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Discussion Starter #1
Anyone running tubular A-arms on their street-strip cars? Who makes the best fitting/working A-arms for these 4th Gen Novas?
 

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I run them on my pro-touring 77, and I'm pleased with them so far, but haven't had a lot of driving time on them. The set I bought came from Heidt's and they fit right on with no problems whatsoever. I think the entire swap took less than 2 hours, and most of the time was spent removing the stock arms.

I can't say whether they would make a big difference at the strip, but they are significantly lighter, so that in itself should lend to lower E.T.s if that's what you're after. Lighter usually means faster.

I also went with the 1" narrowed arms, which lets me run a larger front tire. Great for road racing and auto-x, but maybe not so much for drag cars. I also had mine set up for coil-over shocks, but I'm sure they can set them up for other types of shocks if you ask.

So I went with Heidt's. I know several companies now make them - I haven't heard of any one manufacturer being far superior to any other so far, and I think prices are pretty much the same across the board.

Remember that the 70-81 Camaro front suspension is basically the same as ours, so if the arms say "70-81 Camaro", you can use them on the 4th Gen Nova.

Hope that helps.

J
 

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Global west makes them specifically for the 4th gens. They are the ones I chose, they went in kind of good, the lower A-arms needed a little "massaging" to fit but nothing too bad at all, they look great and have the nice "del-a-lum" no maintience bushings. I paired these with the QA1 coil over adjusiable shocks, and it really looks and performs nice. Also they are availiable through Jegs and summit, now i was just looking through summit and i dont see them, but you probably just need to call (if i remember they were cheaper through summit then jegs). i will get you pictures if you would like. Also looks like SPCand hotchkins makes them but they are not 4th gen specific, they are for the F-body which should work, "Air ride suspensions" makes them for the 75-77 novas, but they are kinda pricey.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
What the cost is, was my next question. If either of you gents can post some pics it would be great. My car isnt going to be a strip only car, I do like to drive the thing around town, but it WILL see some strip time.
 

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What the cost is, was my next question. If either of you gents can post some pics it would be great. My car isnt going to be a strip only car, I do like to drive the thing around town, but it WILL see some strip time.
I'm not up on current pricing, but at the time I bought my set-up I think the uppers were around $400, the lowers just shy of $600, and the coilovers another $500, so you're looking at about $1500 total. You can save a little money by going with traditional shocks and springs, but if you're going to all that trouble coilovers are a huge upgrade and well worth it, IMO. You can adjust both ride height and shock rebound, a nice bonus.

As far as pics go, take a look at my build thread, page 2. I have several pics posted there of what the A-Arms look like installed. The subframe was out of the car at the time, so you can see a lot of detail that is otherwise hard to get at with a camera.

J
 

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Except for being lighter weight there is no benefit to running tubular arms. In75 GM corrected all the bad geometry that plagued the earlier models. The narrowed arms are nice because the 4th gen are actually 2" wider in the front track then the rear, but the same look and tire clearance can be achieved with rim back spacing. I did purchase the QA1 coil over system because it is an improvement to handling and has the ability to set the ride height exactly where you want it. For my 77 if it doesn't make it faster or handle better it is not in the budget, that is why there isn't any chrome or polished aluminum under the hood.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
For my 77 if it doesn't make it faster or handle better it is not in the budget, that is why there isn't any chrome or polished aluminum under the hood.[/QUOTE]

I feel the same way. I dont do things half-a$$ed on my cars either. If I do put the tubular arms on it, I'll be going full boat with it. $1500 is a decent amount of cash tho, I'll have to start putting more money back for it now and do the work next summer. Rear suspension first tho, its in WORSE shape. lol.
 

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Like I said the factory arms are more than adequate to make the car handle good, usually it is the worn out components that ruin the handling. The other factor is you can not easily see the suspension on these cars so the money spent doesn't even get you the "WOW" factor when you open the hood.
Here is how I went about rebuilding my front end using MOOG parts and poly-graphite bushings and bump stops.

The first step has been taken, the cleaning :D

A spare set of upper and lower control arms have been cleaned, blasted and primed.
Next will be paint but it needs to wait until the wind stops blowing.

All the ball joints, tie rod ends, center link, idler arm and poly bushings have been purchased and will soon be installed.
A QA1 coil over kit has also been purchased and I am looking forward to getting it all together.

After the arms are ready the front sub frame will be stripped, blasted and painted in preparation of assembly.

Here are a few pics.

After the old ball joints and bushings were removed



After media blasting



Primered



I am using offset shafts to allow for additional adjustment to compensate for any frame sag.



None of the parts have any pitting of the metal. Living in the dry southwest the metal only has surface rust. It makes putting up with 115 degree summer temps worth it.

