photos by: the author
Project Redrum Gets an Overhaul in the Chassis Department!
OK, we’re sleeping on getting these updates over to you. We get it, and we apologize. The last few months have been crazy for the GMEFI crew and there’s no sign of slowing down anytime soon! In recent months, Project Redrum is now up and running, with a few chinks in the armor that we need to address, but all in all, it’s amazing!
Looking forward to getting our readers caught up on the details since our previous installment, we pick things up at our suspension upgrade from BMR Suspension and QA1. We’re also replacing the severely leaking power steering box, with an upgraded, quicker-ratio unit from Classic Industries. While we’re at it we’ll bring our brakes and tie rods into the 21st century, with the help of Baer Brakes. Now while you’ll see the brakes nstalled at the end of this article, you’ll have to wait to the next installment to get the breakdown on the binders.
Picking Our Suspension
There’s no getting around the fact that our ’84 Trans Am was a decent handler from the factory, for its time, all things considered. That said, there have been tremendous improvements over the last few decades in suspension technology and with our significant power increase (from 190 hp to nearly 800 hp at flywheel), the OEM hardware will be simply overwhelmed.
Looking for a more “bolt-in style” upgrade that uses the stock geometry and pickup points, we turned to BMR Suspension for this particular upgrade. You may have seen a peek of the K-member and bits of the suspension in earlier chapters, but we’ll be diving in much deeper in this particular installment.
Everything that BMR offers for the ’82-02 F-cars were used in this build, from the K-member, sway bars, weld-in subframe connectors, torque arm, Panhard bar and lower control arms. We also enlisted the BMR transmission brace for our American Powertrain 6-speed — a necessary upgrade for our torque arm.
Looking closer at the BMR hardware, and it quickly becomes obvious that everything that arrived at our door is high-quality and built for the task at hand; from the grade of steel and aluminum used, to the welds on the Panhard bar, K-member and A-arms.
All of the bushings, including the end links, are made from polyurethane for increased strength and durability. They also help the overall handling, too. The Panhard bar and Lower Control Arms are adjustable and sold individually, or as a kit with a single part number (PN-RSK-036). Designed to increase launch traction, handling, and reduce wheel hop, they’re almost mandatory for a car that sees any action at all. Even in stock form, they’ve made a huge difference on a few vehicles that we’ve installed BMR products on.
Eight-hundred crank horsepower. From a pump gas, no-methanal, supercharged powerplant. That’s not too shabby. But you have to be crazy to have that kind of power under the hood, to roll with no-name, off-the-shelf coil-overs or stock replacement shocks. We needed something that would offer the ability to adjust for ride height, firmness and recoil — whether we’re on the street, the track, or when we feel so inclined… the dragstrip.
QA1 answered the call at the time of our installation, and we ordered up the fully-adjustable units of all four corners.
Initially known for their dedication to drag racing, QA1 was been making a hard left turn towards the autocross and road-racing set in recent years. Hey, if the market changes then so do you.
When we ordered our suspension hardware for Project Redrum, we worked with our friend, QA1’s David Kass, on vehicle set-up, curb weight, and what the intentions were for the Trans Am. Using a very specific list provided by our staff on what was going into Redrum, Kass was able to assemble a set of shocks and struts that would compliment our combo.
We ended up ordering a competition coil-over system, front and rear, that also included QA1’s adjustable Camber Caster Plates, Spanner Wrench and Thrust Bearing Kit. Their respective part numbers are listed below:
- Front Coil-over kit – HD606S-12250
- Camber Caster Plates – CPK106
- Rear Coil-over kit – RCK52331
- Spanner Wrench – T114W
- Thrust bearing kit – (2) 7888-109
Power Steering Box
One look at our power steering box, and it becomes immediately clear that ours was toast. Assuming that it’s the original one from the Van Nuys factory, it was caked in old fluid and grime, it groaned when you turned the wheel and it leaked fluid live a civ. There was blowback from the unit as it has been used over the years
From what we understand, the car sat in a storage facility of something like 15-20 years, more than enough time for the seals and hoses to dry rot. There are many options out there, but despite our incredible hardware under the hood, we elected to go subtle but effective, with the Classic Industries Quick-Ratio Power Steering Box.
