Man, have we got it good these days. Never before in the history of Chevy hot- rodding-and restoration-have we had access to so many brand-new reproduction parts from the aftermarket. The days of scrounging and refurbishing hopelessly worn-out vintage junk are just about over, unless you're caught up in the date-code sadist/masochist cycle
Today's racer/restorer can now order a complete, fully assembled 12-bolt "crate axle" from Moser Engineering that's all-new and superior in every way to OE GM axle assemblies. Moser sells 'em with "ears" for coil-spring cars or with pads for leaf-spring cars. Best of all, with prices starting at $1,768, it is often less expensive to pick up the phone than it is to tackle the task of rebuilding and upgrading a blown-up Chevy 12-bolt.
To demonstrate the point, we enlisted Mike Morgan, whose primered Quick and Dirty '69 Nova has been a regular "little guy" hero car in magazines for several years, with its impressive 9-second quarter-mile performance and Mike's ability to do it-reliably-on a shoestring budget. Go check beside the throne in your reading room; it's in our Feb. '02 issue.
But even Morgan, a self-proclaimed cheapskate, recognized the false economy associated with rebuilding his 12-bolt after the ring gear scattered some teeth and brought his fun to a halt. Even if he coughed the coins to install new gears, how long until the same problem happened again? Clearly, he'd reached the strength threshold and upgrades were needed. So he bit the bullet and made the call to Moser, who advertises a two-day turnaround on most orders. Sure enough, ours arrived about six days after we hung up the phone (four days for surface transportation).
Though Moser crate axles are shipped fully assembled and ready for vehicle installation, we wanted to show what you get for your money. To do this we asked Jim Cook of Performance Differential to disassemble our Moser crate axle for a look-see. Let's follow along as Jim explores the many ways Moser has refined and strengthened the classic Chevy 12-bolt rear axle. CHP
OE Fortification: False Economy?
If you're maybe thinking you can get it done cheaper the old-fashioned way, here's a ballpark cost analysis of what it takes to refurbish and fortify a stock GM 12-bolt rear axle. The total amount is within striking distance of the Moser base price. As for the shipping charges, contact Moser for specific pricing, but rest assured you may spend more running all over town rounding up parts if you attempt this in do-it-yourself mode. Think it over, then make the call!
*Used 12-bolt case housing: $100 to $250 (when you can find one)
*Re-tube 12-bolt case to your width: $379
*Custom axle tube ends: $80
*Custom alloy axle shafts: $315
*Differential setup kit: $100
*1350-series pinion yoke: $130
*Upgraded wheel studs: $80
*Setup labor: $125
TOTAL = $1,645 to $1,795