View Full Version : 78 Avanti II Front End Lowering

10-20-2006, 12:51 PM
Would like to lower the front-end of the 78 Avanti abit. It sits too high up to my liking.The back stays as is. Will not heat Springs or cut springs. Someone told me that the geometry may change if I do this. I do not drive over 80 mph in this car.
Has anyone done this without any problems as the car drives? What is the best way to accomodate this? Thanks, Jerry.

10-20-2006, 02:14 PM
I've been told that it's possible to lower only the body back to Studebaker Avanti specs although if you did that you would have to cut out the wheel opening fillers on the front fenders (and of course repaint at least the front of the car.) There apparently is an issue when you do this with clearance of the GM engine to the hood; I'm not sure how that is worked around but I'm pretty sure it's been done before, maybe someone else will chime in with more info.

good luck,


55 Commander Starlight

1956 Hawk
10-20-2006, 02:20 PM
If you don't want to change the springs you could try to get some drop spindles.
You would need to find out what the front suspension is from on your Avanti though. I would guess that it is probably a standard Chevy suspension.

Dick Steinkamp
10-20-2006, 03:03 PM
IIRC, Nate has a good point. The later Avanti's had the front of the body spaced up a couple of inches to provide the correct bumper height per new fed regulations. Removing these spacers will help. IMHO, even after that, the front could be lowered some. If it's a Chevy front end, dropped spindles are available per David's suggestion. I would not be afraid to cut the springs, however (as long as you don't go overboard). I've cut the ones on my '54 with no negetive results. No bump steer or other abnormalties. Tires have over 30,000 miles on them and still look like new.


10-20-2006, 03:08 PM
ISTR that the G-body frame was not used until after the switch to plastic bumpers around 1984ish so he's looking at the old school kingpin suspension. For the later Avantis the drop spindles available for Chevelles/El Caminos/Monte Carlos would probably work.


55 Commander Starlight

10-20-2006, 05:22 PM
Yes, a 78 has the Stude suspension, there is at least an inch & a half
of extra body spacers by the time you get to the front. There are a
few different reasons rumored to be true for the raising of the front
of the Avanti II : GM engine taller, N&A didnt like the "rake", and
the bumper height. Thing is, they added a second bumper UNDER the
stock bumper for crash standards, which ends up being the same height
as the original Stude bumper. Hmmmm.

My dads 69 Avanti II had a spacer under the spring that my 63 doesnt
have, so you might look for that also. Removing a spacer wont effect
the geometry of the suspension. Possibly a combination of removing
the spacer (if equiped) and a couple body spacers, will give you the
look you seek. If you went with a F.I. engine like an LT1, you could
drop the body down to the stock height, since the LT1 has a VERY low
intake profile.


'63 Avanti, zinc plated drilled & slotted 03 Mustang Cobra 13" front disc/98 GT rear brakes, 03 Cobra 17" wheels, GM alt, 97 Z28 leather seats, soon: 97 Z28 T-56 6-spd, Ported heads w/SST full flow valves, 'R3' 276 cam, Edelbrock AFB Carb, GM HEI distributor, 8.8mm plug wires

Mike Van Veghten
10-20-2006, 08:19 PM
Hey Tom...

Carefull saying "LT-1" without qualifing which one!
The original LT-1 was a "carbureted" Corvette engine in 70 thru 71 or 72.
He may be old like me and remember those engines, that some never even heard of!


10-20-2006, 08:36 PM
Thats why I typed "LT1" and not "LT-1". An "LT-1" is the early engine,
and the "LT1" is the later F.I. motor. I know that there is a bit of
confusion sometimes with the close naming.


Years: 1970-1972

The LT-1 was the ultimate 350 V8, becoming available in 1970. It used solid lifters, 11:1 compression, a high-performance camshaft, and a Holley four-barrel carburetor on a special aluminum intake to produce 370 hp (276 kW) and 380 ftlbf (515 Nm). It was available on the Corvette and Camaro Z28. Power was down in 1971 to 330 hp (246 kW) and 360 ftlbf (477 Nm) with 9:1 compression, and again in 1972 (the last year of the LT-1) to 255 hp (190 kW) and 280 ftlbf (380 Nm).

Note that there was a later small-block engine called the "LT1".

Years: 1992-1998

The second-generation Chevrolet Small-Block engine, which uses the LT prefix, was introduced in 1992. The distinguishing feature of this engine family was the use of reverse-flow cooling, which enabled higher compression ratios than previous versions of the small-block Chevy.

A special DOHC engine, the LT5, also used this prefix.

The LT family was replaced with the all-aluminum GM LS engine family in 1997 (in the Chevrolet Corvette), and 1998 (in the Chevrolet Camaro and the Pontiac Firebird Trans Am and Forumla models).


