The Shadow: July 27, 1999

by on Jul.27, 1999, under Shadow

Well, I have separated this car from my older cars because I have been adding more and more info about it.  So, I thought it deserved its own page.  I’ve done quite a bit of work since I last updated these pages.

First off, I finally bought new tires and put my original crab (bottle cap) rims back on.  I was using 14×5.5″ rims with 195/70 R14 Firestone 350 tires.  These tires SUCK in every way, shape, and form.  I have had 70 and 75 series tires before, but these are just junk.  The dry traction was lousy: I could light up the tires on 2nd gear with only 12psi of boost and the car plowed really bad.  In light turns the tires liked to screech.  I even got a full alignment: no change.  Wet traction was like driving on slicks–I almost got into countless fender benders, but got lucky.  Take-offs were impossible.  I won’t even talk about winter driving.  The tires still have 1/2 of the tread left.  I just wanted you to know how HORRIBLE these tires were for me.

ANYWAY, I had replaced my speedo pinion gear to compensate for the larger 195/70 R14 tires and I was enjoying the lower RPMs at highway speeds compared to when I was on my 205/50 R15 Gatorbacks.  So, I decided to use the Plus Rule, and got some 205/60 R15s to maintain that ratio.  Sears had a sale on Falken ZIEX high performance tires in my size, so I ordered a set.  I have to say that these tires are GREAT!  I have over 1000 miles on them already, and they seem like they hook up as good as, if not better than the Pirelli 700s on my CSX, and much better than my old Gatorbacks ever did!  Wet traction is also very good, which surprised me given the large tread block on these tires.  I can go full bore in 1st gear and the tires will keep grabbing.  I can feel the control arms “shimmy” has traction switches back and forth between the wheels: time for some polyurethane bushings.  Understeer has been dramatically reduced, but when pushed to the limit, the car will plow like it is supposed to.  The Falken ZIEX are one of the best performance tires you can get on a budget.  I think I will be putting them on the CSX (in 205/50 form) when the time comes.

Is that a plug, or what!  🙂

Another issue I FINALLY resolved with the Shadow is the sagging rear end.  All of the P bodies (also H bodies) I have ever seen (except for Shelbys) seem to get tired rear springs rather quickly.  The frame in front of the rear tires was about 1/4″ lower than the frame behind the front tires.  Rather than replace the springs with new, marginal ones, I opted for some air shocks since I am always hauling stuff around.  I installed a pair of Gabriel HiJackers and the cheap air line kit (about $60 total) and pumped them up to about 40psi (minimum is 25psi).  Now the car sits 1/4″ higher in the rear than in the front and the car just looks “healthier”.  The best part is that the handling has been improved even more!  Now the car tracks through the corners with a very solid feel (like my CSX) and will take corners even harder than before (not as well as the CSX, though), but will still break loose and plow, as it should (in case you have never driven an ’87-’88 CSX, they tend to oversteer when you REALLY push them).  Also, I can haul heavy items in the rear without bottoming out, and I can accelerate hard without aiming for the moon.

With a cleaned IC and my boost back up to 14psi, the ND T2 SMEC, and the improved handling, my Shadow is just a blast to drive again.  Everything on the car works and is functioning well.  There is only one problem: the poor Shadow is suddenly suffering from the infamous American Car Paint Peel Problem.  The paint has held up well all these years.  Suddenly this summer, it’s peeling off the roof, truck lid, tops of the doors, etc in small chunks.  Grrr…  I’m not sure what to do with it, but I probably won’t touch it this year.  If things are still going well, maybe I’ll get it painted next year.

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