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Chevy Chevelle Bolt-on Suspension Performance Test - Find The Handle

Not Everybody Needs The Latest In High-Tech Suspension Technology, So We Thought We'd Take A Look At Some Simple Mods That Can Help Almost Any Muscle Car . . .

By , Photography by Brian Cox, , ,

The Bolt-Ons
Improving the handling on a Chevelle doesn't get much easier than spending about an hour bolting on a set of shocks to complement the front and rear sway bars. Cox came up with a stainless 5/16-inch ARP stud with a large washer and nut inside the frame and a 3/8-hex 12-point stainless nut on the outside to secure the polyurethane bushing. This is an upgrade because just a bolt alone through the frame will often pull out due to the increased load on the threads. A stud, washer, and nut on the inside of the frame dramatically increases the load capacity.

The original factory rear sway bar bolts on to the lower control arms. Cox upgraded to a pair of OPG stock style boxed lower arms. Another option would be to add a pair of Global West or Hotchkis tubular lower control arms. One advantage to the tubular arms is they are generally stiffer and do not allow the body to move laterally over the rear axle. This is especially important when fitting larger rear tires where clearance is minimal.

The Test
When it came time to do our testing, we humped it down to the ex-El Toro Marine Corps air station, using the huge concrete runway where F-4 Phantoms and A-4 Skyhawks used to take off during the '60s. Camaro Performers Editor Nick Licata and Steven Rupp helped us with the testing with Nick doing the driving. Our test procedure was to run the modified suspension with the 15-inch tires first, then try the 17s, then retain the 17s after converting to the old shocks and sway bar, and finally testing the old suspension with the 15-inch tires to evaluate the effects of the addition of the tires alone.

DESCRIPTION 420-FOOT SLALOM
SLALOM
AVERAGE SPEED (MPH) BEST SPEED (MPH) AVERAGE (G-FORCE) BEST (G-FORCE)
Test 1: old suspension, 15-inch tires 41.27 42.68 0.76 0.77
Test 2: old suspension, 17-inch tires 41.57 (+0.30) 44.62 (+1.94) 0.79 (+0.03) 0.81 (+0.04)
Test 3: new suspension, 15-inch tires 42.31 (+1.04) 43.20 (+0.52) 0.79 (+0.03) 0.82 (+0.05)
Test 4: new suspension, 17-inch tires 43.93 (+2.66) 44.62 (+1.94) 0.81 (+0.05) 0.83 (+0.06)
Note: All improvements (in parenthesis) are measured against Test 1.

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