- Introducing Project Buford T Justice – Our 1987 9C1 Chevy Caprice – The Adventure Begins!
- Project Buford T Justice: Our Cop Car Cruises Home and Then We Beat on It!
- Driveway Tech: Bodywork on Buford T Justice – We Close Our Roof Hole For Fun and (NO) Profit!
- Project Buford T Justice Hits the Strip with Some Pretty Shocking Results!
- Project Buford T Justice Hits the Dyno and Goes KABLOOEY! CARNAGE VIDEO INSIDE!
- Project Buford T Justice Will Be Saved For About A 100 Bucks With a 15 Year Old Transmission
- Project Buford T Justice Update: The Trans Thrash is ON!
- Buford T Justice Update: It Lives Again Thanks to a Down and Dirty Driveway Thrash and Junkyard Parts
- Buford T Justice, Our 1987 9C1 Chevy Caprice Goes Through Final Testing Before the Upgrades Begin!
- Buford T Justice 9C1 Update: The Parts From Hotchkis, Cragar, AFCO, and Mickey Thompson
- Update: Hotchkis Suspension & AFCO Bushings Transform Our 9C1 Caprice
- Buford Update: Our 9C1 Caprice Gets Real With Mickey Thompson Tires and Cragar Wheels
- Driveway Tech: How To Swap A Jeep Steering Shaft Into Your GM B-Body or G-Body Car With A Trashed Rag Joint
- Buford Update: We Flog The Suspension, Unveil a Mountain of Speed Parts, Spill Our Wild Drag Strip Plan
- Project Buford T Justice Update: Drag Strip Thrash Squashed By Ma Nature – We Learn Stuff – Plan B!
- Project Buford T Justice Quick Update: Where The Hell Has Our 9C1 Caprice Been?!
- Project Buford T Justice: We Go On Hot Pursuit Of Horsepower-Our 9C1 Caprice’s 350 Gets A Slap!
- Buford T Justice 9C1 Caprice Update: Metal Fab,Head Work, A Good Surprise, An Awful One
- Buford T Justice Update: Headers, Cheap LS Technology, New Valvetrain Parts, More Compression, Fun!
- Buford T Justice Update: A TCI 700R4 And Breakaway Torque Converter Get Our 9C1 Caprice Shifty!
- Buford T Justice Update: A Very Frustrating Day On The Dyno And How We’re Planning To Fix It
- Project Buford T Justice Update: Where Has Our 9C1 Caprice Been Hiding?
- Buford T Justice Update: We Install A First Gen Chevelle Flowmaster Kit On Our 9C1 Caprice!
- Project Buford T Justice: Our Caprice 9C1 Gets The Shaft! A Dynotech Drive Shaft That Is!
- Project Buford T Justice Our 1987 9C1 Caprice Hits The SCCA Autocross – Photos And Video!
(Photos by Dave Nutting and the author) – Last we left you, Project Buford T Justice was sitting on all four tires suspended by a complete Hotchkis Sport Suspension system and some hardcore solid steel AFCO bushings. While that was cool and all, we still had work to do and pieces to add to the equation to make sure we took full advantage of our new suspension. Namely, it was time to ditch the stock 15″ wheels and really awful tires. Wanting to keep the tough copper looks of the car, we decided on a set of Cragar Soft 8 wheels in the 17×9 measure and for rubber we were lucky enough to get hold of a set of Mickey Thompson’s brand new Street Comp rubber in the 275/40/17 size. On top of that we needed to have the car aligned properly and then we went out and thrashed on it…and broke it twice in one day. Read on…we’ll give you the details!
Let’s start with the wheels. Cragar’s Soft 8s are becoming an ever more popular option for guys building cars that they want to run a bigger wheel on and save some cash at the same time. The retail cost of the 17×9 hoops we bolted onto Buford T Justice are about $100 a pop. That’s a deal for a pretty good sized wheel. The downside of the Soft 8 is weight. The shipping heft on one of these babies is 40lbs. That’s twice what an equivalent aluminum wheel would be. On the upside they are essentially bomb proof and since they are used in lots of off road Jeeps and trucks their strength really isn’t a worry.
In the case of this particular project, the Soft 8 made sense on a couple of levels. On the aesthetic side, these wheels allowed us to run a truck style center cap which the factory 9C1 cars ran and two, they loosely resemble the later 9C1 wheels. The center caps were provided by pal o’ BangShift Jon Wall who had pulled them off of a half ton truck he owned years ago. These centers are retained by small plastic caps that thread on over the lug nuts so we had to scour the Doorman catalog to get the right part number to match both the thread pitch on the wheel studs and the external thread for the caps to screw on to. Believe it or not, there are differences.
