Classic Performance Products Suspension Install On Chevrolet Nova - Heavy Machinery Part 1
All-Purpose Nova Suspension Tuned For The Track Or Street
From the July, 2010 issue of Chevy High Performance
By Sean Haggai
Photography by Sean Haggai
It's been about two years now, and our lethargic grandma six-banger Nova has been almost completely transformed into a heavyweight street fighter. Yes, it's still ugly, but we made quick work of our blue beauty, swapping out the less-than-impressive engine and transmission, lest we pop the hood and suffer being chastised by fellow enthusiasts. Originally, our intentions were for straight-line performance, not necessarily all-out handling. Out came the tractor engine and Powerglide. In its place went a slightly used small-block along with some boost complements: Weiand's 142 supercharger and a used Turbo 350 automatic transmission.
After the powertrain was situated we moved on to creating a real driver's car-one with more roadworthy characteristics-turning to Classic Performance Products of Placentia, California, who are well versed with Novas and their ability to blaze through corners. To begin, CPP swapped in its large 11/8-inch-diameter front sway bar and 7/8-inch-diameter rear bar. The shocks were replaced with Bilstein units from CPP. Later, the manual front drums were swapped in favor of their power disc brake assemblies, including forged 2-inch drop spindles loaded with 11-inch disc brakes and a power brake booster. The rear was restored with a rebuild drum package and lowering rear leaf kit.
Our initial testing revealed a nice surprise. The Nova remained somewhat flat through the slalom and manageable during repeated 60-0 braking. Still, performance was marginal at best-definitely room for improvement. For this install, we've landed all new upper and lower tubular control arms, a big-brake kit for the front and rear, and all new adjustable QA1 coilovers for the front and shocks out back-all from CPP.
At CPP's headquarters, Craig Chaffers shredded into the underguts of the front suspension to create a sled with more tunability and serious braking power. Don't worry, we'll have the full test numbers, including slalom, skidpad, and braking in a future issue. In the meantime we've made plans to attend a majority of the Goodguys autocross events on the West Coast. Follow along as we show how it was done and what makes CPP's components a cut above the rest.
Supplying the suspension with strength
was left to CPP's upper and lower
tubular A-arms; the added rigidity
means less flex, which translates into
a much nimbler vehicle that's easy
to predict and control. The lower
control arms feature a helical stamped
coil mount with an integral shock
mount. The upper control arms are
preassembled on new billet chromoly
4130 cross-shafts and pivot sleeves.
CPP has also created a safety feature
in the interlocking shaft and sleeve
design, which prevents the bolts from
working loose, even under severe stress
created by hard cornering. The arms
also feature exclusive pivot bushings
with a patented self-lubricating plastic
that will not squeak or break, and will
work in temperatures of over 400
QA1 Coilover Assembly
The key to any all-purpose street-burner like our Nova project is adjustability. Coilovers allow us to fine-tune the suspension in a moment's notice; as track conditions change and as the Nova evolves with different components, it will enable us to make quick adjustments to things like ride height and shock valving accordingly. CPP's QA1 kit (PN GMP13) includes a set of conical springs designed so that the lower end sits on the coilover shock and the upper end sits in the original spring bucket of the frame. This allows for the use of a longer and lighter spring for more stored energy, offering increased weight transfer. Greater durability is also achieved by locating the spring pressure in the frame and not on a single stud. The threaded aluminum body allows ride height adjustment and boasts an easy bolt-in installation. The system includes Promo Star coilover shocks, specially designed conical springs, and all mounting hardware.
For that hard-hitting stance, we also installed a new set of 2-inch forged drop spindles (PN CP3100). Its unique design lowers your ride 2 inches and allows the use of the stock steering arm with the factory 11-inch single-piston disc brakes. Also, it's the only drop spindle on the market designed to work with CPP's 12- or 13-inch big brake kits without modifying the spindle. The spindle is 1045 forged alloy steel, precision-ground and machined to perfection. Note: The factory disc brake bracket requires minor modification to eliminate the dust shields and will not work with drum brakes. We should also mention that this will work with most 15-inch disc brake wheels that do not exceed a 4-inch backspace.
