63 to 64 suspension upgrade

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KiltedPhoenix
Posts: 14
Joined: Sat Dec 31, 2016 12:49 pm

63 to 64 suspension upgrade

Unread post by KiltedPhoenix » Mon Mar 13, 2017 8:58 am

I'm beginning a update and upgrade project on my 63 sedan daily driver. I have all parts needed (some used some new) for the upgrade to a 64 rear suspension with the camber compensator [CC]. Being that this is my daily driver and I have other things to do to it I'd like to not take a very long time on this and also want to keep this as simple as possible. Are the 63 lower control arms [LCA's] compatible with the CC end links? Can they be adapted to take the CC end links? I'd really love to but have to go through all the trouble of removing them. Also, I'd need to do it 2x because the 64 rear suspension I am harvesting the CC from is still in one piece, transaxle and all having just separated it from the engine at the bell housing last month. Putting it in as one piece is NOT an option either.

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AZScott
Posts: 51
Joined: Mon Aug 15, 2016 11:57 am
Location: Tucson, Arizona

Re: 63 to 64 suspension upgrade

Unread post by AZScott » Tue Mar 14, 2017 6:58 am

I am kind of waiting for someone with a lot more knowledge on this subject to chime in here. I have both a ’63, and a ’64 with the rear leaf spring. The ’64 leaf spring is kind of neat, it was only done one year, but I am not really sure how effective it proved to be. To me :my02: it looks like a band aid to combat the negative publicity of the swing axle. Not sure I would want to convert my ’63. I hope someone will come forward and say it was an excellent system and worked well.

66vairguy
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Joined: Tue Dec 21, 2010 3:44 pm

Re: 63 to 64 suspension upgrade

Unread post by 66vairguy » Tue Mar 14, 2017 9:40 am

Folks - go do some reading. A lot has been published on the revised 64 suspension. NO IT WAS NOT A BANDAID FIX and should not be confused with the aftermarket kits called "camber compensators" which were Bandaid fixes. The GM revision not only limited camber, but actually changed the geometry to lower the rear roll center. A VERY EFFECTIVE piece of engineering. Note that the rear coil springs had to be revised so they are a one year only part, so no you can't just bolt on the "strap". Also use the correct front sway bar.

It should be noted that the EM Corvair was not the only car with "swing axle" issues. The original Mercedes 300SL was noted by racers for being a scary handful on the race track because of swing axles. When the 300SL roadster came out the swing axle suspension was greatly revised, sadly the revisions would not fit the coupe without a major body structure revision that Mercedes chose not to do.

AZScott
Posts: 51
Joined: Mon Aug 15, 2016 11:57 am
Location: Tucson, Arizona

Re: 63 to 64 suspension upgrade

Unread post by AZScott » Wed Mar 15, 2017 5:33 am

Wow that’s great news. I was hoping that the rear setup on a ’64 had merits. So, lets TAKE THE EMOTION out of it!!, can we?!! I have been reading a lot of the books that have been published, and most discuss that there were changes in 64 (camber compensating spring), but indicate that the changes that were made in 65 eliminated the issues altogether. The Bill Fisher book does a lot to explain the 64 suspension but really does not discuss how successful it was. Like I said, I have both of these cars and would like to see the data on the ’64 CC. Share what information you have, you say a lot has been published on this, and I am anxious to see it.

66vairguy
Posts: 1071
Joined: Tue Dec 21, 2010 3:44 pm

Re: 63 to 64 suspension upgrade

Unread post by 66vairguy » Wed Mar 15, 2017 11:34 am

I've never compared a pre 64 car to a 64, so I can only say that those that have state the handling improvement is noticeable and most claim they ride better - a win-win. You can find some of the old car magazine driving tests with positive comments, but remember they were driving on 60's bias ply tires. To be fair, even the early EM cars handled O.K. if you did not push them. I drove Valiants and Falcons of the era and they did not handle well at the extremes in stock configuration. That's just the way it was. After the Ralph Nader fiasco, and in fact thanks to Ralph, the government had the Corvair investigated and in fact it is the ONLY car of the era to be certified as meeting the handling and braking standards of the competition (some take a copy to car shows to hand out to the "those roll over" crowd. So why did Chevrolet revise the swing arm suspension? The Falcon sold so well that GM brought out the Chevy II in 62' to fight the Falcon. The Corvair Monza was shown at GM auto shows as an upscale sporty car. It sold well and had a good profit margin prompting GM to invest in the "sporty" Corvair (options like HD suspension, sinterred iron brakes, turbo, fast steering). Oddly enough the stripped down Corvairs models were still sold, but it's doubtful Chevy made much on them. In a way the Corvair was the real winner. Due to an improving economy after the 58-59 recession both Falcon and Chevy II sales started to drop by 63. Note that the Chevy II convertible was dropped after only one year since the Corvair convertible outsold it (five to one if I recall correctly). BTW the Corvair convertible stayed in production longer than the four door.

