Introduction: Lowering the Ride Height of Your Muscle Car (1970 Chevelle)

Hello All,

    This is my first Instructable, hopefully an informative and decent one, doesnt seem to be alot of automotive ones on this site so ive decided to bring my experiences and knowledge to this site.
     My name is Daniel and im pretty much an ordinary guy that has an obsession with cars, and like alot of us gearheads, I take pride in doing everything i possibly can by myself while saving every penny I possibly can.  I have two projects, a 1967 Camaro and a 1970 Chevelle. I say projects because they are never ending to me. 
     In this instructable I will be going through the process of Installing new wheels on a Chevelle, and also lowering the front end to get a "Pro Touring" style ride height.  My father bought me this car when i was 16 and we have been restoring it ever since, unlike the Camaro which is 100% My work this car was partially done before I got the Gearhead bug. I cannot take credit for the paint on this one, but i have swapped a very efficient Ls1 engine into it which i may cover in another how to.

     Lets get to work:

Here is the Chevelle before anything being done to it, has big block springs and sits way to high for my taste.  I have just purchased a set of Boss 338 wheels and toyo proxes tires. After doing research i found the biggest you can go without modification is 20 x 10 wheel and 295/40/20 in the back, so i went with 20" in the back and 18" in the front.  Notice how high it sits in the front end.

[IMG]http://i1015.photobucket.com/albums/af273/RNation0001/Chevelles%20Road%20to%20LS-Fest/bae4a506.jpg[/IMG] 

Tools:
1.- Socket set and Wrenches Containing, 7/8", 9/16", 1/2"
2.- Pliers
3.- Needle Nose Pliers
4.- Hammer
5.- Ball Joint Seperator
6.- Cut Off Wheel Or Sawz All, Or Hack Saw etc........



Step 1: Step 1: Remove Wheels

     Ok, Lets get started by removing the wheels and tires, More than likely a 3/4" Tire iron will do the trick, be sure to break the nuts loose on both front sides before you jack up the car. 

     Now that u have broken loose the nuts, lets jack the car up, and when i say up i mean WAAAAY up, go as high as your jack stands will allow, the springs will need alot of room to release all the pressure from the lower control arm. If you dont go high enough you will find urself with a jack that is as low as it can go and a spring that still has plenty of pressure to do damage to you or the car. 

Yes thats right these spring have soooo much potential energy which you must slowly release in order to do this.

     So now your jacked up real high from the center of your K-Member (Engine Cradle),  go ahead and place jack stands on both sides of the frame somewhere along the front of the doors, just before the fenders. 

     No that the car is supported from the jackstands slowly let the jack down. then move on to step 2

Step 2: Step: 2 Lets Get Everything Out of the Way!!!

     In order to get the coil spring out, you first have to remove the shock and remove the sway bar bolt.

     Then get under the hood,  you will see a stud around the upper a-arm area that looks like this, remove the nut with a 9/16" deep well with long extension to unbolt the top end of the shock.

[IMG]http://i1015.photobucket.com/albums/af273/RNation0001/IMG_20130227_190558_zps4d63bf8a.jpg[/IMG]

Remove the two nuts underneath the A-arm that connects to the shock. shown here, use a 1/2" socket to remove.
[IMG]http://i1015.photobucket.com/albums/af273/RNation0001/IMG_20130227_190615_zps59f0e470.jpg[/IMG]

     Once these two nuts are removed slide the Shock out of the bottom of the lower control arm like this
[IMG]http://i1015.photobucket.com/albums/af273/RNation0001/IMG_20130227_191808_zps9de8f4cc.jpg[/IMG]

Step 3: Step 3: Remove the Sway Bar Bolts From Lower A-Arm

     Now that the shock is out of the way, lets get the sway bar unbolted from the lower control arm.  It takes a 9/16" socket on the bottom and wrench on top..  just remove it from the lower control arm completely .If you dont know what the sway bar bolt is, its the vertical long bolt in this pic

[IMG]http://i1015.photobucket.com/albums/af273/RNation0001/IMG_20130227_190647_zps6b35783b.jpg[/IMG]

     Your now ready to get somewhere, place the jack under the lower control arm, under the spring, Jack it up until u put pressure on the spring so that you can loosen the castle nut on the ball joint.

