(Story by Cam Benty)

Back in the day, you bolted up a set of shocks and ran down the road.

No adjustability. No frills.

Nowadays though, you aren’t stuck with boring old shocks and low-tech springs, because these old school suspensions react amazingly well to late model suspension advancements like conical, linear rate springs and coilover spring science.

This 1972 Chevy Chevelle carries a late model LS engine and a number of other performance mods. But now it was time for a suspension upgrade. (Image/Aldan American)

The suspension scientists over at Aldan American have done a great job of figuring out just which suspension pieces work best with classic muscle cars. To that end, they offer various conical springs and either single or double adjustable coilover spring systems that deliver improved cornering ability and on-road feel.

Not sure on the difference between the two designs? Read this: Single Adjustable Vs. Double Adjustable Coilovers and Shock Absorbers

No longer does a rut in the road require the assistance of a kidney belt to withstand the impact. By simply turning the knobs mounted on the Aldan American coilover shock body, you can tune your vehicle’s attitude to your liking.

It’s just that simple.

For example, this 1972 Chevy Chevelle is getting a set of Aldan American’s single adjustable coilover shocks and 450 pounds-per-inch rate springs—perfect for the all aluminum LS engine under its hood. Aldan American recommends this spring rate for both aluminum LS- and small block-powered cars. For big block and iron LS engines, a 550 pounds-per inch spring rate is recommended. These spring rates allow the vehicle owner the ability to pick a stiffer or softer spring if desired.

Of note here is that the springs used by Aldan American for this application are conical.

That means that the spring rate increases the more you compress the spring. This is the best of all worlds, since the more you work (compress) the spring, the more it resists compression. This is great for hard cornering when you need an increased spring rate to keep your tire in contact with the road and reduce body lean.

The Road Comp single adjustable coilover system from Aldan American is perfect for folks who like to carve corners, yet still want a nice comfortable ride and efficient tire-to-road contact. The kit you’ll see installed here allows for adjustment of compression dynamics in the front and rebound control in the rear. Each coilover has one knob on the shock body to control these settings. 

Adjustment of the coilover suspension starts by setting the compression knob to the #1 setting. Next, drive over a significant dip in the road and watch the attitude of the body. The vehicle will dive down for the dip and rise up on rebound. If during rebound, the body does not settle to standard ride height, turning the knob should stiffen the coilover setting.

For the front shocks there are six knob settings. In the rear, there 11 rebound settings. Always turn the knob three clicks and re-test the suspension by driving over the same dip, as these adjustments can make a lot of difference in the suspension’s “personality.”

So follow along for the installation of a single adjustable Aldan American coilover kit. While the car featured in this article is a 1972 Chevelle, this kit will fit all 1968-72 GM A-Body coupes, including the Oldsmobile Cutlass/442, Pontiac LeMans/GTO, and Buick Skylark/Special.

