Just because Chevrolet’s little Chevy II / Nova was considered a compact car for its day, don’t think that it wasn’t performance minded, or that modern suspension upgrades might be lost on what would become the predecessor of the Citation.
GM turned out hundreds of thousands of these cars destined for daily-driver status all over North America. They even offered a few models slanted directly toward the performance-minded enthusiast. Even today, there are those who enjoy driving these cars in a highly-spirited manner. The folks at Classic Performance Products (CPP) know this, and have tailored a suspension package that not only replaces many parts that have since been worn down with age, but also improves the car’s handling.
Aaron Lindquist is one such enthusiast. His relationship with this particular X-body started back when he was in high school. He’ll tell you that it’s been a perpetual project ever since. When he purchased the car, it was bone stock. He has since upgraded to a better-performing engine and transmission and added other drivetrain components to better suit his driving style.
In the pursuit of performance, the rear now houses a set of 4:10 gears. He also swapped out the original multi-leaf rear springs with a mono-leaf setup for better weight distribution. Aaron and his Nova can usually be found on the highway, but the car also serves duty on several local dragstrips. It’s been several years since the car was made road ready, and he is now interested in upgrading the handling of his little Nova.
Pick Your Pro Touring Kit
We recommend 350-lb front springs for an all-aluminum LS engine, 450-lb for small-block Chevys, and 550-lb for big-block Chevy engines. – Javier Nunez, CPP
An additional benefit of using CPP’s tubular upper and lower control arms is they cut about 10 to 15 pounds off of the front of the car compared to the stock, pressed-steel control arms. Also, CPP’s coilovers come with a bearing for the lower spring mount. Javier Nunez from CPP explains, “The bearing is normally a $40.00 upgrade with most companies, but is a free upgrade fwith CPP. This makes adjusting the ride height a piece of cake, and your knuckles will thank you for it.”
Even though Aaron’s ride already had disc brakes on the front, due to the differences in distribution blocks when adding rear discs, he had to replumb the brake lines to match the new master cylinder and distribution block.
Does Your Nova Have Mono?
Aaron explains that his car was originally equipped with multi-leaf rear springs. He also told us that ’68-’72 cars could come either way, depending on what options they were ordered with from the factory. All four-door cars and all ’73-’74 production cars were issued multi-leaf rear springs as well.
Getting To Work
Since the CPP kit is chock full of upgrades and addresses many of the worn components on Aaron’s ride, the only thing left to do was get the car on a lift. Once up on the lift at Ratchet Garage in Lakeland, Florida, we started by removing the worn front and rear pieces necessary to make room for the CPP kit.
It bears noting that safety is key when working with springs and the forces they hold when it comes to the suspension components. Make sure you understand how to safely remove coil and leaf springs, and have the necessary tools to do so.
With that said, the kit comes with several sets of instructions addressing each area of the upgrade. We were soon under Aaron’s car, taking the sway out of our way.
Changes Can Effect Changes
There may be some variations due to the fact that these cars rolled off of the assembly line more than forty years ago. During that time, parts have been changed and possibly upgraded over the years. You would do well to know what changes might have already taken place on your particular car and plan accordingly.
In our case, C-clip eliminators were previously installed on the rearend of Aaron’s ride. This, coupled with the fact that we removed the drum-brake backing plate gave us some unwanted clearance between the housing and the eliminator kit.
Also, the disc brake rotor surface is much thicker than the drum face, so the wheel will stick out a little further (about 1/8-inch on each side). Make sure you have sufficient clearance at the fender for your wheel and tire combo.
The Bottom Line
So how does the car handle? When asked if there was any difference, Aaron was quick to say, “Oh yeah! Now there is no body roll at all!” Of course, we would expect that, coming from a worn street/strip setup to a new Pro Touring configuration. It is also worth making mention that the ride will be considerably firmer depending on the shock adjustment that you choose. There will be some testing to come to see how the new setup works under timed situations and how the adjustability of the new shocks and springs will fare during track time with a little highway driving to and from the track.
Other upgrades like the brakes made themselves apparent almost instantly. Aaron said that as soon as he hit the pedal, he could tell a difference with the new four-wheel disc brakes.
Oh yeah! There is no body roll at all now! – Aaron Lindquist
Aaron did also mention that the ride is a lot more firm than it was before. That is to be expected when a performance-oriented suspension like this is employed. But with the adjustable shocks and coilovers, the ride can be adjusted to suit any driver’s comfort level.
Whether you are building a dedicated racecar, or you want your street car to handle better than it ever has, it’s time to check out Classic Performance Products (CPP), and get a little suspension salvation for your classic.