While perusing the "GTO Suspension Buyer's Guide," HPP learned that these late-model GTOs have a lot of handling potential that's waiting to be realized with aftermarket upgrades. When driving our mostly-stock-suspended GTO, we wondered how badly the factory bushings were worn from the beating they have taken at the track and from 67,000 road miles.
We already installed and tested Hotchkis sway bars and showed a solid improvement, but in our quest for a 1g-lateral-grip GTO, we knew that more upgrades would be required. We contacted two reputable companies in the market, Kollar Racing and KW Suspension, to see what components they could provide to improve our GTO's handling. The consensus was that all the major bushings should be replaced with Lovells bushings from Kollar Racing, and an adjustable coilover setup from KW should be installed.
In Part I, we discuss the new front suspension components and install them. In the next issue, we will install the rear suspension pieces and then tune the system for the street and track.
With the GTO safely on the lift and the battery disconnected, we started with the removal
Andy Kollar of Kollar Racing offered some insight on GTO suspension and the parts needed to drastically improve our Goat's handling. Regarding the front suspension, "The front radius-rod bushings should be replaced on every GTO, said Andy. "They are soft and fluid-filled, so they absorb too much braking load when the car wants to keep moving and the wheels try to stop. This results in excessive movement of the front suspension when braking and contributes to the '04-'06 GTO's poor brake-pedal feel."
We noticed this when we were on the road course and during our brake testing. The front strut would physically move backward in the wheelwell because of the high loads the front suspension exhibits during hard braking. This is not conducive to proper tire wear and performance.
Andy says the Lovells radius rod bushings will "dramatically improve the braking and handling of the GTO. This is the number one upgrade-and it's a must do!"
An added benefit is that they allow for more caster adjustment. The installation was easy using the detailed, easy-to-follow instructions included with the kit. Rear radius-rod bushings were also supplied to complement the fronts.
With the front bolt removed, we could then take off this 28mm rear-radius-rod nut.
New polyurethane strut mounts with bearings were provided as well. "These polyurethane bushings replace the poor-quality factory rubber mounts," Andy says. "Strut rub on GTOs is a common problem. These mounts don't collapse like rubber ones." (Strut rub has been an issue on our GTO for quite some time, so we expected the factory pieces were shot.)
The last two pieces were the polyurethane front control-arm bushings and the RoadSafe No Bush front-stabilizer links. The control-arm bushings will replace the soft factory rubber pieces and reduce suspension deflection.
According to Andy, "The factory links bend easily even with stock sway bars, and the factory rubber bushings deteriorate rapidly. These RoadSafe stabilizer links use a significantly thicker shaft and eliminate the need for rubber bushings. These are a must when using any aftermarket sway bar."
Finally, we have the KW Variant 3 coilover suspension. We went with the KW coilovers because we were looking for the most performance and adjustability for track use. According to KW, its Variant 3 system features "individual height adjustment and damping technology with 14-way-adjustable compression damping, and individually working damping and rebound."
KW springs feature a 515 lb/in rate in the front and a progressive rate (specs unknown) in the rear. They are considerably stiffer than the GTO's stock 392-lb/in front and 150-lb/in rear springs.
We plan to head to Sebring International Raceway later this year, in addition to our monthly trips to the autocross and Gainesville Raceway's road course. The KW V3, as they're referred to, will allow us to tame the suspension for the street and then dial in a nasty racing setup on the open track.