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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Ok lets get to the brass tacks! What does it take to get modern suspension feel out of a tri five?

I would like to get not a deep discussion on this and I am not talking about merely buying bolt on parts. I mean the tight rock steady solid feeling of a new performance car.

Has anyone ever converted and designed a tri five body to use a modern strut style suspension and make the body a uni body?

I am interested in getting a modern new car feel if possible when design and fabrication.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Robert

I am not so sure that a live axle is the way to go anymore. Independent is more for the sport performance and ride control now. Also an A arm suspension up front will not give the same performance or feel of a strut system that is built into the body itself that can be control by say a computer.

I am not saying the that frame will not deliver great results it will, but dollar for dollar and technology it is really outdated and extremely overpriced. Besides you could take a stock frame and update it to that level much more economically but in the end you have just that.

I am interested in really getting to thinking outside the box here. But I will admit I have not been in a 55 with a frame like that...but at the same time I am not talking about lowering a car to the ground where only a nat can fly under it to get suspension performance.

Lets keep it practical and in line with modern day new car technology that can be borrowed to take the tri fives to the next level.
 

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Robert

I am not so sure that a live axle is the way to go anymore. Independent is more for the sport performance and ride control now. Also an A arm suspension up front will not give the same performance or feel of a strut system that is built into the body itself that can be control by say a computer.

I am not saying the that frame will not deliver great results it will, but dollar for dollar and technology it is really outdated and extremely overpriced. Besides you could take a stock frame and update it to that level much more economically but in the end you have just that.

I am interested in really getting to thinking outside the box here. But I will admit I have not been in a 55 with a frame like that...but at the same time I am not talking about lowering a car to the ground where only a nat can fly under it to get suspension performance.

Lets keep it practical and in line with modern day new car technology that can be borrowed to take the tri fives to the next level.
IRS is available from Art Morrison. But, it comes with a good price tag increase over their standard units for a Tri-5. As a dealer for AME, I certainly can work up a quote.


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Also an A arm suspension up front will not give the same performance or feel of a strut system that is built into the body itself
I disagree. A MacPherson style strut is really just for ease of packaging. You still have the same spring and shock variables whether you build it in to a single unit or just have the shock inside the spring. With modern lighter stiffer a-arms, a spring of the proper rate, shock of the proper valving, A-arm suspension doesn't really give anything up to MacPherson Strut.

Here's a page that might explain it better than I can.


An aftermarket frame with quality SLA front suspension, maybe get it set up for IRS if you're really hung up on that, and you should have a car that is a pleasure to drive and capable to the limits of anything you'd do on the street and anything a non-professional would get up to at a trackday.
 
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There are a few options and all of them require time and a fair amount of money. The Art Morrisson frame is probably the most popular there is out there and it's a proven package...and there's nothing wrong with a live axle rear end. GM still makes that work in the Camaro and they pull over a G on the skidpad (and the AM frame, tested in a '55 prototype pulled over .9 G's too). If you're hung up on independent rear suspension, there are options out there, but I don't think it's necessary to get a tri-five to handle and ride well.

There's Roadster Shop, Hot Rod Jim, Progressive Automotive, as well as Classic Edge Designs who does C4 swaps. I'm sure I'm missing a few. I think there's a small shop in Texas somewhere, (as well as NickP's shop) and I think there's a place in Montana doing frame swaps. Most of them have IRS available.

I run a C4 swap on my front end (done by Classic by Classic Edge Designs) but with a live rear axle. I can tell you it handles very, very well and drives, stops, and steers like a new car even though the tech is 80's/90's vintage. I can also tell you that you will not find a strut application for a tri-five built into the body. The tri-five is a body on frame application and the body was never intended to support suspension loads. I don't think it would be worth the effort to go to some weird unit body design on a tri-five when you can use proven full frame applications to achieve the same thing.

As far as computer controlled suspension...bust out the wallet man. If that's what you're after, I'm sure there's stuff out there, but at that point, I think you're just throwing away money unless you're deep into professional autox or road racing. I know Ridetech has some pretty snazzy stuff available, but I'm not sure it's available for tri-fives...it's mostly f-body, Corvette, and X-body applications (Novas, first gen Camaros)...if we're keeping it GM focused. Also, just as a sidenote, in not one of those applications will you find unit body suspension upgrade designs. I'd just forget about that being available in an old muscle car.

If you're after the ultimate handling car, I think you're in the wrong platform. If that's what you want, you'd be much better off going to a second gen Camaro or even moreso, a modern car with all this stuff from the factory.
 

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When I had to decide on a suspension that would make my car handle, stop, and drive like a modern car, I looked at all of the bolt on upgrades for the the stock frame, and it added up to as much as going with a new C4 conversion chassis.
I ended up buying a RR Frames C4 conversion chassis out of Montana. Rick was very easy to work with and even brought my frame most of the way here by meeting him a couple hundred miles away at the nationals in St. Paul a few years ago The frame was fully finished and painted for around $5500, and I found the complete F/R suspension from a low mile 96 Corvette Grand Sport with 13 inch brakes etc. for $2500. Everything bolted right in. I just got the unfinished car on the road a month ago, and all I can say is it exceeded my expectations. It is just so much fun to drive, you wouldn't think is was a 1955 Chevy. The car feels totally planted to the road, and tracks like it's on rails. I don't even have the sway bars on it yet, and it corners very flat, which is also why I chose this chassis since it uses the stock C4 composite traverse leaf springs, which have an anti-roll effect. I also am trying to keep the weight of the car the same as the Corvette, currently at 3275 pounds. I am also planning to autocross my car soon weather permitting.
 

