Front/Rear Suspension Rebuild - Chevelle Tech
Brakes, Suspension & Steering Conversion questions & more.

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post #1 of 37 (permalink) Old Jan 17th, 19, 4:54 PM Thread Starter
Matt
 
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Front/Rear Suspension Rebuild

Hello All!


I am a new member, introduced myself on Nov 1st. [https://www.chevelles.com/forums/59-...w-member.html]



I have finally gotten through all of the California waiting periods for inheriting the vehicle, getting the vehicle registered and insured What a time consuming, arduous journey!


I took the car for a test drive and quickly found out that it was 'restored' for an almost 80 year old man, who seldom drove over 40 mph and on intercity streets. While the car looks great, the suspension is a mess. The front tires rub the inner fender wells, the steering has a mind of it's own and the differential actually shifts/twists under moderate acceleration. The car is unsafe to drive.


Friends are all saying to rebuild the front and back with tubular control arms, coil-overs, and/or a Hotchkis suspension kit. Doing research I found that while these kits seem to be awesome, they are A LOT of $$$!!!


I am wondering what you guys have done; what you recommend.


I do not plan to drive the car hard...no road/drag racing. It's just going to be driven around town and to cars shows. Maybe a burnout every once-in-a-while. I want the car to drive nice, be stable dependable.



I do like the idea of tubular control arms, mainly for the extra adjustability.


The current front and rear suspension look factory stock, except the rear brakes have been converted to disc.


Any/all opinions/advice welcome.


v/r,
Matt
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post #2 of 37 (permalink) Old Jan 17th, 19, 5:09 PM
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Dan
 
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Re: Front/Rear Suspension Rebuild

It sounds like rather than just rebuilding the suspension, you need to find out what is making the car unsafe to drive, versus installing new parts because your friends say so.
Get an unbiased third party opinion on what you need to do, versus what you want to do. Not only will you enjoy driving the car more, you will probably save some money.

My two cents.....


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post #3 of 37 (permalink) Old Jan 17th, 19, 5:16 PM
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Bob
 
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Re: Front/Rear Suspension Rebuild

Just a guess. If you rebuild the suspension to the Org. Factory Specs. I would say you could get another 40-50 years of quality street service. I rebuilt my 1970 driver to a 100% stock configuration ( with good parts ).
Since the rebuild it has been street driven from Pittsburgh,Pa. to Fla. and Canada or 38.000 miles. It has a basic F-41 bottom with all the details.
It will not drive like a new Vette. ( And never will) I think a rebuilt stock suspension would be fine for a cruiser.
Your car, Your call ! & most important " Your Money "
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1970 ( FRAUD) SS 468 Station Wagon - Driver.
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post #4 of 37 (permalink) Old Jan 17th, 19, 5:57 PM
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Ben
 
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Re: Front/Rear Suspension Rebuild

x2 on what bob said.

Rebuild the stock suspension & good shocks and it will be fine.

The one place that you should spend some $$ on that will make a real difference, get a modern close ratio 12.7:1 steering box... thats an upgrade worth spending the $$ on and makes a night & day difference when going down the road.

The tires rubbing on the inner fenders is not a symptom of poor suspension, its wheels with the wrong offset or springs that are too low or too soft (or both).

As mentioned above- if these are not areas of a car you are comfortable with diagnosing- have a shop do it. If the car was previously restored many of these items may already be ok- Fix whats broken.
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Ben R.

