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I have a stock 1969 Camaro SS350 with what looks to be the original suspension and shocks (multi leaf in the rear). The suspension is not in bad shape but the front and rear shocks need to be replaced. I like the stance of the car now so I’m basically just trying to find out if replacement shocks will affect that at all. Can one of you Jedi Master mechanics school me a bit on how the whole shock/suspension thing works? Please excuse my ignorance if it sounds like a stupid question but I just have no idea how stance adjustment works. A couple other basic questions:
1. Is there anything I should know before picking out the replacement shocks?
2. Can I get away with just changing out the shocks and not the whole suspension?
3. If so, are there other parts I should change out at the same time (bushings, etc).
Again just trying to do some due diligence before I make a purchase. As always, thank you in advance!
 

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Shocks themselves don't affect ride height. Springs do. Old, original springs have fatigued so the car will ride a little lower as a result and the car will have a more bouncy ride as their spring rate has fatigued. Replacing springs with stock new replacements the car will likely sit a good 1/2" taller.

For shocks Bilstein would be a good, more performance shock.

The rest of your suspension needs to be in good shape (A arm bushings, ball joints, Idler arm, tie rods, Center link).

Going to a larger sway bar will help stability in corners but going to big can impact spring stiffness feel.

If you want to lower the lar than lowering springs, IMHO, are better than drop spindles. I used the RideTech progressive springs but still have the stock rear leafs with lowering blocks
 

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x2 Shocks should not affect the stance, that is determined by the springs for the most part. Shocks. . . . .depends on the ride you want and the driving you do and your budget. Bilstein will give a more stiff ride than my choice, Gabriel Ulra HD, give a more stock ride. 1 Bilstein shock costs the same as 4 Gabriel. . . . .FYI they supply 95% of all American built cars/trucks, per their web sight and were the inventor of the shock, not a bad testimonial. I have both brands on my Camaros and for the type of driving I do cannot tell the difference and not worth 4 times the $$$. JMO
 

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I have to disagree on this one. Gas shocks can add 1/4" to 1/2" when compared to hydraulic. I ran KYB gas shocks for years and they sucked, when I replaced them with Koni Classics the front dropped by 1/2". Just to give you give you an idea, take a gas shock and see how much force it takes keep it compressed, now double that amount of force lifting up on your front or back bumper. If you want to keep the same stance, you should first determine if your existing shocks are gas or hydraulic, (original shocks were hydraulic) I do agree that you should get a good quality shock like Bilstein, or Koni.
 

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An earlier comment was made about the rest of the suspension being in good shape. If it is all original, then it is probably a certainty that all the bushings are shot and disintegrating. Same for ball joints and tie rod ends. Removing the front coil springs can be dangerous so if you do not know what you are doing, enlist the help of someone who does or take it to a shop to have it done. The springs are under significant pressure, and can caused serious injury if the fly out and hit someone. I took mine out but replaced with coilovers and not wanting to reinstall stock type springs was a big reason on went that route.
 

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I have to disagree on this one. Gas shocks can add 1/4" to 1/2" when compared to hydraulic. I ran KYB gas shocks for years and they sucked, when I replaced them with Koni Classics the front dropped by 1/2". Just to give you give you an idea, take a gas shock and see how much force it takes keep it compressed, now double that amount of force lifting up on your front or back bumper. If you want to keep the same stance, you should first determine if your existing shocks are gas or hydraulic, (original shocks were hydraulic) I do agree that you should get a good quality shock like Bilstein, or Koni.
I’ve found this to be true. Gas shocks push up with 45 lbs force. It’s more apparent on the rear.
 

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I just installed Koni Classics on my '68. Unfortunately, I now realize the leaf springs are shot.

However, the Konis did help the ride. They are adjustable for rebound damping, to suit a range of spring rates. I probably need to take the fronts out and give them another half turn. Thankfully, the shock install was easy. Except for the two front shocks which were very stubborn to remove the nut. I broke the top flats of the shocks off trying to hold the shaft while loosening nut. Gave me a reason to buy a Dremel.

