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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I finally got down to doing something with the boat of a front end my 72 Chevelle has become. It is a 72 Chevelle Convertible, 350 small block, has aluminum heads, and aluminum intake so a little lighter than stock. I am wondering how deep down this hole I need to go. If money was no object I would just but a kit from Hotchkis or Detroit Speed but money is certainly limited, like $100 a month I can allocate. A few questions I have are for those that have swapped to the tubular a-arms or if you have knowledge of them. Is it worth it? Or can I get close to the same with the stock arms with new Moog ball joints and Energy suspension poly bushings? Also I need to figure out if my stock springs are shot or if they are worth reusing. The shocks I am leaning toward KYB gas adjust shocks. I will be swapping over to disc brakes on the front while I have it all apart by converting the spindle and buying the stock parts. Basically looking for input on whats really worth it and whats not, Summit has their brand control arms at a pretty decent price but again is there that much difference in the feel of the car?

Thanks for the help!
 

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Just being tubular won't help anything. Make sure you are looking at control arms that will help correct the steering geometry. You can find some upper control arms and tall ball joins that will make a world of difference for how your car handles. You will probably have to save a bit to get the correct parts, but its better to buy the correct thing once than the wrong stuff twice.

I would call UMI and SC&C and see what they can offer you and what type of pricing. I think they are both class acts and can give you honest opinions without ripping you off.
 

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Just being tubular won't help anything.

Make sure you are looking at control arms that will help correct the steering geometry.
I agree... for typical spirited driving, tubular alone probably won't make a noticeable difference... Upgrade the geometry, then things get different...


What are your intentions? Want a nice, stable-feeling cruiser, or an all-out Corvette-beating corner carver?

New bushing and balljoints, fresh steering linkage, bigger swaybar and the KYB shocks should make a nice feeling/driving car. Not the ideal pieces for all-out, but okay for a fun car.


IMO, I'd stay away from poly bushings, especially (mostly) in the upper rear arms. For the upper rear, I'd go with a double-adjustible upper with a spherical joint (most companies make these). The reduce the bind and allow easy pinion angle adjustment. Lower rear, perhaps some aftermarket boxed arms.

Buy new springs. Originals are probably soft and sagging after 45+ years...


BUT, I will also add that original front lower A-arms can crack/fail, which make be a good reason to think about some quality tubular lower arms...
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Really my intentions are just to have a nice good riding cruising car. I plan on doing the jeep steering box upgrade to tighten the steering, FITECH fuel injection upgrade to improve drive-ability ( currently has Edelbrock Performer RPM power package with heads) Also a swap to a 700r4 or a 2004r transmission whichever I can get my hands on. Right now this thing rides like a boat and rides really low to the ground. Any idea on how to figure out of the springs are shot as well, I imagine they are. Does the ride height on this look correct for a convertible or is it low for not being lowered? lets see if this link works.
 

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Really my intentions are just to have a nice good riding cruising car. I plan on doing the jeep steering box upgrade to tighten the steering, FITECH fuel injection upgrade to improve drive-ability ( currently has Edelbrock Performer RPM power package with heads) Also a swap to a 700r4 or a 2004r transmission whichever I can get my hands on. Right now this thing rides like a boat and rides really low to the ground. Any idea on how to figure out of the springs are shot as well, I imagine they are. Does the ride height on this look correct for a convertible or is it low for not being lowered? lets see if this link works.
Shoot me an e-mail at [email protected]. I can e-mail you pics of customers cars with our 1' and 2" lowering springs installed, that way you can get an idea of the ride height you are shooting for.

Like mentioned above, there are a few different options for components depending on your application of the car and what you are trying to accomplish.

Not wanting to get long winded here on the forum if you have any questions on what components would work best for your application feel free to call me here at the shop(the calls free) and we can discuss what would be best for your build.

If you do some searching on this forum there are many threads regarding what guys have done to achieve basically what are wanting to do with your car.

Craig
 

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Plan this out before you start buying parts and think about the costs associated with all of these upgrades you mention. The FiTech alone is gonna set you back $

I'd start with spending money on a quality disc brake kit first. then think about suspension parts.
 

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I would swap to a 13" steering wheel before changing the stock steering box to a remanufactured box with hundreds of thousands of miles. I would only swap the stock box out for a Lee...

I would only buy control arms from one of the American companies like SC&C, UMI, Spohn.. There are a few others who also make real nice parts..

I'd rather save for the right stuff built by people like me, then cheap out for untrustworthy junk.. Saving for car parts is enjoyable to me.. I like looking at pictures of them while looking forward to getting them.. When I save for things, they always workout best because I can put a lot of thought into them.. Take Craig up on his offer and become a customer with them, UMI has an excellent reputation..
 

