11. With the template in place, Eric Norrdin drew a circular line around its edge. This is the area of the frame that needed to be cut away for the new shock tower.
12. Since this area will eventually be welded up the cut doesn’t have to be pretty, so we used a plasma cutter to get it done quicker, but a standard cutoff wheel could be used. The key here is to cut and grind on the hole until the template easily passes through the new hole.
13. Once the new shock tower fit in the hole we were ready to weld. The tower is held in proper orientation by using the two existing control arm holes.
14. Here’s the tower after being welded in place. To make it as strong as possible, Eric Norrdin welded the tower to both the frame and the control arm flange.
15. The kit came with their G-Plus upper control arms. These have additional caster built in and an improved camber curve. Together this helps keep the car in better contact with the pavement. They came pre-assembled with new ball joints, billet cross shafts, and Del-a-lum bushings.
16. We asked Doug Norrdin about the Del-a-lum bushings and he explained, “These bushings were designed by Global West back in the ’80s and are considered the best in the business. The six-surface design provides movement like a bearing would have. The bushing has an aluminum housing with a Delrin insert, steel sleeve, and outer thrust washers. They are lubricated through a grease fitting, and the housing is channeled with a grease groove. The bushing provides uninterrupted movement straight up and down with no bind. This takes deflection and bushing bind, which affects spring rate, out of the equation.” As a bonus they don’t squeak and have a lifetime warranty.
17. The Global West lower control arms are specifically designed for coilover applications. Due to the increased loads, doubling plates are used in the spring mounting areas and cross tubes help support the loaded shock mounting area. Straps are also used around the bushing housings to strengthen the housing to the tube. Like the uppers these came pre-assembled with ball joints, bumpstops, and Del-a-lum bushings.
18. Eric Norrdin installed the upper control arm, slid the Penske shock/Eibach spring assembly in place, and secured it by using the supplied bolt and conical shock spacers. Choosing the right spring rate is contingent on how the car will be used. If you’re planning top run aggressive at autocross events, you might want to go with a higher spring rate than if you’re just cruising along a curvy mountain road.
19. The lower control arm was then bolted in place and attached to the bottom of the Penske shock.
20. With both control arms bolted in, we could then put our Wilwood brake assembly in place. The Wilwood kit included massive 14.25-inch diameter, 1.25-inch thick rotors. Some people think that large-diameter rotors are just for looks, but they dramatically improve braking performance due to increased leverage. In addition the extra mass helps to control and dissipate heat better.
21. With both control arms bolted in, we could then put our Wilwood brake assembly in place. The Wilwood kit included massive 14.25-inch diameter, 1.25-inch-thick rotors. Some people think that large diameter rotors are just for looks, but they dramatically improve braking performance due to increased leverage. The extra mass also helps to control and dissipate heat better.
22. Replacing all the suspension parts would have been wasted effort if the sloppy and slow steering wasn’t addressed as well. Our fix was to install this 12.7:1 fast-ratio gearbox ($539) from Global West, which included the correct coupler. The box also included the needed fittings for either O-ring or inverted flare hoses. In addition, we replaced all the steering parts with the exception of the pitman arm. For added strength we also tossed in a set of Global West’s tubular tie rods ($45 each). These help resist flexing during hard corners when the load on steering linkage is high.
23. Lastly, we installed the 11/4-inch front sway bar. Again, since we plan on dodging the cones, this is a bit heavier than the 11/8-inch bar that normally comes with the kit. With that the front suspension and brake upgrades were done, and we could move to the rear of the wagon in part two next month. Then we’ll hit the test track and see if this old ride has learned a few new tricks.