Nothing to do with control arms is ever easy and today was no different.
It took 4 hours to get the first 2 done because I had to make spacers to get the bushing shells in, plus go to town to get a threader die for the control arm shafts. I am so glad the arms are done. Here are some photos of my days labor.

The primer on the arms got beat up a lot by the time they were done and it would have ruined the paint. Powder coating is a lot tougher and would have survived just fine.

Here is the spacer I cut from some pipe to keep the control arm from collapsing when pressing in the bushing shell.



And another for the upper arms. This is a 12" length of pipe that I split and then clamped together to keep the upper arm from bending.



And the finished arms and spindles











The sub frame has been stripped of the old suspension and steering. Next step is to clean and paint the sub-frame and install the rebuilt arms and new steering linkage.

One FYI, while you have the lower arms off it is the best time to replace the motor mounts, the bolts will never be any easier to get to as with the suspension removed.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
They look really nice, and you saved a TON of money. My car was Ziebart'ed from factory, the stuff is like aligator skin. The frame rails, floorboards, etc are ALL in nice shape. The only problem I had was when I replaced the body mounts. they were all rotted out and I had to weld fresh metal in to give the bushings something to sit on, most likely BECAUSE of the undercoating not giving the water anywhere to go. You've given me something to think about and I just might redo the factory A-arms. They should still be in great shape (once I scrape off all the Ziebart). You have what....about $150 plus lotsa elbow grease in yours??
 

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My car was undercoated too, but the lower control arms were not heavily coated. I bought a $40 siphon feed blaster and use Black Beauty media in it. The media is crushed coal slag and is inert and non toxic and works well for big stuff. If you put a tarp down it can be sifted and reused. Be sure to get a good hood to keep it off your head and shoulders, wear a long sleeve shirt and gloves. Never use silica sand it will kill your lungs with just a little exposure.

The prime was Martin Senour etching primer from Napa and the top coat was Plasti Kote cast finish grey from Ace Hardware.

It took the better part of a weekend but I take lots of breaks :)

The frame will be painted black, all the brake and fuel lines have been removed and will be cleaned and sprayed with clear. I wanted the bolt on parts to stand out so it did not look like the whole assembly was just sprayed black.
 

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My machine shop has a glass bead cabinet that I can use anytime. I'll pull the old bushings and stuff out and take them down to the shop. All my brake and fuel lines are under the undercoating, I chipped a little bit off and the lines look wonderful too (they dont rot from the inside out do they?). I want to convert to manual brakes and maybe even manual steering (if the wife approves). It will be a busy summer for me. Thanks for the ideas (cash saving ones at that!)
 

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Brake lines can, and do, rust from the inside out, but typically its more prevalent when you have a moisture introduced into the system or the car has been sitting for a long time. This is the primary reason that you are encouraged to occasionally flush your brake system and add new fluid.

That having been said, cleaning up the lines will provide you with your answer. If the lines all look OK from the outside, and your brake system is maintaining good pedal pressure with no leaks, you'll be OK for a good long while. If the brakes are corroded or particularly gnarly, you're money and time ahead to just replace them right then and there. Brake lines are pretty affordable, though they are sometimes a PITA to bend, flare, and seal back up.

Another bonus - if you have clean brake lines you are much, much more likely to detect a leak or breakdown in the system.

Good luck,

J
 

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Discussion Starter #14
This car did sit around for quite awhile because the old fella that owned it (a pastor no less), just couldnt drive anymore, which is why he sold it to me. The body though is in excellent shape. If I could post some pics I would, cant figure out how. I'll be replacing the ENTIRE brake system over the winter along with the front suspension and motor mounts. I might as well replace the brake lines when I convert over to manual disk up front, it would be a perfect time. Speaking of mounts, do you guys prefer solid or urethane engine mounts?
 

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I like the polyurethane, solids are to harsh. Here is a thread on how to change over, it is not just a bolt in on the 73 - 79 Novas. The Energy Suspension mounts do come with instructions but mine have pictures :D

poly motor mount conversion

All 75 - 79 Novas had disc brakes, some power and some manual. To convert to manual from power brakes is going to require a different master cylinder, a pedal to master push rod and a different brake pedal or modifications to the pedal you have.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
That is 1 sweet link! Gonna have to print that baby off. I've always used solid mounts before but I dont want the vibration on the street. Still, with over 500 horses on tap, I want something stronger than stock. I think urethane is the way.

On my 75 dragcar, I used the same rod and pedal setup for the manual as the power took. When I took the rod out of the booster, there was a notch in the rod, I cut it at the notch and it was the perfect length for the new manual master I bought. Might not have been pretty, but it worked well. That car goes 6.30's in the 1/8th mile.
 

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The only problem with using the same position on the pedal for the rod is you are now pushing against the piston in the master cylinder on an angle. Remove the pivot point from your pedal and move it up so the rod is straight in line with the master. It would then work as the engineers intended it to.
 
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