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Really my intentions are just to have a nice good riding cruising car.
If this is your intention, being as close as possible to stock is your best and cheapest solution.

The steering box upgrade would be the most noticeable improvement you can make.

You can have a nice ride keeping your drum brakes and using hi-performance shoes. If you decide to upgrade the brakes further, just go with a kit based on a stock front disc brakes (cheapest, most reliable, good enough). No need for rear disc brakes.

You will see no improvement with A-arms offering better geometry unless you push the vehicle to the limit. Even less with rear arms. Again, build your suspension with stock components used with the heavy-duty option (often related to the SS version, but it was a separate option). The option includes:


  • Stiffer springs (approx. 400 lb/in front; approx. 150 lb/in rear)
  • Front & rear stabilizer bars (1-1/8" F; 1" R)
  • HD shocks
  • Rear frame braces

If price is your goal, staying with Moog springs & bushings and other parts available at your local auto parts is your best option. I like Monroe Sensa-Trac shocks.

If you wish to go with upgraded parts from vendors, that's OK too, but they are more expensive and I don't think you will see the difference (though, the ride will be a little firmer and you can choose lowered springs if that is what you like).

The frame braces and stabilizer bars need to be reproduction (or an upgraded version from vendors). The stabilizer bars will be the most notable pieces to eliminate that "boat" feeling. The most popular front size is usually 1-1/4" in reproduction.

You can get an upgraded suspension with stock components for about 750$ and a front stock disc brakes conversion for 600$. Easily half of that if you choose to upgrade your drums instead (all 4 wheels, not just the front). Don't forget the steering box. You might need new tie rods, ball joints or body mounts too. It can add up pretty fast.
 

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Here is what I have. A 1970 Chevelle NOMAD Sta. Wgn. (4380 Lbs.) DRIVER ? CRUISER. I started with this body because it had P.D. Brks & Factory A/C and it is a 71 body. Its a very nice FAKE SS 454. ( its my FRAUD Kar) Front suspension, 1-1/4" Frt. Sway Bar, Decent Gas Shocks, Rebuilt uppers & Lowers & powder coated by " Glenn Leaver " all Moog parts.
Rear suspension, New upper & lower boxed control arms & bushings & factory F-41 sway bar & Frame Braces. I also used after market Air Shocks.
Jeep G.C. steering box (Auto Zone).
I am running a 468 with a 1970,Q-Jet--700R4-- 3:07- 12 bolt.
70 SS Wheels with 225 X 70 X14" Radials. I drive the wagon anywhere & anytime (summer, good weather). At 73 MPH. in cruise, It gives up 20 MPG. with NO--A/C engaged. 17-18 with A/C.
My 70 wagon has been driven over 36.000 miles with the near stock factory front and rear suspension, From Pittsburgh,Pa. to FLA, Canada, Indianapolis, Ind, and everywhere in between.
It drives very nice, Road manners are excellent. For a DRIVER / CRUISER. I am very happy with what I have.
The down side is ,,,,,,,,,,,,, I do not race it, I do not do the orange cone thing in parking lots. I just drive the hell out of it, Cruises,,Car Shows, and LONG out of state trips to Chevelle & Classic car outings.
Bob
P.S. The 700R has a 3:06 first gear, It will slip the tires, Big Time on ANY pavement !:thumbsup:
 

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The steering box upgrade would be the most noticeable improvement you can make.
:yes:

As long as everything is in good shape... But its is important to get the "right" box... If you get a Jeep Grand Cherokee box, make sure its a REAL Jeep GC box...

The quick ratio (12.7:1) itself won't be very noticeable (except for parking or autocross), but the big improvement in feel is the firmer valving used on the Jeep box. Really, most/all "quick ratio" boxes have firmer valving... And , BEWARE: Many sellers list boxes by "turns; lock-to-lock"... The number of turns means absolutely nothing, because many boxes (like Camaros) have internal stops that limit the travel, and therefore limit the lock-to-lock numbers...

Lee was great, I can't recall the company that took over. Search here, as there are a few other builders (Lares?) that I think you can actually have your box converted.

Personally, I like the AGR boxes ( bought mine from Summit). I have installed several with no problems (Quite a few people on this site have said they had issues with AGR)... AGR used even firmer valving than the Jeep box, and was definitely the best feeling improvement I have made on my Chevelles (and some friends' cars).


On my current project, I am considering a rebuilt Jeep box from Napa, or ?, in an effort to keep it budget oriented... But I know what to look for in the new box (somewhat)...
 

