[“Nut Driver” features updates on Dave Nutting’s 1987 Chevrolet Monte Carlo]
To catch up on the other installments, click HERE
For all of you playing along at home, this is Part Two of “The Long Journey Home”, which is really just a fancy-pants title and sugarcoating on the situation that is a G-body with a dead transmission. If anything, in this regard the G-body best resembles the immortal jellyfish, replacing the “‘polyp’ to ‘jellyfish’ to ‘polyp’” cycle with a cycle more like: “‘Running and driving’ to ‘something expensive broke and now it’s going to sit for six-plus months’ to ‘I really want to sell it but know I need to fix it’ back to ‘running and driving’ “. I’ve owned five of these cars, trust me, I know.
Enough McTaggarting over broken parts (Shots fired, Bryan!), today’s all about looking forward to the improvements that are being made to the car, courtesy of UMI Performance and some wheeling and dealing on the local G-body forums.
Before this entire saga started I had a clear-cut goal for the Monte LS this year, namely incremental suspension upgrades and a full season of SCCA Solo in the Classic American Muscle class.
I hadn’t given much attention to the rear suspension of the car until this point as to be honest there’s not much there at face value: Solid rear axle, coil springs, shocks, and the same triangulated four-link that GM had been using for decades. Of course, getting that setup to handle is the trick. The shocks and springs have already been (mildly) upgraded with Bilstein and Eibach units respectively, but I had not yet replaced the crusty stamped-steel control arms with their compliant rubber bushings.
This is where Ryan Kirkwood, Ramey Womer, and the rest of the UMI Performance team come in. UMI has been in the suspension game since 2002 and thirteen years later they’re still producing all of their products in Philipsburg, Pennsylvania, base components on up. I had previously purchased a set of their adjustable upper and lower control arms with Roto-Joints for my Monte Carlo SS and they made such a big difference in the manners of the car that I knew that I needed them for the LS as well. No stereotypical car magazine “Here’s some parts, put them on the car and say you like them” stuff going on here, I’ve spent my own hard-earned cash not once, but twice buying a set of these control arms, because they just plain work. Ok, I did get a t-shirt, but I might have begged Ramey for that. I’m a sucker for car t-shirts.
In typical BangShift style, we’re going to continue this story with photos and captions
Knowing that I couldn’t muscle a rear axle out of the car myself, our own Tony Sestito and Greg Stewart, both of Jeep XJ-R fame, were lured over to help with this part of the project. Greg helped a bunch, Tony took pictures and cracked bad jokes.
At this point (Mid-March), I had managed to meet my goal of installing my new UMI rear control arms before the first SCCA autocross of the year, but was still a moonshot away from getting the car driving in time for the first Points event of the year in April as I had yet to even purchase a transmission. Luckily, I had another Monte available that could potentially fill in for autocross duty. Look for more on that in Part 3…