What can you say about Corvette suspension that hasn't already been said? Even the early Corvette rears were popular for years. Now that they are all aluminum and quite sports car looking, they are popping up in all kinds of cars and trucks. They work well in the Tri-Five Chevy cars; you see them in all kinds of other applications.
Very swappable to start with, the stock front crossmember can even be used in some situations, including the stock monoleaf spring. The rear requires some brackets to be made and attaching the stock four-link arms can be tricky in some cases, but again, the stock rear monoleaf can usually be used. But if you use one of the available kits for the swap, you switch over to coilover shocks and their unlimited adjustability with spring rates and dampening. Coilovers will allow you to really dial in the corners.
The width of the C4 Corvette frontends, measuring hub face to hub face, depends on the year. The 1984-87s are 60.5 inches. The 1988-96s are 61.5 inches. The Fords and Chevys of the mid 1950s had a front width of 61 inches. So you can easily see the Vette will work quite well.
I call this measurement track width. It is the total width of the frontend, from hub to hub. Technically track width is measured by the manufacturers at the center of the tire to the center of the other tire. On a Corvette, this will throw off the actual measurement of 60 inches because the Vettes ran 9-inch-wide wheels with 7 or more inches of backspace so the actual "tire" centerline is in closer to the center of the vehicle and probably runs darn close to the upper and lower ball joint centerlines. That's why GM will list the front "track widths" at 57 and 59 inches. It depended on the wheel/tire combo the car was designed with.
For the classic pickup truck crowd, Donny McNiel's Flat Out Engineering of Anaheim, California, has had two real nice kits for the C4 Corvette suspension out for several years. The first kit is for the front suspension and includes the crossmember, needed brackets, C-sections for steering arm clearance, and a set of coilovers, the second is for the rear and includes all needed brackets and a new crossmember. I highly suggest you order their rack-and-pinion for this swap. The stock Corvette rack has a fitting that sticks straight up right where the oil pan wants to be. In the Corvette it doesn't matter because the engine is mounted behind the rack. Donny has had them modified so that the fitting points forward like the Mustang II and T-Bird racks.
Now mounting engines is not a problem. If you do decide to buy one of these kits and want the modified and rebuilt rack-and-pinion, and you do, contact Donny as he would love to have your stock rack as a core. The stock Corvette racks of these years aren't being made anymore so Donny has to find as many as he can to keep up with demand. He has found a local rebuilder that does the modification and rebuilds the racks for him. Donny is a great guy to deal with, has been in the street rod business for over 35 years, and he's no stranger to the high-quality classic truck owner's desire.
I have installed several of these front and rear kits from Flat Out Engineering over the years and they install easy and work great. The brackets are strong, well made, and look great when installed. The only tricky thing with the front kit is to pay very close attention to the instructions when lining the new crossmember up with the centerline. The Corvette spindle centerline is actually 5⁄16-inch behind the crossmember centerline. Split the width of the crossmember in half of its center, then make a mark 5⁄16-inch behind that mark and that is the line you line up with on the frame. Other than that, the install is very simple and straightforward.
I use all of the C-sections provided for the steering arms. It isn't so much that they need all that clearance when driving down the road, but it sure is nice to have the extra room when installing the rack. The rack has to be fed into each C-section then rolled into the mounts.
The Corvette front brakes are happy because the common master cylinder used in the aftermarket is the Corvette. If you go with a four-wheel disc system, then you will need the dual-diaphragm booster, not the single diaphragm that is commonly sold in a master cylinder booster combo. This truck is actually going to run big Wilwood disc brakes in the front and rear. The master cylinder dual diaphragm booster we will use is from Classic Performance Products. It comes with a new bracket to mount the booster that includes a pedal pivot so the stock brake pedal can be used. The booster kit comes with a metering block plumbed to the master cylinder, but you still need to install the inline residual check valves when plumbing your new brake system.
The C4 Corvette model ran from 1984 to 1996, back in the day of tuned port injection small-blocks and computer-controlled engine management in its infancy. I knew when I first saw these Vettes in 1984 that this suspension was going to become popular. As time went on that did prove true.
Follow along with the pictures as I install the front suspension, make some motor mounts, hook up the steering, and make the shifter work.