Since cars first started rolling across asphalt, hot rodders have imbued them with feminine qualities. Instead of "it" many a gearhead refer to their ride as "she". Yeah, it's a little odd, but we're guilty of it as well. Maybe it's just a holdover from the old days when ships were thought of as belonging to the fairer gender; we, however, prefer to think that it's due to our obsessive love affair with them. Take your average classic muscle car, for example. In stock form they are pretty hot to look at, but from a handling standpoint they can be miserable to deal with. Thankfully these ill manners can be made a bit more demure by adding in some modern suspension components.
Global West has been making suspension widgets for Chevelles for quite some time, but recently, they decided to kick it up a few notches. What they came up with was a coilover system that does more than could be accomplished with just bolt-on parts. Yeah, there's welding, cutting, and grinding, but they've engineered the kit to be fairly straightforward to install. Going with this coilover system offers increased suspension travel, more adjustability, less weight, and a greater variety of spring rates. But this kit is about more than just the coilover component.
As Global West's top guy, Doug Norrdin, told us, "Replacing the upper control arms changes the caster and camber curve of the frontend. Most of the 1960s and 1970s cars had very little caster. Caster directly affects straight-line stability, improves self aligning, and also the camber sweep. The camber sweep is the amount of camber change due to the combination of caster and spindle inclination angle. By effectively using caster and a different camber curve, you can increase the cornering capability of the car dramatically without inducing additional tire wear.
On the performance side, keeping the tire flatter on the pavement obviously increases cornering ability, because more rubber is in contact with the ground. The lower arms have a huge benefit over the stock because of their strength. Chevelle lower arms, around the ball joint area, need to be beefed up because today's tires have far more grip than what was available 40 years ago. Add in stiffer springs, a bigger sway bar, wider front tires, and the stock lower arms become inadequate for hard cornering use."
Performance handling also puts added strain on a car's (or wagon in this case) braking system. To address this, we ditched the stock front disc and rear drum brakes for the latest technological wonders from Wilwood. In addition we completed the package with a fast-ratio steering box, also from Global West. The result is a Chevelle that still has classic good looks, but now with modern underpinnings to make it ride like it was built last week instead of four decades ago.
For this test we picked up a 1971 Chevelle wagon to make things even harder. We figured if we could make this big A-body handle, then its lower, shorter, and lighter coupe cousin would see an even bigger benefit. This kit is brand new, so at press time they hadn't confirmed final pricing, but by the time you read this they should have some numbers up on their website.