Classic Performance Products 378 E Orangethorpe Ave., Placentia CA 92870

Classic Performance Products

CPP's Tubular Control Arms For '73-87 C-10s

By Grant Peterson

Automotive manufacturers find the middle ground between what works and what is economical for them to manufacture before placing the order for hundreds of thousands of parts; the aesthetics of the suspension aren't anywhere close to the top of their list. What does this mean for us classic truckers? That we have ugly stock parts under our trucks that were built to loose mass-production standards, and while they may be rugged, years of wear and tear and the effects of time have taken their toll on our Detroit iron.

So what are your choices, you ask? Find nice original parts that are getting harder to locate and more expensive? Update the suspension via a new front clip? Or in the case of Chevy C-10 trucks, bolt on some brand-new control arms and go? Thanks to the aftermarket and the vast demand for better/more versatile parts, say for lowered trucks, companies like Classic Performance Products (CPP) have come to the rescue. Without cutting into the stock frame (which is some people's worst nightmare), you can upgrade your C-10's stamped-steel control arms to CPP's fully TIG-welded tubular pieces in only a few hours, and still be able to return your truck to stock should you ever choose to. They truly are bolt-ons!

CPP's tubular control arms come in high-gloss black or metallic-silver powdercoat, and are fully assembled on new chrome-moly billet cross-shafts with bushings made from a patented plastic that will never squeak, never need lube, and work at temperatures over 450 degrees. Their new upper control arms are lengthened to work with all dropped coil springs, while still compatible with the stock units. The lower arms feature a stamped helical coil perch that doesn't "settle" like polyurethane spring seats, and makes installing the springs even easier. The other benefit to CPP's lower arms is the cross-shaft design has increased ground clearance for lowered trucks or those with Air Ride, which if you are in either category, you know what we're talking about.

On our test mule '79, we've already upgraded to CPP's rear trailing arm conversion (Feb. '08). Now it's time for the frontend, which already had a set of 2-inch dropped coils, an old small-diameter aftermarket sway bar, and an upper shock mount that looked like it was starting to tear. So while the truck was in the air, CPP installed one of its 1 1/4-inch sway bars and its double-shear upper shock mount bracket. This bracket is similar to what GM used on the four-wheel-drive trucks to fix this all too common C-10 problem.

CPP offers two sway bar brackets: a stock replacement, or one for lowered trucks that sits closer to the frame, again gaining more ground clearance. Many trucks weren't equipped with sway bars from the factory, so you'll have to bust out two rivets and drill a couple of holes, but you'll be glad you did. The aforementioned dropped coils were also swapped out for 3-inchers to give the truck just the right amount of rake. CPP has coils from the stock height on up to a 3-inch drop and in 1-inch increments to get you down where you want to be.

Of course you'll need to have your alignment checked after all this is said and done, but that is cheap insurance to make sure all your new parts, not to mention tires, will last. For those of you ready to take your C-10 to the next level-which may be closer to the pavement-call CPP and see what it can do for you.

First things first, take the front wheels off. Remember to loosen the lug nuts with the truck on the ground if you don't have an impact gun.

Starting with the lower ball joint, remove the cotter pin, nut, and separate it from the spindle. This may call for a ball joint separator tool, which looks like a big two-pronged fork.

If your truck has a sway bar on it already, disconnect where it mounts to the lower control arms. Also disconnect or remove the shocks.

Carefully remove the front coil springs. The truck already had 2-inch dropped coils in the front.

Now begin loosening and removing the lower control arm mounts at the crossmember. Don't forget to squirt some WD-40 or penetrating fluid on rusty hardware.

Here are the new TIG-welded, powdercoated, tubular control arms from CPP along with the included upper and lower ball joints. The upper control arms are longer than stock to work well with dropped coils as well as stock springs. We'll be installing 3-inch dropped springs in the '79, too.

The lower control arms are heavy, so be prepared to grunt or have someone help. If you are going to detail the front of your chassis, now would be a good time!

CPP's new control arms mount to the crossmember using the OE clamps to eliminate confusion. The design of the lower cross-shafts also provides more ground clearance for the lowered crowd, which you'll appreciate. Check out CPP's lower bump stomp; it is a progressive, closed-cell, foam polyurethane design.

With the crossmember mounts tightened up, position and install the lower ball joint into the spindle. If you need spindles or want to go to a dropped spindle, CPP has those, too. Don't forget to install the new cotter key.

Here's the CPP tubular upper control arm in place with the original alignment shims. Snug up the bolts, but before attaching it to the spindle, install the coil springs. Also notice the upper shock mount here. GM used a single shear (one-sided) mount on light-duty trucks, and many of you out there have broken them. CPP makes these double-shear upper shock mount brackets to solve this problem; it also has new shock studs. It's a smart and inexpensive upgrade.

With the lower control arm installed and mounted to the spindle, the upper can now come off. Doing it this way saves from having to mess with the brakes. Also, before removing the upper control arm, count any alignment shims that may be used and write it down.

Next, tighten up the upper ball joint hardware and reconnect the shocks. Always use Grade 8 hardware when replacing suspension components.

With all that out of the way, it was time to reevaluate the sway bar situation. Somewhere along the line, the '79 got a small-diameter aftermarket sway bar that wasn't going to cut it now, plus it didn't line up with the new lower control arms.

CPP makes the shorter sway bar brackets, especially for lowered trucks, to help keep the sway bar from scraping. The one to the right is in the previous non-stock location. To use the CPP or a stock sway bar, we needed to locate the brackets back a few inches. If your truck came stock with a sway bar, it would've been riveted at the rear to the bottom side of the radiator crossmember (upper left-hand corner), roughly where the bracket on the left is shown. To install the brackets in the correct location, that rivet needs to be removed.

The whole assembly was removed from the truck, brackets and all. Remember to have an extra set of hands to help lift heavy parts.

With a bolt in the rear hole, it's easy to figure out where to drill the front hole. Start with an 1/8-inch pilot hole and work your way up.

When it's all said and done, it should look like this-a far cry from the unsightly OEM pieces, huh? Not only that, but they are much stronger than the old stamped-steel control arms. These parts are also engineered to work with the '63-72 C-10 trucks as well, and should help all lowered models gain some clearance on the blacktop.

The 3-inch coils brought down the nose another inch from the before shot, and gave it just the right amount of rake...

...Unfortunately, all of CPP's super cool suspension pieces can't be seen from the road, but at least there's peace of mind knowing they're there! Call CPP today, or log onto and see what it can do for your truck.

Bingo. With the new CPP heavy-duty 1 1/4-inch sway bar secured to the new brackets, the rear mounts nicely to the new control arms and does so with a clean, almost custom appearance