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slonzo69
07-18-2016, 12:43 PM
Hello Tri5 Enthusiast...
I'm new to the site and I'm in need of assistance. I own a 55' Chevy. It was a drag car, well built but I want to convert to a pro touring. I'm having an LS with twin turbos outfitted for the power. I plan to do the front suspension myself. I would like to modernize it but not break the bank (if that's such a thing) Can you please assist me with selecting the correct parts and engineer of parts? What would you recommend for rack and pinion (flaming river, unisteer or classic chevy)? What would your recommendation be for control arms and spindles? It currently has after market GM disc brakes on the front. Please advise and thank you in advance.

NickP
07-18-2016, 02:42 PM
Get in touch with Laszlo @ http://www.classicedgedesigns.com/

chevynut
07-18-2016, 03:41 PM
slonzo69, welcome to Trifivechevys.com.

You can do a lot of bolt-on upgrades and improve significantly on the stock front suspension. However, there are limits to what can be done and it can run into the thousands of dollars and still not get it to where you want. Check out my website below (same as Nick linked...THANKS NICK! ;)), and pics of my Nomad and see if it's something you'd like to pursue.

slonzo69
07-18-2016, 05:26 PM
Thank you guys for the leads. I will be checking them shortly.

rockytopper R.I.P 5-13-2017
07-19-2016, 11:03 AM
I chose the bolt on route. You might discuss your goals with Mark at SC&C. http://scandc.com/new/node/693

I went with the upper adjustable arms and taller ball joints to improve the original suspension geometry. I used hellwig sway bars front and back. Good shocks and all new lowering springs front and back. Fronts are 550/in lb with a little over 2 inches of drop and the rears are 6 leaf with 1-1/2 inch drop. Haven't driven the car yet but hoping the changes make it perform similar to my 65 pro-touring cutlass which uses the same basic parts. It handles very well. I also recommend the cpp 500 steering box over the bolt on rack and pinion if on a budget. Good luck with it. Cnut offers a great deal on a C4 setup. The bolt on's I'm doing cost approximately 5400$ with 500 box and 4 wheel disc kit.
Rocky

markm
07-19-2016, 11:13 AM
My 55 has Ft and Rr sway bars, 500 PS box, additional 5 degree stock appearing upper a arms, with Chevelle roter disk and I spent a little over a grand and I am happy. I did not want another pro touring fad car destined to go the way of pro street.

Custer55
07-19-2016, 12:29 PM
I went the C4 route. You can see my build in the member project updates "C4 frame project" I have had mine back on the road since mid June with about 800 miles on it so far. I am very happy with the results for both ride and handling. I think the handling will be even better once I save up to get better wheels and tires. I have about $4,000. in mine including what I paid for the Corvette parts with doing all the work myself.
Brian

chevynut
07-19-2016, 01:55 PM
There are a few major deficiencies in the stock tri5 front suspension, steering, and brakes. First, if you're lucky you can get 2 degrees of caster out of it, in fact the stock spec is 1/2-1 1/2 degrees. Sagging crossmembers often limit caster adjustment. Next is the suspension geometry. The upper a-arm points down and outward such that with suspension compression you get positive caster and that's bad for handling performance. There are no swaybars which help to reduce roll significantly. The stock steering box takes about 75 turns to go lock to lock. ;) Factory spec is 5.34 turns. Obviously the front brakes are drums which are not the best brakes, and the stock master cylinder has a single reservoir for all 4 brakes which is a safety issue imo. The stock front suspension sits too high for most people, and a lower CG clearly improves performance. That can be done with dropped springs to a limited degree, or with dropped spindles, or both.

