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Author Topic: New suspension installation  (Read 1369 times)
JimmyDean
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« on: April 15, 2019, 12:58:01 PM »

Hey all, picked up my 69 charger R/T last summer and I am close to starting the suspension on it. I bought it with all new metal work finished, new engine block and glass. I think the first thing I want to do is upgrade all the suspension and brakes. After lots of research, I am thinking of going with the Gerst setup. Has anyone ever installed these? I have basic wrenching skills and my buddy has a lift and is a great welder. Just deciding if this is something I want to tackle myself. Thanks for any advice.
Jimmy
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70 sublime
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« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2019, 01:31:30 PM »

Do you have all the original stuff under the car now ?
Have you ever driven it with original in it ?
How will you know it is better if not try the factory first ?
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JimmyDean
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« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2019, 01:35:01 PM »

No I haven't driven the car. From everything I have read, I see no reason to keep it stock. I want the car to handle like its on rails.
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Mytur Binsdirti
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« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2019, 02:27:17 PM »

Lemme get this straight; you, with only basic wrenching skills and a buddy with his lift and welder are going to take 50 year old car and make it handle like it's on rails?




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JimmyDean
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« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2019, 03:35:45 PM »

I wasn't very specific. My skills are a little more than basic and my buddy owns one of the largest metal fabrication companies in the state. He builds cars to the point of having his own manufacturing license and can register them as custom builds under his name. He would more or less be there for backup as I would like to do this on my own. My point was to find out how direct these kits are and if anyone has experience with them, which I am sure someone here does. Since you didn't answer my question, I will assume you don't.
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Challenger340
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« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2019, 05:13:00 PM »

My apologies as I have NO experience with the Gerst setup or installation, but I'm sure someone who does will chime in soon ?
Nonetheless,
Having had at least some experience myself building/putting together these Cars, and given the costs of the Gerst setup, as I understand it being around $5K ? My "sober second thought" suggestion as it were would be to ask if your new Block Engine been run/tested ? or your confidence level therein as having purchased the Car UN-Finished ?
Just say'in....
Nothing worse than investing HUGE in things like a suspension/installation..... only to find out after the fact the Engine you "thought" was all good to go has problems ?

Again, apologies for the hijack.....
but I just went through this with a guy who called our Shop, who THOUGHT he had purchased one of our "Engines" that came with a Car he bought ?
He put it in.... fired it up.... long story short here.... beyond a Dupont paint Job all he had was some Bohunk backyard "fresh" Engine(freshly F**ked), that the Seller told him was one of ours !
We even went to all the trouble to go LOOK at it.... NOT OURS ! and never was !

Good Luck with the build, hope everything is in fact "good to go" that you purchased.
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« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2019, 08:44:40 PM »

Not to pile on here but too many people buy into the myth that aftermarket replacement suspensions are better than the factory setup.
They are not. Not for handling, not for racing, not for cruising. There is zero gain in performance over a well thought out, factory based setup. The new stuff may look nice and may save some weight but they are an inferior design. They lack the durability of the stock based stuff as well.
Too many people buy an old Mopar that is years past it's prime and when they drive it, they assume that since it handles poorly, that the best thing to do is to replace everything with an aftermarket setup. NO car with 30, 40 or 50 years on this earth is going to handle like new. If you have never driven or rode in a Mopar with a properly rebuilt and aligned front end, you would not understand.
The aftermarket kits do have one advantage....but it comes at a huge cost. Header clearance is that advantage. In a Charger, header clearance isn't that big of a problem as it often is with the A body cars so getting that header clearance means....A backward step in overall durability, a suspension that often has less suspension travel than stock, a wider turning radius making U-turns difficult or impossible AND a suspension that transmits loads to a part of the car that was not designed or reinforced to properly respond to those loads.
In short, you can rebuild the stock suspension using new bushings and ball joints, bigger torsion bars and anti-sway bars, aftermarket upper control arms to get more caster, Bilstein shocks and maybe even a Borgeson steering box. All of those things combined will cost you a bit more than half of that $5000 front end setup and the performance will be similar.
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70 sublime
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« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2019, 09:16:00 PM »

