Photos by: the Author
Stepping up the Game of an A-body Wagon with the help of QA1
Muscle car upgrades are not for everyone. Restoration enthusiasts don’t typically like them, but if they are bolt-ons that don’t require modifying the original car, they are always more readily accepted. Additionally, well-engineered bolt-on upgrades can more-readily be accomplished in the home garage by mechanically adept enthusiasts. If no special tools or welding is required, that’s even better. What we’ll be looking at today are precisely these kinds of upgrades, and they are all focused on the front suspension. This is one area traditional muscle cars can gain measurable levels of performance, since domestic engineering didn’t really focus on maximizing handling until many years later.
Our subject car is a 1967 Chevelle Malibu. It’s a 4-door station wagon, which might seem a little strange as the focus of a serious suspension upgrade, but it was your author’s personal car at the time and I used the car in many competition events that justified the high level of development. The combination of upgrades made the car a very capable high-speed performer, and with a 550-horsepower 383ci small-block and a T-56 6-speed transmission, it was a blast to drive on the street, at the drag strip, on the road course, around the cones at an autocross, or in the sustained high-speeds of open road rally competition. This is the kind of all-around performance I was shooting for, and it delivered without issue.
This particular round of front suspension upgrades included QA1‘s excellent coil-over front suspension, complete with their double-adjustable shocks. The benefits of upgrading to these coil-overs include the ability to easily adjust ride height, easy coil spring changes (with a wide range of spring rates readily available), and the luxury of the double-adjustable shocks to control the compression and rebound settings. The billet-bodied shocks offer a wide range of both compression and rebound to tune the suspension to whatever kind of driving you’re doing.
We were able to improve the performance of the suspension from street, to road course, to drag strip by clicking the knobs mounted on the outside of the shocks, which proved valuable and offered the ability to improve the car’s performance with a few clicks under the car. Team that capability with some tire pressure changes and the car’s handling characteristics could be altered pretty dramatically without any special tools in a relatively short period of time…like between rounds at the drags or between driving sessions at a road course open track day.
The coil-overs up front will be an addition to an already-solid setup. The lower control arms are just about the only factory parts remaining, as the spindles, steering box, upper control arms, and brakes had all been upgraded. There were aftermarket coil springs in place too, but they offered no adjustment.
I also had installed decent gas shock absorbers, but they weren’t adjustable either. I’d compromised and selected parts that were an improvement over the (worn out) factory components they replaced, but they weren’t capable of the kind of performance I really wanted. The additional levels of performance and adjustability offered by the QA1 components justified their purchase, and their ease of installation (requiring no modifications to the car, as they fit easily into the factory location) sealed the deal for me.
Since I am fortunate enough to live near QA1 headquarters in Lakeville, Minnesota, I contacted them and asked if they had any specific tips they’d like to pass along. They offered to help me with the installation at their factory, so I jumped at the chance to work directly with them.
After spending almost a decade in the aerospace industry, Scott Parkhurst chose to learn about racing engines by working in some of Southern California’s most respected engine shops. He took on the role of Tech Editor at Popular Hot Rodding magazine back in 1998, and was instrumental in the development of both the Engine Masters Challenge competition and Engine Masters Quarterly magazine. He was also the founding Editor of Street Thunder magazine and Author of the V8 Horsepower Performance Handbook before he arrived at Timeless Muscle.