We had previously bolted a Martz Chassis front crossmember to our 1960 Corvette frame. The bolt-in crossmember proved to be just that, a direct bolt-in operation. Sure, it took a bit of prying and pulling, but in the end every hole lined up perfectly. After painting the crossmember with Eastwood 2K Aero-Spray Chassis Black we turned our attention to preparing the suspension components and brakes.
We began the process by lightly sanding the Martz tubular control arms, urethane-bushed rod ends, and sway bar. We decided black and silver would be the color scheme for both the chassis and the body so after two coats of self-etching primer the aforementioned suspension components were painted silver. Rather than go through the hassle of mixing urethane paint for the spray gun we opted for some paint that we have had great success with: alloy wheel two-part paint. Yes, it comes in a rattle can but the alloy wheel paint is a base clear and we have had great success with it giving a very uniform finish. More good news is spotting this paint in works great, so the seemingly unavoidable chip or scratch during assembly can be touched up without a trace.
After paint, the actual assembly was very straightforward, with every piece fitting exactly as it should. The Martz Chassis tubular control arms look great and we really like the fact that they use urethane bushings to insulate road shock and vibration. We were one of the first to install the Martz front sway bar and it fit just fine and we were pleased to discover it was constructed of weight-saving tubing. The Martz Chassis spindles connect between the control arms and then it was time to assemble the QA1 shocks and bolt on the Wilwood disc brakes.
We have long been fans of QA1 shocks, and these adjustable coilovers did not disappoint. Assembly is straightforward on the DS402 shocks and ordering the thrust bearing kit made adjusting the coilovers smooth and easy with the QA1 spanner wrenches. After pressing the proper 1/2-inch bushings into the shocks they simply bolt to the Martz suspension. The extra-long Allen cap bolt included with the Martz front sway bar also mounts the bottom of the shock, while up top we employed a Grade 8 1/2-13 bolt with a Nylock nut.
We used a spring compressor to compress our 10HT400 springs during assembly of the coilover shocks. The QA1 springs are made in the USA and wear a good-looking and durable silver powdercoating. These 2 1/2-inch ID springs are manufactured from specially designed high-tensile, chrome silicon alloy spring wire, which allows fewer coils and a smaller wire diameter. As a result, the spring is lighter and has increased travel due to the greater distance between the coils. The lighter spring also provides faster reaction and lower unsprung weight.
The Flaming River manual rack-and-pinion was included with the Martz Chassis kit. It is a simple two-bolt process to install the steering. For those looking for even easier steering, Martz offers a power rack-and-pinion option.
With the suspension complete it was time to turn our attention to installing the Wilwood disc brakes. We opted for red powdercoated four-piston calipers to clamp down on the 12.19-inch rotors. The Wilwood components are nothing short of beautiful and assembling the front brakes was easy, fun, and rewarding. We also installed Wilwood braided stainless lines from the caliper to the factory tab on the chassis, giving us a head start on routing the brake lines.
The front suspension is now complete and we couldn’t be more satisfied with our selection of components. Installing a front suspension such as this is well within the reach of the average backyard mechanic. Simply follow the instructions and work slowly. Follow along with us as we assemble the Martz Chassis front suspension and Wilwood brakes. We think you will agree that this upgrade is well worth the effort.
01. One look at the Martz IFS tells you we have taken one giant step forward in handling and stopping. QA1 shocks and Wilwood brakes complete the package.
02. We painted and installed the Martz Chassis front crossmember in the last installment of this series. Now we are ready to begin bolting the suspension components in place on our 1960 chassis.
03. We painted the control arms with modern alloy wheel paint before assembly. We threaded in two rod ends on the lower control arm and used a piece of 3/16-inch flat stock as a gauge so they were threaded in equal distance. One long bolt passes through both rod ends and the crossmember to attach the lower control arm.
04. The upper control arm was bolted in place with the supplied bolts. Look for the “R” and “L” stamped on top of each control arm to ensure the left and right control arms are mounted to the proper sides.
05. The upper control arm bolts have a washer tack-welded to them making frontend alignment easy. Since the upper control arm mounting tabs are slotted, by turning the bolt you move the control arm in or out to arrive at the proper camber adjustment.
06. The Martz Chassis spindle is then bolted between the two control arms. We only snugged the ball joint nuts at first. We will go back and full tighten and cotter pin all components after we do a baseline alignment.
07. Since our car is going to see street duty, single-adjustable shocks (PN DS402) will work just fine. We ordered the QA1 coilover shocks, springs, and the thrust bearing kit along with the proper spanner wrenches.