10-23-2006, 01:19 PM
I'll throw a couple cents worth in here.... I know people have said you can and I've had conversations with some of the best "rememberers", who've testified that it can be done. However, I've owned a 1970 AVII since new, I can tell you that you CANNOT lower the body down to the original Stude mounting height, without major surgery.
I believe it's more like a 2 1/2" height at the core support. If you start to take out the shims, do it a layer at a time, completely down one side. Be sure to mark as to where they went because you may have to backtrack, at some point. Use care in measuring the height and number of shims at the radiator, compared to the firewall, as this is a critical area. You can crack the top of the fenders, at the firewall, if the nose isn't supported correctly.
One of the impediments to lowering the body, is the height of the air cleaner. I've been told that an early Olds Toronado intake is somewhat concave and will help in lowering the profile of the carb. This would certainly affect the performance, but not having tried this, I can't tell how. The other items are the A/C compressor, which can be swapped out for a smaller Sanden and the alternator, which can be remounted lower.
One thing you can't improve too much is the clearance between the front of the oilpan and the steering bellcrank. You can shim the center pin down with a few washers to gain about 3/16" though.
There is a fellow in Florida, Jim Pearce, who has a 283 SBC/700R4 in his 63 Studebaker Avanti and he did NOT have to raise the body. I have a letter from him regarding how he did this. He mentions having custom engine mounts made to put the engine farther back and lower, in the engine bay. He also mentions custom made, smaller, crank pulleys and uses an R2 type carb bonnet with a remote air cleaner.
I had the body on my car down, almost 1 1/2" lower than stock, but had to bump it up a bit when the new engine was installed. Low profile tires, in front, will help get the rake back, but as in my case, the 225R60's will drop your ground clearance to about 4-5"

10-23-2006, 10:49 PM
If you lower the car by modifying the front springs then you will change the front geometry in a way that reduces the camber change with with body roll (durring cornering). This is what happens as the springs sag.

I plan to build some new parts that will lower the front and not only will not degrade the suspension geometry but will actually improve it.

These should be available at the end of January.

David L

10-24-2006, 01:20 AM
David .. will this also gain more caster?

55Prez .. great description! I wonder how much the difference is
between the stock small block and the LT1 intake. I can measure this
if anyone wants exact dimensions. I can tell you that the profile
is quite a bit lower on the LT1, even the valve covers are lower. I
need to find a common spot on each engine to compare. The number I
was mentioning was in a visual comparison between my frontend, & the
Avanti II that was parked next to me at the Special Olympics Show. it
looked like it had an "extra" 1-1/2 inches of spacers, but I did not
take any measurements :




10-24-2006, 03:01 AM
To provide more caster, more parts would need to be modified. I would like to be able to put about 5 degrees of caster in without a lot of modification but can't. This has been done for some Bonneville cars but involves heating and bending king pin and relocating upper A-arm.

I have considered other ways but never felt that anyone would be willing to pay for such items.

David L

10-24-2006, 07:21 AM
You want to increase caster? When I picked up my car (new) from the dealer, I had it gone over at a frame shop and alignment shop. This was in 1971. There were alignment shims under the lower inner pins (rear) and upper inner pin (front). Nothing wrong with doing that to change the angle, it's just a lot of work. It was common practice during that era. Over the years, they have been removed and I can't tell you how much difference they made, given all the types of tires, I had on this car.

10-26-2006, 01:46 AM
You can sort of do that but the upper A-arm either needs to move back or the front one forward. It is not practical to move the lower one but the top one could be moved.

David L

10-26-2006, 03:02 PM
I would think that a replacement upper control arm could be made for
the Studebaker suspension (this surprisingly is an area passed up by
the aftermarket crowd, which I think could be a huge seller) to give
more caster, and clearance for larger tires. The biggest problem I
have found with adding wide rims, is the upper control pin gets in the
way before full lock is acheived. I picture a tubular a-arm adding an
upper ball joint above the outer pin. A bolt on assembly would take
the place of the outer pin, and relocate the outer pivot point. This
would reduce the size of the pivot, and give the extra inch I need. If
the lower control arm need to be shimmed, thats an easy way to get rid
of any binding issues from adding more caster above. I am REALLY very
surprised that outfits like Phantom didnt bother to make parts to fix
the existing suspension (like Hotchkis and others) instead of just
replacing everything for thousands of dollars. I feel the market for
simply adding a few choice parts is much greater. I would shell out
a couple hundred to improve the handling of my Avanti, but I am not
about to shell out a couple thousand.;)


10-30-2006, 08:09 PM
Here is a recent photo and why I would like to lower: