01 C10 Upgrades independent front suspension parts from classic performance products

1963 Chevy C10 Upgrades

By Ryan Manson – Photography by Mike Chase

When the 1963 Chevy C10 was introduced, it was one of the first full size trucks to be offered with a modern, independent front suspension design. While Ford retained its love for the straight axle, albeit upgrading eventually to the twin I-beam design, Chevy opted with a frontend more reminiscent of their passenger car line of the era. The design was a success and one that GM eventually carried on into the ’80s and beyond. Yet while the basic design was a success, especially when it came to easily lowering these trucks, it wasn’t without its faults. The stamped control arms tended to flex under heavy cornering or aggressive driving and a rudimentary lowering job meant the original suspension geometry often changed, and not for the better. But factory improvements throughout the years meant the early trucks could be easily upgraded with such bolt-ons as disc brakes and power steering, making for a more modern classic truck.

02 QA1 front control arm kit from Speedway Motors ready to be installing in the old C10
Here’s the QA1 front control arm kit for 1963-1987 Chevy/GMC C10 trucks straight from Speedway Motors (PN 72152611D750). Tubular control arms and 750-pound double-adjustable coilover shocks are standard fare. The guys at Cotati Speed Shop opted to add a QA1 sway bar kit (PN 72152896) to further complement the components.

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While modern amenities no doubt helped keep these classics on the road, we eventually hit a tipping point where these trucks were being pushed to their breaking point, performance-wise. While the aftermarket industry concentrated on every upgrade imaginable for the muscle car market, our lowly trucks were left with 30-year-old components and technology.

03 Original suspension and steering components gets removed on the 1963 Chevy C10
With the original suspension and steering components removed, there’s one more item that needs to be addressed before the installation commences: the upper control arm mount. Two rivets mate the upper control arm mount to the top of the crossmember and need to be removed using an air chisel or a grinder. Next, the four fasteners that mate the mount to the side of the frame rail are removed and the upper control arm mount is set aside.

Recently, it seems the aftermarket has seen the light and we’re entering a renaissance of sorts when it comes to upgrading our old trucks par with their contemporary passenger car brethren. Oversized tubular control arms, sway bars, coilover shocks, big brake kits, and even LS swap kits have made it easier than ever to bring that old truck into the 21st century.

04 Modifications needed on the Chevy C10 for the new QA1 upper control arm bracket
Before the new QA1 upper control arm bracket can be installed, there are a few modifications that may be necessary, depending on your particular chassis, which includes modifying the 1 1/4-inch hole toward the front of the truck to line up with the upper control arm mounting studs on the QA1 bracket.

Speedway Motors has been offering parts for racers and hot rodders alike for decades, with the classic truck market recently becoming one of their ever-growing outshoots. From fuel tanks to radiators, Speedway Motors offers just about everything needed to upgrade or restore that vintage pickup truck. It was with this knowledge that led the crew at Cotati Speed Shop to Speedway Motors while searching for solutions to alter Pete and Leslie Richmond’s 1968 Chevy C10’s stance. Pete and the Cotati crew discussed their goal of having a truck that sat right (5-6 inches lower) and handled similar to the vehicles he and his wife are used to driving on a daily basis. They decided on a kit from QA1 and sold through Speedway Motors that fit the bill perfectly and would even allow the crew at Cotati Speed Shop to fine-tune the camber and caster settings, resulting in a further-improved driving experience for the Richmonds.

05 QA1 bracket mounted on the 1963 Chevy C10
The spring pocket opening on the crossmember also needs to be enlarged to match the opening on the QA1 bracket. With the modifications complete and the bracket sitting nice and flat, a set of four 3/8×1 1/4-inch fasteners are loosely installed to hold the bracket to the crossmember and a set of four 7/16×1 1/4-inch fasteners are installed to attach the bracket to the framerail.

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Coupled with a set of their double adjustable shocks and stout sway bar, the guys were convinced the QA1 coilovers would be perfect to give the C10 the handling characteristics they were looking for with the ride height adjustability and superior performance QA1’s products are known for. What’s better? The entire QA1 Coilover kit is a 100 percent bolt-in affair. No welding necessary; just a variety of simple hand tools is all that’s required.

06 Torqueing the large crossmember bolts of the old C10
With all the fasteners loosely installed, the 3/8-inch frame bolts are torqued to 30 lb-ft, followed by the larger crossmember bolts torqued to 45 lb-ft.

To complement the QA1 front suspension kit, the Cotati crew added a pair of Classic Performance Products (CPP) Dropped Modular Spindles to the build sheet, which will lower the truck an additional 2 inches (bringing the total drop to 5 inches) and will accept CPP’s Zero-Offset SOS Big Brake Kit with its large caliper and 13-inch rotors. A brand-new CPP 500-Series Power Steering Box will bolt in place of the stock manual unit, the final piece of the upgrade puzzle. CTP

Sources:
Classic Performance Products (CPP)
(800) 522-5004
classicperform.com

Cotati Speed Shop
(707) 586-8696
cotatispeedshop.com

Speedway Motors
(800) 979-0122
speedwaymotors.com

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