Putting The Final Touches On Project MaxStreet’s Suspension Upgrade

Our Project “MaxStreet” 1966 Chevy II has been nearly nine months in the making here in the powerTV garage, and to say that we’re itching to get the old girl out and stretch her legs a little would be an understatement. A classic Chevrolet muscle car like this simply doesn’t belong caged up in the shop being gawked at, but running free out in the wild. And that’s exactly what we’re going to do.

With some of the final odds and ends coming together as we speak, its safe to say that MaxStreet is squarely in the home stretch and before you know it, the old bowtie that’s been given a whole new lease on life will be rolling out the back door under its own power and ready to chew up some rear rubbers and anything else that gets in its way.

For those of you who have been following this project from the beginning, you’ve witnessed the complete transformation of this 45-year old machine into a modernized, Pro Touring-esque terror, complete with an all-new suspension system from Chris Alston’s Chassisworks (front) and Detroit Speed (rear) that will provide superior ride, handling, comfort, and low-end traction that we enjoy on todays modern high performance vehicles.

That process began by yanking the old factory leaf spring setup in the rear and replacing it with a trick new four-link suspension from the folks at Detroit Speed and mated to a Moser 9-inch housing that’s sure to provide a much-improved ride compared to the OEM leaves that are far beyond their prime in design and usefulness. At the same time, fitted up a set of Detroit Speed’s mini tubs to make room for the wide 315/35/17 Mickey Thompson Drag Radials.

These inner fender panels from Chassisworks that we’re installing are designed specifically for their '66-67 Chevy II g-Machine subframe, and mount directly to the subframe, upper fender support, and factory core-support panel without the need for any welding, cutting, or fitting.

In our most recent MaxStreet update, our attention shifted to the front end of the classic Chevrolet. Being a unibody machine, the factory front clip simply didn’t have the strength or rigidity to handle the kind of power our supercharged big block is expected to make, nor handle the type of driving that a car such as this is required by law to perform. So we yanked the withered old front clip loose from the firewall to make way for an impressively engineered new g-Machine subframe kit from Chris Alston’s Chassisworks.

The A-Arm setup, complete with Varishock shocks and springs, hubs, and a rock and pinion assembly is just what the doctor ordered, and by does it look great all bolted up to the front of the Chevy II. And so with that, we’re down to some of the final essential components before checking our complete modern suspension overhaul of the chevy II off the to-do list. So let’s take a look at the components we’ll be installing in this, our final suspension upgrade installment of our Chevy II.

Mounting Our Horse(power)

Chassisworks has been in the game for many years, and they leave no stone unturned when it comes to supplying your every need for chassis and suspension components. Their g-Machine subframe comes with tabs pre-welded in place for the installation of motor mounts, but because they recognize that engine swaps are commonplace both with and without motor plates, they’ve left that option up to the customer. And for those that require even more engine placement freedom, Chassisworks can provide that as well. “There’s a folded frame mount that we weld onto that subframe that puts the engine in the stock location. If you want to move it, one of the options that we have at the time that it’s ordered is that we can tack weld those frame brackets onto it in case you want to move them,” explained Lino Chestang of Chassisworks.

The Chassisworks Billet Side Motor Mounts are steel sleeved and use a urethane bushing with a ½” through-bolt design to create a virtually inseparable mount with significantly reduced engine vibrations

Because our application doesn’t require the use of motor plates, we’ve chosen their anodized Side Billet Motor Mounts for mating our 555 big block up to the chassis. In addition to their compatibility with our big block, you can also use these very same mounts with a small block Chevrolet and even 4.3L V6’s if you decide to swap engines down the road. These pieces are steel sleeved and use a urethane bushing with a half-inch through-bolt design that creates a virtually inseparable mount and significantly reduces unwanted engine vibrations.

We’ll be mounting the 555 in the stock engine location, so the tabs in our subframe came 100% welded in place. The side motor mounts bolt up simply by positioning the mounts in the tab and bolting them up. When we install the engine in a future update, we’ll hit a little more on the mating of the motor mounts.

Polishing Up The Engine Bay

With all of the odds and ends of our new front suspension system complete, all we need now is a little dress up to work to give the engine bay a clean, polished look while keeping road going debris out. And just like Apple, “Has an app for that,” Chassisworks has inner fender panels for that.

Their ’66-67 Chevy II Inner Fenders Panels that we’re installing are designed specifically for the g-Machine subframe, and mount directly to the subframe, upper fender support, and factory core-support panel without the need for any welding, cutting, or fitting. These panels, complete with a rubber boot to cover the suspension opening, separate the wheel well from the engine compartment and gives the front end that clean, custom look we’re after.

The upper side of the panels bolt to the top of the front fenders, while the bottom rests on top the lower subframe framerail. To secure the panel to the frame, we had to center-punch, drill, and tap the mounting holes to make way for the supplied Allen head/button head screws.

Explained Chestang, “The upper fender support actually has the hood hinge mounting brackets as part of the assembly, and that basically anchors the top of the inner fender panels. So the whole thing all kind of turns into one assembly.” Chassisworks has properly sized these panels for the Chevy II/Nova, meaning the fit is correct right out of the box. The upper side of the panels bolt to the top of the front fenders, while the bottom rests on top the lower subframe framerail. To secure the panel to the frame, we had to center-punch, drill, and tap the mounting holes to make way for the supplied Allen head/button head screws.

