I currently have an 87 with TFS handling kit #2. As usual I'm not satisfied and am considering an upgrade. I see two viable options, each with pros and cons. Option 1 is an 88 front cradle swap, and the other is an Arraut slalom kit.
Pros: 1. Cost. I have a complete kit in hand, so it wouldn't cost me anything to acquire. 2. Parts. While not as common as 84-87, there's a lot of parts out there 3. Compatibility. It will work with everything I have already done to the car and have planned.
Cons 1. Installation. I know I will have to modify the frame. 2. Bearings. This is the thing that has me the most worried. 3. Improvement? Not sure just how much better than the 87 it really is.
Pros 1. Performance. Supposedly the best there is 2. Installation. Allegedly bolt in, but I have also heard that the QC leaves something to be desired. 3. Adjustment. One of my biggest gripes with the 87 front is its lack of adjustment range for alignment settings. It seems the Arraut suspension has a much better range
Cons 1. Cost. Is it worth $2500? 2. Parts. Basically all roads lead back to Arraut, and they are difficult at best to get a hold of 3. Additional cost. Looks like in addition to using their suspension, I would also have to switch to their brake setup as well. While this looks like a good setup, I've already substantially invested in brake upgrades.
The biggest thing I dislike is the lack of adjustment range for the suspension. I Autocross the car and I had to slot the hell out of my upper control arms and grind the base of the ball joints just to get barely enough negative camber. I also dislike how the wheel changes camber under load. Lowering the car like mine is seems to make that problem worse.
I have been side tracked by a bolt that snapped off in the frame in my front suspension project; Replace all of the bushings/BJs, etc....Shorten bump-stops, and install 12" discs w/ 88 calipers- using Sluppy's brake brackets and aluminum hubs. Then I was going to attempt to do a version of the "Shelby mod" done to old Mustangs; On the Mustangs, the upper arm is bolted into the spring tower- Shelby would pull it, drill the mounting holes 1" lower thereby improving the camber gain of the suspension; Those 65 Shelby Mustangs didn't have a rear stabilizer bar but handled pretty neutral because the camber gain would keep the front tires flat during cornering.
At first, looking at the suspension in-car, I believed this mod was not possible on a Fiero- the upper A-arm mount tube sits on top of the sub-frame....But, with the spare sub-frame I picked up to do the bump-stop mod to, I noticed that there is a possible way to pull it off; Drill holes thru the frame to mount a new mounting tube below the spring perch- it will actually rest on the spring perch- welded in of course- and then cut off the half-coil that is flattened at the end of the spring so it spirals around and then up onto the mounting tube(I plan on creatively cutting the rubber spring insulator to fit this situation. My plan was to create two drill-brackets that would bolt into one side, then the far side would be lowered the proper amount and act as a drill guide...that way it would be repeatable, and properly aligned. I believe this is doable, but at the moment I am kind of snafu- by the way, it was the very LAST bolt I had to remove that broke....of course! And yes, I used up all of my french and have proven, conclusively, that Fieros do not understand french.....
This what I did to an arraut sport front end kit to get it to my liking : The 8" springs that came with the kit caused bottoming out at lowered heights .Bought stiffer 10" springs . Replaced the stock spindle with a Street Dreams 1 1/2 " drop spindle because I still wanted it lower than the 10" springs allowed without bottoming out. Since I wanted more adjustable coil overs , I modified the upper perch and upper control arm to accept QA1 18 way 2 1/2" ID spring coilovers and got rid of the carreras . I did the usual hole and ball joint mods to be able to run up to -.8 degrees of static camber . I have never been able to measure any camber gain with this front suspension . For the best cornering forces , I put the shocks on the stiffest setings and it then corners with minimum roll and keeps the tires fairly planted .
Just to let you guys know- The early Fiero spindle is from a Chevette, which is basically the same as all of the Opels- And the Lotus Espirit uses this spindle....See if anyone ever complains about the Lotus steering......(Yes, I know there is more to it than the spindle, but that is the main piece that sets up the specs on the front suspension)...
If someone was really motivated, he could take that spindle and make longer A-arms, a hub that moves the wheel in and a wheel with more offset.....You could make the suspension really perform properly and cut the scrub radius down by at least an inch.....
The stock lower control arm mounts are not on the same plane (and the Arraut arms do not change this ) .This causes binding and reduces the freedom of movement .Overall the stock suspension is a poor design .Not terrible , you can make it work well but it is a poor starting point .
Originally posted by Napoleon_Tanerite: You get out of here with that logic crap!
If it were me I'd only put lots of money into it if it was also a car I could drive for fun on the streets and to Fiero events, etc. Its entirely up to you. Maybe your existing brake upgrades could sell to make up some of the money. Theres some logic too
My first new car, ever, was an 85 GT that I bought new. I sold it in 88 because I hated the way it steered. (Steering kickback was an issue. It also seemed to follow grooved pavement, to the point that I hated driving it.)
I was Fieroless for 9.5 years. In 1997, I bought an 88 coupe, and have never looked back. I have owned 88s ever since, and I love the way they steer/handle. Modded or otherwise.
To be fair, George Ryan (a former member here, and an avid autocrosser) said that the best combination was achieved with an earlier car that had an 88 rear cradle adapted. If I were going to do that, I would have to adapt some sort of power steering. (Power steering, I have to believe, would mask a lot of the shortcomings of the earlier front suspension.) I have PS planned for my 88s anyway.
Originally posted by Raydar: To be fair, George Ryan (a former member here, and an avid autocrosser) said that the best combination was achieved with an earlier car that had an 88 rear cradle adapted.
Weird. That is my setup with a full "Stage 0," some bolt on mods and (I hope) an intelligent alignment and I have zero complaints. I am a pretty aggressive driver, and while clearly not BMW crisp or accurate I have had zero complaints about its attributes. It goes where I point it, when I point it, and it never complains about what follow. The steering can fight on rutted roads, but it wide tires and no power assist to help fight. I seems expected. I don't run into ruts on the track, so that's of minor concern.