Piston Slap: B-Bodies Shall Master the Road Once More!

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap b bodies shall master the road once more
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 rejuvenation, non-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]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.
Join the conversation
2 of 73 comments
  • Armadamaster Armadamaster on Mar 15, 2017

    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.

  • Timothy Jay Timothy Jay on Mar 16, 2017

    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.

  • 3SpeedAutomatic I drove a rental Renegade a few years back. Felt the engine (TIgerShark) was ready was ready to pop out from under the hood. Very crude!! Sole purpose was CAFE offsets. Also drove a V6 Cherokee which was very nice and currently out of production. Should be able to scoop up one at a fair deal.🚗🚗🚗
  • Inside Looking Out This is actually the answer to the question I asked not that long ago.
  • Inside Looking Out Regarding "narrow windows" - the trend is that windows will eventually be replaced by big OLED screens displaying some exotic place or may even other planet.
  • Robert I have had 4th gen 1996 model for many years and enjoy driving as much now as when I first purchased it - has 190 hp variant with just the right amount of power for most all driving situations!
  • ToolGuy Meanwhile in Germany...