You can address the caster issue with tubular or factory-like a-arms that give additional caster, usually 5 degrees (C4 spec is 6 degrees). The suspension geometry can be improved somewhat by using a longer upper balljoint but the effect is limited and the small negative camber gain is not conducive to high performance use. It can be further improved by lowering the car with lowering springs, but then you induce other problems like tire scrub and reduction of suspension travel (C4 suspensions have much improved suspension geometry). Swaybars are a good addition for any car, whether a stock-like build or pro-touring (C4 suspensions come with both front and rear swaybars). You can upgrade the steering with bolt-on boxes or racks that cost anywhere from $400-800 (C4 suspensions come with power R&P, 2.36 turns lock to lock standard). There are many bolt-on brake kits available but not many for stock spindles. Therefore depending on what brakes you want you might have to go with dropped front spindles (C4 suspensions come with 4-wheel power discs, 11.5-13"). To address the high CG issue and to lower the car without affecting suspension travel, you should go with dropped spindles anyhow, imo. You can get a 2" drop without affecting anything else. Much more than 1" dropped springs start negatively affecting suspension travel. (Our standard C4 conversion drops the front 3" with no change to the suspension).

So add up the cost of a new steering rack, a-arms, swaybars, engine frame mounts (included in our C4 setup), dropped spindles, disc brakes, and dropped springs and compare it to the alternatives.

A lot of this depends on what you want the car to be like when finished. If you want an old-school 60's build that drives like a 60's car, you can get by with a lot less money.

If you want it to drive like a modern, new car, then go with modern lightweight parts and modern suspension geometry. A C4 suspension (all aluminum) can bring your car's suspension into the 90's, and imo not much has been done to the C5/6 front ends that makes them much better than the C4. You can do a front-only C4 conversion and keep your solid rear axle and gain much of the benefit. If you can do some of the work yourself, you can get a basic C4 clip for as low as $2200 and if you shop around complete C4 front suspensions can be had for $500-800. Of course in either case there are other parts required.

Here's a great example.....Chad did everything he could to the front end of his 56 HT and still wasn't happy with the way it drove. He brought it down here from Wyoming and we installed a new C4 front clip for him. He's working on getting it driveable now. ;)

http://www.trifivechevys.com/showthread.php/4504-Dropped-my-56-off-at-Cnut-s-today

http://www.trifivechevys.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=5983&stc=1

Maddog
07-19-2016, 05:10 PM
What do you want to do with it? Nice cruiser or racer? Bolt on is the best and least expensive if you want to enjoy a nice driving street car.

hutchenc
07-19-2016, 10:37 PM
I'll echo what Lazlo said...the bolt-on route is enticing because you can do it a piece at a time (hopefully not like the Johnny Cash song though) and not incur a big cost right away, but in the end, it's about the same price as a C4 front swap. I just didn't like the way my car drove...it was like a brick and I had ALL of the goodies with the exception of the tall ball joints (which I simply refuse to believe would have solved all of the things I didn't like about the way it drove). Didn't like the steering, brakes were OK, not great, still didn't handle all that well...my mostly stock '72 Camaro would run circles around it in terms of handling without even trying hard. I had all the right parts on it, but you can only take these stock suspension/framed cars so far.

If you want it to handle, stop, and steer well, I'd strongly advise you to speak with Lazlo. I'm still working on getting mine back on the road after the swap...been hitting some minor set-backs mostly because of other things going on in my life (work and a bad knee that's making it hard to work on the car... that and incorrect coil-over springs I bought as well as brakes that were too big for my wheels...woops!).

And just like Lazlo said, if you want a 60's or 70's style car (like a gasser...you know, a fad car destined to go the way of the pro-street cars of the '80's...wait that already happened ;) ) it can be done for much cheaper. You'll still spend close to $3K all said and done IMO though. New steering box, power steering, rebuilt steering linkage (that's $1K right there), decent disc brakes and hubs, proper booster, M/C (another $500 at least), control arms with increased caster, shocks, springs, front sway bar (another $750 to $1500, varies greatly)...it adds up fast.

markm
07-20-2016, 07:43 AM
And just like Lazlo said, if you want a 60's or 70's style car (like a gasser...you know, a fad car destined to go the way of the pro-street cars of the '80's...wait that already happened ) it can be done for much cheaper. You'll still spend close to $3K all said and done IMO though. New steering box, power steering, rebuilt steering linkage (that's $1K right there), decent disc brakes and hubs, proper booster, M/C (another $500 at least), control arms with increased caster, shocks, springs, front sway bar (another $750 to $1500, varies greatly)...it adds up fast.


