I thought I’d bitch about auto parts I’ve wasted thousands of dollars on over the years, so here’s a list:
- Tubular control arms, especially if they don’t have heim jointed ends, do nothing for the handling of your car; in some cases, they actually add unsprung weight, which results in a decrease in suspension performance.
- Heim joints are great, for about 100 miles. If, like me, you live on a gravel road, they will not last for shit. Dust is like termites for heim joints. They are pointless for daily usage, but great for freeing up suspension travel that may stick with rubber or polyurethane bushings (which is what good grease is for). I won’t mention the horrific NVH qualities . . .
- Headers: Are you serious? How many times are you going to slit your wrist before you realize that the knife should be carried in your boot (because of course you wear boots), not your sleeve. You will never notice a 10 horsepower gain at 6000 rpms, but you will notice the loss of ground clearance, burned spark plug wires, and neverending exhaust leaks (and lost bolts). There can be a nice weight savings, however, and there is fit, too: My LS has headers, because the heavy-ass truck headers pointed in weird directions. I did not really want headers . . .
- Carburetors are now officially pointless. Why do you think Holley now has the most popular aftermarket fuel injection (this might not be accurate, but they pretend that this is the case, especially with NASCAR on board) controller on the market? Between the cost of a new carb, a manifold, gaskets, and fuel pump, you can have a factory fuel injection running with a custom harness and a reprogrammed computer, with money left over for far more than a Walbro pump. This will get you far better mileage, comparable power, and way better drivability in many cases (like autocross, where you might have to turn or stop quickly, without stalling). To quote somebody in Car Craft from about 20 years ago, a carburetor is a “barely controlled fuel leak.” Suck it, carbonator!
- Turbos are awesome. I hope to spend money on one some day.
- Coilovers are adjustable, but you are not building a full-time race car; as a result, you do not want to adjust that shit after the first drive. Find what works, not what is perpetually adjustable (does not apply to shocks, just the package). My point here relates to idiots who put coilovers on Corvettes, which adds weight, puts huge amounts of force in places where it shouldn’t be, and fights GM engineering ideas that are better than yours. The guy selling coilovers wants your money, not your success. Adding heavier shit (even though aluminum body shocks are quite light), especially unsprung weight, is always an idea that can be killed.
- Splined sway bars: Why do you need this? Oh, yeah, because you want to suffer and spend way more money for something that is the worst kind of overkill. Yeah, that.
- The magazine did not write about that part/car because it’s good or because it works or because the writers are genuinely curious. Magazines are for selling shit. Remember this.
- Take a minute and find the sense in not learning to weld while you can buy very good Corvette factory suspensions for far less money than you might pay for bolt-on shite that does nothing for the real problem in your old American/Japanese/Swedish car: bad factory geometry. It only took me about a decade and a half to figure this out.
- This will make your car faster. Keep in mind the fact that you suck at driving. The case might be that no matter how much expensive shit you bolt or weld to your car, you’ll still be slow. It’s because like most people, you’re a terrible driver. That’s okay, because a C is okay. It’s average. You fit in.
Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of Hot Rod magazine from the 1950s or ’60s. People made shit work.