1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Project - Leaf Spring and Brake Swap

Rear Suspension Revamp - A Sturdier Grip for GM's Classic

Jake Amatisto Jun 20, 2014 0 Comment(s)
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1957 Chevy Bel Air New Shackle 2/22

This shot of Jason tightening the new shackle shows just how close the fuel tank is to the top shackle bolt on the driver-side. We wanted to avoid a potential fuel mess—and some time—by not having to remove the gas tank. It was not easy, however. Have a friend hold the fuel tank away from the frame while you or another friend slides the new bolt in.

1957 Chevy Bel Air Multi Leaf Springs 3/22

We opted for Performance Online’s new multi-leaf springs for our project. They are available in stock and 2-inch lowered ride heights. Performance Online offers a mono-leaf for Tri-Fives as well.

1957 Chevy Bel Air Tie Plates 4/22

We upgraded to all-new hardware under the rear of the ’57, including the tie plates that the shocks attach to and align the U-bolts over the axletubes. The tie plates come powdercoated and are way nicer than the rusty stockers.

1957 Chevy Bel Air Stock Brakes 5/22

Next, Scudellari tackled the removal of the stock brakes. At this point we suspected that none of the parts under our Tri-Five had ever been removed, judging by the ample amount of grease and grime that thickly coated the entire underside.

1957 Chevy Bel Air Wheel Bearings 6/22

Even though you can’t see it in this photo, the amount of frustration in the air at this point in the build was as thick as birthday cake. The stock wheel bearings were thoroughly rusted into place and were not letting the stock axles free from the housing. After several attempts with the slide hammer, we finally got it to budge.

1957 Chevy Bel Air Axle 7/22

This photo represents one man’s victory over a seemingly immovable object. With the axle freed, we could move on to the brakes.

1957 Chevy Bel Air Brake Shoes 8/22

The stock brake shoes gave way to 11-inch, zinc-plated rotors. Although drum brakes can be made to work well, disc brakes don’t hold onto heat and fade like the drums notoriously do.

1957 Chevy Bel Air Brake Calipers 9/22
1957 Chevy Bel Air Zinc Caliper 10/22

To attach the new brake calipers, Scudellari first installed the zinc-plated caliper brackets, which bolt to the back of the rearend housing ends. To align the caliper over the rotor, different length spacers were fitted before being permanently bolted on.

1957 Chevy Bel Air Rotors 11/22

The rotors are drilled and slotted to reduce heat buildup and to keep brake dust in check, as well. They simply slide over the stock axle flange before the caliper can be positioned.

1957 Chevy Bel Air Calipers Rotor 12/22

Once the brake pads were inserted into the caliper, Jason positioned it over the rotor and bolted it to the caliper bracket. The rear disc conversion kit (PN RWBK5570) also comes with a parking brake fixture.

1957 Chevy Bel Air Suspension Upgrade 13/22

The ’55-57 Chevys never came with a rear sway bar, yet these cars are fairly heavy, so we imagine that this upgrade can really reduce body roll.

1957 Chevy Bel Air Suspension Done 14/22

With the ’57’s suspension and brakes upgraded front and rear, we now feel much more comfortable driving on public roads. Now if we have to make a hasty maneuver, we feel confident our hot rod will respond. And gone is the uncertainty we had when approaching a stoplight with tired drum brakes; we can now confidently halt our ’50’s cruiser with room to spare.

Service Performed In Tech Center 15/22


Performance Online
Fullerton, CA 92831


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