Not to pile on here but too many people buy into the myth that aftermarket replacement suspensions are better than the factory setup.
They are not. Not for handling, not for racing, not for cruising. There is zero gain in performance over a well thought out, factory based setup. The new stuff may look nice and may save some weight but they are an inferior design. They lack the durability of the stock based stuff as well.
Too many people buy an old Mopar that is years past it's prime and when they drive it, they assume that since it handles poorly, that the best thing to do is to replace everything with an aftermarket setup. NO car with 30, 40 or 50 years on this earth is going to handle like new. If you have never driven or rode in a Mopar with a properly rebuilt and aligned front end, you would not understand.
The aftermarket kits do have one advantage....but it comes at a huge cost. Header clearance is that advantage. In a Charger, header clearance isn't that big of a problem as it often is with the A body cars so getting that header clearance means....A backward step in overall durability, a suspension that often has less suspension travel than stock, a wider turning radius making U-turns difficult or impossible AND a suspension that transmits loads to a part of the car that was not designed or reinforced to properly respond to those loads.
In short, you can rebuild the stock suspension using new bushings and ball joints, bigger torsion bars and anti-sway bars, aftermarket upper control arms to get more caster, Bilstein shocks and maybe even a Borgeson steering box. All of those things combined will cost you a bit more than half of that $5000 front end setup and the performance will be similar.

Well said  2thumbs
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JR
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« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2019, 02:59:12 AM »

Yeah, I'm going against the purists here. The stock handling sucks.

I've done a ton of autocrossing and handling tests to my suspension, (and a ton of track days in various other cars) and can vouch from experience.

Fresh rebuilt stock suspension on poly bushings and good tires handles like crap. Wallowy, mushy, understeering, plows like a snow truck, vague feeling, etc. Every bad habit a car can have, it has.

Now I've got every single bolt on mod you can do to stock suspension (short of a Borgenson gear box), and it handles like a fast tractor. Or two steps below a mid 90s Caprice 9C1.

I have no experience with that brand, (Gerst?) but I'd encourage you to change it if you want the car to actually handle corners well.

If my car wasn't a real RT, I'd buy a Schwartz G Machine chassis and not look back.

https://www.schwartzperformance.com/mopar-full-frames//


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BrianShaughnessy
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« Reply #9 on: April 16, 2019, 07:15:06 AM »

Not to pile on here but too many people buy into the myth that aftermarket replacement suspensions are better than the factory setup.
They are not. Not for handling, not for racing, not for cruising. There is zero gain in performance over a well thought out, factory based setup. The new stuff may look nice and may save some weight but they are an inferior design. They lack the durability of the stock based stuff as well.
Too many people buy an old Mopar that is years past it's prime and when they drive it, they assume that since it handles poorly, that the best thing to do is to replace everything with an aftermarket setup. NO car with 30, 40 or 50 years on this earth is going to handle like new. If you have never driven or rode in a Mopar with a properly rebuilt and aligned front end, you would not understand.
The aftermarket kits do have one advantage....but it comes at a huge cost. Header clearance is that advantage. In a Charger, header clearance isn't that big of a problem as it often is with the A body cars so getting that header clearance means....A backward step in overall durability, a suspension that often has less suspension travel than stock, a wider turning radius making U-turns difficult or impossible AND a suspension that transmits loads to a part of the car that was not designed or reinforced to properly respond to those loads.
In short, you can rebuild the stock suspension using new bushings and ball joints, bigger torsion bars and anti-sway bars, aftermarket upper control arms to get more caster, Bilstein shocks and maybe even a Borgeson steering box. All of those things combined will cost you a bit more than half of that $5000 front end setup and the performance will be similar.

 2thumbs      This.   
  Borgeson box optional.
  But definitely upgrade to 16"/17"/18" wheels & tires.   
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Black Betty:  1969 Charger R/T - X9 440 six pack, TKO600 5 speed, 3.73 Dana 60.
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Homerr
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« Reply #10 on: April 16, 2019, 07:43:12 AM »

In the mid 90's I built the Charger I had (383 car) with new hemi torsion bars, springs, poly bushings, large front/rear sway bars (1.125" .75") and Koni shocks - sort of what was the best at the time.  After it was done a friend with a stock '70 R/T and I traded test drives.  The R/T was certainly floppy, but controllable.  My car in comparison was stiff and felt like it would go up to the tires limit and then just then push with understeer, hitting the gas would just invoke way less predictable and controllable oversteer.

The takeaway was that no matter how much suspension you put under a 4,200 lb car that it is still a 4,200 lb car.

Anyway, I think it's a fools errand to make a Charger something that it's not.  I know, I tried.  A 1991 Civic would blow the doors off of a Charger at a twisty track (I had one of those at the time as a DD).
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Devil
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« Reply #11 on: April 16, 2019, 08:19:32 AM »

And don't forget all of those bolt in front suspension setups are illegal for road use.  Usually the very last line of the instructions say "May be illegal for road use in most countries, for off road use only".