Steering MaxStreet In The Right Direction

In our last update, we bolted up and positioned the Chassisworks g-Machine power rack and pinion steering assembly to the new subframe, along with installation of the steering shaft up to the firewall. But if we expect our Chevy II to travel in any direction, including a straight line – and many of our drag racing-minded readers are surely questioning our desire to do anything but with a 1,000 horsepower car – then we need to tend to the rest of our steering system aft of the firewall. That leaves just the steering column and the steering wheel, and for those, we turned (pun intended) to the folks at Flaming River to give us some stylish control over our ride.

With Project MaxStreet, we wanted to take our interior appearance in the direction of a custom look, which would include the use of a stainless steel, minimalistic-design steering column seen on so many street rods and muscle cars roaming the streets these days. To accomplish that, we’re installing Flaming River’s 32-inch Floor Shift Tilt Steering Column (FR20006SS), which as you can see by its basic design that lacks a shifting mechanism, is intended for vehicles with a floor shifter.

Our TCI 6X transmission is floor-shifted, so that suits our needs just fine. The outer diameter of the column measures just two-inches, and coupled with the compact shroud, gives it that sharp, custom look. The column comes with a billet dress-up kit that includes tilt and turn signal levers and a hazard knob, along with the needed GM wiring and a turn signal canceling cam.

The simple and stylish Flaming River steering column mounts in the factory location using a set of bolts to the underside of the dash. Because we're using a floor shifted transmission, this column lacks a shifting mechanism.

“The biggest thing about the column is that its all made in the USA,” said Flaming River’s John Jennings. “And we emphasize that because there’s a lot of Chinese knockoffs out there now and being made here, our quality is top-notch and all the components inside are manufactured to specific standards for optimum performance.” The new steering column mounts to the bottom of the dash in the stock column location and then uses a supplied floor plate that mounts to the floor for the swivel to adjust the angle.  Flaming River also supplies a steering shaft connector to mate the column to the steering shaft.

Polished Floor Shift Tilt Steering Column – PN FR20005SS

• Designed for use with a floor shifter – column shift available
• Two-inch tube diameter with compact shroud
• Includes billet dress up kit
• Made from 304 stainless steel

Flaming River Nova Fiber Steering Wheel – PN FR20140FB

• Three spoke, 13.80-inch diameter
• Polished finish with black leather
• Direct bolt on with Flaming River’s five and six bolt adapter

The wiring for the horn, like any column, runs through the narrow 2” interior of the column. From here, we move to the steering wheel, where we’re shooting for a modern, polished aluminum look to complement the steering column and our interior. For that, Flaming River set us up with their Nova Fiber Wheel (FR20140FB), which has a leather composite construction with a satin and polished aluminum finish in a sporty, sort of race-inspired three-spoke design that we think will look great in our own ultra high performance-themed interior. Installation of the steering wheel is rather straightforward. To mate the wheel to the column, we’re using a 5/6 bolt wheel adapter (FR20119TA) made specifically for Flaming River columns.

Our sporty carbon composite Nova Fiber Wheel from Flaming River uses a 5/6 bolt adapter for installation to the steering column and is finished off with a polished center cap for a great look.

Keep Rollin’, Rollin’, Rollin’…

Before we can finally lower MaxStreet down onto the shop floor under its own strength, it’s going to need a set of shoes on all four corners. A project car such as this, with the ultimate in street driven performance and styling as the plan of attack, practically demands a spiffy set of polished wheels if we hope to do the rest of the car any sort of justice. And not just any wheels, but some that truly fit the part. Some that borrow design cues from a legitimate drag racing wheel, but look right at home on the street. Some that grab attention sitting completely still at a cruise-in, but deliver the message that this car means business.

In our earlier project update in which we installed our DSE mini tub kit, we introduced you to our trick new 17-inch Billet Specialties Street Lite wheels, clad in the aforementioned Mickey Thompson 315 Drag Radials. And because we here at powerTV like things to match, it’s a given that we’d bolt a set of the very same Street Lites on up front, although measuring a slightly more narrow in width and wrapped in a pair of Hankook 225/45/17 Ventus Evo tires.

You saw the rear wheels installed in a previous update, and now we've got the fronts to match: a set of 17x8" Billet Specialties Street Lite hoops wrapped in Hankook Ventus Evo tires.

Billet Speciaties’ Street Lite wheels – designed for street and strip use – are lightweight modern wheels with an impressive strength-to-weight ratio and combine a polished and machined finished for a really aggressive look. We wanted to give Project MaxStreet that familiar drag racing and Pro Touring look and stance with the larger wide rear and narrower fronts, and with the 17×11’s in the rear and 17×8’s up front, we should be able to accomplish just that. “These have timeless styling, and ten years down they’ll still be cool…they aren’t just a fad-of-the-day design,” said Scott Sandoval of Billet Specialties.  “It’s a really light and really strong wheel and you’re ahead of the game because they’ll fit a 5/8-inch stud, so down the road if you upgrade to axles with larger studs, you don’t have to buy a new set of wheels.”

And with that, Project MaxStreet is ready to roll. If you’ve seen the hit film “Avatar,” just picture Jake Sully upon receiving his new avatar body, breaking free from the medical facility and sprinting out the door as fast his legs can move. MaxStreet is roaring to run. With our rebuilt Musi/Edelbrock 555 fresh out of the shipping crate from Pacific Performance and back in the shop and the fuel system being installed, we’re almost ready to drop the big block down into our newly-installed motor mounts and bring the beast to life. Stay tuned!

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About the author

Andrew Wolf

Andrew has been involved in motorsports from a very young age. Over the years, he has photographed several major auto racing events, sports, news journalism, portraiture, and everything in between. After working with the Power Automedia staff for some time on a freelance basis, Andrew joined the team in 2010.
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