There are many options when it comes to suspension. If you're looking for all-out race car performance, then it's only a matter of picking the manufacturer of your choice.
However, our Elco is destined to be a street cruiser, potentially a daily driver, and the occasional parts hauler. With that in mind, we set out to replace the worn-out factory pieces for a better-than-factory feel, all while keeping within a reasonable budget.
Our initial glance told us that most of the bushings on the El Camino were trashed. Not only were some completely missing, but some were hard as a rock. Not only that, the bushings would pop and grind as the A-arms articulated. As far as the shocks were concerned, they had seen their last rebound in 1983. While the coils were still sprung, the added weight of the big-block would not allow for correct ride height and potentially provide a mushy and, worse, very unresponsive ride.
To contend with the aging suspension components, we contacted Performance Suspension Technology for a complete weekend makeover. PST suggested a Polygraphite bushings kit for the frontend along with KYB shocks and a pair of big-block-specific springs that would also lower our stance by an inch. While we were at it, we tossed PST's 13/8-inch front sway bar into the mix, including all-new mounting hardware, zerk fittings, and ball joints.
The removal of the front suspension components is more or less a glorified brake job, requiring you to separate the ball joints in order to remove the spindle, with the old bushings being the most difficult portion. Next time, we'll finish up the rear suspension, but until then; follow along to see what to expect when performing a similar upgrade for yourself.
What We Did
Revived the frontend of our El Camino with an all-new PST front bushing kit, shocks, drop coils, and sway bar
When tubular A-arms and coilovers are out of your budget
In raw form, our undercarriage had seen better days. It was worn, cracked, and missing bus
We began on the driver side and used a 9/16-inch wrench to remove the tie rod and nut and
The sway bar was next and we started with the endlink (long bolt and spacer) connected to
Hardware If there was ever a time to replace aging hardware, now is it. Take for example
With the spindle/brake assembly and sway bar endlink out of the way, we could disconnect t
To remove the lower A-arms, we used a 3/4-inch socket/wrench to loosen and remove the bolt
We began to attack the upper control arm with a 5/8-inch wrench and an 11/16-inch socket.
All of the bushings from PST are direct press-in replacements. Our PST replacements featur
...This material offers a stiffer, near-zero deflection to significantly improve handling
Paint To Protect We arrived at ACE Automotive Services in Northridge, CA, where Alex Hern
If you recall, our engine bay was prepped, primed, and painted in a weekend. Until this po
...The better half of the weekend was spent with a wire wheel. We sanded down every nook a
...We covered the front of the car to guard against flying debris and paint overspray. Usi
A little grease goes a long way. We applied a dab to each side of the PST bushing ends as
We began to rebuild the passenger side, and with some effort managed to wedge the lower co
Next, we installed our freshly painted and PST-bushed upper control arm. We made sure to a
Dropped The obvious visual difference in springs is clear when compared to the standard i
Bumpstops Each PST frontend kit comes complete with all the factory replacement ball join
To get the new PST springs in, we seated the end of each coil into the bottom of the contr
With the engine out, it's nearly impossible to install the brake/spindle assembly without
Our PST kit also included new KYB Gas-A-Just shocks for the front. To install them, you ju
When you put the sway bars next to one another, it's obvious that the new piece, at 13/8 i
Following the supplied instructions, we made note not to overtighten the endlink hardware.
With the passenger side buttoned up and zerk fittings greased, we could move on to the dri
|THE SHOPPING CART |
|ITEM / DESCRIPTION ||COST |
|PST Polygraphite Super Kit for '64-88 A-body ||$419 |
|2 upper ball joints |
|4 polygraphite upper inner control arm bushings |
|2 lower ball joints |
|4 polygraphite lower inner control arm bushings |
|2 outer tie rod ends |
|2 polygraphite stabilizer links |
|2 polygraphite sway bar bushings |
|2 inner tie rod ends |
|2 tie rod adjusting sleeves |
|1 idler arm |
|2 upper inner shafts |
|KYB Gas-A-Just shocks (front/rear) PST G-Max ||$159 |
|Lightweight tubular front 13/8-inch sway bar ||$189 |
|1-inch lowering spring set (front/rear) ||$329 |
|TOTAL ||$1,096 |