A kit for 1964-67 GM A-Body coupes is available too,

This kit from Aldan American includes everything you need including the 450 pounds-per-inch rate springs and single adjustable coilovers. All the hardware and bracketing is included. This kit will fit 1968-72 General Motors A-body cars including Chevy Chevelle, Buick Skylark, Olds Cutlass, and Pontiac LeMans. (Image/Aldan American)
Our first step was to check the ride height of the vehicle. The suspension was very square when measured side to side. That meant that the suspension was in decent condition to begin with. With our new Aldan American suspension kit, we will be able to lower and raise the chassis as needed using the supplied adjustment wrench. (Image/Aldan American)
We removed the wheels, making sure to inspect them for damage or wear. It is also a good time to look at the inner fender well for wear marks. The vehicle can be raised and lowered with the Aldan American system, but only as much as the tire/wheel package on your car will allow. (Image/Aldan American)
After safely supporting the vehicle, we began by unbolting the shocks starting with the nuts at the top of the shock above the upper A-arm. First, remove the hardware surrounding the top of the shock rod. (Image/Aldan American)
Remove the two bolts that hold the shock to the lower A-arm and lower the shock out through the hole in the arm. This part will not be reused. (Image/Aldan American)
Unbolt the front sway bar end link and retain all of the component hardware. These parts will be reused. (Image/Aldan American)
unbolting lower a arm rod bolt on 1972 chevy chevelle
Undo the lower A-arm ball joint while supporting the bottom side of the lower A-arm. The spring will be released as you slowly lower the A-arm. Note that the spring is under pressure and can escape if you are not careful. If there is any concern, use a spring compressor to help keep the spring compressed as you remove it. (Image/Aldan American)
To make room for the new Aldan American hardware, the holes that previously served as the mount for the factory shocks need to be opened up to 3/8 inch for the larger bolts used in this kit. (Image/Aldan American)
Aldan American offers these optional parts that help improve the effectiveness of the coilover kit. The thrust bearing kit (top) allows the coilover spring to move freely on the coilover mount to reduce lateral stress, while the A-arm support plates (bottom) add strength to the lower A-arm mounting surface. (Image/Aldan American)
Though any good wheel bearing grease will work, we used Lucas’ Red & Tacky grease to lubricate the optional roller bearing that fits under the spring on the bottom coilover mount. (Image/Aldan American)
We painted the threaded coilover body with Permatex Copper Anti-Seize Lubricant to help the lower spring mount rotate more easily. (Image/Aldan American)
Slide the optional lubricated roller bearing assembly over the coilover body. Do not over lubricate this system, just use enough to help coat the bearings. (Image/Aldan American)
Here we used Aldan American’s 450 pounds-per-inch compression rate conical springs. Each spring is clearly labeled with the spring rate as noted here. (Image/Aldan American)
Slide the spring over the coilover body and make sure the small end of the spring is seated in the lower mount. Note that there is no indexing notch in the mount, the spring simply sits on the mount. The top of the spring is ground flat so that it fits flush with the top of the spring pocket. Again, there is no rotational requirement on the top of the spring. (Image/Aldan American)
The Aldan American kit includes all the hardware for installation. To allow the bolt/shock mount to float during installation for efficiency, these small washers are fitted to the bolts before assembly. (Image/Aldan American)
The optional A-arm reinforcements fit to the bottom of the shock. The coilover mounting bolts fit through the indicated holes. (Image/Aldan American)
To install the coilover system, slide it up from the bottom until the stud at the top of the shock comes through the upper A-arm. Remember to put the lower hardware on the stud including the rubber cushion and steel seat. (Image/Aldan American)
Install the upper nuts on the stud to hang the coilover in the shock mounting location. Once the coilover is fully installed, tighten the first nut until the cushion starts to belly out slightly. Lock the mount fully in place by tightening the first nut then using the second nut to jam it in place. (Image/Aldan American)
Wrap up the front suspension by reinstalling the front sway bar link and then the ball joint. This is a good time to set the preload on the sway bar, making it even side to side. This adjustment is critical to setting the understeer/oversteer characteristics of your vehicle. Also remember to lock in the ball joint with the proper castle nut and new cotter key to ensure it all stays together. (Image/Aldan American)
Torque the lower coilover mounts to the lower A-arm to finish the job. These 3/8 inch bolts should be torqued to 35 lb.-ft. (Image/Aldan American)

On earlier GM A-body cars, the springs could be dislodged over bumps so this retainer was used to keep the factory coil springs from coming loose and cocking in the spring tower. To get these springs out, you will have to remove this retainer. (Image/Aldan American)
man removing coil spring from rear suspension of a 1972 chevelle
With the retainer out of the way, the spring was easy to yank out. If the spring in your car still can’t be removed, compressing a few coils with a spring compressor will help it come free. (Image/Aldan American)
As was the case with the front A-arms, Aldan American uses larger diameter hardware for mounting its coilovers, so we had to widen the existing holes to 3/8 inch. (Image/Aldan American)
To provide a solid mount for the coilover, we needed to install the Aldan American-supplied bracket. We started by releasing this bolt that connects the rear end housing to the trailing arm. (Image/Aldan American)
installing aldan american coil over suppoort bracket onto rear trailing arm mount for a 1972 chevy chevelle
The bracket attaches in this position. We used one bolt on the left to center the bushing in the bracket, then slid the second Aldan American bolt in from the right, tapping it with a mallet to help it slide through. Supporting the rear end housing helps too. (Image/Aldan American)
The final bolt to finish the bracket install comes in from the side and is torqued to 75 ft.-lbs. All of the bolts holding the bracket in place are also torqued to this figure. (Image/Aldan American)
This is what the bracket looks like when it is in place. This bracket moves the coilover on the other side of the trailing arm for increased wheel/tire clearance and a less severe angle for improved shock damping. (Image/Aldan American)
This Aldan American-supplied bracket mounts up where the factory shock was located. Note that the mount is curved on one side and straight on the other. The curved edge goes on the outside. Torque these bolts to 35 ft.-lbs. (Image/Aldan American)

The coilover mounts at the top with the supplied bolt and is torqued to 35 ft.-lbs. Note that the adjustment knob can be placed inboard or outboard according to your preference for accessibility. (Image/Aldan American)
The bottom of the coilover bolts to the new bracket and uses the Aldan American hardware. This bolt should be torqued to 75 ft.-lbs. (Image/Aldan American)
One of the great things about Aldan American coilover shocks is that not only can you can adjust for rebound and compression with one knob, you can also change the vehicle’s ride height. The supplied Aldan American adjustment wrench allows you to turn the lower coilover spring mount to raise or lower the vehicle. (Image/Aldan American)

There is a significant amount of adjustment that can be completed with your new Aldan American coilovers. As you can see on the threaded body of the coilover, you can adjust the chassis height up or down. (Image/Aldan American)
There is a significant amount of adjustment that can be completed with your new Aldan American coilovers. As you can see on the threaded body of the coilover, you can adjust the chassis height up or down.
This was the final ride height we chose, as it is a good balance between stance, improved handling, and wheel spacing. (Image/Aldan American)