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post #5 of 37 (permalink) Old Jan 17th, 19, 6:49 PM
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KEITH
 
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Totally agree with the last 2 post. I replaced all of my springs, ball joints, inner and outer tie rods, and idler arm with all Moog parts. The bushings I used energy suspension poly. I use the grease that they come with and have never had a squeak. I told it off with KYB shocks and a slightly larger sway bar. Might want to replace the rag joint too. As others said, don't skimp on suspension or brakes.
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post #6 of 37 (permalink) Old Jan 17th, 19, 8:07 PM
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Bob
 
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Re: Front/Rear Suspension Rebuild

Hey BEN:
I did not mention that I also did a Jeep G.C. box on my 70 Nomad driver.
Get the box ( Auto Zone) & a 200 Rag Jnt. (Advance) Adaptors from Lee.
Total plus 2-3 Hrs. Labor = $225.00 around that.
The box was the best $200.00 I ever spent.
Bob
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1970 ( FRAUD) SS 468 Station Wagon - Driver.
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post #7 of 37 (permalink) Old Jan 17th, 19, 8:16 PM
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Al
 
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Re: Front/Rear Suspension Rebuild

After you get all the bushings replaced and the front end checked out, a set of performance sway bars and jeep steering box upgrade will make that car feel like a modern car.
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post #8 of 37 (permalink) Old Jan 18th, 19, 8:39 AM
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gary
 
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Re: Front/Rear Suspension Rebuild

You need more positive caster to make it drive like a modern car.
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post #9 of 37 (permalink) Old Jan 18th, 19, 9:21 AM
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Jeff
 
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Re: Front/Rear Suspension Rebuild

Call Marc sooner or later. Now is best. After spending a bunch of money on parts that don't work isn't fun..

-SC&C Stage 3.. They are the only control arms that come with the superior .9 and .5 Howe ball joints. Just think for a minute how much influence ball joints have on a suspension. They also come with Delrin joints. Stay away from Poly..

-Spohn Del Sphere adjustable rear control arms.. So you can get a four wheel alignment.

- Lee 14:1 box with a 30 lb valve.

I have had the above for a few years now and am still thrilled at how this set up works..
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post #10 of 37 (permalink) Old Jan 18th, 19, 3:26 PM
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Re: Front/Rear Suspension Rebuild

I have a '69 for a daily driver and it handles as well as most modern cars. It's basically rebuilt to stock specs, with a few minor and relatively inexpensive modifications. It does have a different feel from modern cars, but it tracks true at highway speed and corners flat. With a classic car, you can get cushy floating down the road, or good handling -- not both. No variable anything on these cars. I have rubber bushings in mine and it still transmits the potholes and bumps like any GM A-body. I don't know if I'd every want poly bushings as they are even harder. No variable anything on these cars.

- You can spend thousands and thousands of $ on an upgraded suspension, but you don't need to. While those components are excellent, most very quickly enter the realm of diminishing returns, especially for a street car.

- First and foremost, rebuild the suspension. Sounds obvious, but so many people start slapping performance parts on without a solid foundation.

- Stock control arms are fine, just get them rebuilt with quality parts. You can box the rear arms, or get a set already boxed.

- Add a sway bar to the rear, and a heavier one to the front. There is some tuning to be done here as well, with the front being stiffer than the rear. I have 1 1/4" on the front, and 7/8" on the rear, which is a little bit away from perfect tuning, but it still works very well. Be aware that beefing up the sway bars will give you nice, flat cornering, but it also ties the suspension together, causing the entire car to "wobble" from side-to-side when driving along uneven road.

- As mentioned above, a tighter steering box. I have an AGR. Many options available.

- Correct alignment settings. The factory settings are for polyglass, not radial, tires and are nearly the exact opposite of what you need. There are several threads on this site with the numbers. I have 3* positive caster, -0.5* camber, and 1/16 toe in each side for 1/8 total. Some shops don't know about the correct settings, and some won't do them as they go against "The Book".

- Good shocks. I have Monroe Sensatrac. They work well.

- Good tires. I chased a highway wander for a couple of years on Indy Firehawks that seemed to be in good condition. I now use Cooper Cobras.

- Lower the car a little. In stock form they're on stilts and have the stance of a Cessna airplane. You can spend thousands here, but definitely don't have to. A a new of springs will do the trick for about $200. There are numerous options and it takes a little research to find what you need. Moog springs are excellent and moderately priced.