By robbing my stash a little I was able to do all the above for 30-40 cents on the dollar of your cost estimates. For example MID 70 Camaro prop valve free and 72 Monte Carlo rotors free. Just added. 5 degree stock appearing control arms to 55 at $229, why because tubular would look like crap on my car. To me doing more with less is half the fun.

chevynut
07-20-2016, 09:34 AM
By robbing my stash a little I was able to do all the above for 30-40 cents on the dollar of your cost estimates. For example MID 70 Camaro prop valve free and 72 Monte Carlo rotors free. Just added. 5 degree stock appearing control arms to 55 at $229, why because tubular would look like crap on my car. To me doing more with less is half the fun.

Free stuff doesn't count for free for everyone. And you still ended up with a car that drives like a 60's car. IMO there's no way you'll make a stock suspension drive like a modern one, on a stock frame. There are too many constraints. I don't see where you did anything to address the crappy stock suspension geometry and you apparently didn't lower the car at all like most guys do.

BTW, pro-touring is here to stay imo. Pro-street cars never were all that driveable and they're going away just like gassers did. Most people today want old cars that look like old cars but drive like new ones. That means modern suspensions, steering, brakes, and creature comforts like cruise control, power everything, and new modern (17-20") wheels and tires. Those are the cars bringing the big bucks at auctions too, which proves my point. Sure, there's still some old-school holdouts that will never catch on and somehow get a thrill out of a car that drives like a 60's car.

markm
07-20-2016, 10:49 AM
Free stuff doesn't count for free for everyone. And you still ended up with a car that drives like a 60's car. IMO there's no way you'll make a stock suspension drive like a modern one, on a stock frame. There are too many constraints. I don't see where you did anything to address the crappy stock suspension geometry and you apparently didn't lower the car at all like most guys do.

BTW, pro-touring is here to stay imo. Pro-street cars never were all that driveable and they're going away just like gassers did. Most people today want old cars that look like old cars but drive like new ones. That means modern suspensions, steering, brakes, and creature comforts like cruise control, power everything, and new modern (17-20") wheels and tires. Those are the cars bringing the big bucks at auctions too, which proves my point. Sure, there's still some old-school holdouts that will never catch on and somehow get a thrill out of a car that drives like a 60's car.

Once again you are wrong I for one hated the way my 67 SS 350 drove, 72 Cheyenne Super or the 70 SS 454 Chevelle I used to have drove until I installed late 70s Z28 or 80s truck steering boxes and late 70s Camaro steering wheels on them. Once I installed the aftermarket upper control arms on my 55 it suits me and I did not break the bank to do it. I have about as much use for lowered cars as I do for lifted 4x4s.

chevynut
07-20-2016, 02:18 PM
Once again you are wrong I for one hated the way my 67 SS 350 drove, 72 Cheyenne Super or the 70 SS 454 Chevelle I used to have drove until I installed late 70s Z28 or 80s truck steering boxes and late 70s Camaro steering wheels on them. Once I installed the aftermarket upper control arms on my 55 it suits me and I did not break the bank to do it. I have about as much use for lowered cars as I do for lifted 4x4s.

So says a guy who still uses a rotary phone, doesn't have a digital camera, doesn't know anything about modern fuel systems, and has never driven a vehicle newer than 1972 :D. You can have your 60's and 70's stuff if you love it so much. Even guys with those cars are upgrading them with more modern parts unless they're restoring them to original.

The modern stuff is a lot better and like I said that's what most guys want these days. 90% of guys are lowering their cars to get better handling, so you're an outlier. What suits you may not suit anyone else looking for a better setup. We already know you don't like lowered cars, bigger wheels, or EFI like most everyone else does.

So what am I "wrong" about specifically?

markm
07-20-2016, 04:22 PM
I equate the 60 with constant ratio ps, points, drum brakes [if disk crappy 4 piston] and bias ply tires. In the 70s we got radials, HEI, good working disk and variable ratio ps, all good things in my world. A lot of hot air from someone who stuff is in pieces.

hutchenc
07-20-2016, 08:19 PM
By robbing my stash a little I was able to do all the above for 30-40 cents on the dollar of your cost estimates. For example MID 70 Camaro prop valve free and 72 Monte Carlo rotors free. Just added. 5 degree stock appearing control arms to 55 at $229, why because tubular would look like crap on my car. To me doing more with less is half the fun.