I've driven them all, and a well upgraded stock setup is still the best.
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TexasStroker
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« Reply #12 on: April 16, 2019, 05:30:45 PM »

If that is what you want...go for it.

If anyone around has a stock, or slightly upgraded B-body you could try to catch a ride before fully investing...just in case their car delivers the performance you are seeking. Similarly, if you want to go with Gerst, the best thing would be to catch a ride in a car with their setup.

Personally, I had never heard of Gerst.  It looks to be similar in design to several other aftermarket offerings...Might seek feedback from those folks for comparison.  I don't know of many times someone has upgraded and complained, although there are usually a few issues with each individual build.

The install shouldn't be too bad.  What made you pick Gerst over RMS or Magnum Force etc.?

If you go that route, definitely make a thread...will be interesting to monitor and see the end result.
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« Reply #13 on: April 16, 2019, 08:59:42 PM »

In the mid 90's I built the Charger I had (383 car) with new hemi torsion bars, springs, poly bushings, large front/rear sway bars (1.125" .75") and Koni shocks - sort of what was the best at the time.  After it was done a friend with a stock '70 R/T and I traded test drives.  The R/T was certainly floppy, but controllable.  My car in comparison was stiff and felt like it would go up to the tires limit and then just then push with understeer, hitting the gas would just invoke way less predictable and controllable oversteer.

The takeaway was that no matter how much suspension you put under a 4,200 lb car that it is still a 4,200 lb car.

Anyway, I think it's a fools errand to make a Charger something that it's not.  I know, I tried.  A 1991 Civic would blow the doors off of a Charger at a twisty track (I had one of those at the time as a DD).

A fools errand may be a strong stance on it, but I am along the same thoughts. If I wanted a sports car, I'd buy one(well actually I did). The best of my hopes for this car is for it to handle safely, and stop okay. That's it.

But I know chasing a dream is part of the hobby, so if anyone wants to try to turn their 50 year old marshmallow into a corner carver, have at it! I enjoy those threads too.
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JimmyDean
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« Reply #14 on: April 17, 2019, 02:26:14 PM »

Thanks for everyone's opinion on this. I am actually surprised and find it interesting how many people still prefer stock suspensions. Once I decide on my direction I will post a thread on this.
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Mike DC (formerly miked)
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« Reply #15 on: April 17, 2019, 05:10:57 PM »

 
If you're gonna change the suspension then I would vote for the RMS kit.  It's a good company to deal with and they have thousands of satisfied customers.


I would cast another vote to leave it mostly stock, though.   The aftermarket setups can be faster but it takes a pretty highly developed car (and driver) for that stuff to shine.  The original stuff is cheaper & more original, it rides smoothly, durable as hell, and there are fixes worked out for most of the drawbacks.  It will always be a few pounds heavier than aftermarket stuff but that's about the worst of it.

If you want to improve the motorboat-style floaty steering, then put a Borgeson aftermarket steering box in place of the stocker, and add a few degrees of caster alignment to the upper A-arms (offset bushings or aftermarket arms).  If you want to flatten out the body lean, then give the car slightly thicker sway bars at both ends. 


There are many past threads about this stuff on the site already.  Suggested springs & shocks, weak spots on the original parts to reinforce, etc. 
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myk
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« Reply #16 on: April 18, 2019, 05:10:09 AM »

Hotchkis TVS is all you need for this car; anything beyond that is just for people who have deep pockets and like to show off.  Throw in the appropriate wheels and maybe some brakes and you will be satisfied with this 50 year old cars handling.  Will it be on par with a 2019 Charger RT, Mustang GT or Camaro SS?  No, but this car is 50 years old and can only be so much more than its original design...
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« Reply #17 on: April 18, 2019, 06:51:27 AM »

Thanks for everyone's opinion on this. I am actually surprised and find it interesting how many people still prefer stock suspensions. Once I decide on my direction I will post a thread on this.

We are not all saying that we prefer stock suspension, just a well upgraded stock style suspension.  I run QA1 front suspension (including the K frame) Hotchkis rear lowering leaf springs.  I have a Borgeson steering box, and 14" Brembo disc brakes.  All this stuff isn't necessary to handle well though. 
 
The first step is large sway bars front and rear, Large diameter torsion bars,  subframe connectors, good quality shocks, and an upgraded steering gear box.

But if you prefer to buy a Kit for front and rear I would probably advise the Hotchkis kit like MYK said.  If was starting from scratch I would be very likely to go with the Hotchkis kit, it's good stuff and it's all bolt on.