The Corvair 65-69 rear suspension was based on the 63 Corvette IRS setup. Quite good in it's day and more reliable than some of the complex European IRS designs then. The car reviewers in the magazines thought the 65' Corvair was one of the best handling cars of the day. Things looked good for the "sporty" Corvair until the Mustang arrived, which took the Corvair market share. In fact in Lee Iaccoca's book he said "I did not design the Mustang, I just said Ford needed a sporty car like the Corvair.". Oddly enough Ford management was convinced the Mustang would not sell so initial production was limited and did not catch up with demand until late 65 - about the same time Corvair sales dropped. Then GM announced the Camaro for 67 and that convinced a lot of buyers to wait a year instead of buying a 66 Corsa. GM cancelled the Corsa model in 67 so that it would not "detract" from Camaro sales. In fact the The 67 model year Corvair was to have been the LAST. So why did the Corvair stay in production through 69'. Nobody knows for certain (GM refused to officially comment), but there are some great stories in the Corvair books by folks who worked at GM.

AZScott
Posts: 51
Joined: Mon Aug 15, 2016 11:57 am
Location: Tucson, Arizona

Re: 63 to 64 suspension upgrade

Unread post by AZScott » Thu Mar 16, 2017 6:36 pm

Thanks 66vairguy, appreciate the lengthy response. It all makes sense. Thanks again. Here is another interesting section from an article I found in a 2015, Curbside Classic Report.
”DeLorean says that after Bunkie Knudsen took over at Chevrolet in 1961, he was so concerned about the Corvair’s handling issues that he demanded that the camber-compenstor be made standard. The roughly $15 cost to make and install it was deemed too expensive by the “Fourteenth Floor”, and he was turned down. Eventually he gave the top brass an ultimatum: either he would be allowed to improve the Corvair’s suspension, or he would very publicly resign from GM over it. They relented, and that led to the camber compensating spring in 1964, and the complete redesign of the rear suspension for 1965, which essentially eliminated the issues altogether."

66vairguy
Posts: 1071
Joined: Tue Dec 21, 2010 3:44 pm

Re: 63 to 64 suspension upgrade

Unread post by 66vairguy » Thu Mar 16, 2017 7:39 pm

The Corvair story, along with a lot of what goes on at a big auto company, usually involves a lot of folks who are forgotten. John D'. book does mention Bunkie's insistence to improve the Corvair handling, but keep in mind Bunkie built up Pontiac with a sporty image (wide track suspension, etc). Actually in 59 a few Chevy engineers were over ridden by the "bean counters" when they insisted the Corvair needed a front sway bar. Even Ed Cole objected to it's deletion. Instead some "creative" type came up with the lower front (very low) tire pressure to promote understeer before the rear end got out (which turned out to be an impractical fix - back then service station folks put the same pressure in ALL tires).

So why all the penny pinching on the first Corvair? Simple economics - Ed Cole pushed for the Corvair to be built (for years) even though it required a lot of new tooling and different production techniques. A huge investment! Meanwhile McNamarra over at Ford was trying to bring Ford back from the brink of bankruptcy (another story). McNamarra was a bright and hard nosed money man. He wasn't a penny pincher, but insisted the best product be built for the money to suit a purpose. Anyway - the Falcon was built for considerably less than the Corvair and when GM found out they went on a last minute campaign to reduce the cost of producing a Corvair. From the start of sales the battle was lost and GM ordered the Chevy II design for a 62 model using the Falcon formula. At this point what to do with the Corvair. The Corvair had a lot of support from some engineers and some enthusiast magazines, the production equipment had to be amortized, and by a bit of luck it gained a "sporty/fun" image - one that allowed improvements and more importantly it started making money as a higher end vehicle!

It should be noted that GM was caught in a tough place. Improve the suspension and you implied it was deficient in the first place (and they were being sued by the lawyers, but won most cases). Instead the performance option "Spyder" justified suspension revisions just as other cars had improvements for "sport driving". Don't forget that eventually even the basic early Corvair suspension was found to be "acceptable" by the government compared to it's peers - granted in the early 60's that wasn't so good.

I think one of the most interesting aspects of the Corvair is how many interesting people were involved with it. David E. Davis, noted automotive writer, and magazine editor, was a big promoter of the Corvair and worked with GM via an advertising agency when the Corvair came out. Zora Duntov (GM Corvette guru) took an interest in the Corvair. When the turbo prototype was built Zora insisted on building a naturally aspirated Corvair engine to compete. Both cars were tested near Sedona, Ariz. It's a great story of the days when engineers did things on public roads that simply would not happen now. A lot more folks that don't get credit contributed to making the Corvair. Read the transcript from the CORSA convention about GM engineer Benzinger and why the Corvair MUST have a three piece flywheel for manual transmission cars (the Corvair was NEVER supposed to be sold with a manual transmission!!)

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