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Ground Force

Our eBay Nova gets a suspension, brakes, and wheel makeover

Bob Mehlhoff Dec 9, 2004

If you're a regular reader of Popular Hot Rodding, Super Chevy, Car Craft, or Chevy High Performance magazines you've undoubtedly heard of the eBay Editor's Charity Challenge. For those of you just joining in, we were basically given a purse of $25K to largely spend on eBay with 10 grand of the funds going to the purchase of any car we could find.

After scouring the electronic pages of eBay, our Chevy team found the perfect candidate; a '72 Nova SS that we'll build and modify to compete with against several other Primedia magazines on the track for best ET, braking, handling, and appearance. When all of this is completed a special auction will be held on eBay during '05 where the cars will be auctioned off. Yes, you could be the one who in the end owns one of these rides. So stay tuned.

But for now we're in the midst of our eBay Nova buildup and have enjoyed purchasing parts online. To date we've collected a cool Hotchkis suspension kit, four-wheel Baer disc brake system, Global West control arms, Edelbrock IAS shocks and a set of awesome looking ROH wheels to really make this Nova come alive. Our wrenching sessions have taken place at Johns Customz in Torrance, California.

The Baer brake kit we purchased included a pair of 13-inch front rotors (Track system) and 12-inch rear rotors (Touring system). The rotors are cross-drilled and slotted and came with Baer calipers, pads and a proportioning valve. The front portion of the kit installs to the stock style spindle. Because the spindles on our Nova had been in service for over 30 years we went ahead and purchased a pair of brand-new front disc brake spindles on eBay.

To install the rear disc brake kit required removing the factory axles in order to add the special rear caliper mounting brackets. Since we would soon be pulling the rear springs too, we decided to just pull the entire rear suspension system and rearend as an assembly and place the works onto a sturdy shop fixture at Johns Customz.

With the rearend on the stand, we unbolted the stock leaf springs and installed the new Hotchkis springs. These springs are part of a total Hotchkis system we bought off of eBay and are designed to improve the overall handling of our Nova. After completing the install of the rear springs and disc brakes we moved the assembly back into position and bolted it back into the car along with the Edelbrock IAS shocks.

With the rearend firmly in place we had the perfect opportunity to install the rear sway bar. The Hotchkis bar mounts across the rearend with U-bolts and then anchors to the underside of the car with special brackets. To bolt these brackets into position requires that the rear seat be removed, which is about the most difficult part of the install. The entire installation of the rear sway bar took us only about 45 minutes to complete.

Up at the front of the car the rest of the crew at Johns Customz had been busy removing the stock 11-inch front disc brakes, control arms, sway bar, and coil springs. So we had an easy avenue to begin adding our new Global West control arms. First we bolted the upper and lower tubular control arms into position and placed the new Hotchkis coil springs into the seat of the lower arm. With a vehicle lift this procedure was almost effortless compared to installing the springs in a driveway with a coil spring compressor and floor jack. One of the tips we learned after completing the control arm install is that it would have been easier to install the front sway bar before the new control arms were installed. We still managed to get the front sway bar on, but it did take some maneuvering.

After we had the control arms, Edelbrock shocks, and Baer front brakes installed we bled the system and added the new ROH wheels and lowered the Nova to the ground. We are still in the process of installing all of the power-adding engine components, and are eagerly anticipating the excitement of driving our eBay Nova with all of its cool parts. We're sure it will be a blast!


With the braking demands we have planned for our Nova, we surfed the eBay pages looking for a four-wheel disc brake system and found this Baer Kit. The front is the Track system with 13-inch rotors and the rear is the Touring system with 12-inch rotors. Each rotor is cross-drilled and slotted. The kit also included Baer calipers and pads plus a master cylinder and proportioning valve.

To allow our Nova to handle like a slot car we found this TVS Hotchkis suspension kit on eBay. The Hotchkis TVS is a complete system kit and includes Sport coils, Sport sway bars, heavy-duty tie rod sleeves, and Sport rear leaf springs. Combined with the Nova's already quick-ratio power steering, we can hardly wait to do some canyon carving.

Up front we added a set of these Global West tubular arms that include new upper ball joints, control arm snubbers, billet upper cross shafts, Del-a-lum bushings, and hardware. Part # CTA-79L for (standard springs) offer a rotating spring mount and are built from 1 5/8-inch roll cage tubing and have reinforced sway bar pick up points.

To give the Nova SS a major cool look, we selected a full set of these 17 x 8-inch ROH rims. On the car they'll be wrapped with 235/45R17 Sumitomo HTR+ radial tires.

To begin our install we first removed the original power brake booster and master cylinder. In its place we will install a new master and proportioning valve from Baer Brakes.

To make our rear suspension and brake installation a little easier we pulled the entire rearend with the leaf springs attached and placed it on this special rack fabricated by John's Customz.

These stock 9.5-inch drum brakes may have worked fine during the "Drive 55 era", but with our upcoming track day and today's higher speeds, we needed a brake system that stopped on a dime and gave us change.

To add the new Baer Brakes rear disc brackets, we needed to remove the axle's C-clips, center pin, and then slide the axles out of the housing.

The Baer disc brake rotors are drilled and slotted for improved braking performance during hard driving.

With the Baer disc brakes and Hotchkis rear springs installed the rear suspension of our Nova is looking great. Next we'll add the Hotchkis rear sway bar.

The Baer rear brake calipers include an emergency brake that connects to the Nova's original intermediate brake cable. The Edelbrock IAS Performer shocks will help the handling too.

The first step to install the Hotchkis rear sway bar requires attaching the bar to the rearend housing with the provided U-bolts.

Next, holes are drilled into the underbody section to allow the upper sway bar brackets to be attached.

The forward supports connect to the sway bar with vertical struts.

Next, the front 11-inch disc brake assemblies came off to make room for the new 13-inch rotors. We'll also remove the stock upper and lower control arms.

After we installed the new Global West tubular control arms, front springs, and new spindles, we tightened the ball-joint nuts.

The new Baer 13-inch front rotors and calipers are part of the Track System. They look cool and will significantly decrease the stopping distance of our eBay Nova.

After some maneuvering we slipped the front sway bar into position. In hindsight, it would have been easier to install the front sway bar before we installed the new control arms. This would have allowed plenty of clearance to route the bar through. Next we loosely attached the front link set to each control arm.

Then we secured the front sway bar to the subframe and tightened all of our remaining hardware.

With the brakes bled and the wheels and tires installed we're ready to take on our buddies at the track.


Johns Customz
Torrance, CA 90502

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