Kid hand width is a unit of measure here at BangShift eastern world HQ. As we said before, the 17×9 size is the largest one in the Soft 8 lineup. At this size, the only backspacing available is 5″. Thankfully, after taking all the measurements, I determined that the 5″ backspacing was good for this application. Being that these are steel wheels, they can be cut up, widened, and modified in any number of ways. We know guys who have taken these wheels out to 10″ wide and more. We have no such plans, but there are options available if you want to go down that road. So now that you know what’s going to be carrying the weigh of this big car. How about the sneakers ol’ Buford is going to wear. What tires should this big car wear to chase down the bandit? We called the guys at Mickey Thompson to get our answer.
Probably the single biggest story this year in the world of ultra high performance radial tires has been the introduction of the Mickey Thompson Street Comp. These guys have done years of homework and took their time to make sure that when they pulled the trigger and introduced a new tire to market, it would work right out of the box. With an asymmetrical tread design, big chunky tread blocks, and 300 tread wear rating, these things are the real deal and they are targeted at the muscle car market. Are they a full race tire? Hell no, and you wouldn’t want those on your street car anyway. They’re designed to work under the harsh conditions that both mother nature and hefty muscle cars can put them in when being driven hard, especially with hopped up suspension systems like Buford’s.
As we’ve put about 100 miles on the car since the wheels and tires were installed, our initial impressions have been totally positive. The car is stuck and predictable in hard cornering, sure footed in braking, and responsive as a mother when the wheel is turned. Remember, this is a large and pretty heavy car. Throwing it into corners and wailing on the brakes makes these tires work for all they are worth and thus far we’ve gotten nothing but positive results from hammering on them.
We’re going to tell the rest of this story in photos and captions, so scroll down, gawk, and read on!
This was a welcome sight to see in the driveway a couple weeks back. The suspension on the car was upgraded and ready to go, but it certainly wasn't going to be idealized with the junk tires on the car at that time. These Mickey Thompson Street Comps were the ticket.
The tread design here has a lot got on. The big shoulder blocks keep the meats planted while the channels in the middle are robust enough to move lots of water out of the way in wet conditions. It has been raining like Seattle around here for the last couple of weeks so wet weather performance has been the order of the day.
Here's a pretty stark contrast. The tire on the left of the car is obviously the junk we were taking off and the right is the Mickey Thompson Street Comp in 275/40/17. The tires that came off the car had a 235 section width and TONS more sidewall.
It took all of about 20 minutes upon receipt of the tires to get them and the wheels loaded into our daily driver and off to the tire store to be mounted and balanced. The guys at the tire shop were excited to see the new Mickeys and then burst out laughing when we told them that the wheel/tire combo was headed onto an old Caprice. We may or may not have done burnouts there after the fact.
Mounted, balanced, and ready to go. For cosmetic purposes, we asked the shop to not use the old school knock on wheel weighs on the fronts of the wheels. Instead they used the stick weights on the inside. It looks way cleaner.
With the new wheels and tires installed , it was time for an alignment. Yes, we could have done some driveway voodoo with a tape measure and stuff, but honestly, we weren't comfortable in doing that having had the car down to the frame in the front and knowing we had specific alignment specs I was interested in having dialed in. Hitting a trusted source,our old man, we asked if he knew of a good shop to do the work that would also let me bug them with a camera. Dad suggested Kenwood Tire and Auto Service in West Bridgewater, MA. This shop had balanced drag slicks for him recently and he said it was clean, well run, and great to do business with. We emailed shop owner Spencer Carruthers and asked about having the work done and having access to the shop. We locked down a time and a day and I showed up! The shop is HELLA COOL, built off of a library building that is more than 100 years old. New England history rules.
Tire shop and history aren't normally words that run too close together, but Kenwood's facility really is a neat slice of the past. The garage area is modern and well appointed, but the store portion of the operation has all the feeling of the historic building it is housed in. Ever been in a tire store and felt like wandering around before? Yeah, neither had we before walking into Kenwood.
After we were done gawking at the store, Spencer sent me and Buford down the hill to the shop area where we met Sean, the wrench who was to perform the alignment on the car. We chucked the keys at him, grabbed the camera and got the hell out of the way. The first order of business was getting the car onto the alignment rack.