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What Denny said in post #8. For a road car, fitting 1" taller upper ball joints is unlikely to make any difference you can feel, except for a lighter wallet. This is especially so if the car has been lowered 1-2". Lowering the car reduces the change in arc that the upper b/joint passes through when cornering. Result is less camber change, & no noticeable change in cornering ability.

On a car used on a road track, taller b/joints may make a Gnat's d*ck worth of difference.

Probably the biggest improvement I noticed with suspension upgrades on my A body was removing the useless factory rear sway bar & replacing it with one that attached to the frame. I bought Hellwig matching fr & rr bars, front bar is 1.375"& hollow to reduce weight.
To complement this, I suggest slightly stiffer springs [ just slightly stiffer, to preserve ride quality ] & good shocks.
 

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On my 68 which was my daily driver, I went with pretty much a stock rebuild and it made a world of difference over the original parts in the elky. A suggestion I would make since it sounds like your on budget like the rest of us. Find a spare set of control arms if you can, rebuild them ahead of time and buy all your new parts before you start the rebuild. This makes the process only a few hours of replacing parts and makes it go real quick. Don't mess with the original springs. Just replace everything at once and you'll be amazed at the difference. Jim
 

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What Denny said in post #8. For a road car, fitting 1" taller upper ball joints is unlikely to make any difference you can feel, except for a lighter wallet. This is especially so if the car has been lowered 1-2". Lowering the car reduces the change in arc that the upper b/joint passes through when cornering. Result is less camber change, & no noticeable change in cornering ability.

On a car used on a road track, taller b/joints may make a Gnat's d*ck worth of difference.

Probably the biggest improvement I noticed with suspension upgrades on my A body was removing the useless factory rear sway bar & replacing it with one that attached to the frame. I bought Hellwig matching fr & rr bars, front bar is 1.375"& hollow to reduce weight.
To complement this, I suggest slightly stiffer springs [ just slightly stiffer, to preserve ride quality ] & good shocks.
I would do some research on tall spindles/ball joints before you make a statement like that on a forum where people look for solid advice. The tall ball joints aren't for everybody in their application but I can tell you if you are looking to upgrade cornering capabilities in an a-body adding spindle height is one of the most critical upgrades you can make besides shocks/springs on these cars because of the short factory spindle height.

If you compare a factory mount sway bar that attaches to the lower control arms with the exact same rate sway bar that would be of the chassis mount style the only "performance" difference between these 2 style sway bars is that you can preload the chassis mount style to keep the car straight during launch and most chassis mount sway bars have a few set of holes that the endlinks can be mounted in to change the rate of the bar. A chassis mount sway bar is much more $$ than the factory mount style and unless you are using your car in an application that can benefit from the different design you are basically throwing money away that could be spent on components that will make a difference in performance in a particular application such as a street cruiser.


In a nutshell....Depending on what a particular person is trying to achieve with a particular build will determine what components will work best.

If I weren't in the industry and I wanted to undertake upgrading the suspension of my car to make it more enjoyable I would make a few phone calls to the companies that manufacture the products. This is our livelihood and how we make our living, If we give bad info to customers in this day and age we would soon be out of business! :thumbsup:

Craig
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
so I think I have made the decision to go with the stock A-arms up front and I will get upgraded a-arms in the rear. I will get the Poly Bushings for the Front upper and lowers, reuse the original front sway bar for now as it can be easily swapped later. Check and see if my parts list is ok for the front as that is where I am going to start.

Upper and Lower Control arm Bushings poly from energy Suspension 3.3101R $65
Upper and lower Ball Joints from Moog K5108 and K5103 $23 ea and $24 ea = $94
Springs from UMI 1" lowering $299
Shocks KYB KG4513 $33ea $66
Sway Bar Link Kit energy suspension 9.8118R $25
Sway Bar Bushing energy suspension
spindles will be modified
reuse the bearings as they are new
Rotors AC Delco 18A807A $36.75 ea $73.50
Calipers remans from Advance 18-4040 & 18-4039 $25 ea (I have cores I can turn in from another car)
Brake Hoses BHA73242 from Advance 2 @ $12 ea $24 total
new booster reman from advance w master cylinder 50-1106 $124
Brake Pads from advance PDX52H $49
Brake Caliper Bracket and Dust Shield from Ebay $55
Rears I will upgrade to the UMI Tubular upper and lowers later on
Steering i will swap over to a Jeep box after some more research as to which box to use.
Total for now around $900 and if I buy the parts from advance with 20% off coupons that lowers that as well, I think this will give me a good base to start upgrading from there like upgraded body mounts, upgrades lower and upper control arms for the rear, upgrade steering box, then I am not purchasing parts twice or replacing new parts later. Am I missing anything big here?
 

