You can thank Junior Johnson for your sturdier rear suspension and vastly improved handling. According to the story we heard (and we believe every Junior Johnson story we've ever heard), the legendary stock car racer developed this style of extra-long trailing arms when he started racing Chevys in the early '60s. NASCAR homologation rules mandated that in order to qualify, race cars had to run components that were available in production vehicles, and GM was using this innovative setup in its pickup trucks. The suspension worked so well on the track that other racers started using truck arms on their cars. Today, Junior's suspension is found under every car in the Nextel Cup.
As Chevy truck owners found out, the technology that works so well at the Daytona 500 works pretty well on the street too. Many hot rod and street machine owners are feeling the advantage of swapping their rear leaf springs for truck arm systems, which consist basically of three crossmembers and a pair of I-beam trailing arms running from just behind the transmission to the rearend.
We knew that Hotrods To Hell has been installing these rear suspensions on local cars for more than 10 years and has sold complete ready-to-install kits to builders all over the country. The day we were there, HTH owner Steve McClenon and his crew were putting a CenterDrive rear suspension kit in a '56 Chevy. The stock leaf springs were already out of the car when we showed up, and it was only a few hours from that point to the end of the job. If you're a skillful welder and have experience building suspensions, this should be a one-day project, tops. Otherwise, let the pros at your favorite rod shop handle the job.
Tubes For TrucksIf a tubular, techy look is your thing, you'll like the new '63-72 Chevy truck rear suspension from Classic Performance Products. The package comes complete with round tubular arms (as opposed to I-beams), front crossmember, axle perches, coil springs, retainers, and everything needed for installation. The arms are a direct replacement for the factory truck arms, and can be ordered separately for use with the stock crossmember, rearend, and springs. The crossmember is also available separately, for use with factory arms. The CPP kit was designed specifically for lowered Chevy trucks, and includes lowering blocks and lowered shocks. Take at look at the CPP Web site (www.classicperform.com), or call them to find out if their package can be modified to work on your vehicle.
Hotrods To Hell
100 East Prospect Ave
Classic Performance Products
175 East Freedom Avenue