We have the car, we have a pile of old parts, and we have a bunch of new and used parts. If you recall, we introduced you to our '51 Chevy Sport coupe in the Oct. '10 issue and started to strip it of its original drivetrain. In this issue we tackle the rear suspension with the help of a Chassis Engineering kit and a used Nova rearend.

To recap, the goal is to build the car into a comfortable, safe driver, so suspension and a drivetrain swap are the first order of business; not to mention that stance is going to be imperative to the overall appearance of the coupe. However, budget and time are the rulers of this project so we've decided to build this '51 into a reliable driver for under $15,000-including the purchase price of the car. Our original goal was under $10,000 but when we put pen to paper and made a list of things like a transmission, radiator, brakes, and engine, things added up quickly.

Thumbing through the Chassis Engineering catalog introduced us to a bracket kit that would allow for a '68-74 Nova/Camaro rearend to be swapped in. A little more research unearthed a kit that includes the new CE brackets, a fresh set of their Slider Springs, U-bolts, shocks, and the shock mount. The car will handle better, parts are plentiful for the rearend, and the new springs will lower the car to a comfortable, good-looking height. This sounds perfect for our plan and we found a Nova rearend on craigslist within days.

The deconstruction of the factory parts obviously includes dropping the original rearend, as well as removing the factory mounts. It quickly became apparent that factory rivets are strong; big-time strong. Be ready to take on some serious grinding, whether you're using electric grinders, drills, or compressed air tools. While you're grinding away though, make sure not to damage your factory 'rails! Once the old parts were cut away, the Chassis Engineering brackets bolted in place with the aid of a few well-placed holes.

With the brackets mated to the frame, the new CE Slider Springs raised right into place and accepted our used '74 Nova 10-bolt rearend. When you're looking for a rearend, be sure to find an 8-1/2-inch multi-leaf model (many had single leaf). There are ID numbers on the passenger axle tube of the rearends that will also give you a clue to the original gear set. Another key is to measure from the center of the leaf spring mounts-it needs to be 42-1/2 inches in order to fit.

The new rear suspension went together much easier than the old one came out. When we dropped it down on the wheels for the first time it was apparent that we made a good choice. Chassis Engineering noted that it will come down another inch after a few hundred miles. From what we can tell, that should be perfect. Now to get thrashing on the front.

Parts Cost
'51 Chevy Sport Coupe $2,750
Rearend
Mount kit (PN) AS-1021CCG $504
Used '74 10-bolt, Nova 3.08:1 $125
Rearend gears, brake shoes, drums, bearings, seals, paint $98
Sold the 235 and trans -($125)
Total $3,352

So far, so good. Our new rear suspension came out to just over $600 thanks to the fact that we sold the engine and trans from the '51 for $125.

SOURCE
Chassis Engineering
West Branch
IA
319-643-2645
www.chassisengineeringinc.com
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