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Everyone knows how hot today's market is for 1973-1987 Chevy trucks. While the 1960-1972 trucks became classics almost immediately, the 1973-1987 trucks were upright, blocky and took some time to gain acceptance in the collector vehicle world. However, watch any weekend auction’s results for a clean example of the breed and you’ll see that these trucks are now trading for what used to be unheard-of sums of money, easily on-par with older generations of GM trucks. Not just collectors items, enthusiasts have especially taken to the square GM trucks in recent years, making a good 1973-1987 Chevrolet or GMC a white-hot commodity when it comes to raw hot-rodding material.
Detroit Speed has long been known for building fantastic suspension parts, and, jaw-dropping complete cars. With an eye on superior handling– derived on an OE engineering background–Detroit speed uses as much modern technology as possible, and aims primarily at Pro Touring and racing categories. Detroit Speed President Kyle Tucker recognized that he was missing a huge market, with no product offering for squarebody trucks. Turning his engineers loose, Detroit Speed has been hard at work crafting industry-leading parts that will give a squarebody the ability to corner-carve in a way that GM engineers would have never dared to dream of back in the day.
According to Tucker, “Other suspension companies have been in this market a long time, but they generally used car parts or designs for the trucks. I wanted to create truck parts to be used on trucks, so that's what we did, and continue to do.” Tucker’s background is that of a Midwest kid surrounded by racing, driving a variety of stock cars, midgets and a few sprint cars in his home state of Missouri. After a sprint car crash that really rung his bell, he took the advice of his car owner to keep racing but to have a backup plan. That led him to engineering school, which led to a job at GM on the engineering team doing a lot of chassis and suspension design, and driving test vehicles. “I learned a lot,” he said, “I helped put a prototype of the C5 Corvette through the testing regimen and saw that car all the way through to production.” In addition to engineering portions of the car, his driving talent also had him putting the car through the paces on GM’s Milford Proving Grounds, “So I went from racing on dirt to pavement,” he said.
General Motors is where he met and worked with Pro Touring hero Mark Stielow and they became friends, even building a few cars together in their garages at night. They both used as many new OE technical ideas and parts on cars in the original days, with Stielow and Tucker building a selection of mostly 1969 Camaros, each one better and faster than the one before.
For Stielow, this experience led to a series of successful racing vehicles and the acquisition of the “Mr. Pro Touring” nickname, but for Kyle it led to business. In early 2001 Detroit Speed started in Kyle’s backyard garage. and now, twenty years later, the company has relocated to Mooresville NC, but is still cranking out a long line of top-notch suspension parts, not just Camaros, but also Mustangs, trucks and more!
“I grew up in the racing world, where you had to prove yourself with everything, and that’s the general philosophy at Detroit Speed—there’s no compromise," said Kyle.
Detroit Speed’s front and rear suspension kits, as well as upgrade parts, are available at www.detroitspeed.com and are ready to ship. Read on to see a peek of what is available:
The rear suspension work starts with Speed Kit 1 (p/n 041648), which is composed of the Leaf Spring Drop Hangar Kit (p/n 040113) and Leaf Spring Drop Shackle Kit (p/n 040114), plus hardware. These reposition the leaf springs to get the ride height just where it needs to be and where it looks and handles the best. Speed Kit 1 keeps your factory control arms and wheel hubs, making it more affordable than the SpeedMax kit, which includes upgraded brakes in the package.
The Speed 2 Kit (p/n 041649) is composed of the Leaf Spring Flip Kit (p/n 040116) and the Leaf Spring C-Notch Bracket Kit (p/n 040115), which bolts onto the frame and comes with all necessary hardware and new bump stops. The C-Notch is required with the Leaf Spring Flip Kit, because you're going to want the room for the rear axle to move around if you intend on driving your Chevy or GMC the way that Detroit Speed would like you to drive it. Combine Speed 1 and Speed 2 Kits and you get the Speed 3 Kit (p/n 041650).
Ask any muscle car owner about Detroit Speed and one of their favorite parts is most likely the company’s QUADRALink rear suspension kit that transforms a leaf spring design to a coil-over 4-link setup for far better handling. Detroit Speed's GM Squarebody system is available in bolt-on or weld-in forms. The QUADRALink kit includes powder-coated 4-link bars (with a track bar), Detroit Speed's Swivel-Links, coilover shocks with coin springs, all of the installation hardware needed, and the C-Notch cut template. All of the brackets included in the kit are laser-cut and are compatible with all of the wiring, brake lines, and the original axle.
The ultimate front suspension setup for the squarebody pickups is the SpeedMax kit. This is a complete re-engineering of the front suspension that is based on the GMT800 (1999-2006 Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra) platform's design, but with Detroit Speed's exclusive suspension geometry for the best handling at a lowered ride height and "Detroit Tuned" GMT800 rack and pinion steering system, coil springs, and shocks. The kit can be installed in either the stock location or one inch forward for better wheel-to-fender alignment, and you won't have to remove the engine for installation. You can even pick between two wheel bolt patterns (5x5" or 5x4.75") when ordering!
One key advantage of the SpeedMax kit is that the brakes are composed of GMT800 truck parts, meaning that even if you stick with stock components, you will have surplus of options ready at the nearest parts store, and they work very well!