventually quit it. Eventually.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Tim and Sajeev, you guys are awesome. I don’t get the love for this car–at all–but I have serious respect for anyone who wants to care for and take an interest in their rig in this way. The RetroSound Newport is a thing of beauty, I didn’t know they made aftermarket period-appropriate stereos like that.

    My first car was a hand-me-down 91 Olds Cutlass Ciera that I still feel some nostalgia for. But then I look at the pictures of this Roadmaster’s interior and remember the shoddy materials and build quality, the loud but sloppy “clank” of the doors closing that suggested solid materials assembled with imprecision, and I think that the car really shines best in memory.

    • 0 avatar
      quaquaqua

      Of course the car shines best in memory. I mean, this is a 1994 GM product we’re talking about here.

      Look at how often people here bring up god awful 70s American sedans or say “Fox body” in a single post. Wanna guess which cars they grew up with? It’s why I have a huge soft spot for late 80s/early 90s Pontiacs. I recognize it’s misplaced nostalgia. But that’s because cars for people like us have far less to do with numbers and far more to do with feelings.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        Indeed. The family also had a 1991 Camry V6 at the time, a contrast that did not serve the Oldsmobile well at all. The Olds may have been a durable tank, but it felt like it came from an earlier, um, century. I cannot believe that they were still selling these alongside the 1994 Camry. Price and brand loyalty must have moved all of them by that time.

        • 0 avatar

          They did – I got mine off my dad, who drove Olds and Buicks from 1968 until 2013, when he switched to a Honda CRV.

          The ’90 Century I owned was low rent compared to the ’82 Celica I owned previously. But the Century was cheap, held five friends, and got great gas mileage.

    • 0 avatar

      Shoddy materials and sloppy doors, yes. But they were also easier to maintain, even with OBD I, and a 3.3/3.8 Buick V6 with the 440 and 4T60 four speed overdrive got ridiculously good gas mileage. I owned a ’90 Century that regularly got 32-33 MPG on the highway.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        They weren’t without merit. That 3.3V6 was torquey and relaxing enough despite being hobbled by a 3-speed automatic. Pretty quiet. If you roads were cratered like the surface of Mercury the marshmallow suspension was a boon as well. Good car for 1983. Not for 1993, though.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    I also had a ’94 Roadmaster – kind of a cherry color that was more brown than anything else. It wasn’t exactly wallowy but definitely not a canyon carver either. However for the potholed roads of Michigan, it was a great ride and even a better highway eater. The suspension – air shocks in the back along with the long wheelbase – just soaked up the bumps.

    My car, however, had the towing package which, if I remember correctly, had many cop goodies included like the F41 package which has heavy duty sway bars. Also 3.08s out back instead of the stock 2.73s. (this is from memory) Make sure to read the build sheet sticker on inside of the trunk lid.

    If I could buy another one today – low mileage or brand new – I would jump on the deal all over again. The car had a certain gravitas – no fear of bro trucks or any other car – plus the LT1 engine, for the time, was a real gem.

    • 0 avatar
      dividebytube

      Forgot to add – the stock stripper 305 powered ’91 Caprice I had was really wallowy. And a lot more difficult to control. Going from a Honda Accord to a Caprice took some “muscle memory” reprogramming since I would, at first, end up all over the highway when I took a moderatae curve. You had to drive that underpowered boat with pinky pressure.

      The Roadmaster, in comparison, felt “taut!”

    • 0 avatar
      scottcom36

      Agree on the air shocks, although some probably won’t. Just enough air to firm things up a bit. It’ll ride like a modern pickup.

  • avatar
    Corey Lewis

    When did Dex-Cool no longer present a problem?

    IIRC, the Buick had the most taut ride of the B-triplets of the time, if “taut” is even a word which applies to these whales. Which by the way, the Roadmaster was the last vehicle to feature a factory opera lamp, albeit horizontal.

    Also, all those mods suggested by SM sound like thousands of dollars of work on something which is… not worth much. But the Bravada center console is legit.

    BRAVADA

  • avatar
    CaddyDaddy

    In late 1996 I walked into my local front range Chev dealer after reading that a blasphemy was occurring in Texas. B body production was to be shuttered to make room for production for 3rd door 1/2 tons and Tahoes.