Big Brake Kit
CPP not only prides itself in providing great all-in-one suspension packages but has also introduced its own line of 13-inch front big brake kits. For this build, we went ahead with the front and rear system (PN 6874FRBKBB) as a complete package. The 13-inch front system uses a 13-inch cross-drilled, gas-slotted, and zinc-washed rotor, all mounted to a 2024 T6 billet aluminum CNC-machined anodized hub and a PBR C15 caliper. It all attaches to the spindle with a pair of custom CPP caliper mounting brackets. PBR C15 calipers have twin 52mm pistons and a larger brake pad surface area that offers about 60 percent more stopping power in the caliper than the popular C5 caliper-at half the cost! All kits come complete and include the calipers, hoses, bearings, seals, mounting brackets, and hardware. You also get the option of purchasing the front and rear systems individually. If you opt for this system, the big brake kits do require 17-inch wheels. (CPP offers easy-to-use wheel templates upon request.)
Completely revived the frontend of our Nova with CPP tubular upper and lower arms, 2-inch drop spindles, coilover shocks, and 13-inch clampers
We can brake deeper and turn harder
|Front/Rear CPP Complete Big Brake Kit
|2-Inch Drop Spindles
|Tubular Upper/Lower A-Arms
|Custom Aluminum Tie Rod Adjusting Sleeves
|Tie Rods (2)
|QA1 Pro Coil Single Adjustable Coil Over Conversion System
|QA1 Stocker Star Single Adjustable Stock Mount Rear Shocks (2)
|Spanner Wrench (required for pro coil kit)
|Coil Over Washer Kit with needle bearings
At CPP's headquarters, front-man...
At CPP's headquarters, front-man Craig Chaffers got to work removing our 15-inch Vintage Wheels Works wheels to gain access to the 11-inch CPP disc brakes.
Converting from manual drums...
Converting from manual drums to a power disc brake setup can make a world of difference. Not only is the car's stopping distance improved, but overall driveability is increased. While these aftermarket CPP units proved consistent during one of our test days, because we're stopping repeatedly from 60 mph in 150 feet, we were after a more aggressive setup. Chaffers started by removing the upper and lower ball joints from the spindle along with the tie rod nut to pull the brake assembly off the car.
Next, the upper control arms...
Next, the upper control arms were installed. We liked that they still accept the factory hardware. We wrenched them down with an 11/16-inch socket and 5/8-inch wrench. At this time we didn't install the upper control arm shims. Instead, we kept them off to the side for now and will give them to the alignment shop to install at a later time.
To prep the tubular lower...
To prep the tubular lower A-arms for the new QA1s, Chaffers drilled out the standard 3/8-inch-diameter holes to allow for the larger 5/16-inch QA1 coilover hardware.
If we were to use the older...
If we were to use the older hub from the 11-inch CPP disc kit, the front wheels would be pushed out an additional 7/16-inch on each side. This creates an abnormal stance but also makes the front tire fitment a bit more difficult with aftermarket wheels. To fix this, included with the front 13-inch big-brake upgrade from CPP are a set of forged aluminum hubs. These are CNC machined for precision, clear anodized for wear protection, and the hub is in the factory location for a truly easy fit.
Fitting the calipers is a...
Fitting the calipers is a snap. Since they come preloaded with the pads, it's only a matter of lining up the caliper with the custom CPP bracket. Then Chaffers installed the supplied hardware and tightened the calipers down with a 13mm socket.
Completing the front suspension...
Completing the front suspension meant reinstalling the 11/8-inch CPP front sway bar. We reassembled the endlinks with the bushings and washers and tightened the combination down with a 9/16-inch wrench and socket.
As mentioned earlier, CPP's...
As mentioned earlier, CPP's brake kits come with everything you need, including all new brake lines. Here, Chaffers installed the banjo bolt with the washers and the new rubber line into the back of the front caliper then locked it down with a 13mm wrench.
From the onset of this project,...
From the onset of this project, we've been eagerly anticipating how our Nova will look with the new components, but we're going to have to remain patient. There's still a lot of work to unveil, namely CPP's rear drum to 12-inch disc conversion with QA1 single-adjustable shocks. Tune in next month as we show the complete rear install and get this Nova ground-worthy. This is going to be one low Nova!