Getting Ready For RideTech & Testing Video

Yes, it’s been a little while since we last brought you an update on our wagon, a 1982 Caprice whose longing to see 11’s and still be nimble enough to master the autocross track. Yes, our ambitions are high, and to be honest, saying the wagon was a little weak in the knees would be like saying a Corvette is a little faster than the Prius – a huge understatement.

OK, we know what you're thinking: Seriously, a '82 wagon? We get it, but this is going to be the ultimate sleeper, running 11's and even tackling the road course. Can we make this happen? Stay tuned to see.

This abused wagon was in desperate need of major surgery to repair the crumbled bones and joints that were the shocks, control arms, and pretty much every suspension part on this car. If we were going to be able to claim this car a success, this is where we really needed to shine. We got in touch with some of the wizards in suspension technology over at RideTech to get a handle on this well over 2 ton behemoth.

But before jumping straight into mastering the air element, we needed to lay a strong foundation on which to operate around our fine tuned air bags. Here’s a quick recap on where we’ve beefed up the wagon, all in the ongoing quest to install our mean 655hp Dart big block 509.

Big thanks go to Dart, JE pistons, Howards,K&N Filters, Harland Sharp, Moroso, Mallory, COMP Cams, Quick Fuel Technologies, and Professional Products for making this rat motor the perfect plant for our wagon.

Wait, a what? That’s right, we somehow convinced Dart to build us this wickedly potent 650-plus-horsepower powerplant for the wagon. This monster rat started with a Dart Big M block, with a stout 4-inch-stroked Howards Pro Max crank, billet rods, SRP pistons, a COMP Xtreme Energy Hydraulic Roller cam, topped with a Dart single plane intake and a Quickfuel Q 850cfm carb. When dyno’ed, this big ol’ boy pumped out 655hp at the flywheel.

Our factory suspension just couldn't possibly handle the torque and torsion that we knew we were going to be throwing at it. That's why we went to Spohn for some serious suspension upgrades.

Thanks to help from Spohn Suspension and Energy Suspension, this wagon was outfitted with new rear control arms, front sway bar, and steering – plus we were able to completely rebuild the front control arms. We knew that our 509 was going to push our Caprice’s suspension to its limits, so new, stronger and lightweight control arms and sway bars were just what the doctor ordered.

Being able to get all that power produced by the Dart block to the pavement would take the right rear, and that's why we went to Currie Enterprises to build us the right 9-inch. Fitted with a Detroit Locker and 4.10 gears, we're going to be pulling a whole lot of sheetmetal down the quarter mile.

You could say that the guys over at Currie Enterprises technically kicked off the RideTech install. They built a big 35-spline 9-inch with an Eaton Detroit Locker and were kind enough to weld on the necessary brackets where the rear air springs will attach.

We decided to start with giving the major components a solid place to mount inside of our wagon. These included the 22-gallon air tank, two high power compressors, a set of valves, along with the ECU and the screen to control it. Being that the car is a wagon, we wanted to keep all those awesome wagon perks – like being able to seat 8 passengers or fold all the rear seats down. So mounting just in the middle of the trunk wasn’t an option. We took advantage of the large cavities hidden behind what is now brittle interior pieces.

We still wanted to maintain some of the user-friendliness of the Caprice wagon so filling up the entire trunk section was a "no go." Rather, we commandered the spare tire hub and fabricated this box for the RideTech air control system.

On the driver side, the rear of the car had a small compartment with a latch where we decided to build a simple angle-iron box to mount the valves that could be easily accessed. We had planned to also mount the ECU here as well, but after underestimating the length of our car, the ECI’s final mounting place ended up being around 11-inches forward of this to ensure we had the proper length of wire to each to all ends of the car.

On the opposite side of the car sat the spare tire. With no need for the 30 year old rubber, we built another mount using some angle-iron and round tubing to mount it it’s place. After some carefully placed bolts were welded on, we were able to mount both compressors underneath the air tank, and keep it all hidden behind the factory dress up.

We’ve got a complete tech install article coming out soon covering this install fully. Hell, we’ll even through in a video of us testing the new air suspension the best we can with the wimpy stock 305 SBC. For now, we’ll leave you with a little preview video of what is to come.

Check back for more updates!

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About the author

Tom Bobolts

Tom started working for Power Automedia in early 2008 at the young age of 20. Starting off as an intern spinning wrenches in the PowerTV garage, Tom cut his teeth helping us build the very project cars we feature. Since moving inside the office, most of his time is spent writing and shooting installs - but he still finds time to get out in the shop. Outside of work, Tom enjoys a variety of different motorsports from Street Bikes, Muscle Cars and just about anything that demands high amounts of horsepower.
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