As described here pretty much my entire suspension had to be replaced. After a lot of research and much agonizing over details, here's what I came up with. For ease of reference, I've grouped the parts according to where I got them.
Their stage 1 kit is normally sold with a tall upper ball joint instead of lower ball joint. Mark said this is primarily a customer issue, since most people are more willing to replace the upper ball joint than the lower one. However the tall lower ball joint gives all the same advantages as the tall upper but also improves bump-steer. Here is a description straight from their site describing the stage 1 kit:
Street-Comp Stage 1 is just the thing for those who want to go a step beyond just springs and bars or a great add on for otherwise stock cars whod like to take the corners better but dont want the stiff ride usually associated with performance handling. The secret is the combination of the tall ball joint and adj. upper arms which markedly improves the camber curves and relocates the roll center. This means more grip and less body lean. For drag races Street-Comp Stage 1 allows faster weight transfer and more + caster for better top end stability.
I got a number of things here:
On "normal" cars, the springs kit will tend to lower it about 1-2". However I'm putting in an LS1 which is significantly lighter than the old Pontiac 400, so it's unclear what the ride height is going to be. It's possible I'll need to cut a few coils out. That is what Hotchkis did with their suspension kit for the 71 Camaro they built up.
The subframe connectors are nearly a necessity when improving drivetrain and suspension. There's just too much flex with the f-body normally. Virtually the only thing giving it rigidity is the body panels. The weld-in style are a fair bit better than the bolt-ons. The bolt-ons tend to be more bulky and don't provide as much support as the weld-ins.
With subframe connectors, you really need to get solid body bushings. There's too much flex with the rubber mounts - it can affect the welds of the SFC's. These body bushings are aluminum and steel. Depending on how you mount them you can either get an effective 1/2" drop, or keep it relatively the same as before.
The strut for my rear sway bar was really deterioriating, plus the stock struts are not very strong and can have problems when you start pushing the performance edge.
Global west offers many of the items I got from other companies. My decisions were based on a number of criteria, not the least of which is sponsorship of the forums I use, their participation in the forums and general helpfulness, and of course the quality and performance of the parts. That's not to say that the Global West parts are inferior - to the contrary, there's is arguably some of the best out there. Anyway, here's what I got:
There is a lot of debate about rubber vs polyurethane for the control arm bushings. However there does not seem to be any disagreement that the del-a-lums are the best. They work virtually like "ball bearings", providing very solid and consistent results. The rubber bushings are softer, and some people complain that the poly's are too "non-linear" because they bind when pushed hard. I decided to play it safe and get "the good stuff".
For the shocks, I was going mostly on recommendations from people on the pro-touring.com site. They are adjustable, so you can dial it in for street or track or anywhere in between. Lately I've been hearing mixed comments about these shocks, and it seems general quality-control has gone down a bit. I haven't tried mine out yet, so I can't say one way or the other.
I actually bought all these bushings (and the global west parts) through a local dealer: Speed Merchant in San Jose. I like to give local shops my business where possible.
I chose the polyurethane bushings for the sway bars and sway bar end links because they are more secure than the rubber and aren't subject to the same problems that poly bushings have elsewhere.
I decided to keep the following parts:
Not much, eh? I did this because the stock sway bars on the 78 TransAms are quite good to begin with. They are plenty beefy. Mine had surface rust on them, but seemed to be structurally sound. So I had them blasted and powder-coated so they would look at home with all of the new parts.
Likewise there really wasn't much reason to replace the lower control arms. The only possible advantage is I might have been able to save a couple pounds. It didn't seem worth it to me. So, like the sway bars, I had them blasted and powder-coated so that they would look at home with everything else.
Here are a couple photos of the front end of the car after we got the front suspension and steering parts put back in. Pay no attention to the ugly firewall. We needed to get the front suspension in first so that it could be wheeled over to the body shop to have the firewall blasted and painted.
You can see more photos in the gallery. But here are a couple just to give a flavor.