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Installing Aldan American Coilover Shocks on a G-Body El Camino

Custom Aldan American coilover deliver affordable handling and performance for your G-body

Jim Smart Nov 21, 2018
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Chevrolet’s timeless 1978-’87 G-body (e.g., Malibu, Monte Carlo, and El Camino) was a natural evolution of the long-running A-body Chevy intermediates spanning 1964-’77. The all-new G-body was a downsized intermediate right-sized for the post-performance era, yet employed the same bones as the classic heavy Chevys. These are terrific right-priced intermediates timed perfectly for the here and now. The reasonably low entry cost of a G-body means you’ll have that much more to spend on a wide range of aftermarket goodies when you decide it’s time to up the performance.

Right off the assembly line, these second-gen Chevy intermediates were never designed to be handlers with coils at all four corners and wimpy hydraulic shocks to control the spring action. They handled terribly, though they offered a comfortable ride.

You can improve both the ride and handling of any G-body with adjustable coilovers from Aldan American. Aldan American offers a complete line of coilover kits for vintage Chevelles, Monte Carlos, and El Caminos through the late ’80s. These adjustable bolt-on coilover suspension kits for classic Chevys replace the front and rear factory shocks and coil springs with cool, adjustable coilovers. The coilovers allow the user to adjust both the damping and the ride height. Aldan American’s adjustable coilovers improve handling, enhance the ride quality, and reduce unsprung weight compared to stock shocks and coils springs.

These kits ship to your doorstep complete with single-adjustable coilover shocks, high-travel coil springs, and the necessary hardware to replace your factory shocks and coil springs. What’s more, these suspension coilover kits are manufactured in the USA. Aldan American uses only the highest quality materials, such as high-strength 6061-T6 aluminum; cold wound, high tensile coil springs; and nitrogen-charged gas shocks.

Before installing any suspension products, make sure your G-body (really, any vehicle) is safely supported by jack stands or a lift. Remember, factory coil springs contain a lot of energy and are dangerous. They must be removed carefully. Use a heavy-duty floor jack to support the lower control arms when you are removing the original coil springs. Aldan American coilover shocks can be installed in a day, getting you back on the road in short order. Get them installed, take a test drive, and experience the difference. CHP

Photography by Jim Smart


These universal coilover kits make it easy to install custom coilovers. Aldan American coilovers help maximize handling performance and ride quality. To select a coilover kit, choose single- or double-adjustable shocks, extended length (the measurement from eyelet to eyelet of the length shock your car will need), then add the spring rate. The kit includes a spanner wrench to help ease ride height adjustments. We’re going to be installing this coilover kit on a 1985 El Camino.


The El Camino’s suspension system closely resembles its 1964-’77 A-body predecessors. This is a time-proven suspension system that has worked well for generations. Our goal is to remove the coil springs and shocks and fit this classic with modern coilover shocks for better ride and handling.


The front shocks are disconnected at the bottom as shown. These are obviously replacement shocks where the original nutplates and bolts have been discarded. The top stud and fastener (not pictured) are also disconnected at this time. The shock pulls out through the bottom once everything is unbolted.


The stabilizer bar endlinks are removed next to free up the control arms and the stabilizer bar. There’s no need to remove the stabilizer bar.


Remove the ball joint cotter pin and break the castle nut loose, but do not remove it. Support the lower control arm with a floor jack and break the lower ball joint loose with a pickle fork. Once the ball joint is loose go ahead and remove the castle nut and slowly lower the jack to relax spring tension. Stay clear of the coil spring until all the tension is relieved.


Once you’ve completely relaxed the spring pressure and are confident the spring is safe, remove the coil spring.


The shock mount holes in the lower control arm have to be drilled out to 3/8-inch to accommodate the hardware supplied in the coilover kit. If your G-body has nutplates in the lower control arm they need to be removed at this time before drilling.


Before you install the front coilover shocks, they have to be prepped for installation. Both the shock and coil spring install in place of the original shock and coil spring, only they become a packaged coilover shock assembly. Torrington bearings, which support the coil spring, are lubricated as shown prior to assembly. Do not install these bearings dry.


The front coilover shocks get their adjustment rings as shown here. The black billet adjustment ring (black arrow) supports and adjusts the coil spring, including tension and ride height. The billet aluminum lock ring (white arrow) locks the adjustment ring.


The Aldan American coil spring is married to the shock and is installed as shown as an assembly where the factory coil spring and shock were originally located.


With the shock and spring properly positioned, the bottom shock mount is secured with the provided hardware. Aldan American provides all of the cad-plated Grade 8 hardware you’re going to need for installation.


We’ve installed the single-adjustable coilover shock, which allows you to adjust the compression and rebound for a smooth ride or handling. Increase the stiffness (higher number) for better handling or reduce the stiffness (lower number) for a smoother ride.


At the rear, be sure to support the rear axle. The top shock mount is disconnected first. You’re going to need a 9/16-inch socket and box-end wrench to bust these guys loose. Then disconnect the lower shock mount. You can then lower the rear axle to release the tension from the coil spring and remove it.


The rear trailing arm bolt will need to be removed to allow the installation of the coilover shock mount bracket. The trailing arm stays put; just the bolt comes out.


The highlighted holes are for the factory shock mount and the trailing arm attachment point. The Aldan American coilover shock mount bracket will bolt to this location using these holes.


Loosely install both mounting bolts before tightening either one. Otherwise you may have trouble threading the bolt through its hole if the other one is already tightened. Start with the shock mount bolt, then move on to the trailing arm bolt.


The trailing arm bolt is tightened last, after the shock mount bolt for ease of installation.


The top shock mount bolt holes need to be enlarged to 3/8-inch.


There are two approaches you can take with the top shock mount bracket: bolt heads on top or bottom. On top, you’re less likely to lose the bolts if the locknuts ever decide to leave. We’re installing them with the bolt head on the bottom for a cleaner look. There’s also less chance of the bolt shank interfering with the shock mounting bolt.


The coilover shock installation is simple, given there is plenty of clearance between the coilover and the tailpipes, which can happen on a lot of G-body cars due to the way the tailpipes are routed.


The bottom mount goes together like this. Where you position the bolt head is a matter of personal taste. Aldan American technician Gary Nelson prefers the head of the bolt toward the rear where it can be seen from behind.


The bottom mount bolt is tightened with an air impact, with flat washers on both sides at the head and nut. We have the good fortune of coilovers that clear the tailpipes. What’s more, there’s easy access to the adjustment knob on top as well as the ride height adjustment collars at the bottom.


And here’s our subject 1985 El Camino all buttoned back up and sitting pretty. The Aldan American coilovers allow for up to a 2-inch drop in ride height, which we think is just about right to tuck the rollers up into the wheelwells.


Aldan American



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