Corvair Racing Springs (1964)

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Civil
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Corvair Racing Springs (1964)

Post by Civil »

Purposing my car (1964) for street and strip. I upgraded the wheels to 18", with wide tires. The car appeared to have been lowered prior to me purchasing it. Seemed like the springs might have been trimmed. If they weren't trimmed, then maybe the age of the springs has induced some extra softness. The car sits fine and turns fine without a driver in it. With the extra weight though, there is a bit of rubbing.

Is there a way to verify if the springs were cut without taking the springs out?

If the car was lowered, I'd like to keep the lower stance, while increasing the compression stiffness so the tires do not rub. Do you know of any racing springs, either for the 1964 corvair, or non-corvair springs that could fit with some fabrication work? The spring characteristics I'm looking for are:
  • Lower stance (If the car had in fact been lowered).
  • High compression stiffness (For a light car, as the car has been lightened).
  • Very quick rebound (So as to keep contact between the tires and the road).
  • In terms of travel, have more rebound travel than compression travel (So the car rides low and bumps don't result in rubbing. Also enabling the shock and wheel to quickly extend much further and maintain grip on the road). This type of shock would probably have to be digressive or progressive, rather than linear.
  • As stated, high speed rebound dampening (Quick extension during rebound).
Thanks.

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bbodie52
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Re: Corvair Racing Springs (1964)

Post by bbodie52 »

Early Model Corvairs (1960-1964)are dependent on correct spring height in the rear to maintain proper camber settings. The only adjustment is for toe-in (adjusted by adding or removing shims between the transmission and mounting bracket). Incorrect spring height and bad camber will adversely affect handling and tire wear. Bad spring height on either end man cause non-standard tires/wheels to hit the body.

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FYI: These old advertisements show some EMPI accessories that used to be available for EM Corvairs, but these items are rarely seen now. (Of course your 1964 Corvair was the only model year to have the GM factory version of these transverse leaf springs in the stock configuration.

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EMPI Camber Compensator Advertisement
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Some applicable shop manual sections are attached...

:chevy: :wrench:
Attachments
1961 Chevrolet Corvair Shop Manual - Section 3 - Suspension.pdf
1961 Chevrolet Corvair Shop Manual - Section 3 - Suspension
(1.67 MiB) Downloaded 22 times
1964 Supplement - Chevrolet Corvair Shop Manual - Section 3 - Suspension.pdf
1964 Supplement - Chevrolet Corvair Shop Manual - Section 3 - Suspension
(564.64 KiB) Downloaded 28 times
1961 Chevrolet Corvair Shop Manual - Section 4 - Steering.pdf
1961 Chevrolet Corvair Shop Manual - Section 4 - Steering
(1.25 MiB) Downloaded 21 times
1964 Supplement - Chevrolet Corvair Shop Manual - Section 4 - Steering.pdf
1964 Supplement - Chevrolet Corvair Shop Manual - Section 4 - Steering
(332.76 KiB) Downloaded 23 times
1961 Chevrolet Corvair Shop Manual - Section 6c - Rear Axle.pdf
1961 Chevrolet Corvair Shop Manual - Section 6c - Rear Axle
(1.17 MiB) Downloaded 23 times
1964 Supplement - Chevrolet Corvair Shop Manual - Section 6c - Rear Axle.pdf
1964 Supplement - Chevrolet Corvair Shop Manual - Section 6c - Rear Axle
(661.15 KiB) Downloaded 22 times
1961 Chevrolet Corvair Shop Manual - Section 12 - Specifications.pdf
1961 Chevrolet Corvair Shop Manual - Section 12 - Specifications
(346.54 KiB) Downloaded 21 times
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Civil
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Re: Corvair Racing Springs (1964)

Post by Civil »

Interesting little bit of info about the leaf spring!

In terms of
spring height on either end man cause non-standard tires/wheels to hit the body.
The majority of rubbing is for sure a result of the giant tires. The lowering (if lowered) may have something to do with the rubbing. The car sits in a neutral position, with no identifiable wheel camber, so the spring length should be fine.

66vairguy
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Re: Corvair Racing Springs (1964)

Post by 66vairguy »

If you have a 64 it has the "FACTORY" rear leaf spring that was far better than the aftermarket units. Also the 64 had unique rear coil springs not used on any other year (one side is different than the other). If the rear camber is off, then you'll need to install new springs. The front coil springs tend to make the front of the car sit a little high and often folks cut one coil. Note this is typically more of an issue with the 65-69 cars.

