Once we pulled the front clip...
Once we pulled the front clip off, it was easy to access the eight bolts that hold the entire frontend assembly in place (plus two brake lines and the steering linkage).
Our project '51 for $15K is shaping up; at least in the suspension area. Last time we covered the installation of an 8-1/2-inch Nova rearend with the help of Chassis Engineering's bracket kit and leaf springs. This month we're focusing on the front suspension and chose to go with Chassis Engineering's bolt-on independent front suspension and crossmember kit.
Our goal with this 1951 Chevy Sport coupe is to build a safe and comfortable cruiser; something we feel good about carting the family around in and driving anywhere. Our budget is maxed out at $15,000 (including the price of the car) and we're trying to come in way under that. After the rearend update, we'd spend just over $3,300. The complete frontend kit from Chassis Engineering added another $2,108 to the pile of bills, bringing our investment to over $5,400. So far, it's been worth every Franklin.
The front suspension is centered on their bolt-in crossmember kit. This kit is based on common Mustang geometry and incorporates lower control arms rather than the OE-style strut rod system. The nice thing is how the lower crossmember and their adjustable coil spring pods surround the factory framerails. The components literally sandwich around the framerails and bolt together to provide your old Chevy with a solid and secure foundation for the independent suspension.
Another cool thing about their coil spring pods is that they're adjustable. They provide about 2-1/2 inches of adjustment. This is a huge help in trying to get the perfect stance and best geometry for your specific application.
We outfitted the rest of the front suspension with a complete component package from Chassis Engineering. This kit was supplied with tubular control arms, a manual steering rack, spindles, 11-inch rotors, calipers, shocks, coil springs, tie-rod ends, and all of the necessary hardware to bolt it all together.
There are ways we could have saved a little money in the frontend update. Again, the Chassis Engineering crossmember kit for the '49-54 Chevy is designed to work with Mustang II components, like the upper and lower control arms, shocks, and spindles. We could have searched out '74-80 Mustang arms and spindles (or Mustang II from 1974-78), however they would require a little modification to accept the 11-inch brake rotor, which we like for slowing the hulk of a car. Also, if we found some Mustang OE parts, the strut rods would require some minor modifications as well.
Not only are we up against a monetary budget, but we're also staring down a timeline as well. We don't want this to be a project that lingers on and on. Kids and commitments also keep our weekends pretty well booked and how many junkyards really still have Pintos and Mustang IIs around for parts? We felt it was best to spend a little extra money to get new parts directly from the one source that designed the entire frontend assembly. And when it comes to technical help, Chassis Engineering can answer all of our questions. After we finished bolting the new independent suspension together, the few extra bucks were well worth it.
The car is on all fours and looking good. Our next two hurdles are going to be the master cylinder for the brakes and trying to tie the factory column to the new manual rack. Also, we'll be updating the trans mount to accept our used TH350 trans. It's starting to get interesting.