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I'm planning on a NerdRods chassis for my next build, it has rear IRS and everything comes from a C4 Corvette. I'm planning on sticking a 55 2 door sedan body on it.

Lots of planning..... I need to finish the one I have first. HAHA!
 

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When planning suspension mods on my 55 210 program I gave some serious thought to adapting a left over off-road, somewhat long travel trailing arm style front suspension like those based on the early VW Bugs and Buses. More sideways than forward thinking but after decades of personal use and familiarity with these units my thought was it likely wouldn't be any worse. Such a uncommon swap would have been a load of work and at the time I had almost no frame of reference with the OEM or aftermarket Tri-Five offerings to make such a commitment although if I ever do this again, just might revisit this idea.
 

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They can be made to handle well for a good driver but if you want to play Rickey road racer start with something else the tri 5 aero package is similar to a major household appliance = it sucks. Getting off the throttle during triple digit runs will feel like you deployed your chute.
C4 Vettes are cheap Lingenfelter went + 250mph in the one he called Sledgehammer.
Luck
 

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If a person was so inclined any thing can be made to handle, (Start stop and corner) with a high level of competency. However a shoe box Chevy will never feel and drive like a current sports car. Never.

In regards to trying to build some type of unibody design out of one is also a pipe dream and I am talking about a crack pipe. Anyone that has ever actually lifted a body off it's chassis or disassembled the front sheet metal on one of our cars will confirm how impossibly flimsy these structures are. A great comparison is the proverbial boneless chicken.

Back in the early 1980's Hot Rod magazine did a competition that sort of laid the foundation for the Optima ultimate street car competition we have today. In that first iteration a 55 Chevrolet 150 was entered and it held it's own against the Corvettes, Porches and Camaros that were there but still was pretty low on finishing roster for all the reasons listed above by my fellow lunatics.

Now if we set aside ultimate performance,(Skid pads, top speeds and drag racing) A person can build a tight, semi quiet, and well balanced car out of a TriFive that will drive and feel like a billion other cars on this planet. I am fine with that benchmark myself.
 

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I was looking for the same things as you.. modern handling and feel in my 'old car'... and when I drove the Corvette Corrections '55 sedan.. I was SOLD. Solid tight suspension, very positive steering and feel. I placed my order that day! Billy Dawson (the owner of Corvette Corrections has done over 250 first gen Corvettes and when I bought my trifive chassis from him (4 yrs ago) he'd done 30 or so of them at that time. He uses a custom strong dual rail frame designed for your trifive and for C4 suspension, steering, and brake components... You should check him and out and COMPARE... :)




When I went to Seguin, TX to pick up my chassis, a friend went with me. He had just completed a '56 HT using the Art Morrison chassis and all new drivetrain components, yet after being there with me and talking to Billy, he ended up ordering a Corvette corrections chassis for his next (and current) project.
 

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best bang for money = sway bars. shocks are next.
 
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The biggest problem I see with these cars is, the chassis is not nearly stiff enough for any suspension upgrades. That is one of the biggest hurdles I'm trying to figure out the lightest best way to stiffen these things up. Trying to come up with ways to tie the body, and chassis together. So far I only have a 4 point roll bar, but the front is kind of wiggly. I want any upper body bracing to be bolt-in too. I have all the stuff for a 10-point cage, but looking for simpler solutions to tighten the car. Not worried about any rules. Big x-brace cross members will not fix the issues.
 

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The biggest problem I see with these cars is, the chassis is not nearly stiff enough for any suspension upgrades. That is one of the biggest hurdles I'm trying to figure out the lightest best way to stiffen these things up. Trying to come up with ways to tie the body, and chassis together. So far I only have a 4 point roll bar, but the front is kind of wiggly. I want any upper body bracing to be bolt-in too. I have all the stuff for a 10-point cage, but looking for simpler solutions to tighten the car. Not worried about any rules. Big x-brace cross members will not fix the issues.
This when welded to the frame will tighten it up solid
Bicycle Bicycle frame Bicycle fork Bicycle part Bicycle handlebar
.
 

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I went with a C4 conversion frame as well that I built myself ( the link in my signature will take you to the build thread). All of the previous posts on C4 setups are not exaggerating how well it drives and handles. I have been driving mine about 4 years now and love it.
 

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Actually the Morrison type x brace is the best bet at adding stiffness, short of a roll cage. DHR Darren's setup does a similar job - and it sure is a lot less cumbersome and easier to run exhaust through it. I like it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
Been away for the last week. Thanks for all the replys...it is good reading. But.....

Looks like someone else is thinking the same way as my question....hmmmm

He is also using a lt4 supercharged engine for the build. Used a ctvs for the build.

Tire Wheel Vehicle Hood Automotive tire
 
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