Up In Arms

Tubular Front Upper Control Arm Replacements for C2s and C3s

The '63-82 (C2 and C3) Corvettes were all built with the same basic front suspension systems. They were strong and durable, but tended to be a little heavy. The upper and lower control arms of all Second- and Third-Gen Vettes were made from heavy stamped steel and have minimal suspension adjustments built into the original design.

Vette Brakes and Products, Inc. offers a wide variety of C2 and C3 bolt-on suspension upgrades that dramatically reduce ride harshness and improve handling. The nice thing about their products is you can, should you ever wish, return your car to stock by re-installing your original components. Recently, Team VETTE installed one of VBP's Front Composite Monospring systems on an '80 Corvette (See "Spring Has Sprung," April 2003). The installation was simple and straightforward, and the improvement to the car's ride and handling were very apparent on the highway.

VBP also has heavy-duty upper control arms that are made from box-tube, MIG-welded metal, that are stronger than the stock components. These control arms compliment the Front Composite system. The control arms retail for $349.95 a pair and carry PN 42101. VPB sent us a pair of these control arms which we installed on the '80 coupe; the same car on which we fitted the Front Composite Monospring system. The monospring kit included new lower control arms. The upper control arms include new poly bushings for better suspension pivot and less deflection. The ball joints are relocated to provide up to 5-degrees positive caster and greater camber adjustment. Art Dorsett, President of Van Steel Inc. graciously offered to install the new control arms into the car. We recommend using a shop with good lifts and a wide variety of heavy tools to safely perform this conversion. However, a competent weekend mechanic with a good selection of tools can also complete the change. In both cases, save your original parts in case you want to return your car to stock.

Installation took about two hours and everything fit perfectly. VBP included all of the necessary parts with the upper control arm kit. After the installation was complete, we took the car to the alignment rack and took advantage of the greater suspension adjustments offered by the new control arms. On the road, the car's tracking was more positive and the steering had a lighter, more positive feel. Ride quality stayed the same. So, if you want to bolt on a completely new front suspension on your C2 or C3, we recommend installing one of VBP's suspension systems.

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The new left upper control arm is shown on the top. The dimensions are identical to the original unit seen directly above.

We raised the car on a lift and removed the front tires.

Remove the cotter pin from the upper ball joint and loosen the nut with a 3/4-inch box wrench. Do not totally remove the nut. When the nut is loose, use a pickle fork and a hammer to loosen the ball joint.

You can also use a 4-pound mallet and tap the top of the spindle to loosen the ball joint as shown.

Place a safety stand under the lower spring and lower the car to relieve pressure from the ball joint retaining nut. Remove the 3/4-inch nut.

Raise the car carefully to allow the spindle to fall free from the upper ball joint. We recommend securing the spindle with heavy wire while you work on the upper control arm to keep it from moving in the lower ball joint.

Remove the two 11/16-inch nuts on the upper control arm. Use a long pry bar or screwdriver to loosen the control arm so the alignment shims can be removed.

We recommend placing the front and rear shims on a clean cloth. Reinstall them in the same place they were removed from.

We used a slide hammer to remove the two bolts that secure the upper control arm to the frame.

Place the slide hammer on the upper control arm bolts to remove them from the frame.

Remove the old A-arm through the hole in the splash pan. It is a tight fit, but it will come out if you're patient.

Install the new upper control arm by reversing the stock A-arm removal procedure.

Use a long bar to gently tap the upper control arm bolts into place.

Install new 11/16-inch nuts on the upper control arm bolts. Reinstall the alignment shims in the order that they were removed. Torque the two 11/16-inch bolts to 50 lb-ft.

Reinstall the upper ball joint, nut, and cotter key. Torque to 45 lb-ft. Replace the tires and lower the car. After several days of driving, retorque all of the bolts to make sure they are secure.

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