Early Chevy trucks are currently the hot ticket for hot rodders. Go to any cruise night or car show and you’ll surely see several. When the ability to locate a classic muscle car in good, rebuildable shape to use as the basis for a project started getting nearly impossible, the early Chevy trucks became the go-to replacement. But it was no surprise that enthusiasts building a hot-rodded hauler want it to be more like a car.
While a classic truck was never designed to handle in the same manner as a car, the folks at QA1 saw no reason trucks should not be able to accomplish that. To help accomplish that, they have recently released a new tubular crossmember for ’63 through ’87 Chevy trucks.
Over the last several years, QA1 has developed bolt-on suspension parts that not only improve how a truck can handle twisty roads, but also give enthusiasts options about how to upgrade their truck’s suspension. If your budget only allows you to build your suspension in “stages”, QA1 can help you do that. QA1 is about helping enthusiasts get the most out of their trucks while not putting them in the poor house.
Case in point, the new C10 tubular crossmember. I know what you’re thinking, how can a tubular crossmember be better than the beefy OE piece? While a front crossmember swap might not be the first thing that comes to mind as you plan any suspension upgrades, it is actually something that should be at the top of your thought process.
For starters, it is literally, the foundation upon which all other front suspension components attach. It is a major structural element of your truck and ties the front frame rails together. But what is wrong with the OE stamped and welded piece? Have you ever really looked at it? The OE crossmember is made with two pieces of stamped metal tack-welded together. While the welds do keep the two halves together, this design does allow a certain amount of flex. This flex might be okay for a stock vehicle, not a hot-rodded truck. Also, it’s a big chunk of metal that adds a lot of weight to the front of the truck and takes up a lot of space under the engine.
“Being a C10 owner myself, I know firsthand that ground clearance or the lack of ground clearance is a common issue with lowered C10s,” says Damien Brase, fitment technician at QA1. “The lower control arm mounts are below the bottom of the OE crossmember making them the first thing to contact the ground. By creating a new crossmember, we were able to raise the suspension and the crossmember 2 inches to improve ground clearance. The new crossmember also gave us the opportunity to update the steering by eliminating the factory steering box and updating to rack-and-pinion steering for improving road feel. The new crossmember with the rack-and-pinion also removes about 140 pounds from the front of the truck.”
The QA1 tubular crossmember is an ideal solution to not only shed weight but also gain significant room in the engine bay for increased exhaust, oil pan, and steering clearance. This is a great way to overhaul your suspension. The QA1 tubular crossmember is a great addition when upgrading your suspension, giving you the ability to adjust the ride height to achieve the perfect stance. It also gives the ability to drop the front end up to 8 inches. This is all possible while dialing in the ideal ride quality and performance for your application while reducing weight by more than 140 pounds over stock.
If you already have QA1 tubular suspension parts and want to upgrade the crossmember, you can. According to QA1, “This kit was designed specifically to be backward compatible with our control arms and shocks. The kit will include everything you need to replace your stock crossmember while gaining the benefits and features listed above. The kit adds 2 inches of additional drop range and will take another 70 pounds of weight off the front of your truck. The kit also includes hardware to adapt your existing front sway bar to the tubular crossmember.
Now that we know why, it’s time for us to check out the how. What is involved with installing the tubular crossmember? Before we get too deep into the installation, there are a few things you need to know. For starters, the tools and other supplies you will need consist of a floor jack and jack stands, various hand wrenches, ratches and sockets. A few needed specialty tools that you’ll need are a ball joint separator tool, torque wrench, hand grinder, and a drill. That covers the needed tools.
While QA1 would love to send this as a complete assembly, ordering the crossmember does mean you will need to also acquire, a new steering shaft and a couple of U-joints, ’73 through ’87 C10 spindles, and the brakes of your choice. As mentioned, the crossmember can utilize the suspension parts you already have or you can opt to do a complete upgrade with the help of new parts from QA1.
Removing the original crossmember requires removing the bolts holding each side to each frame rail. It really is that easy. Installing the new QA1 crossmember is as easy as raising the QA1 crossmember into place, locating it with the center hole that the factory crossmember was attached to, and securing the crossmember to the frame using the supplied bolts. There is some drilling required for new attachment bolts.
According to Damien, “once the stock suspension and crossmember are unbolted and removed, the QA1 crossmember is located on the frame using two existing crossmember bolt holes in the frame. The 2-inch raised suspension only requires eight holes to be drilled in each frame rail. No cutting or welding is required.”
“I would plan for two to three days for the installation including engine removal and reinstallation,” says Damien. “The installation time will also vary depending on how much frame cleanup is performed as well. Installation could be performed with the engine in the vehicle and properly supported but working around and under the engine is going to slow down the installation. The front end sheetmetal does not need to be removed for the suspension swap.”
Again, this crossmember is compatible with either a QA1 or other suspension parts so the choice is yours. The major benefits of installing this new tubular crossmember definitely make this a worthy upgrade whether you’re planning to race your truck or simply want a driver-quality vehicle that delivers suspension enhancements that really make it an enjoyable driver.