This winter you did it right. You didn’t wait for the night before the first cruise to get everything on your Nova dialed in right. The fluids are topped off, tire pressure is right, and the paint is clayed and waxed. Time for a little spin.
Your neighbors are used to rumblings coming from your garage so you don’t disappoint them when you light up the tires a little as you take off. Sounds good! As you take that left turn up ahead, she leans more than you like and bumps hard against the stops. Hmm, what’s that about? As you straighten up and shift into third, there is a bump in the road that you can’t avoid. Bang! It doesn’t take the jolt well and starts to shake, rattle, and roll…and we aren’t talking Bill Haley either!
When is the last time you checked your springs?
Many of us ignore our coil springs and leafs until we find ourselves in the scenario described above. We drop serious coinage on our tire and wheel combos, we upgrade our brakes, we swap out our steering wheels and columns for the latest trick style, but our suspension may need some attention too.
Consider that all your suspension components were engineered to work together with specific tolerances built into them. Alignment geometry, spring rates, and load all contribute to what you feel going down the road.
How is your classic ride handling?
Springs are a huge factor in the handling equation. They affect cornering in a big way by interacting with your shocks and all your suspension components to deliver precise commands from your hands to the road. If you have worn springs they will deliver dampening in different amounts which can contribute to wheel hop, bump steer, and all kinds of unpleasantness when you lean hard into a turn.
If you dropped a huge big block in your Nova, don’t you think those stock coil springs up front may be groaning from that extra weight? Think that might affect steering? You bet it will. Consider load ratings whenever you make drivetrain changes.
If you are getting wheel hop instead of launching hard and straight when you punch it, consider upgrading those old leaf springs.
How’s the stance on your hot rod?
Beyond looking cool, dropping your ride height will greatly affect your handing. There is a reason a Ferrari rides as close as a snake belly to the road. Now, you don’t need to get super radical in the lowering department to reap benefits. Careful choices in swapping out coils and leaf springs (with consideration for tire clearance of course) can make a world of difference.
Sure we would all love to put a complete custom chassis under our car, but you don’t need to sacrifice your children’s inheritance to improve the appearance, ride, and handling of your pride and joy. We live in the real world and cost is always a consideration. Plan out and make modifications as budget allows.
However, If you hit a pothole and your coil spring decides to become shrapnel, it’s time to bust out the plastic! Get out there and drive those classics!