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Chevy Nova Suspension - Let's Right this Nova Ship
Get your '68-'74 Nova to Handle Like a Track Star With Some Dynamite Suspension Upgrades
Mar 18, 2008
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Chevy Nova Suspension - Let's Right this Nova Ship
Here's the '70 Nova with stock suspension and skinny front drag tires.Not so hot for the rigors of an autocross, or even our slalom testing.
After a Hotchkis suspension makeover and a set of Hoosier A6 Autocrosstires, the Nova has a whole new attitude and a gorilla grip on theslalom course. (photo Steven Rupp)
The Hotchkis Nova TVS suspension upgrade kit (PN 80013, $1,257.00)consists of 2-inch lowering front coil springs, front and rear sway bars(all hardware, dogbones, and end links included), 2-inch drop rear leafsprings, tie rod sleeves, and all necessary mounting hardware and springpads. As an upgrade to the TVS kit, we also included upper A-arms (PN1107, $739.00) and lower A-arms (PN 1109, $900.00), as well as theHotchkis/Bilstein shocks ($97.00 each).
It's important to keep the suspension tight with fresh, qualityreplacement parts. Therefore, we've also included the new Hotchkis tierods, pitman arm, and idler arm. No part numbers were available on thesebrand-new items at press time, but info should be available by the timeyou read this. Check www.hotchkis.net for availability.
First bit of business is to remove the tie rod by loosening up thecastle nut on the spindle. Don't be afraid to bang it loose. After 35years, a little persuasion may be necessary to get the tie rod separatedfrom the steering arm.
With the shock removed, it was time to pull out the cotter pin and beginto remove the ball joint on the lower A-arm.
When you remove the spring, be sure to use a spring compressor or afloor jack to get it out safely. You don't want a compressed spring toinadvertently come flying out of the lower A-arm pocket, as it couldcause some damage to the car or you if you're standing in the wrongplace.
Next up, Corey removes the lower A-arm. Two bolts, and out.
The Hotchkis lower tubular A-arms come with an aluminum shim foradditional ride height adjustability between a quarter to a half inch.We didn't use the shim, as this car has no A/C and relies on small-blockpower. The weight of a big-block may require a little more height,putting the shim to good use.
The kit also comes with polyurethane rotating spring pockets for properand easy spring placement. A very useful feature, especially when a cutspring is used. If not properly fitted, a cut spring will make unwantednoise and won't function properly.
Although the new Hotchkis sway bar won't be bolted in just yet, Coreygets it into the "ready" position.
With the supplied polyurethane bushings, you'll need to applynon-lithium grease (special silicone based lube is included in the kit).This will ensure the sway bar functions to its full potential and keepsthe ride quiet--even under high-stress situations. As a footnote, don'tuse standard grease, as over time it will dry out the bushings.
The Hotchkis 1 1/8-inch sway bar easily bolts into the stock location ofthe factory piece.
The lower tubular A-arms utilize Delrin bushings for smooth performance.They get the same treatment with the non-lithium grease.
Next up, Corey slides in the lower A-arms. They come with ball jointsand polyurethane bumpstops preinstalled and ready to go. As an addedbenefit of the Delrin bushings, the A-arms can be tightened down whilethe car is in the air. Unlike stock A-arms with rubber bushings, there'sno need to wait until the car is under its own weight at ride height.
As mentioned earlier, Cory chose to put in the bottom spring pocketwithout the aluminum shim, as the front of our Nova is relatively light.Corey's experience tells him the stance will be just what we're lookingfor.
Next up, the 2-inch lowering springs went in. Having the car's rideheight lower to the ground provides better handling and steeringresponse. The precision-wound springs will give the car a firm, but notharsh ride. Also, the car will take on a more aggressive stance. Therotating spring pockets make clocking the springs much easier thanstock--another time saver.
Next, Corey removed the stock upper A-arms. If you were doing a brakejob, you would remove upper and lower A-arms at the same time.
The Hotchkis upper A-arms come with a billet 4130 cross-shaft thatallows more negative camber, and the offset bolt insets provide morepositive caster without having to stack unattractive shims. Just likethe lower A-arms, the uppers are also equipped with Delrin bushings forsmooth, responsive driveability.
With new Hotchkis tubular A-arms bolted in place, the Hotchkis/Bilsteingas shocks were next to be installed. These are built to Hotchkis' specsfor this application and spring rate.
With the upper and lower A-arms installed, it was time to remove thepitman arm.
You may have to use a wedge and some persuasion to get the pitman armremoved from the steering box.
Once removed, Cory was able to disassemble the entire steering linkage,including the idler arm, pitman arm, and tie rods from the centerlink.
Be sure to put in the Zerk fittings before the installing the new tierods.
Then install the new Hotchkis supplied pitman arm onto the steering box.
