I mentioned in Podcast Episode 84 that Detroit Speed and Engineering is now on board with the Chevelle Build, and I could not be more excited about it. It was their ’65 Chevelle test car that really inspired me to go the route of using their equipment, specifically because that car is what I want mine to be: 70% Road Car, 30% Track Car. Don’t get me wrong, DSE can sell you the components to build an all out race car if that’s what you desire (and a lot of the big names will attest to that), but the reality for me is that my ’64 Chevelle will be the car that I drive every day that I can, the car that I haul my kids in, and the one that I’m a weekend warrior with at the track. That’s exactly what DSE’s suspension kits are designed to do. Their entire company is built on the philosophy of creating modern suspension for old GM cars with the quality of the Original Equipment Manufacturer or better. (By the way, if you have another GM A-body car such as a GTO, a 442, or a Skylark, this setup will work for you as well!)
For my car I wanted to keep the build as straightforward as possible and copy an existing suspension, wheel size, tire size and brake size recipe. This would allow me to take advantage of all of the work and engineering that someone ELSE has accomplished. Mary Pozzi, Brian Finch, and a host of other super stars have told me this is the fastest way to chop down the learning curve! DSE’s application for A-Body GM cars are specific to bolt-in applications, so the wheel and tire size on an early A-body car are somewhat limited (mainly because a frame would have to be notched to go with a larger rear tire). As such I spoke with Paul Hammond at Detroit Speed and received the full nitty gritty on their ’65. Here is the setup it has: DSE “Speed Kit 3” front suspension, DSE “Speed Kit 3″ rear suspension, 18×8″ front wheels with 5 1/8″ backspacing, 18×9″ rear wheels with 5 5/8″ backspacing, a 245/40 front tire, a 275/40 rear tire, Baer 6-piston caliper with 14″ rotors up front, and Baer 6-piston caliper with 13” rotors in back. Bingo. That’s what I’ll do too!
For the front suspenion, the Speed Kit 3 replaces basically everything that has to do with springs, shocks, and steering. The coil overs are adjustable in height as well as valving, meaning I can add in more or less rebound to the shocks at the track diretly! Here are the components included:
SPEED KIT 3
- Tubular Upper Control Arms
- Tubular Lower Control Arms
- DSE Forged 2″ Drop Spindle
- ‘Detroit Tuned’ Aluminum body shock absorber
- Coilover Springs
- DSE Splined Front Anti-Roll Bar
- DSE 600 Steering Gear with Rag Joint
- DSE Tubular Tie Rod Adjusters
- Inner and Outer Tie Rod Ends with Idler Arm
Something unique about DSE’s rear suspension kit is that not only does it match what they’ve got up front, but it does so with the use of what they call their Swivel Links™. These links allow the rear end housing to fully articulate throughout suspension travel without having to have a spherical heim joint (which is great on a race car, but is kind of noisy on a street car). Their kit also comes with a roll bar, chassis braces, and coilover shocks and springs.
SPEED KIT 3
- Patented Swivel-Link™ Rear Control Arms
- DSE Chassis Brace Kit
- DSE Specific Rear Coilover Shocks & Springs
- DSE Tubular Rear Anti-Roll Bar
In the case of my build, wheels/tires/brakes will all be done in one shot, but they don’t have to be done immediately. DSE’s kit will work with factory brakes and wheels if so desired, so I may to continue to run my front disc/rear drum brake setup with 15″ rally wheels until the budget is ready to those applications. That being said, as much as I love my Rally Wheels and BFGoodrich T/A’s, they’re the weakest link in my desire to carve corners. Ah well.
2 weeks ago I placed my order for the suspension kits which will be shipped directly to Allison Customs. Jeff is already working away on the boxing the frame and fixing rust repair and wanted to test fit the suspension components before sending it to powercoat. I thought that was a fantastic idea. We’ve also decided to continue to use the old original 10-bolt rear end (the only original chunk of the driveline yet), though truth-be-told, if it were in the budget to replace now we would. (By the way, when you order your Detroit Speed rear suspension be sure to tell them what rear end you’ll be using!)
Honestly, I cannot wait to see what my Chevelle will drive like when it’s all back together. Between Allison Customs COMPLETELY rebuilding the body back to something solid and the DSE Suspension it should behave like a totally different Chevelle…..just with the same soul. Yeah!
Here are a couple of videos to enjoy. The first is of DSE’s ’65 Chevelle running the autocross. The second is of my ’64 from last summer.