So we just eyeballed the toe adjustment in the driveway to get the car operable enough to run the 6 or so miles to the alignment shop. I guess our eyes were crossed that day because this was what the right front looked like with the wheel straight.
Sean affixed these reflector panels to all four wheels. These panels are what the computerized Hunter alignment machine uses to "see" where the tires are during the alignment process. Our horrifying toe adjustment was so far out of whack that the alignment machine would not even "see" it. Sean sprung into action and used the Hotckis billet adjusters to get the toe into a realm that the machine could work with. This photo also illustrates the large amount of negative camber that was present before the alignment.
Here's Sean at work under the car bringing the toe back into a range that the Hunter machine could work with.
Once the toe was in the ball park, the Hunter machine could go to work. We had come to the shop with specs that were recommended for a driver looking for a more responsive and aggressive driving experience. Since we plan on auto-crossing this thing in the Spring, we went that way. Here you can see Sean working on the camber and caster adjustments. Since we installed Moog offset cross shafts at the time of the front end rebuild, the camber was way off. Sean dove into his shim box several times to get things lined up to the negative eight tenths of a degree we wanted on both sides.
We said shim box and we meant shim box. Sean said he uses this thing less and less as virtually all modern cars use eccentric washers, rather than shims.
There's LOTS of options in this box!
Cool shop photo interlude.
This McCreary sign rules. Was this just a regional brand or did they sell stuff all over the country? We once ran a drag car on old McCreary circle track slicks.
This sticker is pretty damned cool.
With the hard work of the camber and caster done through the use of shims, the last portion of the alignment was getting the toe correct. Because we installed the Hotckis billet adjusters as part of our suspension upgrade, the toe adjustment was easy as pie. In this photo you can see Sean cranking the adjuster while watching the screen to indicate when he had hit our spec on the toe.
With the alignment complete, Sean pulled the paddles and fixtures from the wheels and we hit the road. The difference from the weirded out driveway alignment and the proper one were immense. Driving home we jammed down some tight back roads to work the big Caprice out and kept on going until we had virtually drained the tank of fuel. As under powered as it is, this car is STUPID fun to drive. Thanks to Spencer and Sean at Kenwood Tire and Auto Service for getting it dialed in and allowing us to hang out in the shop with our camera. Lots of shops are leery of such things because they're grease pits but Kenwood Tire and Auto Service is a very well kept shop that we'll direct business to without any hesitation. We'd send our grandmother there for work on her car and there is no higher praise than that.
So here's the current look of Buford T Justice. You don't have to take our word for how well this thing drives. Dave Nutting was super impressed while we cruised last week. The ride is very firm but not harsh. The car feels totally connected to the road and there is not one whiff of body roll, even when tossing it around.
Our tastes can always been called into question, but seriously this looks bad ass, right?
The stock Chevy center cap looks right at home on the center of the 17×9 Cragar Soft 8
We had some concerns about the 275 Mickey Thompson Street Comp tires on the front, but they work perfectly with no rubbing. If we had gone the route of cutting coils from stock springs, we bet there would be issues, but the Hotckis components set this up perfectly.
We mentioned that the car broke down twice on the day we were shooting these photos. Well, the first time Nutting was standing on a loading dock shooting photos and asked me to move the car. No Problem, right? Wrong. It wouldn't start. We suspected that the coil took a dump and since we were there with no tools, I made a call to Jon Wall who responded within minutes. We quickly confirmed that the coil was dead so we jumped in Jon's truck to head for the parts store.
That coil is one dead son of a bitch.
The parts store initially tried to sell me the wrong coil. The one they handed me was a coil in cap HEI piece, which this car clearly does not have. The only part number they had for the small cap HEI unit was an MSD Street Fire piece so we grabbed it. The car fired literally on the hit of the key.
We were then back in business for a little while.
Suspension-wise Buford is now equipped to "barbecue the Bandit's ass in molasses". Now the car is in desperate need of horsepower.
So the second time the car broke down was a couple miles across town in the other direction. At about 50mph on a back road the car completely shut off losing all power. No lights, radio, etc. There's some wiring creepiness under the hood that we're undoing as you read this. Literally. The next update will be filled with some performance testing and speed parts as we preview what we're going to do to this little tired small block before we stick a rat motor in this car. It is going to be bolt-on a palooza with this small block. From induction to cam to exhaust, we're taking this mouse from a sad bastard to a snotty performer. Stay tuned!
Stance…it does a B-Body good!