Now if you want it to handle like it's on rails then you may have to go full custom build.  There is also a company who sells a rolling frame that attaches to the Charger body.   In my mind, that may give you the best handleing but will also cost the most money.   It's all about what your goals are.  If you give us more info about the desired usage of the car then we could give better advice.  (dedicated race car only, street car with spirited driving, Car to drive to cruise in and car shows, ect., ect.)  The more info you give us, the more helpful we can be.    2thumbs
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« Reply #18 on: April 18, 2019, 08:34:47 AM »

When it comes to suspension/handling upgrades ? 
I think it's important to distinguish "somewhat" anyways, between just what stock suspension, in what application, you are contemplating ?

If it's a factory slant 6, 318, or even most 383 Car suspension, and you are dropping a powered 440 expecting anything adequate ?, well... as mentioned things are more akin to the proverbial "ride on a drunken elephant" experience ?
That said....
and while still NOT anything even remotely comparable to a slot car, I find the factory S15 Suspension equipped Hemi & R/T cars at least "satisfactory" with a few upgrades for the type Vehicle, without then applying other stiffening/Cages/etc to firm things up.
IMO, the S15 equipped Pkg cars just aren't THAT bad !     
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« Reply #19 on: April 25, 2019, 08:51:00 AM »

I got the full gerst kit and I am very happy with it, it was less expensive than the hotchkis kit and gives you adjustable ride height, rack & pinion, and a 4 link in the back. its awesome, and carl gerst is very attentive to detail and will help you with everything.
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JimmyDean
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« Reply #20 on: April 29, 2019, 10:14:49 AM »

I got the full gerst kit and I am very happy with it, it was less expensive than the hotchkis kit and gives you adjustable ride height, rack & pinion, and a 4 link in the back. its awesome, and carl gerst is very attentive to detail and will help you with everything.
Were you able to drive the car prior to the change? If so was it a noticeable difference?
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Derwud
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« Reply #21 on: April 29, 2019, 12:28:48 PM »

So first, I have driven modern supercars and grocery getters and I put a Ton of miles on my Charger as a kid. I know my Charger will never handle or dive better then a Modern car.. But I can set-it up to drive a lot better. I went with the Hotchkis TVS kit with QA-1 Subframe and Lower Arms and Borgosen steering box..

The thing that scares me with these kits is, most use Mustang II parts and geometry, if I was going to pay that kind of Money, I want better then Ford Engineering... 
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« Reply #22 on: April 30, 2019, 03:45:50 AM »

Lemme get this straight; you, with only basic wrenching skills and a buddy with his lift and welder are going to take 50 year old car and make it handle like it's on rails?





why am I laughing so hard right now after reading this  icon_smile_big
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« Reply #23 on: April 30, 2019, 03:50:18 AM »

based on everyones response they ARE ALL RIGHT!!!!! 

RMS is way to go if you want upgraded suspension with better tuning shocks
hotchkis is also a good route vs stock


amongst others.....I would never keep my car stockish after driving for so long you think its, 'ok' then you get in another car with a better setup and realize how crappy the drive is.  its like the folks who told me 4 drums all around are better than discs brakes and realize these folks have never driven a old car with disc before, but yet they drive modern cars with discs and love, but not on their old cars.  Roll Eyes
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« Reply #24 on: April 30, 2019, 03:18:38 PM »

I got the full gerst kit and I am very happy with it, it was less expensive than the hotchkis kit and gives you adjustable ride height, rack & pinion, and a 4 link in the back. its awesome, and carl gerst is very attentive to detail and will help you with everything.
Were you able to drive the car prior to the change? If so was it a noticeable difference?

Yes, I did, my car was a piece of crap before.  its amazing what 60k in paint body, engine, brakes, and suspension can do.  lol.  it had a 40 year old suspension with rust, so its much better.  And Carl Gerst is great to deal with, call him any time and he will answer and try to help in any way.
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« Reply #25 on: June 26, 2019, 09:38:59 AM »

Hotchkis TVS is all you need for this car; anything beyond that is just for people who have deep pockets and like to show off.  Throw in the appropriate wheels and maybe some brakes and you will be satisfied with this 50 year old cars handling.  Will it be on par with a 2019 Charger RT, Mustang GT or Camaro SS?  No, but this car is 50 years old and can only be so much more than its original design...

Thanks MYK, this is exactly what I was looking for.  I am new to Chargers, heck, new to Dodge and have been looking at different options and have been very interested in the TVS.  You could spend twice as much but I would suggest the results will not be twice as good.  As you say, this is a 50 year old car and only has so much potential.  New car tech is incredible, 90% of the materials in a new car didn't even exist when these cares were in their prime.  I am going with refreshed, updated stock.
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