    Sat down with the salesman and bespoke ordered my 96′. Asking what options I would like, I simply replied YES. Grey green metallic was the only choice. The Black Cherry Impala SS could not be ordered with HD options for cooling and trailer towing. :(. This car still sits in my garage in its factory fresh show room condition and is bar none still the best road car I have ever driven.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    Considering the self-implied limitations on the DIY front I suggest the first five items and see how it goes. KONIs are awesome, and I would compare the spring rates of the SS swaybars vs aftermarket ones. With the weight and high polar moment of this car I would get the stiffest matched pair I could find. Don’t forget a good set of Michelin performance rubber. Not mentioned but since this is an LT-1, watch out for coolant leaking from the water pump onto the Optispark distributor…

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I read above to change the springs and shocks.

    I would rather change only the shocks and find better sway bars along with new urethane bushes throughout.

    See how that goes before giving the car a go kart ride.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      Oh, you can do that in the garage easily in a weekend using those tools.

      Its a simple task to start off with.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      I agree shocks and sway bars are where to start. Baring extreme rust causing broken bolts it is an easy DIY job that can be done in the garage w/o extensive experience or tools. Changing the front coils on this is not a good thing to tackle as a beginner.

      I disagree on changing the control arm bushings to ploy as that is even more intensive that just doing the springs. But for the sway bars poly all the way.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        If he has to he could reset the springs. That would also help. But that would be a little more involved.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        I would of thought the bushes would improve the feel of the steering, everything nice and tight.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          Changing the bushings on that suspension is not an easy task since you have to pull the springs to do them in the lower control arm. Getting the springs out on that type of IFS is dangerous. Even though I’ve done it more times that I can remember I’m still always a little apprehensive and I just can’t recommend doing that for anyone less than an accomplished DIY’er.

      • 0 avatar
        Jagboi

        I would not go poly bushings on anything. The previous owner of my XJS did that and the squeaking over bumps drove me crazy! Poly starts out quiet, but even with the special lube they seem to start squeaking soon. It was embarrassing to have a car so noisy, and not in a good way as it creaked and groaned. Definitely not appropriate for a “magic carpet” ride Buick!

        If there is a sport spec factory rubber bushing I would use that.

        • 0 avatar
          whitworth

          I agree that poly is not worth the headaches for a vehicle like this. Very little improvement in handling but a whole lot more NVH and squeaking noises.

        • 0 avatar
          Ryoku75

          I threw polys onto the front sway bar of one of my Volvo 240s once, these more than the “super duper turbo sway bar” did more to reduce body roll, but they made the squeaks/rattles near unbearable around town.

          Polyurethane will last longer if you dont mind sacrificing your spine!

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            My trick is to use anti-seize where the bushings contact the bar rather than their silicone grease. It keeps them quiet for a long long time. You can also get ones with zerk fittings in the brackets and a hole in the bushing or make them yourself.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          I have urethane bushes on my pickup. They came with the ARB lift kit.

          The rear bushes are lubricated with grease via nipples.

          The front no lubrication and they squeeked at low speeds.

          I sprayed dry lub all round the bushes liberally and the squeeks have not come back. I do suspect the squeeks to return, but its been a year now.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I don’t see anything that could be added to Sajeev’s list.

    A few years ago my deal old Dad went out and bought a 1996 Caprice Classic sedan with 120,000+ miles on it and glorious fat sidewall whitewall tires. More or less a base model with the often forgotten 4.3 V8 that was available as a base engine at the end.

    That’s one I’d like to inherit.

    • 0 avatar
      John-95_Taurus_3.0_AX4N

      4.3 V-8? Or V-6? I thought sure it was a V-6.

      • 0 avatar
        86er

        L99 4.3L V8. I’ll say my Hail Marys in the Church of 3800 later, but a contemporary V6 wouldn’t have worked in an application like this.

        These were heavy b@stards.

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          Yes leave it GM to be building a 4.3 V6, a 4.3 V8, and a 4800 Vortec V8 in roughly approximate time frame.

          One interesting tidbit about the 4.3 V8 was that it was approximately the same cubic inches as the original small block Chevy – 265 cubic in.

          • 0 avatar
            John-95_Taurus_3.0_AX4N

            Wow, that’s cool. Learn something new everyday. I had a Motorcraft filter guide and it listed a 4.3L option, I assumed it was the truck V-6. I figured it would be a total dog with a V-6.

  • avatar
    GS 455

    Sajeeve have you used or heard of a company called Rehead Steering Gears? They specialize in rebuilding all kinds of steering boxes with high quality components, faster ratios and less power steering assist if desired. I’ve read some good reviews about them on other sites.

