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Installing Trailing Arms, Trailing Arm Braces, And A 1-Inch Sway Bar On Our ’78 Malibu

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We’ve built everything from stock 289s to monstrous 496ci blown big- blocks and dumped them into every conceivable four-wheel make, model, and brand—only we’ve never paid much attention to the suspension. That makes us wonder if it really was the ungodly amount of torque that pitched the cars sideways, or if it was the 20-year-old chassis that we were putting those engines into.

With that fresh on our minds, we’ve taken a different angle with our project ’78 Malibu. We’ve also done quite a bit to it since we first introduced the ’Bu back in June ’01 (“The Ultimate Malibu”). We got rid of the dreadful factory 10.5-inch disc brakes up front and upgraded to the larger 12-inch 1LE rotors (see “Big-Brake,” Sept. ’01), completely rebuilt the frontend, and started to modify the suspension with the aid of Hotchkis Performance. So far the results have been incredible. The brakes feel better than any we’ve ever used before.

And even though we had only partially completed the front half of the suspension and were driving with mix-matched wheels, “wow” really says it best. Of course, our reaction might have something to do with the fact that we’re just not used to driving anything that can actually turn or stop at full speed.

For this segment of As the Malibu Turns, we had Hotchkis Performance install the final portion of the rear suspension. This included the upper and lower trailing arms, trailing arm braces, and a 1-inch sway bar. We then finished the suspension road-trip by stopping at Edelbrock and having the clapped-out stock shocks replaced with trick Inertia Active System (IAS) shocks (see the Shocking Facts sidebar). The only glitch was that we had to steal the Fire-Turd’s wheels and tires because our Wheel Vintique set wasn’t ready in time for our intensive slalom and skidpad testing. But don’t fret—once we get the BFGoodrich g-Force TA tires mounted, we’ll try a few more things to improve our current times. Read on to see how our portly sedan is now able to embarrass many big-dollar production cars.

Dept. 5.0
2700 California St.
CA  90503
Hotchkis Performance
12035 Burke St., Ste. 13
Santa Fe Springs
CA  90670
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