Next is the idler arm assembly.
Then the centerlink is bolted back up to the idler arm and pitman arms.
Before installing the new Hotchkis tie rods, be sure to use anticease onthe threads. When you put the them together, be sure to have an equalamount of thread showing on each side. This will provide equal strengthand simplify final adjustment.
The new tie rod then bolts up to the centerlink and spindle.
With the car dropped, it was time to bolt in the sway bar end links.
With the front all tidied up, it looks pretty fresh. This upgrade willsupply the Nova with a whole new attitude in looks and driveability.
As a little tip: Before you begin to remove old suspension pieces, it'sa good idea to use penetrating oil on all the old nuts and bolts, asmost of these have not moved in over 35 years.
First bit of order on the rear is to loosen the U-bolts from the springperch.
Now it was time to simply unbolt the leaf springs, starting with thefront spring mount and moving to the rear shackles. Don't be afraid touse a pry bar to separate the shackles from the spring.
It's important to clean out the rear shackle mount hole of any oldrubber left inside from the stock bushing. The new Hotchkis polyurethanebushings fit very precise, so there can be no leftover debris.Rough-grit sandpaper and some elbow grease will get the job done.
With the mount holes cleaned up, the bushings can be installed. Payclose attention to the instructions here, as there are two differentpart numbers for the upper and lower bushings. Corey uses a large set ofchannel locks to press them in. Be sure to use the supplied lube, asthese are also Delrin bushings.
The bushing sleeve slides in next. Again, be sure to use plenty of thesupplied lube here too.
Cory then whips out the channel locks to install the correct bushing onthe leaf spring.
Loosely install the top of the shackle, as you'll need the flexibilityto get the spring in.
Next, Cory installs the front spring mount to the spring. Remember, thispiece is not included in the kit, so you'll need to remove it from theold springs. Don't tighten them down all the way until it's in the car.
The front and rear of the springs now easily bolt right in to the stocklocations. As a tip, be sure to keep the bolts on the outside away fromthe gas tank...
...It will give you more clearance when tightening them down.Cory also mentions not to fully tighten down the bolts until the car islowered off the jacks and under its own weight.
Because the Hotchkis stainless steel U-bolts are lager in diameter thanstock, you'll have to bore out the holes on the leaf perch and shockmount with a 5/8-inch drill bit.
With the shock mounts bored out, they were ready to be installed. Besure the pads are correctly aligned with the center pin. Another tip: Besure to leave the U-bolts loose so you can get the shock mount insidethe wheel. Otherwise the outer area of the wheel or tire will get in theway.
With the Hotchkis/Bilstein shocks mounted, the rear suspension upgradekit was ready to go. This setup also lowers the car in the rear about 2inches. But that all depends on the condition of the stock leaf springs.If they were plenty worn, the car was already lower than stock. Whenordering your shocks, be sure to check to see if you have stud or clevisshock mounts.
It was then on to the Hotchkis 7/8-inch rear sway bar. Just pry open theurethane bushing mounts and install as shown. Exact location isn'timportant at this time.
Corey loosely attaches the sway bar and U-bolts over the axlehousing.Remember to use some anticease on the U-bolt threads and lube up thebushings with the supplied lube.
Before bolting on the dogbone, be sure to lube it up, too.
Center the sway bar by using the rear end housing and the framerails asa guide, then mark a spot where the mount will go through the back seatarea. With the back seat removed, drill through using a 1/2-inch drillbit for the mounting holes, then tighten down the mounts with thesupplied hardware.
The Hotchkis rear sway bar is ready for action.
Hotchkis '68-74 Nova subframe connectors (PN 4009 $396.00) are made outof mild steel and are 1 1/2x2 1/2 with .120-inch wall for superiorquality and strength. They're powdercoated gloss black for anattractive, long-lasting appearance and come with polyurethane subframebushings and hardware. No need to cut the floors with this setup, asthey bolt right into the front subframe and slide over the rearframerails and can be easily welded into place.
First bit of work for the subframe connectors is to loosen the stockbushings on the front clip.
Corey uses a pry bar in order to remove the old bushing.
The front of the new Hotchkis subframe connector and new bushings boltright into the stock location.
The rear of the subframe connectors simply slip over the rear of theframerail. There are four predrilled holes, making it easy to weld theconnector into place. Corey then went on and welded a nice, even beadaround the connector.
With the new Hotchkis subframe connector welded in the rear, Corey thenuses a 1/2-inch bit to drill the mounting holes in the stock clip inorder to bolt up the front of the subframe connector.
You could weld the front in if you wanted to, but with the Hotchkissubframe connectors, you can use them again if you changed the frontclip.
Here's the subframe connector all bolted in, welded up, and ready foraction. With the subframe following the contours of the floors, groundclearance is not an issue, plus it looks clean and stealthy.
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