    • 0 avatar

      I have used a local place in Houston…there are plenty of rebuilders that can do all this, which is reassuring.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Redhead is local to me and I’ve used them in the past for stock rebuilds for MD trucks with excellent results. They have an extensive inventory, or at least they did in their original location where they still were when I dealt with them back when I was still in that business.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Re-new the suspension and use stiffer bits, throw on some Impala SS wheels, leave the rest as is, a stiff loud Buick ain’t a proper Buick.

    Or just do what we do in da hood, throw some pizza cutters on it and spray your favorite candy on it.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    The first thing to do is do a check for worn steering linkage and ball joints.

    If that all checks out step one is new shocks. A nice little Saturday project that will most likely do wonders for the wallowing feeling. Most likely what is on there now is worn out and some KYB Gas-a-just in the regular of cop spec will be a dramatic improvement in control w/o causing a harsh ride or a thin wallet.

    If that doesn’t get it to the level you like then it is time for sway bars. Changing the stock bushings on those with poly will tighten things up a bit w/o a noticeable increase in ride harshness. If that doesn’t cut it go straight to aftermarket units like Addco.

    Both of those items will add significant body control w/o a significant increase in ride harshness. Going to a stiffer spring will have the largest affect on impact harshness so I wouldn’t recommend changing them unless you want to prioritize handling vs ride. If you want to see where that will get you cut 1/2-1 coil off of the stock front springs. that will increase the effective spring rate and at 1 coil you’ll get a little drop. If that is too harsh then put stock replacements in, If you like that then consider the police/Taxi springs.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    I worked this winter on the exact same issues on my 57′ 210. It is lowered 2 inches on a stock frame and suspension.

    I did new bilsteins all around and bolted in a CPP front sway bar. I am shocked at the difference the sway bar has made. The front end is so much tighter with far less steering wheel slop.

    I have no idea if a 94 roadmaster came with a front sway bar but i would start there with either adding one or replacing the one that is worn out

  • avatar
    Tandoor

    I sure miss my old Roady, but it was too used up. Despite the new radiator, hoses, and flushing (including removing the knock sensors where freeze plugs should have been), I still had to blow out the heater core. Put a capped tee on both inlet and outlet hoses to make it easier. The intake mod is known as “home plate and first base delete” (you’ll see it if you look up a pic of that LT1) A hockey puck and a big hose clamp takes care of the hole where home plate connects, and a couple of PVC elbows bypass first base. Keep the pedal to the metal (and your Optispark dry) and enjoy the next 100k miles.

  • avatar
    xflowgolf

    the biggest driving improvement I ever made to my B-Body wagon was going to Bilstein shocks on my Olds CC. It was the biggest single improvement I’ve ever made to a vehicle.

  • avatar
    whitworth

    The biggest bang for the buck is a larger rear sway bar if there was a vehicle that had one (maybe Impala SS?) Almost no ride penalty and really keeps it planted through turns.

    Also, just something basic like new inexpensive KYB shocks will firm it up. I’m sure whatever is in there now is clapped out.

    • 0 avatar
      86er

      I’ve been thinking of doing this… I assume the trailer package cars also had them.

      They seem like they’d be an easy “bolt-on” affair, with minimal brackets and extra parts required.

      • 0 avatar
        whitworth

        It’s about the same difficulty as changing your oil. Very straightforward and makes a real difference in the handling. It just seems to rotate quicker around the turns and not have that “nautical” feeling of rolling in your seat.

        As far as extra parts, you’ll also need new rubber bushing mounts to accommodate the slightly larger diameter bar (around $10 or so depending on brand)

        Front sway bars can sometimes be a little more difficult as a result of access to everything, but every time I’ve changed a rear sway bar, it’s been pretty easy with nothing really in the way.

  • avatar
    John-95_Taurus_3.0_AX4N

    My B-body love is for the Olds versions, the 1991+ Chevy and Buick versions were just too ugly for me.

    • 0 avatar
      John-95_Taurus_3.0_AX4N

      Didn’t get to finish my thought.

      I found a 1984 Ninety Eight, oh what I would to to that car.

      Its a triple blue sedan. I wouldn’t do candy, but I would do a deep ocean blue with a white top.

      I would put 22s on it, say what you will, but 22s aren’t that big now a days. A big American sedan needs big chrome wheels. They would be tasteful, not too gaudy of style.

