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GM High Tech Performance
1971 Monte Carlo Chassis - Monte Makeover
Follow A Frame-Up Rebuild Of A '71 Monte Carlo.
Nov 1, 2007
Santa Fe Springs, CA 90670
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1971 Monte Carlo Chassis - Monte Makeover
Now came time for the lower A-arms. Currently the lower A-arms were on back-order, so we had to use the stock arms to finish the build. As soon as Hotchkis has more in stock, the old arms will be removed and replaced with the new ones.
After about three hours of work, Harrison had the body and frame separated. After another few hours, the frame was completely stripped down to the bare bones and then taken to the sandblaster.
The frame has been powdercoated a beautiful medium pearl grey with a powdercoated clearcoat. All the Hotchkis parts are here, and we are ready to begin. It was amazing how quickly the install went from this point forward. Not having to lie on your back under a car, assembling a bare frame was so much easier.
We started on the front end first and worked our way back. First was the bump stop and then the upper A-arms bolts, then the tubular upper A-arms.
When the frame came back from the sandblaster, the job of re-welding and boxing in the rails was at hand. The rear crossmember was completely re-welded, both top and bottom. From the factory the rear crossmember is only tacked, then riveted in place. The trailing arm perches are also welded for extra strength. Harrison boxed the frame with 1/8-inch steel plate, but left the front section undone on account of not knowing where the new transmission crossmember would be situated. The frame horns, up front, were also welded both top and bottom. Once all the welding and re-enforcement was done, the frame was off to Corsair Powder Coating in Ontario, California.
When the upper A-arms are installed, two 1/8-inch wheel shims were used as a generic starting point for wheel alignment. Once the vehicle is together the real alignment will come later.
Next came the 1-inch performance lowering springs. This part was the most difficult part of the install, and even then it was not much of a problem.
If you have a spring compressor, then use it. We used two of Harrison's employees to add weight to the top while the spring was compressed with a floor jack. No problem. Since we are still waiting on the lower arms we didn't index the front springs; we will do that when the lower arms arrive. Spring indexing is very important to the ride quality and height.
Part of the suspension includes the steering box. We went with Remy Racing's 600 series box with a 16:1 ratio. The 600 series box (part # 60016) is a bolt-in replacement for all GM A-, B-, F-, and X-body vehicles from 1965 through the early 1990s. This new box has a rack-and-pinion style servo, which translates into solid and responsive steering without any of the slop from the old box.
We are complete up in the front. All the suspension is done, as well as the steering linkage. Time for the large diameter sway bar.
Another item we ordered from Hotchkis that was not included in the TVS kit were these B-body spindles and 12-inch brakes. Original, stock 1964-1972 Chevelle, Malibu, El Camino and other GM A-body cars are equipped with 7 1/8-inch tall front spindles which, at stock ride height, orient the upper ball joint below the inner A-arm pick up points.
The large diameter 1 3/8-inch sway bar, polyurethane bushings, and grease fittings are next. The sway bar is not very heavy because it's hollow; size does matter and so does saving some weight.
Included in the TVS kit are Bilstein shocks. Bilstein builds the shocks, and ships them to Hotchkis where they are further tuned. You can find Bilstein shocks on high-end performance cars, circle track racers, and even dirt track racers. And now we have them on the Monte Carlo.
Starting with the new lower control arms and tubular control arm braces, we tackled the 4-link rearend set up. The adjustable mount braces connect the upper and lower mounts, triangulating them with the chassis for added strength and increased control.
Now comes the fun part: trying to lift the heavy 12-bolt rearend into place. You may notice that the rearend still has the old drum brakes. Those will be removed when we upgrade the entire braking system. In fact we have plans to upgrade the whole rearend. Don't worry, we're going to keep it all GM and build a better bulletproof 12-bolt.
Take a look at the completed front end with the wheel. It's not bad looking. It's almost a shame to cover this frame.
The double adjustable upper arms feature left and right hand threads and Swivel-Max bushings to maximize pinion angle adjustment and eliminate traction-robbing wheel hop for quicker, smoother launches. Increased roll stiffness improves cornering, and driveline vibration caused by improper pinion angle is eliminated. The upper arms are fabricated from CNC-cut steel and billet aluminum. Both arms are fitted with tough fluted polyurethane bushings and greasable zerk fittings.
The re-welded rebuilt frame is rolling around the shop. Minus the brake upgrades and rearend build up, the Monte Carlo's platform is ready to roll.
The rear performance lowering springs are a lot easier to install than the front springs.
The tubular rear sway bar offers two adjustment options, 75 and 100 percent stiffer than stock, so you can fine tune rear roll stiffness for optimum traction. All the hardware, bushings, etc. are in the TVS kit for the rear sway bar.
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