Suspension Upgrades for Less Than $1000

We’ve all heard the phrase you get what you pay for, and more often than not it rings true. If you want to turn your hot rod into a performance muscle car installing some basic suspension components like shocks, springs, radial control arms, G-load brace and drive shaft loop, and front shock tower will help you turn your hot rod into a street rocket. Give your ride a sportier feel with improved cornering and handling for less than $1000.

The first thing you should do is replace the front shocks and springs. Performance shocks will cost you anywhere from $250-$350, and springs will cost about $285. Using quality shocks will give you a performance improvement that cannot be found with factory shocks. You will also get a longer performance life from the performance shocks. When picking out a performance spring make sure you get one that is lower than the factory spring height. The broad springs that are factory installed offer you a smoother ride, but not better. If you get a tighter coiled spring you will feel a more rigid spring response in cornering which will help improve fast turns.

Installation of the new shocks and springs is exactly the opposite of removal. Take pictures as you take each part off so you can remember how it is supposed to look, or make a quick sketch. These can be very helpful when installing the new parts. Use a light lubricant on all pressure relative connections. You will also want to use a brand new cotter pin on the upper control arm. When you removed the pin you probably had to bend it around which will cause the pin to become softer and more likely to break if you re-install it.

While you have the brake master cylinder and upper control arm disconnected, you can begin the installation of the front shock tower brace. This performance part will cost you about $175. It may take a little bit of finagling to get the piece in place. If you can’t get it to fit try making the mounting holes longer. It should mount perfectly on top of the shock tower.

After you have finished the front suspension you can start on the G-load brace and drive shaft loop. The G-load brace will increase central chassis torsional stiffness to compensate for hard acceleration. The drive shaft loop is a safety device you install with the G-load brace. You can buy the combo for around $150. Make sure that you get one made of heavy gauge steel. Installation of the combo is relatively easy and should take about 45 minutes, but two people can do it in about 20 minutes. You may have to pull down on the exhaust a little to get the loop over it. If the loop still rubs against the exhaust remove the spacers. This shouldn’t cause significant vibration while driving; if it does it is not installed properly. Once installed the G-load brace connects to the original factory mounts for the chassis brace.

Next you can start installing the rear arm controls. This performance part will cost you up to $250. Like the driveline brace the performance rear arm control is much more than just a stamped piece of steel. Before you can disassemble the rear suspension you have to lift the axle to release the spring pressure, then you can remove the lower shock mounts. Then remove the factory control arms and replace them with the new performance radial arms. Make sure you grease all the bolts, brushings, and mountings first with all purpose suspension lube. Disconnect the shocks from the tower and raise the car off the jack stand. This will release the spring tension and allow you to pull out the shocks. Before you install the new parts spray the upper shock mount assembly with silicone spray to prevent vibration.

Replacing the factory suspension with a performance suspension will improve cornering and turning. Instead of pulling towards the outside of a turn your car will dig in and lay low around curves. You will experience better acceleration and less vibration with a performance suspension kit than you will with any factory part. Factory parts are meant for the general consumer and not the average muscle car collector. Factory suspension parts are designed to give you a softer ride, while performance parts will turn your every man’s hot rod into a performance muscle machine.

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