      Sajeev, you’ve given me some great ideas to improve the car without destroying what makes it great, assuming it applies to the late 70s/early 80s. As will many point out, I’m sure 22s won’t help the ride quality. I don’t think it’ll be too bad, and if it bolts on, it can be removed.

      I also pine for a Delta 88. I’m not sure that the Ninety Eight is a “B” body, but even if its not considered such, I’m sure its similar enough where it counts.

      I want to upgrade the headlights, but doing LED bolt in replacements doesn’t feel right. I mean its okay, it shouldn’t distract from the wall of chrome front end (I WILL keep the stock Olds grille, rest assured). I think that 1990 Cadillac headlights are a direct fit to side-by-side sealed headlamps. That is more interesting me. New(er) style, but not bleeding edge new.

      I love the classic Oldsmobile tall thin tail lamps on the Ninety Eight, much better than the 88 models IMO.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I do wonder if D-body (Caddy RWD) E&G grille would fit the C-body (RWD) Olds?

        • 0 avatar
          John-95_Taurus_3.0_AX4N

          Eh, I’m not sure, but I just love the Olds split grille.

          I wouldn’t put a Caddy grille simply because I’m proud that it is an Oldsmobile. That rocket needs to be front and center. Hell I’d probably take away an Alero’s “Aurora symbol” they used there towards the end, and replace it with a rocket badge.

          I don’t want anyone thinking I just “ended up” with the Oldsmobile when I’d rather have had a Cadillac.

          How big of an (Oldsmobile) engine do you think would fit in a 1984 C Body? I looked up the Ninety Eight on Wikipedia after writing that last night. Evidently earlier in that generation they had a 403 Olds big block. Maybe that’s what I should get, along with a 120 mph speedo.

          In my dream Delta 88, the stock little Olds 307 would be fine (I have driven enough B body’s of that generation to know what to expect), but the senior Olds needs a big block. I might put 22s on the Ninety Eight and 20s on the Delta, just to keep things in perspective lol.

          My close friend has some family with a Ninety Eight coupe as a parts car and a sedan as their daily. I keep asking her about that the coupe every time we drive by. “They ain’t fixing to let nobody get that car.” Breaks my heart.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            FYI 403 Oldsmobile V8 was a small block but very torquey although many of the old timers thought the Olds 350 V8 was very good and had slightly lower fuel consumption than the 403 V8.

          • 0 avatar
            John-95_Taurus_3.0_AX4N

            Thanks Dan, so an Olds (gas obviously) 350 is what I should look for.

            Again, I appreciate it.

            I obviously am not as well versed in GM history as I am Ford, haha. Guilty as charged. But, aside from an early Grand Marquis coupe or a 90-7 Town Car, I just am not a Panther guy. I want the Oldsmobiles bad, but I would not actively look for the Panthers. And the wheezing 302 in the G.Marquis would have to be chunked for a 351.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            FWIW having owned a G-body Cutlass Supreme sedan (Brougham of course) with 307 V8 I thought it was weezy and ran out of breath far too quickly.

            At least Ford’s 302 was fuel injected after 1985.

          • 0 avatar
            John-95_Taurus_3.0_AX4N

            Yes, I drove a couple Caprices, Buick LeSabre and a Delta 88, all the generation I’m referring to with their base V-8s. I certainly wasn’t impressed with the acceleration, but it did seem a bit better with the GM cars over the Panthers. Maybe that was just my perception since I am not an 80s Panther fan as I tend to skew more towards GM for big cars of the era.

            So, your point is well taken. Although I don’t picture either car as being fast, I don’t want either to be a dog.

            Okay, so Olds 350 for the Delta, and what in the Ninety Eight? An earlier big block like I was thinking before (not the 403 obviously since you explained it was a small block and not really superior to the 350 Olds)?

            I love the G body Cutlass Supreme coupes, and I’d have one in my dream garage.

            I would also have its direct FoMoCo rival, Mercury Zephyr Z-7. I’ll get Big AL to send me an “Alloy Head” from a 1980s Ford EFI I-6 (along with intake, exhaust header, etc), attach it to a USDM 250 C.I. I-6 block running EEC-IV from a V-6 Taurus LOL. That should keep the Zephyr lively. Hook it to a 5spd Manual trans, 5 lug axle and front hubs from a late 94+ V-6 Mustang.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            If a 454 Chevy V8 can be made to fit in a G-body (intermediate/midsize – and I’ve seen it done) then if you really want BIG BLOCK power you would need to find an Oldsmobile 455 Rocket (which should be able to physically fit a 1977 and up C/D body). But the last year of passenger car production for that engine was 1976.

            https://youtu.be/kQZV6q00sUc

            Kathy Mattea – 455 Rocket!