08. With soft jaws in our vice we compressed the desired 1/2-inch ID busing into the urethane shock bushings. The same procedure was used on the upper shock mount.
09. We threaded the aluminum lock nut (shoulder up) and the aluminum spring seat adjuster nut (also shoulder up) down to the last thread on the shock. We then applied a liberal coating of antiseize to the lower threads and ran the nuts up and down to distribute the antiseize.
10. Next, we installed the thrust bearing kit. First, a flat washer, then the thrust bearing washer, followed by a second flat washer. All pieces were coated with antiseize on both sides.
11. We had to slightly compress the spring to get the top spring cap in place. Be sure the top spring cap is full seated and sits squarely on the spring. The assembled shock is now ready for installation.
12. Installing the QA1 coilover is as simple as sliding it down through the tubular control arms and sliding the bolt, sway bar spacer, and sway bar end through the lower control arm. Then swing the shock into the upper shock tower and insert the upper shock mount bolt. The thrust bearing kit makes spinning the adjuster nut a smooth, easy operation.
13. Martz Chassis recently added a front sway bar option to the C1 IFS kit. We jumped at the chance to install the sway bar. We were pleased to discover it was a weight-saving tubular sway bar.
14. The brackets for the front license plate had to be notched to provide clearance for the sway bar. We used a hole saw to cut a clean radius.
15. The lower shock bolt comes with a spacer that provides room for the lower link Heim joint. Clearance is tight but it fits, while the upper link connects to the sway bar with another Allen bolt and spacer.
16. With the suspension installed our attention turned to installing the Wilwood disc brake kit (PN 140-9918) that includes 12.19-inch vented rotors and four-piston calipers. The kit comes complete with aluminum hubs, wheel bearings, and brackets.
17. First, we mounted the Wilwood caliper bracket to the Martz Chassis spindle. This bracket will need shimming to center the caliper so only snug the bolts for now.
18. Next, we bolted the aluminum hat to the rotor. After putting a drop of red Loctite on each bolt we torqued them to 25 ft-lb.
19. When it came time to install the wheel studs in the aluminum hubs we needed a “holding fixture” for the hub so we could torque the studs to 77 ft-lb. Well, our “fixture” was one of the old Vette’s wheels. We simply threaded the studs into the hub, dropped the hub onto the wheel with the studs in the holes, and got to torqueing them down.
20. We left the hub in the old wheel when we torqued the rotor assembly to the hub. Once again a drop of red Loctite was applied to each Torx-head bolt prior to torqueing them to 55 ft-lb.
21. With the rotor and hub assembled we packed the rear wheel bearing with high-performance wheel bearing grease. Here we see the bearing in place. The rear seal will be tapped into place to cover this bearing.
22. With the grease-packed rear bearing in place, we tapped the rear seal into the backside of the hub.
23. Prior to slipping the Wilwood hub over the Martz spindle we gave spindle a quick clean-up with a piece of Scotchbrite. Then a thin film of grease is applied to ensure the bearings will slide on smoothly.
24. Next, the front wheel bearing is packed with grease and installed in the hub. Then the spindle washer and spindle nut are installed. Tighten the spindle nut until you feel bearing resistance, then back it off until the bearing spins freely.
25. After we threaded the Wilwood spindle cap in place we used a clean paper towel and Brakleen to ensure there was no residual wheel bearing grease on the rotor. Grease and brakes pads don’t mix.
26. The bright-red Wilwood calipers are now bolted to the caliper brackets. After tightening the bolts it was determined that the calipers needed to be shimmed inboard. After the shims were in place between the spindle and the mounting bracket we applied a drop of Loctite and torqued the caliper bracket bolts to 47 ft-lb. Then the caliper was installed and the bolts torqued to 40 ft-lb.
27. We used the aluminum center piece as a visual aid to center the pad on the rotor. With the rotor centered and tightened it was time to slip the brake pads into the caliper. The cotter pin holds the pads in the caliper.
28. Here is the finished Wilwood brake kit installed. We also used a Wilwood 18-inch Flexline kit (PN 220-8307) and it fit perfectly from the stock Corvette tabs to the new Wilwood calipers. Turn the wheels lock to lock to ensure the flex line is long enough.
29. We opted for the Flaming River manual rack-and-pinion after talking to another C1 owner who was very pleased with the unit in combination with a Martz IFS. Two bolts and the rack is in place.
30. And here it is, a thoroughly modern suspension with adjustable coilover shocks, rack-and-pinion steering, and disc brakes. It’s a long way from the stock suspension. Next up is a new Currie rearend and more suspension upgrades out back so stay tuned.