Traction Action

A fast and easy four-bar install for Chevy IIs

Fast and easy aren't the first two words that come to mind when you think about stripping out and replacing a complete rear suspension setup. But I'm here to tell you that those two words definitely apply when it comes to Heidt's new Chevy II four-bar conversion package. Now, seeing as I've spent most of my career in the street rod and classic truck niche, I've been extremely familiar with Heidt's suspension and steering components for years. In fact, I've used them on many of my own projects--both cars and trucks. When I heard that Heidt's had teamed with the guys at Stitz Street Rods to design, build, and market a new four-bar rear suspension upgrade for '62-'65 Chevy IIs, I had to check it out.

I arrived at Stitz Street Rods early one morning to find the guys preparing for another long day of installing one of the new Heidt's four-bar kits. I got there just as they were laying out the components and getting ready to go to work. Preparing myself for what I initially thought was going to be a one- or two-day stint at the shop covering the install, I later realized that was I mistaken; the guys had the whole project buttoned up and on the ground in less than a half day! Granted, they're professionals and had the luxury of a lift. But after witnessing the install, I'm totally confident that you or I could handle the installation at home with a floor jack and a couple of jackstands in probably about 16 or so hours. Take a look and see not only what a cool setup the new Heidt's Chevy II four-bar kit is but also just how easy and straightforward its installation is, as well.

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When I arrived at the shop, the guys had already given the old heave-ho to the stock rear and leaf springs. They were preparing the Heidt's kit components for installation. Aside from being specifically designed for the Chevy II, rather than one of those universal kits some companies offer, the Heidt's package is available with the option of a 9-inch housing, a complete rearend assembly, or everything except the rearend--the standard usually includes a pair of subframe connectors, four-bar and bracket assemblies, rear coilover crossmember, coilover shocks, Panhard bar, and all mounting hardware. Also available is a cool trans mount, which bridges the forward portions of the subframe connectors and accepts most GM transmissions.

The first items to be installed are the subframe connectors. They're self-locating, which means it's virtually impossible to screw up. The flange shown here nestles right up against the stock forward leaf spring mount.

The front portion of the connectors are designed with a pocket that slips directly over the rear portions of the front subframes, making the correct positioning of the connectors basically fool-proof.

This angle shows the kit laid out back-to-front (without the Heidt's new coilover shocks). The great thing about the setup is that though it's designed to be a weld-in package, it allows the do-it-yourselfer to actually drill and bolt the package in place and can later be welded by a professional.

As is true with the front subframe connectors, the rear upper coilover crossmember utilizes the same self-locating pockets. This allows the crossmember to be slipped over the rear subframe rails and can either be welded or drilled and bolted to the car.

Aside from stripping out the old rearend and leaf springs, there's not a lot of prep work involved.

The best way to start is to position the components and eyeball or mark the attachment points. At that point, you can either clean up the areas with a grinder for welding, or drill out the mounting flanges and subframe rails for a bolt-in situation.

Here's a view of the left-hand subframe connector. Toward the front you'll see the existing subframe. Notice how the channel is built into the connector slides over the subframe rail. The extended plate with the holes in it is the platform to which the trans crossmember attaches. You can also see the large side area that can either be welded to the subframe at its edges, or drilled and bolted into place.

This is the rear portion of the connector. Its flanges butt up against the front and side factory leaf spring mounting box which, again, can either be welded or drilled and bolted into place.

In this instance, the guys at Stitz welded the components into place. As I said earlier, the design enables those who don't have a welder, or welding skills, the ability to install the system themselves by drilling and bolting it into place.

The guys also included the optional transmission crossmember in this installation. The crossmember bridges the two subframe connectors and bolts into place. The selection of mounting holes and the elongated holes in the trans mount pad area allow the cross-member to accept a variety of transmissions.

With the front portion of the install handled, it was time to move rearward. The four-bars were attached to the front mounts and left to dangle in the wind while the rear upper crossmember was hoisted into position.

The rear coilover crossmember fits into place over the rear subframe rails, just as the front subframe connectors did. The tall side flanges on the crossmember allow ample space to be drilled and bolted, as well. I can't stress enough the option of either welding or bolt-in installation is a great advantage for the do-it-yourselfer.

The way the crossmember is designed makes it (like the subframe connectors) self-locating, alleviating the worry of it going in cockeyed. As you can see here, the front faces of the mounting channels butt up against the factory floor pan reinforcement-slide it up over the rails and then push it forward until stops and it's right where ya want it.

The next step is to lift the rearend housing into place. The guys borrowed a pair of coilovers to use temporarily, so their brand-new, polished Heidt's coilover shocks wouldn't be subject to any abuse while the housing hung in place.

With the shocks in place, the bars were located and bolted into position. The jamb-nuts were left loose so the pinion angle could be adjusted later.

The final stage of the four-bar kit installation was the Panhard bar and bracket. The inboard bracket comes pre-attached to the rearend housing (as do the four-bar brackets) when you order the kit with either a rearend housing or complete housing, the standard kit contains all the brackets needed for you to use an existing rearend if you so choose.

And here's the finished product, one of the easiest and most straightforward suspension updates I've seen in a long time. Best of all, it's an extremely affordable project that'll make your Chevy II ride, handle, and hook up like you've never experienced before.

On the ground and ready to roll. The guys at Stitz installed the complete kit (including stripping out the original rearend and suspension) in less than a day. That, in reality, transforms into about a two-day time frame; not too bad for an installation that is as much of a performance enhancement as it is eye candy.

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