          • 0 avatar
            John-95_Taurus_3.0_AX4N

            Awesome. Thanks again man.

          • 0 avatar
            John-95_Taurus_3.0_AX4N

            @Dan
            https://seattle.craigslist.org/skc/cto/6045403088.html

            Its not too bad. I still like the Olds more.

  • avatar
    scent tree

    IIRC most of the later B-bodies shipped without some of their body mount bushings installed. Poly bushings are overkill but literally anything works better than air, and it’s probably worth inspecting the condition of the rest.

  • avatar
    infinitime

    Not to hijack the thread, but I have the same question, but involving the (relatively) smaller LeSabre (circa 2002) . Absolute cream puff of a car, but saddled with the base soft-ride “FE1″ suspension (thin wire up front, no sway bar in the rear!).

    I’ve looked at various options from the platform-mate Bonneville, but infuriatingly enough, GM does not carry parts beyond 10-years, unless it is a maintenance part!

    My short wishlist of improvements include:

    1) Front and rear sway bars from a Bonneville SSEi, or Cadillac Seville STS;
    2) Upgrading the 11″ rotors and brakes to equivalent 12” units from the dozens of GMs of that vintage, sporting the larger set-up (the current stock set up is functional, but a bit squishy);
    3) Replacement of the dreaded upper intake manifold and lower manifold gasket, and in the process replacing the dreaded Dex-Cool;
    4) Replacing the ATF with Amsoil or similiar, and installing an auxillary cooler;
    5) Replacing the auto-leveling rear shocks with comparable Monroe conversion unit.

    These are the things right off the top of my head. Any other way to improve upon an otherwise pristine vehicle? Hopefully with the very modest suspension upgrades,handling will improve, while preserving the “Buickness” of the car?

    Any constructive input welcome!

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      I’ve done some H/C body suspension stuff (although generally for the ’88 – ’99 model years). Here’s my ideas:

      1. If you don’t have them, get some 16-inch wheels with some decent tires (I use Pirelli P7s FWIW). Anything else you do will be blunted rolling around on base size Primewells. The 16s for the LeSabre aren’t rubber bands so it won’t kill the ride.

      2. As you’ve seen, new parts are hard to come by so the boneyard is your friend. Get the SSEi sway bars and some RPO F41 springs.

      3. A lot of Oldsmobiles (and a few Cadillacs and Pontiacs) have front struts braces. Grab one of those, it’s always provided a nice upgrade for me.

      4. I installed a rebuilt T-TYPE steering rack on my Electra, and it made a noticeable difference so you might want to look into a steering upgrade although if you have Magnesteer already it might be more trouble than it’s worth.

      5. If you don’t have it get a leather wrapped steering wheel. Won’t improve performance, but feels so much better than the base rubbery one.

      6. You don’t need to upgrade the brake size unless you really want to. Good pads, good tires, fresh fluid, and stainless steel lines will give a much bigger change to “feel” than larger rotors.

      7. I’ve always liked KYB shocks over Monroe. Monroes always seem to take awhile to settle down and aren’t quite as responsive.

      • 0 avatar
        infinitime

        Thanks ajla for the helpful advice on the H-body. Not having had the opportunity to drive the same car with the 12″ rotors, I just assumed it would be an improvement. Though if you believe that better pads will assist (I’m looking at any of EBC Green, Hawk or Bennix), then keeping the current rotors/calipers would be a cheaper option.

        Sadly, being in Canada, all the pick-n-pulls in my neck of the woods have closed down, leaving me to the whims of wrecking yards, where pricing can be all over the place… Do you know if the difference between the 20mm/22mm rear sway is that significant, as I can still order the latter (meant for a Caddy STS of the same vintage, but apparently compatible on the Bonneville/LeSabre) new, from a dealer…

        The front strut brace is also a great idea, and I will certainty try to find one….

  • avatar
    Timothy Jay

    Well, this just a bunch of fantastic stuff!

