Like many Nova readers, I finally picked up my first project car, a fairly solid one-owner '67 Nova. Being a one-owner car, it's pretty much unmolested. It's equipped with a six backed by a three-speed, and it runs relatively well for something that likely has flipped its odometer more than once. But-there's always a but-the suspension and steering are so worn out that even on short around-town low-speed jaunts it's scary.
Since I planned on driving it for a while in its stock form while I figure out my future plan of attack, I just had to, for safety's sake, go through the stock suspension and steering. Now, I could have made a trip to my local parts store with a shopping list in hand and picked up the individual components I thought I would need for a thorough rebuild. But after a bit of careful consideration, I realized it'd be prudent to check out the aftermarket to see if anyone sold a complete OEM-style replacement parts package. Getting my hands on all the pieces needed at one time would beat the heck out of multiple trips to the parts store to get what I'd overlooked in the first trip (I never seem to get everything I need for a project on the first try), plus a single source for quality parts sure beats the mishmash of assorted imported components one would end up with from the local "Auto Farm" chain store and their crack troop of 17-year-old parts "experts."
With this in mind, I began my search and was soon directed by a co-worker to Just Suspension. The Mooresville, North Carolina-based company specializes in complete suspension packages for a wide array of early domestic cars, and they had exactly what the old Nova required. Even better, the OEM-style components they offer are much higher quality than the originals. Plus, a complete rebuild package from Just Suspension was substantially less expensive than purchasing each component separately from a parts store-a win-win situation I welcomed.
The company's Web site is simple and displays their wares in a straightforward manner that's more business than "glam"-a pleasant surprise in my eyes, anyway. Since I was planning on doing both the front and rear suspension, I was again pleasantly surprised to note they had it all-and in stock, no less!
The perfect package for my situation was the Real Deal kit, which consists of a virtual laundry list of pertinent components, including upper and lower ball joints, inner and outer tie rod ends and sleeves, stabilizer bar bushings, upper and lower control arm bushings, upper and lower rebound bumpers, strut rod bushings, a pitman arm, an idler arm assembly, a pair of coil springs, and new shocks. The rear portion of the Real Deal kit consists of a pair of three-leaf springs, leaf-spring insulators, spring bushings, hanger bushings, and shocks. Note that when it comes to bushings, you have a choice of rubber or graphite polyurethane material.
Just Suspension's ball joints and tie rod ends are not the run-of-the-mill items you'd end up with from the local parts house, either. These components are much higher quality. The thing that makes 'em superior to even high-line replacements is that they are manufactured to specific Just Suspension standards. The joint and end cases are fully machined both externally as well as internally (not just the wear surfaces). The ball studs have twice the grease journals as the parts store versions. The joints use high-quality steel preload springs and washers versus the rubber and plastic found in standard replacements. Only the wear surfaces of Just Suspension joints and ends are heat-treated; others heat-treat the complete assembly ('cause it's cheaper). The benefit of selective heat-treating is that the mounting areas remain malleable so they're less prone to cracking. The Just Suspension ball-stud seats are machined rather than stamped, and finally, the cases are O-ring-sealed rather than crimped like most-an impressive list of upgrades, don't you think?
The decision was a no-brainer for me, so I placed my order. It arrived in a couple of days (with no back-orders) and I set aside a weekend to perform the task. Now, an upgrade like this is fairly straightforward. Let's face it, it's pretty much an R&R job-in fact, it was harder cleaning up the control arms' greasy ball joint areas and breaking loose the 38-year-old nuts and bolts than it was to do the installation. That said, follow along and check out how I spent last weekend-it was well worth the small investment in both effort and cash!