[IMG]http://i1015.photobucket.com/albums/af273/RNation0001/IMG_20130227_192628_zpsf08388bd.jpg[/IMG]

      once you have pressure on the spring, remove the pin that goes through the castle nut and the ball joint, then proceed to loosen the castle nut til there is only about 5 threads holding the nut on.  Now slowly lower the jack until 1 of two things happen,the lower control arm separates from the ball joint and releases pressure on the spring, or 2 it binds up before it gets to the loosened nut, which in case you will want to apply force via a ball join seperator. once it pops loose, you want to apply pressure with the jack a slight amount, then remove the castle nut.  Now you can slowly let down the jack and release all the tension on the coil spring which will leave you with this.

[IMG]http://i1015.photobucket.com/albums/af273/RNation0001/IMG_20130227_182239_zpscde77b95.jpg[/IMG]

     

Step 4: Step 4: Lets Get That Ride Height, and Re Assemble

     Now you are in the home stretch, Use a cutoff wheel or similar to remove a section of coil spring, removing 1/2 of a coil will lower the car 1.5", i needed closer to 2.5 so i cut a whole coil off, i also had big block springs so take that into consideration. make sure you cut then end that is un even. 

[IMG]http://i1015.photobucket.com/albums/af273/RNation0001/IMG_20130227_182257_zpse66c18f8.jpg[/IMG]


     And here is what you will end up cutting off.

[IMG]http://i1015.photobucket.com/albums/af273/RNation0001/IMG_20130227_183604_zps976a6a37.jpg[/IMG]

    Now all you have to do is re-assemble in the reverse order, making sure the even ended side is down and uneven / cut end is up. if you want to make sure you got the height u wanted, just install the spring, jack it into place an install castle nut leaving the sway bar and shock off you can still check the ride height. Install the wheels and remove the jack stands to check and see how you like it, remember you can always remove a little more, but can add some so go in quarter or half coil increments. 

once you get it where you like it re-install everything and wa-lah you have a Protouring ride.

BEFORE:
[IMG]http://i1015.photobucket.com/albums/af273/RNation0001/IMG_20130227_163522_zps4e3d2bdb.jpg[/IMG]

AFTER:
[IMG]http://i1015.photobucket.com/albums/af273/RNation0001/IMG_20130227_205244_zpsbfb7dd85.jpg[/IMG]

Comments

author
Necessary_Evel (author)2015-04-01

author
johnny_crapcakes (author)2013-03-25

It's way too late now, but in hindsight I would also not have chopped those springs. Not for the reasons stated above. One can alter rates and lengths, anneal and reharden and temper spring steel very easily and IMHO it is rarely a situation where snipping coils is dangerously detrimental. I agree with you, I bet it handles really nice with shorter BB springs with a stiffer rate! But... You cut up an original set of springs! They could have been sold as OEM or saved if you (or the next owner cuz we don't take our toys with us haha) ever wanted to restore it! With a little extra work a set of springs could be nabbed at the junkyard for super cheap. (I'd consider gross weight of the donor vehicle as a good estimate of what you'd need). Either way it sits nice now!

author
Abarth15 (author)2013-03-09

As sam said, cutting springs is NOT a safe way to lower a car. While I won't say you should not do this to your own car, I would not advise anyone to try this for themselves.

author
sam302psu (author)2013-02-28

This is a pretty good Instructable to follow up until the cutting of the springs. If you want to lower your vehicle please don't cut the springs. That will alter the spring rate of your springs and thus the driving dynamics of your car. Buy some proper springs that have been engineered to lower the ride height. You'll be happier with the car in the long run.

author
RNation0001 (author)sam302psu2013-02-28

Altering the spring rate is not always a bad thing, in my case i cannot tell a difference while driving except that theres less body roll which is a good thing, also if i bought springs if would allow more suspension travel which in my case is not a good idea due to the fact that i have the ls1 engine fitted with a truck oil pan which sticks out below the kmember. i needed the spring rate to be higher which is what i got in the end, plus with the added bonus of free i cant say that id ever want to buy some expensive spring.

author
RNation0001 (author)RNation00012013-02-28

not to say that a nice set of progressive springs wouldnt be nice, but after spending 1600 bucks on wheels and tires itll be quite a while til i could afford that, and truthfully id end up spending it on something else before springs