Coiled And Ready

QA1 Motorsports' Coilover Front Shock Conversion

Jeff Smith Apr 21, 2003 0 Comment(s)
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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.

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This is the simple QA1 Motorsports coilover shock kit. It consists of a pair of coilover shocks and progressive-rate springs.

The threaded shock body allows adjustment of the coil spring on the shock body to easily change the vehicle ride height. This requires the use of a large spanner wrench available from QA1 Motorsports.

To bolt the system in the car, remove the shock absorber and place a floor jack under the lower control arm. Use a pickle fork to separate the lower ball joint from the spindle and then carefully remove the stock coil spring. When you slip the assembled coilover system in place, be sure to place the end of the coil spring properly in the upper coil spring pocket. Then just bolt the shock in place with the supplied hardware, and place the rubber grommets on the top of the shock just like on a stock shock.

With the coilover in place, we also added a set of Energy Suspension bumpstops to complete our conversion.

To further upgrade your front suspension, Global West offers a tubular lower control arm designed specifically for the QA1 coilover conversion. This lower control arm uses a reinforced lower pad where the shock bolts in place to handle the load.

Global West also offers the tubular upper and lower control arms for early Camaros and Chevelles for stock coil-spring applications as well. Both arms are for first-generation Camaros.

Even with the spring adjusted all the way down, there's still enough room to easily access the shock-adjustment knob for the 12-way QA1 shocks. This adjustment affects both the shock's compression and rebound settings.

Tubular Global West control arms can be equipped with Global's Del-A-Lum bushings, which use a special Delrin material that acts as a bushing with minimal deflection yet does not contribute to a harsh ride. The Global West bushings are also available for virtually all production suspension components.

Global West also offers this trick tubular lower control arm for coil-spring cars.

Note the slick polyurethane lower spring seat.

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