Even though some restomod projects modernize a muscle-car chassis with the latest suspension technology, that’s not necessary or even desirable for all cars. Sometimes simply replacing worn leaf springs in the rear can give your street machine a whole new feel (you can also use lowering springs if desired, to drop down the suspension a couple inches). Not only that, using leaf springs looks original, so you won’t change the appearance of a classic muscle car.
For instance, on the ’67 Chrysler C-body station wagon shown here, the left side was starting to sag (probably because of the extra weight of the gas tank), impacting both the ride and handling. Metal fatigue and/or worn bushings are usually the cause. Replacing old leaf springs with new ones from Eaton Detroit is a straightforward, bolt-on deal, with no special tools or lift required. However, for safety’s sake, use several jack stands and protection for both eyes and hands.
Leaf springs are found on a wide variety of vehicles, both cars and trucks, so this particular install has a number of applications. Eaton’s web site provides detailed info on measuring springs, but if you provide the year, make and model of your vehicle, and whether stock or lowered ride height, the company can supply the correct size.
Typically the entire install procedure can be completed in less than a day (for simplicity we are showing just one side, but both sides should be replaced at the same time). You should notice an immediate difference compared with your old springs. Not only that, you’ll also be able to say that you’ve turned over a new leaf!
Eaton Detroit Spring
1555 Michigan, Detroit, MI 48216
Turning over a new leaf should make you smile. Okay, so we had a little fun making a happy face with the parts. It makes the whole job go a little easier…
Old versus new: even though this component is a replacement part and basically the same as original, notice how the newer leaf springs (bottom) are less compressed.
The cushioning material between the old leaf springs is flattened out and deteriorated, which makes for a squeaky ride. The difference in the newer springs is obvious.
Rubber bushings become cracked and brittle over time, which also degrades ride quality. Again, the new bushings look way better.
In addition to wearing hand and eye protection, tape off any sharp edges, such as on the wheel wells, to prevent injury.
Securely brace the frame with jack stands. Don’t rely on just the floor jack, as we’ve seen one collapse suddenly.
In order to remove the old leaf springs, a generous spray of penetrating oil might be required to break free the mounting bolts. You’ll also need to disconnect the shocks.
The width between the mounting bolts varies from top to bottom, so don’t assume it doesn’t matter which way you put it in. It only fits one way.
Attached the forward mounting bracket to the leaf spring. Loosely secure the bolt by hand.
Apply grease to the portion of the bracket that will fit through the rear rubber bushing.
Fit the bushing into the spring eye with the mounting arm.
Attached rear mounting bracket to the bushing arm.
Insert additional mounting hardware.
Insert forward end of spring into its mounting location and secure bolts from the other side with a socket wrench.
Lift up leaf spring to attach the rear bracket. (No lying down on the job allowed!) If you don’t have an extra pair of hands available, a paint can with a wooden block can help to position the spring while it’s being bolted on the frame.
Notice how the nub on the leaf springs fits into the axle bracket, ensuring that it lines up properly.
Attach mounting bracket to the frame in the stock location, and bolt in place.
Re-tighten all bolts once the leaf springs are secured on the frame.
Here’s how rear end of the leaf spring should look after being bolted in place.
Place the U-bolts over the axle and secure with bracket underneath.
Re-attach shocks in the stock location, remount the tires and you’re good to go.