If you are restoring an old Chevelle or simply changing up your existing build, one of the most crucial systems in how your car is going to handle is the suspension. Not only will it alter how it drives, but if you race your Chevelle the rear suspension is vital to your takeoff from the starting line.
Finding great Chevelle suspension kit upgrades can seem a little daunting at times, and which components are going to provide the biggest benefit will largely depend on what you intend to do with it. Definitely consider the lower control arm, upper control arm, and sway bar here.
We’re going to take a deep dive into some of the best Chevelle suspension upgrades so that you have all the info you need to make the right choice.
Here are some of the most common upgrades.
- Upper rear control arms
- Adjustable upper control arms
- Sway bar
- Body roll
- Adjustable shocks
- Front suspension
- Camber curve
- Polyurethane bushings
- Coil springs
Chevelle Rear Suspension Upgrade
When the Chevelle left the factory on its birthday, it was equipped with a coil-spring front independent suspension rear trailing arm suspension system.
This type of suspension kit used two short upper control arm models, and two longer lower control arm models that worked together to keep the rear axle in the position it needed to be. The control arms are positioned at an angle to keep the axle at the right angle and to prevent undesirable side-to-side movement.
How Does The Chevelle Rear Suspension Work?
As an increasing load is placed on the rear axle, the lower control arms are compressed while the upper control arm is put into tension, or pulled apart. This creates a very complex series of events that allow the suspension to function in its intended fashion.
During a takeoff at the track, or even a lead foot green light on the street, the power that is applied to the drivetrain tenses and compresses the coil springs. This causes a tremendous buildup of potential energy under the control arms, and as the springs compensate for the forces that the car is undergoing, the front driver corner will lift up.
On the street you won’t notice this, however, on the track, it can look like the car is about to twist itself apart.
While this is happening, the compression in the rear passenger side springs causes the rear axle to torque in the opposite direction. This is why it is so common to see one tire begin to spin. This can be harmful to your suspension components.
The First Step
If you are running a Chevelle with even the mildest block in it, one of the first things you want to do to upgrade your suspension kit is to install rear cross member braces.
There are many aftermarket suppliers of these kits, Edelbrock and Hotchkis are two of the most common and well-known. These kits allow you to connect the upper and lower control arm mounting points in the front, even if they are aftermarket control arms.
This results in a far stronger rear cross member and can give your Chevelle suspension increased longevity by preventing the mounting points from cracking or even shearing off entirely during a strong takeoff.
This triangulation first requires a significant inspection of the rear cross member to ensure it can handle the upgrade in the first place. The area where it attaches to the frame needs to be solid. This is where the ball joints need to be checked out and maybe even adjusted.
Upgrade The Control Arms
This will be necessary for just about any non-stock application of a Chevelle since they originally were stamped steel and surprisingly weak for the potential loads they would see.
Ideally, the upper control arm will be able to twist to some degree, since they will need to avoid binding during intense body roll situations. The rear sway bars are also going to come into play here.
The deflection of the lower arms occurs over a longer distance, which means the rear axle will see some movement underneath the body.
Lower Control Arm
Normally this doesn’t matter too much, but with the increased performance demand you will be putting larger tires on in most cases. These larger tires can make deflection an issue fast. This means you will need lower control arms that either do not deflect or only deflect minimally.
The best control arms to upgrade your Chevelle suspension will be tubular in design, since they will be able to withstand the greatest forces. Most major suspension companies like Hotchkis and Global West offer lower control arms that still allow a small amount of travel to avoid binding.
Upgrading to Coil-Over Shocks
If your Chevelle is mainly for the street, coil-over shocks might seem a bit excessive, but not only will it open up the selection of rear spring compression rates, but they will also make ride height adjustments much easier.
Additionally, depending on what type of coil-over shocks you choose, you can change the compression and rebound adjustments whenever you like, to be prepared for either stiffer handling or a softer ride.
Don’t Forget the Sway Bar
There are many Chevelle coil over shock upgrade kits out there, and some will be far more involved than others to implement so keep that in mind.
Some kits may require you to weld certain components or mounting points, but there are also kits out there that are considered to be “bolt-on” upgrades.
This means you should be able to fully upgrade your Chevelle suspension to coil-over shocks in a day, or even less with some knowledgeable helping hands.
The Best Chevelle Suspension Upgrade Options
Depending on how much work you are ready to put in, and your mechanical skills, upgrading your Chevelle suspension can be as complex and custom, or as standard and straightforward as you like. If you want the most bang for your buck, get one of the bolt-on coil-over upgrades that you can do in one day on the weekend, and spend the other day trying it out.