Mark, with all due respect, not everyone has a stash of parts laying around and finding usable 40 year old parts in a junkyard/swap meet (which is the only other low cost option) is difficult in most areas of the country. Used is an option if one wants to spend the time scrounging for parts, but it's a crapshoot at best.

You've also left out a power steering box, power steering pump, power steering lines, rag joint, master cylinder, booster, shocks, springs, lower control arms, hubs, drop spindles, and steering linkage. It's a lot of stuff and even it's relatively cheap, it does add up quickly. And some of it should be replaced with new parts...no getting around worn out steering linkage, shock, springs, bushings, etc...that stuff has to be purchased new.

markm
07-21-2016, 07:39 AM
$400 PS box, free 72 Chevy PU pump, $45 NAPA PS hoses for 67 Camaro, Free 87 Camaro rag joint, Vette Master came on car, sold the 4 wheel disk prop valve and used a free one off a 75 Monte, Car had new front springs already. don't need drop spindles or new lower a arms. Hubs are part of rotor. Car had a Wilwood brake 9 inch sold it and built a Dana 60 locker for 500 less.

chevynut
07-21-2016, 11:59 AM
I equate the 60 with constant ratio ps, points, drum brakes [if disk crappy 4 piston] and bias ply tires. In the 70s we got radials, HEI, good working disk and variable ratio ps, all good things in my world.

And I equate it with carburetors that haven't even existed on cars for 30 years. EFI was as big of an improvement as any of those things you mention. I'm pretty sure "constant ratio ps" is still the norm and variable ratio steering is not so common, even recently.

Okay, I'll relent and say that..... if you make the upgrades you suggest, you'll have a car that drives like a 70's car instead of a 60's car. LMAO! :D


A lot of hot air from someone who stuff is in pieces.

I'm betting my partially assembled car is worth 2-3 times as much as yours is assembled and running. But we'll never know because you can't even post a picture of it. lol! :D

chevynut
07-21-2016, 12:00 PM
$400 PS box, free 72 Chevy PU pump, $45 NAPA PS hoses for 67 Camaro, Free 87 Camaro rag joint, Vette Master came on car, sold the 4 wheel disk prop valve and used a free one off a 75 Monte, Car had new front springs already. don't need drop spindles or new lower a arms. Hubs are part of rotor. Car had a Wilwood brake 9 inch sold it and built a Dana 60 locker for 500 less.

You just don't understand, do you? :p

markm
07-21-2016, 02:50 PM
I'm betting my partially assembled car is worth 2-3 times as much as yours is assembled and running. But we'll never know because you can't even post a picture of it. lol!

Given that you have spent 6-10 times more than I have that does not sound like something to brag about.

chevynut
07-21-2016, 06:34 PM
Given that you have spent 6-10 times more than I have that does not sound like something to brag about.

I'm probably underestimating the difference in value today, given that my engine alone is probably worth close to what your car is worth. LOL! But like I said nobody here has ever seen your car, if you even have one :D. You scrape up used crappy old parts and put them on your car and call it good. You call it "old school", I call it ratty. I like to put new, or rebuilt, reliable parts on mine and bring it to the highest level I can...that's what I enjoy doing. And the assembly is still actively underway. When finished, it would probably take at least 10 of your cars to buy it. If it was for sale. :p

You always talk about how "cheap" you built your car and your boat anchor huge rearends. That doesn't impress me at all. What you did to yours is irrelevant to this thread, imo. Not everyone has parts laying around, and not everyone wants a car that drives like a 70's car. The OP here was looking for information as to how to upgrade his car to pro-touring, not how to put together an old-school stock height rat rod....with a carburetor! :evil:

Maddog
07-22-2016, 04:43 PM
I'm betting my partially assembled car is worth 2-3 times as much as yours is assembled and running. But we'll never know because you can't even post a picture of it. lol!

Given that you have spent 6-10 times more than I have that does not sound like something to brag about.


You can't argue with a know it all, especially one that has only almost built one car.