80 Malibu brake/steering/suspension upgrade

C

clean8485

Royal Smart Person
Dec 18, 2005
2,262
393
83
Ontario, Canada
#1
I've never attempted a thread like this before, so please bear with me. To the moderators, If I've put this in the wrong section please relocate it to the proper one.
I purchased my 1980 305/4 speed Malibu late in 2015. Its a solid car, but its been through some hard times, and I'm trying to get it to the point where I'm satisfied with it. To say that its been a "work in progress" would be a bit of an understatement. Having said that though, I've enjoyed getting the car to where it is now, and I've enjoyed driving it.
Anyway, in 2016 and 2017, I had a set of generic Corvette 15" by 7" steel rally rims on it, with P225/60 BFG T/As on the front, and P245/60 BFG T/As on the rear. The car has the factory F41 suspension on it, and the rear springs and shocks were replaced just before I bought the car. It handled and drove reasonably well, but I decided at some point that I wanted to improve things.
Last fall, I found a set of mid to late '70s Corvette aluminum 15" by 8" rims for a good price. I've always liked the look of these rims, and to me, I've never seen a car that these rims looked bad on.. I had my existing BFG tires switched onto these rims (after I cleaned them up a bit), and installed them on the car. For some reason (maybe it was just my own perception), but after these wheels and tires went on the car, the front of the car looked kind of high, compared to the rear.
Over the years, I've collected up a bunch of parts to do upgrades on both the Malibu, and my '84 Monte SS. I have collected a good pair of front springs, which should lower the front of the car to a better height, as well as a pair of lower control arms with Global West bushings in them and new ball joints, an Astro van intermediate steering shaft, a 36MM hollow F body front sway bar with bushings, and a Monte SS steering box. As well, I have the 2WD S10 Blazer front brake setup here. Looking at my situation, I figured that I was a good pair of upper control arms and a decent set of shocks away from a much better handling and braking Malibu. I also figured that if I was going to do this, I might as well do it all at one time, as opposed to disassembling the car multiple times, in order to get it all done. With that in mind, I ordered a pair of UMIs upper control arms with the 1/2" taller ball joints, along with new hardware kits for both the upper and lower control arms, and a kit with the solid threaded tie rod adjusting sleeves. I got a bit carried away, and I also ordered one of their front frame reinforcements. Its the part that combines the jounce bars and the Grand Prix bar into a 1 piece frame reinforcement. I also ordered a set of Bilstein shocks for the car. I've also purchased new front wheel hubs for the blazer brake setup, as well as rebuilt front calipers, new coated front brake rotors, and new ceramic front brake pads. Last year, I replaced all of the brake hydraulic parts (new steel lines, new braided flex hoses, new wheel cylinders, new mater cylinder) except for the brake combination valve. The brakes worked pretty well (for stock type brakes).
I've been on vacation this week, and in between trying to get some housework and yardwork done, I've been disassembling the front steering, brakes, and suspension on the Malibu. At this point, almost everything is off, with the exception of the steering box and control arms. The control arms are loose, and the front springs are out. Both front springs had the very bottom coil broken off (kind of surprising to me, considering that the front of the car sat as high as it did). Once everything is off, I want to clean up the area of the frame at the front of the car, where all this stuff is located, and try to get it painted, before I install the new stuff (thanks for the inspiration Jared!).
I have taken a bunch of photos, and I'll try to post a bunch of them up here. It may take several posts. I'll try to stick to the most relevant photos, but I have others. If anyone needs a better look at something, let me know. If I have a photo of it, I'll post it up.
Here goes. Thanks for looking.
 

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Longroof79

Longroof79

Geezer
Oct 14, 2008
9,569
2,665
113
Gainesville, Fl
#4
The car looks great with those wheels, Jeff,
You're going to enjoy the new improvements when you're done.
I'll be following your progress.
 
Longroof79

Longroof79

Geezer
Oct 14, 2008
9,569
2,665
113
Gainesville, Fl
#5
I'm surprised that the broken coils didn't cause the front to sag. I'm sure it's going ride and drive like a new car.
 
ed1948

ed1948

Royal Smart Person
Aug 6, 2016
1,159
880
113
Toronto
#6
Those wheels.....
Have you noticed any signs of wear or looseness on the removed components? I've only experienced worn ball joints and tie rod ends - never any control arm bushings
 
C

clean8485

Royal Smart Person
Dec 18, 2005
2,262
393
83
Ontario, Canada
#7
So far, the parts I've removed (other than the springs) seem to be in pretty good shape still, without any excessive wear, or signs of damage. I went through the car when I bought it, and if there had been anything that was questionable, I would have replaced it already.
 
motorheadmike

motorheadmike

Comic Book Super Hero
Nov 18, 2009
2,859
3,052
113
Ottawa, Ontario Canada
#8
I literally came in here to offer tech advice... I am so disappointed now. ;)

Looks great!
 
UNGN

UNGN

Comic Book Super Hero
Sep 6, 2016
2,595
1,051
113
Southlake, TX
#9
Looks good. Keep an eye out for any contact between the wheel and the upper control arm through out the entire range of motion of the wheel. (loose bolt the arms/spindle/steering arm in place without the spring)

15X7's should be fine, but 15X8's might hit the upper arms turning at some suspension articulations. 17X8's and larger should also be fine.

There is lots of room for a tall lower balljoint, but the tall upper puts the arms close to the wheel when turning.
 

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