I count one muscle car in my small collection of vehicles – the LeMans. It ranks highly among the cars that I have with its nice green paint, handsome styling and strong Pontiac 400 cubic inch engine.However, it falls behind the other cars in handling and braking. This is no surprise, as any stock muscle car from the ’60s or ’70s will be humbled in these departments by sports cars or pony cars from this era.
For Christmas, I received a RideTech Coilover System, which should address the handling issue. The kit consists of coilover shocks and springs, upper and lower tubular control arms with ball joints, tall spindles which provide a 2″ drop, and trailing arms for the rear. In addition to this, I purchased front and rear sway bars from RideTech. They call them “MuscleBars”, but I struggle with the name. I suspect they call them this in hopes of appealing to the man (or woman) wearing a “Budweiser” tank top. That’s not how I roll.
I took a rare free weekend day to lift the front end of the LeMans and start removing the front suspension. I bought a quality coil spring compressor, as one always hears stories of springs breaking loose and careening around the garage like a Super Ball on a racquetball court. We already have a creature in our house with only one eye, Sasha the Pomeranian, so safety reigns supreme.
The springs came out without incident, and removing the rest of the front suspension consisted primarily of loosening bolts, though beating on the original spindle with a hammer was a fun outlet. Spending so much time in the wheel well, I realized that they looked a little shabby and decided to clean them up spray some 3M undercoating on them.
I love installing new parts. They are clean, with virgin threads and pristine. It’s like when you get a beautiful dessert at a fancy restaurant – it just looks right. Just like desert, though, there comes a time you have to get to it with a fork (or wrench, in the case of the suspension). The lower control arm went in after spreading the pocket a bit with the use of all-thread, washers and nuts. The upper control arm bolted up and alignment shims were installed as they were previously. The shock bolted right in and the spindle was torqued and cotter pinned in.
This was as much as I could do. Work stopped. Why? I had ordered front brakes from Kore3. They make kits utilizing Corvette brakes. Their 340mm kit from the C6 Corvette would fit behind my US Mags Bandit wheels, according to their template. Google revealed that 340mm is 13.4 inches in American-speak, which should be plenty of rotor to stop this big beast. The hubs were on back order, so I patiently awaited their arrival, which happened on March 29th. I expect work to proceed this weekend. This is where the passenger side currently stands.
Stay tuned as the work continues…