Project Swinger Update: Getting The Ride Right

What’s the quickest way to ruin a cool-looking muscle car? Easy, get the stance wrong. Too often we see sweet examples of classic Detroit iron touting some serious go-power but running on goofy-sized rims or sitting either too high, too low, or “stink bugging” in the rear (you know what we’re talking about, you hijackers!). Knowing how precarious the line between low-slung street machine and belly-dragging low rider is, we gave our ’71 Nova’s stance quite a lot of consideration.

Titled “Swinger,” our project X-Body was destined for autocross and road course greatness. Taking a page from the winningest g-Machines, we went with a complete Air Ride suspension system to allow us easy ride height and stiffness adjustability.

Of course, it’s not just a set of fancy air shocks, but a sweet set of drop spindles and tubular upper and lower control arms.

Of course, the Air Ride kit comes with a complete rear support system to ensure that our Nova will have plenty of hookup.

Entering into the Pro Touring fray takes a lot more than just trick suspension, so we opted for a Currie 9-inch rear to handle all the power being pumped out of our supercharged LSA plant.

At each corner are Forgeline’s SP3P Gun Metal Gray rims (with Diamond Edge brushed outer rings) wrapped in 235/40/18s up front and 315/30/18s out back, all brought to a halt by a serious set of drilled and slotted SSBC brakes.

Swinger has received a significant amount of other love including a complete Aeromotive fuel system, a Steeroids rack and pinion steering conversion kit, a pair of minitubs to fit our fat rear meats, as well as new floorboards, some necessary sheet metal replacement as well from Classic Industries. We’re scrambling against the clock as the winter weather starts to set in to get Swinger ready for the weeks of bodywork and paint that it needs before heading to the track.

With our Tremec 6-speed, McLeod clutch and GMPP powerplant, we’ve got all we need to haze those big rollers out back, now we just need to take it all back apart and trailer Swinger over to the body shop.

There, Swinger’s going to go through the metamorphosis, returning as one clean machine! Right now, we’re trying to decided the paint scheme but are leaning on a deep charcoal gray with semi-gloss accents. But hey, we’re always up for suggestions. If you think of a better paint scheme, let us know!

Reassembled – although loosely – Swinger looks good on its own feet. It’s been a long time since this fair-weather project has been back together and it makes us want to turn up the heat and git ‘er done.

We’ve been tinkering with the ride height, raising it an inch here, lowering it an inch there, and loved it at this stance. The goal was a little bit of a rake, but nothing too drastic.

Unfortunately, at this low level, we realized we’d be cutting our turning radius down to near nothing. Too bad too, because it sure looks mean!

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About the author

Kevin Shaw

Kevin Shaw is a self-proclaimed "muscle car purist," preferring solid-lifter camshafts and mechanical double-pumpers over computer-controlled fuel injection and force-feeding power-adders. If you like dirt-under-your-fingernails tech and real street driven content, this is your guy.
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