Muscle Truck: Coilover and Air Suspension for Early C1500 Pickups

C1500 Lowered Suspension

By any measure, 1988-1998 Chevy and GMC C1500 pickups are great trucks. Also known by their General Motors platform name “GMT400”, they’re good looking, affordable and well-engineered. Now more than 20 years old, early C1500s respond well to upgrades. Ridetech has been hard at work developing new lowered suspension systems to help you build a true C1500 muscle truck.

There are a lot of reasons to choose a GMT400 truck over other generations. These early C1500s are more plentiful and modern than their C10 (1960-1987) predecessors. When compared to later generations, GMT400 pickups are smaller and more sporty. Pickups have seemingly grown taller with each successive generation. On paper and behind the steering wheel, these old trucks have a lot to offer.

The most innovative and impressive design feature of Ridetech’s new suspension systems is the new wishbone-link rear assembly. The upper crossmember reinforces the frame and locates the forward end of the wishbone link. It’s almost a shame to cover up this design with your truck’s bed. Heavy-duty C-Notches bolt to the frame and tubular crossmember. While some C-Notches may weaken your truck’s frame, Ridetech’s integrated C-Notch/Crossmember design adds strength. That means you and your lowered muscle truck can still tow and haul at will.  The C-Notches also do double duty as the upper coilover mounts. The entire rear suspension design bolts together with zero welding and minimal cutting.

A Wishbone is a clever “3-link” arrangement that eliminates your truck’s leaf springs for much-improved ride quality and handling. Lower links bolt to your truck’s spring perches and forward hangers. The links feature R-Joints to eliminate binding and offer long service life. Above the axle, the wishbone attaches to your truck’s 10-bolt or 14-bolt housing. Ultimately your old leaf springs get replaced with articulating links and fully-adjustable coilovers. Tune the ride height and shock rebound to your exact combination and driving preferences.

Up front, the new C1500 coilover kit features Ridetech’s renowned StrongArm tubular A-Arms. In addition to revised geometry, the arms accept bolt-on coilovers or air springs. StrongArms™ are made entirely in Ridetech’s Indiana factory to meet tight safety and quality standards. As the GMT400 chassis has some interesting packaging concerns, Ridetech developed distinct A-arms for coilovers vs. air springs. For air ride applications, Ridetech uses double-convoluted air springs with separate shock absorbers. Whether coilover or air ride, ride height is completely adjustable.

HQ Series adjustable shocks are included at all four corners. They feature monotube valving for precision response across a wide range of driving surfaces.  Ridetech’s shocks blow the doors off of typical twin-tube shocks. Rebound adjustment helps you fine-tune ride quality and handling to your personal preferences. You will truly enjoy the driving experience, and your old pickup will drive more like a luxury sports car.

Ridetech finishes the system with a custom-rated MUSCLEbar™ sway bar. It’s an all-new design with investment cast bar ends and Delrin-lined frame bushings. Every bar is tested to ensure its rate is within spec.

With the right suspension, a GMT400 truck is transformed into something special. The end result is greater than the sum of its parts. Ridetech’s Wishbone-link/StrongArm™ suspension is a must-have ingredient in any ultimate muscle truck recipe.

C1500 Crossmember
The rear suspension crossmember is a work of art. CNC bent tubing and laser-cut steel reinforcing plates. The crossmember bolts to C-Notch Brackets which, in turn, bolt to your C1500’s frame. The front Wishbone pivot consists of a heavy-duty ball joint.
88-98 C1500 C-Notch
Here, you can see that the C-Notch Brackets reinforce in multiple planes. They also serve as upper coilover mounts. Cutting and drilling are required. Coilovers offer ride height adjustment as well as simplified spring rate tuning.
88-98 C1500 Wishbone
Here you can see the complete wishbone link with ball joint front pivot. The other end of the wishbone bolts to your truck’s 10-bolt or 14-bolt axle housing. Handling is dramatically improved as compared to leaf springs. Delrin bushings and hardware are included.
1988-1998 C1500 A-Arms
Front suspension is based on Ridetech’s winning StrongArm™ design. The coilover version is shown here with heavy-duty ball joints and delrin bushings. The air ride version accepts air springs with separate shocks. Both coilover and air ride systems accept drop spindles. A MUSCLEbar™ sway bar adds spring rate as cornering loads increase.
GMT400 Bucket Seats
1988-1998 C1500 feature comfortable interiors. Ridetech’s R&D truck has a faded interior, but the bucket seats and console are awesome. If you prefer the later 95-98 “facelift” dash, the conversion is easy. Either way, low cowl height offers a sporty view of the winding road ahead. Later trucks became taller.
GMT400 lowered
On the highway, you’ll be blown away by the excellent road manners. Ridetech’s new Wishbone-link rear suspension delivers better than any other GMT400 design. This Ridetech test truck is a blast to drive.
GMT400 C1500 Lowered Suspension
On Ridetech’s test track, the GMT400 is exciting and easy to control. Coilover or air ride, you’ll get similar results. Spring and sway bar rates are custom-tailored for the GMT400 platform. The same is true for shock valving. 

For 1988-1998 Chevy and GMC C1500 Coilover Suspension, click HERE

For 1988-1998 Chevy and GMC C1500 Air Suspension, click HERE

OTHER UPGRADES: People are always asking us about the wheels and tires on this project truck. Here are the details:

Wheels: U.S. Mags Roadster U120 – Learn More HERE

  • Front: 18″x8″ with 4.5″ Backspace
  • Rear: 18″x9.5″ with 5.25″ Backspace

Tires: B.F. Goodrich G-Force™ Sport Comp-2 – Learn More HERE

  • Front: 255/40x18
  • Rear: 275/40x18


3 thoughts on “Muscle Truck: Coilover and Air Suspension for Early C1500 Pickups

  1. Corey Anderson says:

    I have a 96 C1500 extended cab that needs a refresh on everything. It has an old school Ground Force (rip) 4/6 (more like 5/7) drop on it. I LOVE the stance it has, and the height is perfect. How adjustable is the height on your kit? Meaning how far in the weeds can you go and still get it properly aligned?

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