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Rebuild Your Classic Corvette's Front Suspension

By October 17, 2010

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Corvette SuspensionIf you've bought an older Corvette to fix up and drive, I can just about guarantee you that the front suspension and steering needs to be rebuilt and refreshed with new parts. This is a tough job, so most owners neglect it until something actually breaks, and because handling and steering degrades slowly over time, you don't always notice a problem.

The About.com Project Corvette is no exception to this rule - no one had looked at the steering and suspension bushings since it left the factory in St. Louis in April of 1977. So I decided to buy a suspension rebuild kit and get things tightened up so this Corvette will handle and steer like new.

The first and most important thing to say - this was about the toughest job I've yet done on this car. But it'll be worth it when I'm driving my like-new 'Vette over the next several years. With the low mileage that most vintage Corvettes see, this rebuild should last the life of the car. Click through to read all about it.

Next up on my restoration list - bodywork. I called in a pro to help me fix the cracks and ripples in my 33 year old fiberglass, and learned a lot in the process.

Comments
October 19, 2010 at 10:30 am
(1) Lee says:

Jeff – great article. I was wondering why, after going through all of this effort, you didn’t upgrade to tubular a-arms and maybe a spring upgrade. I can understand the springs might sacrifice ride quality but with the a-arms, my understanding is that they are stronger while reducing weight. Is that true? Was cost an issue or are you trying to keep things close to bone stock?

Thanks

Lee

October 20, 2010 at 2:16 pm
(2) Jeff Zurschmeide says:

Thanks for the question, Lee – Yes, I am keeping the Corvette more or less stock. The tubular A-arms and all would improve handling, but since this is a street cruiser, it’ll handle well enough with good stock components.

Plus, while late 70s Corvettes are not valued right now, I have a sneaking suspicion that they’ll be “discovered” by the collectors in the next 10 years, as prices for the earlier models head into lunar orbit.

We’ve got the back end off the car right now – chasing a fuel leak from old rotted hoses, and then it’s paint prep and into the booth for this old ‘Vette – I’m going to prove that you can get a good paint job for $500 at Maaco if you do your own prep beforehand.

JZ

October 22, 2010 at 2:41 pm
(3) Lee says:

I think your right that they are sleepers pricewise so that makes sense. You could have made the upgrade and kept the old parts for whenever you decided to sell it, but who wants to do that work twice.

I look forward to the paint peice. I inherited an ’82 380SL from my dad and it’s in bad need of a new spray. Even though it’s a steel body, I’m hoping I can get some good pointers to do it on the cheap. I would love to get it to a point where I can sell it for some decent coin and get an ’80 – ’82 vette project car. Love the look of the shark vette.

I hope to see how you refresh the rear suspension soon, assuming you plan to do that also.

Lee

October 22, 2010 at 3:36 pm
(4) Jeff Zurschmeide says:

Paint prep is not hard, but it’s labor-intensive and rewards patience and a light touch. Do it badly and it’s a nightmare that will never look good.

I’d recommend you look into your local community college – many of them have evening bodywork classes you can take and use your car as a class project. If it’s just removing existing paint (as opposed to major rust repair) it’s not such a big deal.

Most of the cost of a nice paint job is in the prep, so that’s where you’re spending dozens of hours of your time.

As to the rear suspension, how can I resist a command performance? ;^) I have shocks to put on, but a full rebuild kit with bushings and all doesn’t cost that much. I’ll add it to the winter project list – which also includes a conversion from automatic to 4-speed, dropping in a GM Goodwrench crate engine, and a re-do on the interior. Lots of work left on this project!

Thanks for reading and commenting, Lee!

JZ

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