Installation Highlights: 73-87 GM “Square-Body” StreetGRIP System

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Nice trucks like our 1987 Fleetside are readily available for under $10,000. GM made millions of these trucks. One article suggests that GM made 925,000 examples in 1974 alone.

With the values of 67-72 GM C/K pickups on the rise, some enthusiasts are turning to GM’s 3rd generation or “Square-Body” pickups.  In production for 15 years, “Square Body” pickups are more plentiful than prior generations. Though they have always been popular, you can still find a great example for well under $10,000. The stylish body style also lends itself nicely to customization.  The wheel openings will seemingly accept any wheel and tire combination. Of course, the sky is the limit as far as drivetrain combinations.  You can retain the existing seventies/eighties small or big block, or swap in an LS engine with room to spare for turbos.  One important benefit is that 73-87 interiors are a bit more spacious than second gens thanks to an increase in wheelbase and relocated fuel tanks. Our favorite “Square Body” feature is that they trigger the right memories.  Remember the “Indy Hauler Official Truck” from Cannonball Run? It was a 1979 GMC Sierra Classic 35 3+3. It was the epitome of cool with a screamin’ chicken on the hood, shiny Alcoa wheels, and “to0 many” driving lights. Lee Majors and Heather Thomas drove around in a long bed “Square Body” in the “Fall Guy” while officer John Baker drove a stepside in “CHiPs”. Those two trucks were four wheel drive, but you get the idea. If the Bandit drove a pickup instead of a Trans Am, it would be a Square Body.

RideTech just picked up this sweet 1987 Fleetside for the last step in the 73-87 series’ StreetGRIP R&D program called the “validation” phase. Though we had a truck for the prototype phase, we purchased a separate vehicle in order to perform a full installation. The validation phase is our last opportunity to install parts in the same manner as you, our customers.  We take photos, write instructions, and — once the truck is all together — drive the heck out of it. It is a regular occurrence to see a RideTech R&D vehicle driving on our test track and throughout the streets of Jasper, IN. The validation process was a success as StreetGRIP parts are now in stock. You can consider this article the official StreetGRIP product launch for 73-87 GM pickups.

This particular truck is by no means perfect. The chassis is covered with decades of crud and the interior is well-worn.  On the plus side, the truck is all original with rust-free sheetmetal and miles of character.  1987 was the only year that fuel injection was offered.  Follow along as we show you a few highlights from the installation process!

Click HERE for more information about 1973-1987 Chevrolet Pickup StreetGRIP Suspension Systems

 

The StreetGRIP system includes these trick brackets and hangers, along with lightweight, high-rate composite leaf springs. All brackets are powder-coated and hardware is included.

 

...You will need to cut or drill out the stock rivets and remove the stock, crusty hangars.
Before you can install the new RideTech parts, you will need to cut or drill out the stock rivets and remove the crusty stock hangers. There is zero welding involved, but it’s a good idea to have access to a die grinder and a drill.

 

Once the old hangars have been removed, drill holes for the new brackets.It's easy if you follow the instructions.
Once the old hangers have been removed, drill holes for the new brackets. The process is easy if you follow the instructions.

 

The lower shock mounting point is relocated outwards with the help of these included brackets. They are powder-coated, of course.
The lower shock mounting point is relocated outwards with the help of these included brackets. They are powder-coated, of course. Also visible in the photo are new leaf spring to axle mounts. Look closely; you should be able to see the special spacer that fits between the axle and the clamp.
Here's another view of the special spacers described above. They make your life easier by fitting between the factory axle pads and the new composite leaf springs.
Here’s another view of the special spacers described above. They make your life easier by fitting between the factory axle pads and the new composite leaf springs.

 

All StreetGRIP systems include HQ Series mono-tube shock absorbers. They're adjustable, have forged hourings and include a 1,000,001 mile warranty.
You can see how the rear shocks mount to the axle and frame. These RideTech HQ Series monotube shocks are vastly superior to any twin tube design.  They will completely transform the ride and handling of your pickup.

 

Like the rear suspension, you will need to completely disassemble the front of your truck to make room for all new parts with the exception of the control arms.
Like the rear suspension, you will need to completely disassemble the front of your truck to make room for all new parts with the exception of the control arms. Here we are using a C-Clamp to press in a Delrin bushing.

 

Forget noisy, bind-prone urethane or stock rubber bushings. RideTech supplies self-lubricating, long lasting Delrin bushings throughout.
Forget noisy, bind-prone urethane or stock rubber bushings. RideTech supplies self-lubricating, long-lasting Delrin bushings throughout.

 

Delrin bushings install the same way as other materials and do not require greasing. New "cages" are included.
Shown here semi-installed (prior to tightening), Delrin bushings install the same way as other materials and do not require greasing. New “cages” are included. If you prefer, you can have any machine shop to replace the tired old bushings in your A-Arms with our new Delrin bushings.

 

New dropped spindles completely change the attitude of your truck while maintaining full suspension travel.
New dropped spindles completely change the attitude of your truck while maintaining full suspension travel.

 

Your StreetGRIP system includes new coilspings with isolators. pring rates are custom engineered for this series of truck as developed on our test track.
Your StreetGRIP system includes new coil springs with adapters. Spring rates are custom engineered for this series of truck, as developed on our own test track. None of our competitors can make that claim.

 

Here is everything installed with the exception of the HQ Series Mono-Tube adjustable shock and the beefy sway bar.
Here is everything installed with the exception of the adjustable shock and the beefy sway bar.
Be sure to compare shock specs when price shopping. RideTech HQ Series Shocks feature forged bodies, mono-tube function (vastly superior to twin-tube), and rebound adjustment. RideTech also provides a 1,000,001-mile warranty.

 

4 Replies to “Installation Highlights: 73-87 GM “Square-Body” StreetGRIP System”

  1. It looks like you guys have 20’s on your test truck have you compared the vehicle visually from stock? Do you have a ques for how much drop you get out of the kit? Maybe about equal to a 4/6 drop since you are doing the rear axle flip. Major point being is there any room for adjustment. Could one use a rear spacer to get the axle up more, or a 3 inch drop spindle to get lower in the front? I know you do a lot of testing would you be throwing off the geometry to much?

  2. Correct, those are 245/45/20’s front and rear which are about 28.6″ tall. Fender to ground measures about 28″ all the way around. This is as low as you can drive these trucks in the back and still maintain adequate compression travel between the pumpkin and the bed floor.

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