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1970 Chevy Nova Front Suspension - Build 'Em If You Got 'Em

Frustrated With Your Factory Clip? Build It Better

Mike Harrington Aug 24, 2007
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Several months ago, we talked to the crew over at Global West Suspension. During our conversation, we told them about an ugly duckling 1970 Nova that recently came into our possession. During our conversation we tossed ideas back and forth trying to figure out what to do with this $250 Nova. The guys at Global tossed a suggestion at us that we hadn't really given a whole lot of thought. Why not keep the factory clip, and rebuild it? We're not just talking about bolt-on parts, but really work it over. Once the clip is refurbished, the bolting on of the performance parts could commence. After some thought about what it would take, we decided to give it a go-that meant sandblasting, grinding out the old factory welds, re-welding it again, and then powdercoating it. We gave our friend Harry Ortis at Harrison's Performance a call, and had him assist us in this task. This is definitely a down and dirty, hands on approach, but if you've already got a clip under your car why not build it? Let's dig in deep and redo this OEM clip.

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Before we get started it would only be appropriate to show you the pictures of this clip before we rebuilt it. It kind of looks like it was sitting at the bottom of a lake doesn't it?

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Years under a non-running, neglected Nova were not kind to it.

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Make sure your tetanus shots are up to date...

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...before disassembling!

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There is no need to be kind and gentle to the parts being removed.

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We plan to reuse the spindles and steering arms. The rest will end up in the recycling bin.

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A short time later we have built a nice pile of aging parts. It kind of looks like modern art sculpture, doesn't it? We don't plan on reusing the steering box, pitman arm, or centerlink. The steering portion of this clip is another story for another day. As for the rest of the parts, we tossed them into the scrap bin.

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This is it, in all of its faded glory.

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It's time to load the subframe into the back of the truck, and head over to the shop to have it sandblasted.

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A big thank you to the crew at Jericho in Colton, California. Jericho handled all the sandblasting of the clip as well as the powdercoating process.

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When the blasting of the clip was completed, it was loaded into the truck, and brought back to the shop for some surgery.

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Here is the reason we are back at the shop with the freshly cleaned clip. These two photos illustrate just how terrible some of the factory welds can be.

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We don't know whether this clip was built on Monday morning or Friday afternoon. Suffice it to say that the large gaps in the seams where the welder completely missed are not acceptable.

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Most every factory weld has to be ground down and flattened. We took our time and ground nearly all of them. It's tedious work for sure, but it's the only way to resurrect this clip.

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It's time to use the wire in the MIG welder you just bought. Every seam that was ground is re-welded making this clip stronger than it was before.

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Take a look at these welds and compare them to the factory welds. It's a night and day difference.

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"Back in black, it's a rack, been so long it's good to be back." (OK enough of the AC/DC lyrics.) Not bad looking! After the disassembly, blasting, grinding, welding, and powdercoating, we're ready to install the new suspension pieces.

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Bolting in the new tubular control arms from Global West is the easiest part of rebuilding this clip. After all, most of the hard work is out of the way. We started with the lower control arms first.

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Global West suggests using two 1/8-inch alignment shims as a starting point. Naturally, when the clip is installed on your vehicle a trip to an alignment shop should be the first order of business.

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Here's a photo with both control arms in place, high-performance coilover shocks from AFCO...

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...and Global West springs indexed and installed.

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Voila! Here's a perfect match, and a great suspension setup. The control arms and AFCO coilover shock are a winning combination. It helped to have a couple of guys stand on the clip as we compressed the spring with a floor jack in order to install the spindle back in place.

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We decided to powdercoat and reuse the stock spindles. They are still in decent shape, and it's a great way to save a couple of bucks. If we decide to switch to drop spindles or disc brake spindles, our ECI brakes will adapt to any changes we make. In this photo the caliper bracket from ECI is being installed.

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After the bracket is attached to the spindle, the roller bearings that came with the ECI brake kit are packed with grease. The billet hub and cap should be installed next.

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Now check out the size of these beautiful brakes. ECI uses a stock GM caliper coupled with monster sized 13-inch Corvette rotors. Now that the brakes are installed we can consider the formerly worthless clip "built to the hilt."

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If you're a do-it-yourself type, this kind of clip rebuild is right up your alley. Let's take a closer look at the parts we used in this rebuild.As we mentioned earlier, the steering box, pitman arm, tie rod ends, and centerlink are installs we will address later.

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Global West suggested we use AFCO shocks. After explaining the kind of performance these shocks are capable of, we were sold. The coilover shocks we used (part # 3845F) are a single adjustable shock. The adjuster knob on top of the shock gives it the ability to dampen the rebound without affecting the compression of the shock. These shocks are tunable for drag racing or road racing.

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The brake kits sold by ECI (Engineered Components, Inc) come in several kits and optional upgrades. The kit we used (part# EC-13723ACK) comes standard with 13-inch Corvette rotors, and large GM calipers with semi-metallic pads. Billet aluminum hubs, billet dust caps, roller bearings, seals, caliper mounting brackets, and all hardware for necessary the install are also included in this kit. If you find yourself stuck in "Anytown, USA" with worn out pads, any pimple-faced kid behind the parts counter shouldn't have a problem finding new replacement pads. We didn't install the brakes just to look pretty. However, when the Nova finally sees the black top, we will run it through the ringer and fully test it.

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The lower A-arms on the Nova frame are Global West's G-plus series (part # CTA-79A) the lower arms are direct fit coilover control arms. They come fully assembled with top of the line Del-A-Lum bushings and ball joints. Not to mention they have a lifetime-warranty for the original vehicle owner.

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The upper A-arms are also of the same G-plus series, (part # CTA-79H) and they also come fully assembled and feature Del-A-Lum bushings. The tubular A-arms (both upper and lower) are also considerably lighter than the stock steel arms.

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Along with the AFCO coilover shocks, we used Global West's performance springs for this application. (part # S501).


Global West Suspension
San Bernardino, CA 92408



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