Civil
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Re: Corvair Racing Springs (1964)

Post by Civil »

66vairguy wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 10:25 am
If you have a 64 it has the "FACTORY" rear leaf spring that was far better than the aftermarket units. Also the 64 had unique rear coil springs not used on any other year (one side is different than the other). If the rear camber is off, then you'll need to install new springs. The front coil springs tend to make the front of the car sit a little high and often folks cut one coil. Note this is typically more of an issue with the 65-69 cars.
Nice historical info!

In what way are the 1964 rear leaf springs "better" than aftermarket leaf springs? More stiff, soft, longevity?

As stated, the camber is good and neutral. You say there are differences between the front-left and front-right springs?

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terribleted
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Re: Corvair Racing Springs (1964)

Post by terribleted »

Get out the proper shop manual sections and measure the ride height. Variation from spec will tell you if the springs are sagged or cut. Remember to compensate for any difference in tire diameter. If the overall diameter of the tires is not 24.7" (stock) then the car will sit roughly 1/2 the difference higher or lower depending on the tires.
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joelsplace
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Re: Corvair Racing Springs (1964)

Post by joelsplace »

The factory '64 leaf was mated to softer springs to reduce roll stiffness. I am not aware of any aftermarket leafs that came with softer springs. The ride height in the rear on a '64 is somewhat adjustable with the leaf bolts.
Stiffer springs won't prevent rubbing unless they are so stiff they won't move at all.
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Civil
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Re: Corvair Racing Springs (1964)

Post by Civil »

So the springs were soft? What about the leaf spring?

superbinder
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Re: Corvair Racing Springs (1964)

Post by superbinder »

the 64 coil springs were softer than the earlier due to the leaf making up the difference

Civil
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Re: Corvair Racing Springs (1964)

Post by Civil »

Were the coil spring the same length and width in the front and back?

66vairguy
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Re: Corvair Racing Springs (1964)

Post by 66vairguy »

You asked why the "factory" leaf spring was better. It was a better design versus most of the aftermarket units. The factory design enhanced handling AND ride. It took four years, but GM finally got it right (although they did "borrow" from other aftermarket designs). Of course the 65 IRS design (borrowed from the 63 Corvette, but using coil springs on the Corvair) was even better.

Find and read some of the road tests on the 64 and 65 Corvairs in the old magazines. The 65 Corvair got high praise for it's handling.

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Deadwolf
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Re: Corvair Racing Springs (1964)

Post by Deadwolf »

I know I'm a little late to the party, but I am currently working on a 63 Spyder, but I have a 64 as a parts car. I've been doing a search on this rear leaf and this chain came up. I'm just wondering would it be beneficial if looking for improved handling to install the 64's front sway bar and/or the rear leaf?

Also looking through the service manual inserts attached and it looks like some upgrades were made to the steering shaft. Would that be worth swapping out also?
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61SuperMonza
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Re: Corvair Racing Springs (1964)

Post by 61SuperMonza »

I know that many feel the 64 setup is the ultimate EM and I agree with that if you keep everything stock, but if high performance driving is what you are after mods can be made to the 63 suspension that will make you very pleased with less work. Swapping the 64 rear suspension is a lot of work.
I would talk to a spring vendor and get custom made springs that will lower the car slightly while maintaining the factory spring rates. A little negative camber is what you want (1.5_2.0 deg). Get a good set of performance dampers that are correct for corvair and 15/16 inch diameter wheels with performance radial tires.
On the front end you could use the 64 bar or better yet find a LM bar and ad quick steering arms.
This setup in my opinion will out perform the 64 and is much less work to achieve.
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66vairguy
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Re: Corvair Racing Springs (1964)

Post by 66vairguy »

I think "civil" has left the stage as his last post was in May.

If you want to go racing there are better alternatives to a stock 64 suspension, but you'll be unhappy with driving on the street due to a harsh ride. If you want a good street car with some occasional fun at the track then you can't beat the 64 suspension set-up. Also when selling an EM the 64 suspension will increase the value of the car as it is well regarded and safer in abrupt maneuvers.

The 64 front sway bar was the largest of the EM cars (although some books argue this). It also had a tendency to break the sway bar attachement hardware. In 65 the sway bar was slightly bigger and the attachment hardware was improved to the point it has never been an issue.

The LM front suspension will bolt into an EM. Some keep the bigger front brakes and 5 lug setup, but the track is slightly wider (making big tires more of and issue depending on back space). Others install the EM spindles, backing plates, and drums into the 65 upper and lower control arms. This mod also allows the use of the lower LM camber adjustment which is much easier to do. One Lakewood wagon own used the 65 front suspension with the EM spindles and reported an improvement in handling and he did very well at autocross events.

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