Installation of the Konis on the rear required removing the original lower shock mount. The Konis come pre-installed with their own lower mount. Otherwise, a straightforward R&R.
 

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I found the rear Konis harder to install than the fronts. They don't seem to extend far enough with the rear end hanging so it would be be easier with the suspension loaded.
 

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spring and leafs have a lifespan, and the softer the springs the shorter the life...any spring that's original to the car is done the spring rates were already to light for the car to give that cushy ride,,, metal fatigues and looses it shape

get a good shock, a really good shock
 

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Discussion Starter #11
x2 Shocks should not affect the stance, that is determined by the springs for the most part. Shocks. . . . .depends on the ride you want and the driving you do and your budget. Bilstein will give a more stiff ride than my choice, Gabriel Ulra HD, give a more stock ride. 1 Bilstein shock costs the same as 4 Gabriel. . . . .FYI they supply 95% of all American built cars/trucks, per their web sight and were the inventor of the shock, not a bad testimonial. I have both brands on my Camaros and for the type of driving I do cannot tell the difference and not worth 4 times the $$$. JMO
My car is mostly original and still has the original front shocks. I was almost thinking of just getting replacing the suspension with stock components (to solve any metal fatigue) and putting in high end shocks..Or should I just upgrade the whole thing. This is a daily driver I’m not much into racing/track. Im not too concerned with resale value as I don’t plan on selling.
 

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George, There's nothing wrong with using stock suspension parts. As mentioned (all good info above) there are aftermarket choices if you want to go that way and there are some inexpensive upgrades. I used stock parts on my weekend cruiser. A proper front end alignment is more important than anything. Roger's (SoCal805) suggestion on progressive springs and a larger swaybar is good. I would add to that tall upper ball joints. Shocks are very subjective and unfortunately can get very expensive. I'm running KYB Excel-G non-adjustable shocks (not 100% satisfied). Stay away from the KYB gas-adjust's. A lot of bad reviews on ride quality. I like Bruce's (The Camaro Guy) suggestion on the Gabriel's. I put no emphasis on boasting about high $$ brand name parts just for the sake of boasting. It's all going to depend on how far you want to go with upgrades or not.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
George, There's nothing wrong with using stock suspension parts. As mentioned (all good info above) there are aftermarket choices if you want to go that way and there are some inexpensive upgrades. I used stock parts on my weekend cruiser. A proper front end alignment is more important than anything. Roger's (SoCal805) suggestion on progressive springs and a larger swaybar is good. I would add to that tall upper ball joints. Shocks are very subjective and unfortunately can get very expensive. I'm running KYB Excel-G non-adjustable shocks (not 100% satisfied). Stay away from the KYB gas-adjust's. A lot of bad reviews on ride quality. I like Bruce's (The Camaro Guy) suggestion on the Gabriel's. I put no emphasis on boasting about high $$ brand name parts just for the sake of boasting. It's all going to depend on how far you want to go with upgrades or not.
Just to update: I was going back and forth between the KYBs and some Koni twin tube hydraulic adjustable shocks. I bit the bullet and went with the Konis (and now reading your post I’m glad I did haha). I’m going to just replace the shocks one of these Saturdays and go through the rest of the suspension when I put her away for the winter. I’ll keep this thread handy though and use some of the suggestions on the ball joints springs and sway bar. Thanks again gents.
 

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Monroe, Gabriel and Delco took 5 of the top 10 shocks for 2019. Bilstein was the top. These are US companies, except Billstein, and are shocks used as QEM equipment on the majority of cars and trucks. I have several brands on my 9 vehicles and for the life of me cannot really tell the difference. Guys like the new shocks over the old. . . da. . .for cruising and 1500 miles a year I stick with the above brands and save $$$ for items I can tell the improvements, just an old guy talkin.
 
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