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.