EDITOR’S NOTE: The following blog was written by John Gunnell, owner of Gunner's Great Garage Restoration Shop in Manawa, Wisconsin. Gunnell regularly contributes articles and industry-driven observations for THE SHOP magazine and eNewsletter.
John Diermeier of John’s Custom Auto in Manawa, Wisconsin wasn’t wild about the mono-leaf suspension on a 1968 Camaro he was doing for a customer whose car was bottoming out.
“The front brackets were in bad shape,” said Diermeier, the shop’s owner. “On one side the bushing rubber was worn off and the leaf spring was wearing against metal. The front end of the spring was just wedged into the bracket with nothing holding it.”
After doing some research, Diermeier decided to convert the Camaro to multi-leaf springs. With multi-leaf springs, each leaf is engineered to provide support, stability and safety. If a leaf breaks, the others will help keep the vehicle going straight so the driver can safely stop.
Diermeier utilized an internet search to sort through offerings and to talk to restorers who had done similar jobs. He also phoned Eaton Detroit Spring.
“They knew exactly what my problem was and how to fix it,” he said. “They make springs. I figured it would take months, but I had them in a few days and they were awesome.”
The brackets that attach the springs to the frame at the front were sourced from Classic Industries and came with the bushings already pressed in. Diermeier had to take just a little metal off the sides of the brackets for fit.
Diermeier stressed that it’s important to buy all new hardware.
“The old stuff was junk,” he pointed out. “The J-nuts are hard to install without stripping the threads. I even stripped one of the new ones, so I’d suggest getting a few extra J-nuts.”
The 4-leaf springs were bare steel. Diermeier cleaned and painted them. The 4-leaf spring uses a center-bolt to hold the leaves together, but the axle seat does not have a hole to accept the head of the center bold. The top rubber axle pad has to be replaced with a steel spacer. A lower axle pad is still required. Since a 4-leaf spring is thicker there’s be a gap between the shock plate and the top spring seat, but it’s no problem.
Diermeier also ordered a Camaro Multi-Leaf Shackle Set with Red Polyurethane Bushings from Classic Industries. This kit reduces wheel and brake shudders and aids better handling. The kit includes new shackle plates, bushings, sleeves and bolts.
The Camaro convertible is not on the road yet, but when finished, the owner should like the results of the suspension upgrades Diermeier made. The car owner prefers safety over 100-percent originality, so when the job is all done, this car should be a great ride.