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For a cruiser. Replace all your worn out bushings with Moog stuff. The 12.7:1 Jeep steering box is a fantastic upgrade like Jack suggested. Finish off with some Bilstein shocks. Tubular control arms won't be worth the money IMO in such a build, unless the stock ones are damaged (look for cracks).

From my own experience:

Stage 1) Only did front suspension. Replaced all bushings with Moog, went to 12:1 AGR steering box, tall spindles, SPC upper and lower control arms, went with -0.75* camber and 5.8* caster. Viking adjustable shocks. Stock springs and sway bar. - This made a very noticeable difference. The car felt much tighter and much more reactive. On ramps and your typical fun twisty road can be driven at fun speeds with confidence and ease. Going race track speeds on a closed race track, then you will expose the limitations of the stock spring rates and tires (15" tires in my case)

Stage 2) 1 3/8" tubular sway bar front, 1 1/8" adjustable rear bar. 175# rear springs, adjustable weight jacks to lower the rear about 1". On the street/highway, not as big of a difference as I thought. Sure less body roll, slightly stiffer, but on public roads I am not going fast enough to load the suspension enough. Yet to get to the track.
 

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so I think I have made the decision to go with the stock A-arms up front and I will get upgraded a-arms in the rear... Check and see if my parts list is ok for the front as that is where I am going to start.

Upper and Lower Control arm Bushings poly from energy Suspension 3.3101R $65
Upper and lower Ball Joints from Moog K5108 and K5103 $23 ea and $24 ea = $94
Springs from UMI 1" lowering $299
Shocks KYB KG4513 $33ea $66
Sway Bar Link Kit energy suspension 9.8118R $25
Sway Bar Bushing energy suspension
spindles will be modified
reuse the bearings as they are new
Rotors AC Delco 18A807A $36.75 ea $73.50
Calipers remans from Advance 18-4040 & 18-4039 $25 ea (I have cores I can turn in from another car)
Brake Hoses BHA73242 from Advance 2 @ $12 ea $24 total
new booster reman from advance w master cylinder 50-1106 $124
Brake Pads from advance PDX52H $49
Brake Caliper Bracket and Dust Shield from Ebay $55
Rears I will upgrade to the UMI Tubular upper and lowers later on
Steering i will swap over to a Jeep box after some more research as to which box to use.
Total for now around $900 and if I buy the parts from advance with 20% off coupons that lowers that as well, I think this will give me a good base to start upgrading from there like upgraded body mounts, upgrades lower and upper control arms for the rear, upgrade steering box, then I am not purchasing parts twice or replacing new parts later. Am I missing anything big here?
Definitely when you do the steering box, replace the tie-rods, centerlink and idler arm... You might want to consider replacing ALL the steering and steering box at the same time you do bushings and ball joints, so you will only need to get the car aligned once...
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Definitely when you do the steering box, replace the tie-rods, centerlink and idler arm... You might want to consider replacing ALL the steering and steering box at the same time you do bushings and ball joints, so you will only need to get the car aligned once...
I think I will do that, adds about $250 to the budget but again, not spending $75 on an alignment twice!
 

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I have recently gone through this and wish I never had. I have done it all lowered the front using 2" tall drop spindles, tubular upper control arms KYB shocks front disc brakes, new bushings. The control arms had 1/2 taller ball joints. new sway bar, rear end I put in tubular control arms and trailing arms that were adjustable new shocks, new sway bar, 1: drop springs new BB springs on the front. And guess what I cant tell if anything worked or not. I am really frustrated with this and would never do it again.


If I could suggest a plan of action. I would start with a new rack and pinion and disc brakes setup first. Try that for a while see what you think. Change all the ball joints and bushings. As soon as I could I would do new shocks and springs. Do not use lowering springs messes up geometry and tires rub. The next thing I would do is the sway bars. Read about this there is some that say you don't want them either on the front or rear I cant remember but the reason is it doesn't allow the rear end to plant and slide through the corners like it is supposed to. Next I would replace the rear control and trailing arm's. Last if you really think you need the tubular a arms. I would buy the upper only if it comes to money. I was told that all the magic happens on the upper control arms. I had to send two different companies back because they did not work. I recommend the UMI adjustable A Arms nice product. If you choose to lower the car be careful what spindles you get to match up with the A arms some don't work together at all. I wish I had done it this way UMI Is very helpful If you can swing it financially, your better off buying a kit so all the pieces work together
 
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