- The final tuning I did was with the steering wheel. The original is 16" wide. I went with a 13.5" Grant but it made the car too twitchy at highway speeds. I switched to a 15" Grant classic three-spoke with the bow tie horn. It's the perfect feel. That's another place where you can spend unnecessary money. The wheel I chose cost under $100 and looks great.

Good luck! With a modest budget you make these cars handle extremely well.
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post #11 of 37 (permalink) Old Jan 18th, 19, 4:02 PM
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Ole
 
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Re: Front/Rear Suspension Rebuild

I will cast my lot with those who suggested a stock rebuild of front/rear suspension and steering, front /rear anti-roll bars, gas shocks and a Jeep steering box. Do the brakes too, and upgrade to front disc if your car doesn't already have them. Use quality parts and you'll enjoy driving your Chevelle for decades.
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post #12 of 37 (permalink) Old Jan 20th, 19, 8:21 AM Thread Starter
Matt
 
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Re: Front/Rear Suspension Rebuild

Hello All,

Thank you for the replies!

I guess I should have started with "I have had the suspension checked by a professional [30 year Chevy mechanic]." and "I feel comfortable rebuilding the suspension to stock/slightly modified specs." I do not want to dump a lot of money in unneeded parts. This is the main reason I posted this topic...you guys have the knowledge/experience.

We, the mechanic and I, both agree that the suspension hasn't been touched in decades except for the lower/cut front springs and a disc brake conversion on the rear. Everything else looks close to factory. The front tires rubbing the fender wells are due to oversized tires and lower/cut springs. I will need to figure out how much has been cut off. When I get them out I will measure them and compare them to stock.

I am fine with rebuilding stock/close to stock with upgrades that work and are worth the money. I would like to do the following:
- Replace front/rear springs since they are probably original and the fronts have been cut. I am hoping that this will raise the front enough to eliminate the rubbing.
- Replace all bushings front/rear, non-poly.
- New shocks.
- New ball joints and tie-rod ends.
- New idler arm and pitman arm if needed.
- Photograph everything before starting and while rebuilding.

Based on the recommendations in this topic I will do the following:
- Measure the front sway bar to see if it should be upgraded.
- Replace steering box with the Jeep box.
- Replace the rag joint.

Have I missed anything?

I started wrenching on cars with my step-father when I was around twelve years old, which means I'm a 'novice' but not afraid to get greasy!

My family is mostly Ford and MoPar so I have very little experience with Chevys. I am looking forward to learning and any/all advice will be greatly appreciated!

v/r,
Matt
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post #13 of 37 (permalink) Old Jan 20th, 19, 2:38 PM
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Verle
 
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Re: Front/Rear Suspension Rebuild

Matt,

What year is your car.
Post some pictures.

Verle
Tulsa, Ok
65 Chevelle L79 since Feb 1965


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post #14 of 37 (permalink) Old Jan 20th, 19, 3:47 PM
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Eventually you will want more handling, steering, etc from your car. Do it the right way from the beginning, save money in the long run. I changed everything on my ‘66 when I got it ( control arms, springs, shocks, sway bars, all steering linkage, etc) no 53 year old critical components as far as that goes on the car any longer.

I’ve driven over 6K miles on my car this year, drives better than my Buick and handles exceptionally well.

Good luck.
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post #15 of 37 (permalink) Old Jan 20th, 19, 4:10 PM
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Al
 
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Re: Front/Rear Suspension Rebuild

Quote:
Originally Posted by Verle View Post
Matt,

What year is your car.
Post some pictures.
From his intro post...It's a sweet looking 70.https://www.chevelles.com/forums/59-...ew-member.html

What also stood out was the nicely organized garage with a huge media blaster.


Since you were considering Hotchkis, I can see you have a desire for upgraded components. You pay extra for the Hotchkis name but the products are top notch. There are other suppliers that are just as good but without the name. UMI and others come to mind and their costs are more reasonable and results just as spectacular. Just think since you are in the planning stages you should look over more options. If you expect to "get the bug" and may upgrade in the future anyways, you may as well get what you want now instead of throwaway investment in temporary parts for now.
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