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Project El Camino Part II

Work has started on the CJY 67 Elcamino. The first part of the project was to lower the Elcamino. We needed to accomplish this before the body and paintwork was done. It was decided to use lowering springs in the rear & then cut springs in the front to achieve the desired ride height. We had to buy lowering springs for the rear because 67 to 72 A body rear springs have a tighter wrap at the top & bottom coil of the spring. That means we could not cut them.

For our rear springs, we went online with CLASSIC PERFORMANCE PRODUCTS INC. www.classicperform.com They offered 2 choices in drop springs. 2 inches of drop or 3 inches of drop. We opted for the 3” drop. The springs arrived from California in five days with a cost of a mere $125 including shipping. We were very happy with the service & the springs.

Installing them was easy. We just took the floor jack, jacked up the rear under the rear housing, placed jack stands under the frame in front of the rear wheels, removed the rear wheels and then unbolted the shock bottoms. Letting the floor jack down allowed the rear suspension to hang. At this point, you should be able to simply reach in and pull the stock springs out. In our case, we had to use a spring compressor. Apparently the previous owner installed “dump truck” springs or something. Look at the difference in height from our new Classic Performance springs and the Baja springs we took out.

Once the old springs were out, we simply sat the new springs in their place and jacked the rear back into place. When we went to reattach the lower shock bolts, we discovered the old Delco air shocks would not compress enough to bolt back into place, let alone allow any suspension travel. This meant we were going to need new shocks.

Now it was time to take the Elcamino off the jack stands and set it on four wheels again. Wow, what a difference.



We were looking for a little rake in the look of the Elcamino. Before we took the front end apart, we measured the rear ride height of the car using a straight bodyline that ran up the side of the car. From this, We decided the front needed drop 1 to 2 inches so the front stance would be just a little lower than the back. 

Now for the front. Once again, we jacked the Elcamino up and set jack stands under the frame so the suspension could hang free. We then removed the wheels, front shocks, and sway bar bolts and bushings. Next, we took the jack and placed it under the lower control arm to take some pressure off of the spring. We removed the cotter pin & nut to the lower ball joint. Using a ball joint splitter, we knocked the ball joint out of the spindle. Lowering the jack, it was easy to pull the spring out.

Knowing that I didn’t want to be the guy who cut the spring 3 times and found it was still too short, it was decided to cut only 1 coil (2” of uncompressed spring), a see what it looked like.  Using a hand grinder, it was easy to cut. We then sat the spring back in the lower A frame and jacked the ball joint back into the spindle. Taking the car back off the jack stands exposed that we had only accomplished a half-inch of drop. While pushing up and down on the car to re-seat the spring in it’s perch, we discovered a terrible “geeking” sound and found the fresh cut on the spring, grinding into the perch on the lower A frame. For our next cut, I took a half a coil out (1” of uncompressed spring) and ground a bevel on the bottom of my cut to eliminate the “geek”. This only dropped the car a quarter inch. Felling confident I knew what I was doing now, We took it apart again an cut another full coil out of the spring. This time, we got the car where we wanted it. In total, we cut 2 ˝ coils, 5” of uncompressed spring to drop the car 1 ˝”. After cutting the other side the same amount, we lowered the car to the ground and here were our pleasing results.



As mentioned earlier, because we had lowered the ride height, we needed shorter shocks. Measuring from top of the shock mount to the bottom of the shock mount on all four corners established the ride height for our new shocks. I was able to go down to my local auto parts store, tell them my vehicle and my ride height and they were able pick front and rear shocks what would work for the Elcamino. After the shocks were on, we only had a minor tire clearance problem with some old bodywork on the left rear. A hammer fixed that. We’re putting new panels on the old Elky anyway.

Amazingly, after all of this, the front wheel camber was still in tact so it was time for a road trip. The exhaust drug a little going out the driveway. Loosening an exhaust clamp and spinning it around later fixed this. Out on the road, The Elcamino handled just like it always did. The ride was smoother than before but the suspension did feel a little “shorter”. I was pleased with the ride and while cruising in town, the heads really spinning. The new lowered stance really works well with the classic lines of a 67 Elcamino.

Now that the suspension work was done, it was time to order some body parts. Taking a wire wheel on the hand grinder exposed bondo in the bottom of the right front fender, both quarter panels, the tailgate, and the driver side door. Amazingly, the left front fender was rust free. Whodaguessd.

After discussing the project with CJY staff member and the body man on this project, Tommy Zerbe, It was decided to get two qt panel skins, a tailgate skin, a door skin, and a lower patch panel for the right front fender. While we were at it, I decided to order new reproduction wheel opening moldings, and Super Sport hood louvers.

To fill our needs, I went straight to www.restoreclassics.com I ordered all of my parts quickly & easily. The next day, I received a phone call from restorclassics.com stating there was currently a shortage of Elcamino rear quarter panels. I like the fact that they didn’t beat around the bush and told me immediately of the shortage. I decided to try else ware for the quarter panels. I ordered them from Classic Industries. Turns out restoreclassics.com was right. Classic Industries is out of them also. The parts I ordered from restoreclassics.com arrived at my doorstep in 3 days. That’s fast!!!. Everything looked great and all the parts were super protected for the shipment. I was pleased.

Mean while, Tommy got started on our custom hood. The idea was to blend a 69 Camaro cowl induction hood with a 67 Chevelle Super Sport hood. A good, straight 67 Malibu hood (flat hood) was purchased for a mere $50. A rusted, dented, unusable Camaro cowl hood was donated by a friend. Tommy cut the cowl out of the Camaro hood and cut the center out of the flat Chevelle hood.  Using a panel flanger and the mig, Tommy merged  the two hoods together. Then he added a twist. He notched out the top, sides of the cowl scoop to inlay 67 Chevelle Super Sport louvers. Check it out.

Petty cool… huh? Next month, I cover fitting the new panels and a cool panel tool, which we got from www.eastwoodcompany.com



   [  Part I  ]  [  Part III  ]


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