Designed for most GM passenger vehicles, Classic Industries’ P18511 Quick Ratio Power Steer Box offers an easy and affordable solution to the leaking unit in Project Redrum. Classic Industries offers these as a direct bolt-in replacement, so they look identical to the OEM piece, but with stronger and quicker-ratio internals.
Considering that it’s a direct replacement for the stock unit, it bolts right in with little effort, and it won’t stick out like a sore thumb if you want to maintain an OEM appearance. According to our friends at Classic Industries, each gear box is completely tested for reliability and quality before leaving the factory, have a 1-year limited warranty and are cosmetically correct so you can maintain an original appearance (if you’re into that kind of thing).
Replacing the steering box is pretty straightforward, and can be handled in about an hour or two with simple hand tools. We have a lift, which makes things a little it easier, but it can be done laying on the floor, if need be. There are mounting bolts both above and below the unit that needed to be removed, and separating the steering box form the steering column once all mounting hardware was removed took nothing more than a little prying with a pry bar.
Steering Box Features:
- 100% computerized hydraulic testing measures for proper flow, leakage and performance to ensure perfect fit and function.
- New o-rings and lip seals ensure no leakin g and long-lasting performance.
- Critical components (campacs, spool valves, etc.) are triple-tested to ensure product reliability.
- Rust inhibitive “Cool Dip” finish is a penetrating dye that completely covers all exposed surfaces for a consistent, protective finish that will not crack, flake or peel.
- Shafts are surfaced to precise specifications to eliminate premature seal wear and extend gear life.
- Spplied with 100% tested and calibrated pressure relief valves forg uaranteed performance.
- No core exchange required
- Metric o-ring type pressure and return ports
- 3/4″ input shaft
- 4 bolt cover
- 2.5 turns lock to lock
*The steering system must be flushed and replaced with OE recommended fluid. Hoses should be inspected and replaced if they have been in use for more than five years.
When it came to most of the components, the installation was pretty straightforward. The only thing that really needs to be pointed out here, is the weld-in subframe connectors. You need to tack weld them into place while the car is resting on solid ground, or in our case, on a set of ramps.
Even when you put the car on a lift, there’s still a chance of body flexing, so you want the weight of the car on the ground, but in a position to where you can weld a few tacks to hold them into place. Once you do so, you can run your weld beads.
Also if you have access to a lift, it’s much easier to swap out the K-member with the car up in the air than it is laying on your back. We pulled the engine prior to receiving the BMR components, so in our case, it was just a matter of dropping the factory K-member and bolting in the BMR unit.
Installation Wrap Up
With the suspension in the car, the wheels back on, and Redrum on the ground, we entered the F-Body in the autocross at Holley’s LS Fest East. While at the event, we had the chance to put the car into formal testing on their autocross track, as well as the street.
Body roll is nonexistent, the ride is comfortable and stable, and the steering in competent and accurate, with no play. The QA1 coil-overs allowed us to bring the car’s center of gravity down from stock, and the overall ride height has been lowered 1.5-inches. While at the event, we also put the Trans Am on the Intercomp scales in the QA1 booth, and it broke down the vehicle’s curb weight and weight balance.
After everything was bolted in and adjusted to where it needed to be, we just took it all in. The difference from where the car began to where it is at this point, is astounding — it’s almost likes it’s not even the same car.
The exterior is a little “Mad Max,” but the parts list of all of the hardware that’s under this thing is impressive. We still have to address the supercharger, exhaust, fuel system, serpentine system, brakes and cooling system in upcoming articles in the near future. Stick around, you wouldn’t want to miss it.
Rick Seitz is the owner and founder of AutoCentric Media, and has a true love and passion for all vehicles. When he isn’t tuning, testing, or competing with the brand’s current crop of project vehicles, he’s busy tinkering and planning the next modifications for his own cars.