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Drop That Chevy: McGaughy’s Suspension Drop Parts for 1960-72 GM Pickups

 

 

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McGaughy’s Suspension earned its stripes making front drop spindles, and for good reason—it designs, prototypes, and CNC-machines them in-house from USA-made 4140 chromemoly steel forgings. McGaughy’s offers 2 1/2 inch drop spindles for 1960-72 Chevy and GMC trucks. The one shown here is for 1971-72 models; the 1963-70 spindle is essentially the same. The 1960-62 trucks came with a torsion bar front suspension, and use a much different spindle; it is available by special order as part number MMC-63164. These spindles are all designed for use with 1973-87 GM truck front disc brakes and heavy-duty (1 1/4 inch thick) rotors.

The 1960-72 Chevy trucks (and 1960-66 GMC models) came with an innovative coil spring/trailing arm rear suspension that provided a smoother ride without significantly compromising load-carrying capacity. That means dropping the back of your truck is as easy as swapping springs. Summit Racing has McGaughy’s rear coil springs in 3, 4, and 5 inch drop versions, plus 1 inch and 2 inch drop front coil springs for 1963-72 trucks. All of the springs feature a progressive rate design to help improve handling and maintain ride quality, plus a durable black powdercoat finish.

If you want to drop the rear of your truck 4 or more inches, you’ll need to notch the frame rails to keep the rear axle from smacking into the frame. The 1960-72 GM truck frame bends outward considerably at the rear axle location, which can make notching a tricky proposition compared to doing one on a straight frame rail. McGaughy’s C-notch kit solves the problem neatly. It features one-piece, heavy-gauge steel notches that bolt over the rails, plus high-quality hardware and precise templates for cutting out the stock frame.

You can usually get away with stock replacement shocks on your Chevy or GMC with drops of 2 inches or less. When you get into the serious slam jobs, you definitely need shocks valved to work with limited suspension travel to maintain decent handling and ride quality. McGaughy’s so happens to make shocks that do just that. The front shocks are designed for trucks with a 3 to 5 1/2 inch drop; the rear shocks are for drops up to 4 inches. Another item that will vastly improve handling in 1960-72 coil spring trucks is McGaughy’s adjustable rear track bar. When you lower the truck, the fixed-length factory bar cannot compensate for the new ride height; as the suspension moves, the bar has a tendency to bind and try to pull the rear axle off-center, messing up your handling. McGaughy’s chromemoly steel track bar is not only stiffer to help prevent axle deflection, it is fully adjustable so you can set it at the exact length you need.

McGaughy’s drop spindles are set up for disc brakes. You can use the factory discs from GM’s 1973-87 full size trucks, or you can get a complete McGaughy’s brake kit from Summit Racing. The kit has all-new components—rotors, calipers, pads, assembled flex hose, bearings, and hardware—ready to bolt on. The kit is available for both six-lug (1960-70) and five-lug (1971-72) applications.

McGaughy’s can also hook you up with power assist for your new disc brake setup. It offers a vacuum booster and master cylinder kit; you can get a 7-inch or 9-inch diameter booster depending on your clearance issues (big block trucks probably need the 7-inch booster, for example). McGaughy’s also has power assist kits for guys that retain the factory drum brake systems.

 

There is not a truck guy out there who doesn’t love (or at least really like) the classic 1960-72 Chevy and GMC pickups. It’s a no-brainer, really. The trucks are good looking, easy to work on, and were offered with goodies like small and big block V8s, front disc brakes, and even air conditioning and power accessories right from the factory.

A Little Background

The 1960 models introduced a very advanced suspension system for the day. In a market where straight front axles and leaf springs dominated, GM gave its 1/2- and 3/4-ton pickups a torsion bar front suspension, plus a coil spring rear suspension with two trailing arms and a diagonal link. This provided a comfortable, car-like ride while retaining a solid load-carrying capability (trucks were built to work, after all). The rear suspension was so good, NASCAR copied it for the Grand National (now Nationwide) stock cars—a suspension still competitive 48 years later.

Other than a switch from torsion bars to a more conventional front coil spring setup in 1963, Chevy’s 1/2 and 3/4-ton pickups continued with the same suspension through the 1972 model year. Most GMCs from 1967-72 got rear leaf springs (they were an option for Chevys). This commonality of design over a long production run not only makes these trucks easy to modify, it also means there are lots of restoration and performance parts available for them.

Which brings us to the subject of our story: McGaughy’s Suspension Parts for 1960-72 GM trucks. McGaughy’s made its reputation building drop spindles for GM’s 1973-87 “square body” trucks; it has since developed suspension bits for late model GMFordDodge, and Nissan trucks, 1955-57 Chevys, muscle car-era GM A-bodies, and first- and second-gen Camaros and Novas.

The one constant in McGaughy’s world is quality. The company engineers, prototypes, and manufactures virtually everything it offers right here in the USA. Its Classic Drop spindles, for example, are forged to McGaughy’s specs from 4140 chromemoly steel and CNC-machined in-house. Simply put, you won’t get a badly made part from McGaughy’s.

McGaughy’s line of components for 1960-72 GM trucks include:

  • Drop Spindles: These spindles are CNC-machined from 4140 chromemoly steel and will set the front end of your truck 2 1/2 inches closer to the pavement. You can use the factory-style ball joints and tie rod ends, but you’ll have to convert to disc brakes. That’s a good idea anyhow, right?
  • Coil Springs: Swapping out the stock springs for a set of McGaughy’s progressive-rate springs is an easy way to level out or lower your truck—or to get down on the deck with a set of drop spindles. The company offers one- and two-inch drop coils for the front, and three-, four-, and five-inch drop springs for the rear. The springs come with a black powdercoat finish.
  • Shocks: Shocks are an overlooked component of a lowering job. Use ones not designed for slammed vehicles and your ride and handling will quickly go to hell in a hand basket. McGaughy’s twin-tube shocks are valved specifically for use with the company’s lowering components, so your truck’s ride and handling will actually improve.
  • Adjustable Track Bar: GM used a diagonal locator, or track bar, to position the rear axle in the 1960-72 trucks. The factory bar is a fixed length; on a lowered truck, the bar has a tendency to bind and try to pull the rear axle off-center as the coil springs compress. McGaughy’s adjustable track bar allows you to tailor the length to your particular suspension setup.
  • C-Notch Kit: This kit allows you to get that extra couple inches of slam and retain rear axle travel by creating a notch in the factory frame rails. It’s a must for drops of four inches or more. The notches are a bolt-in; hardware, cutting templates, and instructions are included.

McGaughy’s also has other chassis bits for your truck, including front disc brake kits, power brake booster and master cylinder kits, and power steering pumps. The company puts a limited lifetime warranty on the spindles and a one-year warranty on the rest of its products. That’s like icing on your lowering cake.



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