    The Bilstein shocks and sway bars, front and rear, have been ordered for the Roadmaster. The front end (center link, lower ball joints, pitman arm) was rebuilt just two weeks ago and the difference in doing just that is spurring me forward. New whitewalls were put on at the same time.

    The Bravada mod looks cool, but not for me. I’m sad thinking that kids no longer get to slide across the seat to snuggle up to their Baby while watching the submarine races.

    I am really on board with the brake upgrade as is my mechanic. When the car came out of winter storage, he told me the brakes are getting thin, so this comes at the perfect time. He must have a boat payment due.

    Absolutely love the idea of having Bluetooth in the car, but that will have to wait until the Z28 cluster swap. (in woodgrain of course) Maybe a back-up camera…

    I can’t thank everyone enough for all the great information. You guys are the best! I’ll keep you posted on the improvements.

    Timothy

    • 0 avatar

      Keep on fighting the good fight. When you are done with the suspension I am sure you will want that 9C1 steering box. (i.e. it never ends)

    • 0 avatar

      Great suggestions by Sajeev. We bought and fixed up a 94 Roadmaster wagon and went through many of the same issues / upgrades. A couple other thoughts.

      1. If your aux battery terminal hasn’t been replaced get that done. It can overheat and cause electrical issues or worst case a fire. Ours was getting bad and causing it to stall at low speeds. There was a recall for it. Cheap fix.

      2. Check your RPO codes (I believe the sticker is in the trunk). If you have the F41 suspension, or the towing package, you already have slightly larger sway bars. Double check the size before swapping to make sure you don’t swap the same parts on. If you have the towing package you have the F41 suspension. If you have the massive mechanical fan under the hood you likely have the towing package (V92).

      3. F41 springs and Impala SS springs are the same rate, the SS just sits an inch lower.

      4. If you want to upgrade your stereo to a newer Double DIN unit, find the dashboard from a 95-96 year. The front face can be swapped over as well as the radio mounts. I tried cutting out the hole on our 94 to fit a double DIN. It worked, but the fit and finish wasn’t great. Otherwise stick with a single DIN radio.

      5. You can add a simple tachometer on the steering column, or use the tachometer in the climate controls. Check the Impala SS Forum for instructions.

      6. No need to change front brake calipers. A good set of modern ceramic pads will do wonders. We towed a 6000 lb trailer through the Rockies with our Roady with stock brakes and just good pads, and new fluid. No fade, no issues.

      7. Next time you change the coolant replace the plastic restrictor and Y connector on the passenger side. At this age they get super brittle and break. The whole assembly is still available for about $60. Cheap insurance. Belts and hoses are the bits that are most likely to strand you.

      Finally, come join us on the Build Roadmaster Facebook page, we’d love to have you and share more advice. Enjoy!

      • 0 avatar
        Timothy Jay

        This Facebook page…is it called 91-96 Buick Roadmaster? I’ve had no luck searching Build Roadmaster.

        Plastic restrictor and Y connect…will the parts helper know what I’m talking about if I tell them I’m flushing my coolant system? Might as well replace the upper and lower hoses too. I think it’s been a few years.

        Ceramic brake pads…No idea about these. One brand better than others?

        This information is invaluable. Thanks.

        • 0 avatar
          John-95_Taurus_3.0_AX4N

          I envy you man. I wish I could start building my car.

          Well, I sorta have, but funds are like hit and miss. Got the front springs/struts replaced but can’t afford the rear yet, so it sits low in the back. I hate that. I need a different set of wheels and tires I think, gonna try to get some from a 2013+ Fusion or Focus.

  • avatar
    armadamaster

    Police package shocks always make mine handle like their on rails, I did have the RAS fail on my 91 caprice wagon so I replaced with Gabriel Load carriers on the rear of that one. If the rear springs are saggy, then I’d replace with SS or 9c1 grade ones, otherwise I’d leave alone. Also, the Roadmaster got an additional frame brace in the rear that essentially boxed in the frame that the Caprices did not get. And the 9C1 got additional frame bracing behind the front suspension that the civi cars didn’t get. All easily interchangeable from a junkyard 9C1. But what do I know, I’ve only had a dozen of B-bodies over the years.

  • avatar
    Timothy Jay

    This additional frame bracing on a 9C1 just bolts on to the Roadmaster? Does it make the car more stable in high speed turns? (Slaloms!)

    Thanks for your input.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Seth Parks, United States
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Kyree Williams, United States