Setting the Stance with New Shoes

By: Bob Goodson
March 6, 2020

Author: Michael Yount

As you could see in the previous blog post, Mr. Diaz had set the car up in a classic drag racing style with Weld Racing wheels – 15″ x 8″ in the rear (195/50/15) and 15″ x 3.5″ in the front (165SR15).  The car rode quite tautly, well sprung and damped, but sat at stock ride height.  Being a road racing kind-of-guy, my first changes were to source a set of wheels and tires for the car and to get the car at a ride height that was a bit lower.

I wanted something that looks like it might have been period correct had we built the car back in the 70’s/80’s.  After a LOT of careful measuring from hub faces to fender lips, I settled in on a set of VTO Wheels (look like old Minilites or Panasports) in a 14″ x 6″ size.  The folks at VTO were able to machine the wheel hub to give me the precise offsets (different front and rear) I needed to nicely fill up the wheel well while staying clear of the fender lips and the suspension bits.  I also added a 10mm spacer in the rear to get the rears wheels/tires to sit exactly where I wanted them.

Given the thickness of the hubs on the wheels, I’d also need to remove the stock Toyota wheels studs and replace them with longer studs.  This meant removing the front hubs and rear axles, pressing out the stock studs, and hammering in replacement 12mm x 1.5 x 50mm studs.

After consulting my older brother Marc (Marc Yount’s Tire Pros, Evans, Georgia), I decided on a set of relatively “normal” Uniroyal radials in a 185/60-14 size.  Back in the day, we’d have called this a “Plus 1″ conversion as the stock Corolla came with 13” wheels.  I also wanted a unique center cap for the car.  I’m not much for polish or chrome — prefer satin black and brushed aluminum on things.  So my buddy Dave Barton out in TX printed up some decals for the center caps that capture the vintage Toyota logo.  The vintage logo is shown below – I asked Dave to make up the wheel decals with the Toyota logo in Viper Red to match the paint on the Corolla, and a grey/silver background to complement the wheel color.

I also took 1000 grit sandpaper and wet-sanded the plastic ‘chrome’ center caps.  It causes them to look burnished/brushed.

Again, after lots of measurements, I settled in on lowering the car 3/4″ front and rear.  The rear has a traditional leaf spring arrangement – so I ordered a set of 3/4″ lower blocks from Speedway Motors along with a longer set up U-bolts to hold things together.  Unfortunately, the blocks weren’t exactly bolt-in.  I had to enlarge the hole in the block to 3/4″ to receive the locating pin from the leaf spring bracket.

I also had to make some copper bushings for the male pin on the lowering block so it fit snugly into the hole in the axle flange.

The front of the car has McPherson struts with a lower control arm and a tension/compression rod. It had aftermarket springs on it and dampers of unknown manufacture.  I was able to source a set of new/vintage Koni strut inserts — perfect time to put them in was during the change over.

Since I was only lowering the car 3/4″ and was pretty happy with the springs/spring rate on the car, I decided to lower the front by removing a small amount of coil from both the top and bottom of the spring.  I ended up making about 7 cuts on each spring as I tried to “sneak up” on just the right ride height.

I’m really happy with the way the wheels/tires/ride height came out.  They fill up the wheel well without touching anywhere.  And just a bit of “gap” between the top of the tires and fender openings.  Suits my “stance” sensibilities just perfectly.

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