Restoring our Elva’s front suspension | Project Elva sports racer

Now to tie together our Elva sports racer’s front suspension.

For A-arm bushings, we scoured the internet for 1/8-inch outer diameter, 1/2-inch inside diameter A-arm bushings and found nothing. While we were sure they existed, every site listed an application, but none listed dimensions.

In frustration, we called our partners at Energy Suspension. Certainly, they had to have something in these rather common dimensions. They did. As it turns out, Ford trucks and the Bronco uses this size bushing (part No. 2056G)  as a spring bushing.

While we were told we would have to cut both the bushing and sleeve to get to our desired lengths, we were still elated. At the same time, we would be upgrading from soft rubber bushings to Energy’s long wearing Hyper-Flex material that also offers our Elva improved handling. While this material is available in bright red, we thought their optional black bushings would look more original.

While most everything went smoothly, we did run into a few unexpected surprises. First, as we outline in our photos, our front anti-roll bars used Whitworth BSF (British Standard Fine) hardware and not more common SAE hardware.

While England moved away from this style of hardware in about 1955, it is not uncommon to find parts on British cars that were designed before the mid-'50s to still use this hardware.

The Spitfire trunnions also did not fit the Elva A-arms, as they had obviously been designed for something else.

Our caliper brackets had to be milled as well. As we just found all these brake parts together in boxes, we don’t know exactly why things didn’t quite match up, but through the use of a talented local machinist, we now know how to quickly fix these issues.

This is what we started with. Every part of our Elva had been ridden hard and put away wet. We would have to work some magic to make thinks look and work like new again.

Photography Credit: Stephen Sanguinetti

Instead of attempting to media blast and powder coat the suspension parts ourselves in our home blasting cabinet, we saved ourselves a lot of time by taking the part to The Blast Masters.

Here the pieces are blasted and hung in the paint booth with care, ready to be coated and then transferred to the oven to be baked at nearly 400 degrees for 45 minutes. Notice how some of the thread or bushing areas are taped to keep powder out.

Here are all of suspension parts both front and rear. They have all been cleaned, blasted and painted or powder coated. We’ll get more into the rear suspension later, but now we can begin making repairs to the car’s frame and add a roll bar back in.

We couldn’t figure out where the huge upper A-arm ball joints came from, but after cleaning and testing them, we decided they were okay to reuse. What you are looking for are rubber dust covers that are not dry-rotted, cracked and, even more importantly, free of play while still properly articulating. We applied some more grease under the boot and into the joint.

The end links on our Elva’s anti-roll bar were fitted with rod ends. These were badly worn, so we measured them so we could source new one from Aurora Bearing. We quickly realized that the end link was threaded with Whitworth BSF and not SAE threads.

Since we couldn’t find anyone making BSF Heim joints, we ordered 3/8-inch SAE joints (Aurora part No. CW-6). We then took the end link to Falcon Industries, our local machine shop, and asked them to duplicate the end link with SAE 3/8-inch fine threads. At the same time, we asked them to build in a bit more thread for added adjustability. The nut at the end of the anti-roll bar was also BSF, so we ordered the correct nuts from the Moss Motors catalog.

Here is our finished anti-roll bar, with newly made end links and new rod ends. One final note: the nut at the end of the anti-roll bar was also BSF, so we ordered the correct nuts from the Moss Motors catalog.

While you can buy spring compressors for narrow 2 ½-inch coil-overs like the ones fitted on our Elva, we cut up some scrap and made some tooling to fit our shop press. While this method is probably a bit sketchy, we only needed to produce about 50 pounds of pressure to get these lightweight coil-overs back together.

To get the roll pin back into the shocks, you will need to be able to see where the shock eyelet is positioned. Consider this when pressing the springs. A pair or small locking pliers and a tack hammer made this clip installation easy.

And our coil-over assemblies are completed. Notice that Koni sent us the original winged logo decals, which we applied to give the shocks a more original look. While these decals won’t make our Elva faster, it is details like this that matter in any concours restoration.

The front hubs that came with the car were modified to fit the Elva 4x4.5-inch wheels. While we are not crazy with the idea of welding in wheel studs, we will start with this setup until we figure out what drum brakes were used originally. One easy trick for pressing in race bearings is to take a bar of iron and tap it to get your races started as straight as you can.

The car came with what appeared to be Spitfire Trunnions, so we picked up a new trunnion kit from Kip Motors. Since the trunnions were about 1/8 inch too wide to fit the A-arms, we asked Falcon Industries to machine the trunnions. Since they are solidly made–and the Elva is half the weight of the car these trunnions were designed for–we felt this was a safe and easy modification.

The A-arm bushings were all rubber, and they were all shot. While we had three different lengths in the various A-arms, they were all 1 1/8-inch outside diameter and ½-inch inside diameter.

Here is our finished front suspension. The new braided brake hoses from Moss Motors are longer than what is typical, though they matched what we had and are sourced from an MGB. We should have no problem fitting them to the car.

This whole job took us a couple of weeks and set us back about $1000, most of which was in the blasting and powder coating.

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