BMR Level 2 Handling Package Install - A-Body Makeover
We Convert A Straight Line Hauler Into A Corner Buster
From the December, 2010 issue of Chevy High Performance
By Henry De Los Santos
Photography by Damon Rivetti
What We Did
Install a complete BMR Level 2 Handling Package onto a '70 Chevelle
Easy to install and well worth the results
It's been awhile since we showcased Robert Varoujanian's '70 Chevelle. When we first introduced his project, it was a skeleton with a few select items that he picked up through the classifieds; the owner before Robert was doing his best to convert this Chevelle into a grudge night racer. Unfortunately for him, a lack of funds and interest left the A-body sitting by the wayside.
On the other hand, the good news for Robert was that aside from the missing sheetmetal, the entire drivetrain was intact with a fresh GMPP 502ci crate motor, a Turbo 400 transmission, and a rather robust 12-bolt rearend. Since then, we've slowly watched the transformation as he installed the new front sheetmetal and even swapped out the straight line specific 12-bolt unit for the street friendly Currie 9-inch rearend.
More recently, we've learned that he's had the Chevelle sprayed a brilliant orange hue with white stripes, and no one can deny that it's a looker. While the 'Velle had the aesthetics department covered, it was still sporting a mostly stock suspension that was well worn at best. Rather than replacing it with factory components, Robert was looking for a suspension setup that would allow for a comfortable ride, yet still be able to handle the occasional weekend autocross or open-track session; we're not talking full blown road race car, but something that could offer the best of both worlds.
The factory A-arms served...
The factory A-arms served well for what The General originally intended them for; you know, daily commuting. For high-performance applications, there's no excuse not to step up to aftermarket offerings, especially when they're priced so reasonably well these days.
For our requirements, BMR Fabrication offered the ideal solution and it was a no-brainer to install their Level 2 suspension package. This all-inclusive system comes complete with 1-inch lowering springs, front and rear swaybars, Bilstein shocks, tubular front upper/lower control arms, rear upper/lower control arms, and control arm mount braces for $1,999. You also have a number of options available, such as your choice of poly bushings or spherical bearings, along with adjustable upper control arms out back.
If you're looking to do something similar, then you'll appreciate the attention to detail BMR has put into their packages. Should you want to upgrade from stock, but only need the bare essentials, then you may want to consider their Level 1 suspension package for around $900; these come with front and rear sway bars with 1-inch lowering springs. Of course, should you want an even more aggressive setup than ours; BMR can also take care of those requirements with their Pro Coil System, which is their coilover setup with your choice of single- or double-adjustable shocks-very trick stuff.
All said and done, the install was extremely simple and has left a rather large impression on Robert. For just an afternoon's worth of wrenching, the Chevelle has completely changed its demeanor, eliminating the spongy factory feel with its aged suspension and making it more refined, like a modern-day performance vehicle. Stay tuned, once we get a set of rollers, we're planning to head out to our test track and push this baby to the limits. Until, then follow along and check out the install highlights.
|HPP012 PACKAGE: $2,029
||Upper A-arm, stock spindle
||1-inch lowering springs
||Front sway bar
||Lower control arms, boxed, non-adjustable, poly bushings
||Upper control arms, tubular, non-adjustable, poly bushings
||Control arm reinforcement braces
||1-inch lowering springs
||Rear sway bar
* The upgrade to spherical bearings on the Rear Lower Control Arms is $167 (BCA006)
** The upgrade for adjustable Rear Upper Control Arms is $65 (UTCA005).
BMR's front upper and lower...
BMR's front upper and lower A-arms are constructed out of DOM steel tubing and are completely MIG welded. Each lower arm features low-deflection polyurethane bushings, integrated bump stops, and come with new ball joints. For the front 1-inch lowering springs, BMR uses a linear 525 lb-in rate.
The Level 2 suspension package...
The Level 2 suspension package comes with non-adjustable nitrogen filled Bilstein monotube shocks. Inside, these gems feature rising-rate valving that responds quickly to the road surface and provides a smooth, comfortable ride. BMR also offers single- and double-adjustable shocks as an optional upgrade.
To decrease body roll, the...
To decrease body roll, the 11/4-inch front sway bars are constructed out of cold formed steel. This helps to resist fatigue over time and maintain their shape better. According to BMR, these are four times (400%) more rigid versus the stock 7/8-inch sway bars.
The upper arms feature billet...
The upper arms feature billet cross-shafts and provide additional header clearance over their factory counterparts. Combined with the lower A-arms, you can expect a total weight savings of 10 pounds per side.
All packages include new mounting...
All packages include new mounting bushings with endlink kits, and you can also opt for their shade of Black Hammertone should you want something other than red.
Here's what you can expect...
Here's what you can expect for the rear suspension. Just like the front portion, each package includes all the necessary components and hardware for a quick and easy installation.
For the rear upper control...
For the rear upper control arms, we decided to upgrade to the adjustable units. Make note that there is a $65 upcharge (PN UTCA005), but they allow for easy pinion angle adjustments. All you have to do is back off the jam nuts and turn the adjuster, you don't even have to remove them from the chassis.
The rear lower control arms...
The rear lower control arms are bulletproof with their heavy-duty rectangular steel tubing; these size in at 11/2x3-inch. Unlike the factory arms that can flex under loads during performance exercises; these will resist flex and help make the chassis much more predictable. We also upgraded to the heavy-duty spherical bearings for $167 (BCA006); these are geared more for the track, while the polyurethane bushings are intended more for the street crowd.
For added reinforcement, the...
For added reinforcement, the control arm mount braces secure the upper and lower control arms together.
From this angle, you get a...
From this angle, you get a better idea of just how the control arm mount braces attach.
The rear 1-inch diameter sway...
The rear 1-inch diameter sway bar simply mounts onto the lower control arms with the supplied Grade 8 hardware.
There you have it, a complete...
There you have it, a complete off-the-shelf suspension package that only requires a minimal amount of sweat equity to install. From out back, there's no denying that this Chevelle has been outfitted with all BMR equipment.