The shock absorber wars have begun. QA1 Motorsports is the most recent participant to send a salvo across the Bow Tie Brigade's bow with an excellent coilover shock, front conversion system for several popular Chevys. We decided to swap some in.
The system is as simple in operation as it is to install. QA1 starts with its excellent 12-way adjustable coilover shock and adapts a cone-shaped coil spring that uses the original diameter at the top to nestle into the stock spring pocket on an early Chevelle, Camaro, or second-generation Nova frame. The spring tapers down to a smaller diameter to fit over the shock body. The body of the shock is threaded to allow quick ride height adjustment. Not only does this system bolt right into the stock lower control arm, but it also allows for simple shock adjustment because the external dial is easily accessed below the coil spring.
Ride-height adjustment is also very easy and only requires a spanner wrench (not included in the kit) that allows you to easily move the adjustment ring up or down. Of course, it's important to always position both sides at the same height so the front suspension is not preloaded, unless you're into circle track racing where you only turn left. The best way to ensure equal adjustment is to measure the ride height between the lower control arm and the frame on both sides. This will also make handling more consistent.
One interesting side note to the QA1 coilover conversion is the variable-rate springs. As load is imposed on the springs, the rate changes not only because of the spacing between the coils, but also because the spring diameter changes top to bottom. For the small-block system, the rate changes from 250 lb/in to 350 lb/in. A stock production coil spring for a small-block '66 Chevelle (non A/C) for example, would be around 270 lb/in. QA1 also offers big-block springs with a variable rate of 350 to 450 lb/in. According to QA1 engineers, the company will also offer higher spring rates in the near future.
Another option for those interested in further upgrading their front suspension is a tubular lower control arm from Global West Suspension that is designed specifically to mount the QA1 coilover conversion. These Global West lower arms are intended to work in conjunction with a disc brake conversion and Global's tubular upper control arms, which would give an excellent high-tech look to your Camaro, Nova, or Chevelle.
In addition, Global offers a Negative Roll package for Chevelles that uses a second-generation Camaro or '77-and-later Impala spindle. This system combines the tubular upper control arm with the taller spindle to generate a negative camber gain when the car rolls through a corner. This radically improves Chevelle handling and can be tuned to attain 1-g skid pad numbers.
These Global West components are optional since the QA1 coilover shock conversion will work with stock upper and lower control arms. But consider the impact of a set of tubular upper and lower control arms under your Chevelle or Camaro combined with a set of QA1 Motorsports coilover shocks. All you'd need then is a driver's suit and a road-racing competition license. It would be enough to make the ladies swoon.