It’s no secret that America’s love affair with high performance, classically styled pickups is hotter than ever. For Mooresville, North Carolina, muscle car and pickup powerhouse, Detroit Speed, Inc., this development has provided a unique opportunity, courtesy of the classic C10 chassis. When word arrived the brand was coming out with its QUADRALink rear suspension kit for 1973-87 Square body GM C10 trucks, we decided to look into the company’s claim this product would “…greatly improve ride quality and handling… for those wanting to make their hot hauler more than utilitarian in nature.”
A Little Bit Of Background
For those of you new to the aftermarket game, Detroit Speed is widely revered as one of the best in the biz. Not only for its commitment to providing top-notch muscle car solutions, but affordable pickup restomod parts as well. From product design, development, and manufacturing, to customer service and quality control, Detroit Speed is a brand that refuses to settle with being merely labeled as “good.” Designed in-house by a team of engineers utilizing the latest manufacturing practices, and forever on the lookout for what builders are in search of in a particular platform, Detroit Speed’s USA-made approach to design and production is both commendable and cutting-edge.
Different Flavors For Various Tastes
Background snapshot complete, we turn back to the topic of Detroit Speed’s latest creation: A C10 Square body rear-suspension kit that is served up in two different flavors. While a mild, bolt-in option offers entry-level builders a palatable approach to upgrading their C10’s tired suspension, a far more fiery, weld-in version gives advanced enthusiasts the chance to take things a bit further. Regardless of which direction is taken, the brand’s QUADRALink rear suspension is a great upgrade for anyone looking to ditch their C10’s dated design.
While pre-sale of these C10 rear suspension kits began in early November 2019 — with deliveries the following month — questions surrounding how the kit came to fruition and perks contained therein, continue to surface. Forever intrigued by the automotive unknown, we dug-up some details on Detroit Speed’s latest offering and sourced some insider info on what makes it so spectacular.
C10 Problems, American-made Solutions
Relying heavily upon a horizontal track bar, the C10 QUADRALink kit encourages handling characteristics best described by Detroit Speed as, “precise and effective rear axle lateral-location during hard cornering.” Since this track bar is adjustable as well, things like roll-center control can easily be achieved, regardless of vehicle ride height. Due to the reinforced nature of the kit’s rear crossmembers, the backend of the truck’s body — as well as the pickup’s frame section — simultaneously receives a significant boost in both strength and rigidity.
Opting for a custom four-link design, Detroit Speed has achieved what it considers to be the best possible handling upgrade for Square body owners, thanks in part to geometrical superiority and unrivaled material quality. Taking its patented Swivel-Link technology, and combining it with specialized high-durometer rubber bushings, Detroit Speed has given the backend of the C10 chassis the ability to fully articulate. We’re told this setup remains devoid of the binding and noise that often emanates from spherical mounting points used on other suspensions.
Some Inside Advice
In order to get a bit more background on the development of this kit, we contacted Alex Stivaletti, PR specialist for Detroit Speed, Inc. While the company’s press release stated the goal with this kit was to ensure each driver — whether cruising or hauling — will enjoy the look and feel of their truck. Stivaletti had his own take on this latest product development.
When asked about the reasoning behind Detroit Speed’s commitment to focusing on the C10 Square body chassis, Stivaletti tells us that builder interest and platform availability had a lot to do with the decision to pull the trigger. “The Square body truck was produced from 1973 all the way up to 1987. That’s a huge amount of vehicles,” Stivaletti says. “In addition to that, they’re easy to work on, useful, and good looking to boot. What’s not to love?”
Stivaletti explains that while designing and engineering this kit proved surprisingly easy, finding a way to make it affordable without cutting corners was a major hurdle. While other aftermarket parts are not required in order to install Detroit Speed’s C10 QUADRALink rear suspension kit, Stivaletti says opting for the brand’s weld-on axle brackets will grant C10 truck owners the ability to accommodate fully built rearends.
Zeroing in on the perks of opting for the weld-in kit over the bolt-in version, Stivaletti throws a handful of useful information our way. “Our bolt-in kit can be used with the stock rear axle without fabrication or welding required,” he explains. “We focused on designing a true bolt-on system that compromises as little as possible while greatly increasing ease of install. We can say for certain this system install can be done in a weekend.”
As for the weld-in kit, Stivaletti recommends going with this more labor-intensive route if you are the sort of builder who plans on replacing your C10’s rear axle with either a 12-bolt or a 9-inch rearend. Regardless as to whether you opt for the bolt-in or the weld-in alternative, Stivaletti reassures us every kit comes complete with high-grade, laser-cut brackets in order to remain compatible with the C10’s original axle, wiring, and brake lines.
Like any aftermarket automotive component available, these rear suspension kits for the Square body C10 chassis are only as good as the raw materials that go into them. Since this is a Detroit Speed product and not some fly-by-night operation, this translates to buyers receiving the very best materials on the planet. For instance, take the kit’s heavy-duty chassis and axle brackets. They are comprised entirely of 3/16-inch-thick high-tensile steel.
Meanwhile, Detroit Speed’s patented Swivel-Links rely on a high-durometer bushing to achieve a ride that is equal parts comfortable and capable. As for the kit’s coilover shocks, each setup uses a monoball design at both upper and lower mounts. The entire kit utilizes Grade-8 zinc-plated fasteners.
However, zinc-plating isn’t meant for every area of this rear suspension kit, at which point Detroit Speed turns toward powdercoating to help guarantee product longevity and curb appeal. While all Swivel-Links and brackets are powdercoated satin black, Stivaletti tells us the C-notch bracket comes uncoated in case a customer wants to weld it to their truck’s frame. Once installed, Detroit Speed recommends painting or powdercoating this component prior to completion. Just note, the aforementioned shade of satin black is the only available color at the moment.
While color options may be limited, spring rates and levels of coilover adjustability are quite abundant. Stivaletti says despite the average QUADRALink kit shipping with a standard 200-pound spring rate, other rates remain available upon request. As far as ride-height adjustability is concerned, Stivaletti informs us that the top shock mount can be relocated up or down in 1-inch increments. This allows tweaks in ride height without negating shock travel. Detroit Speed’s coilovers also offer up to 2 1/2 inches of total ride height adjustment for even more customization.
That said, these shock adjustments vary greatly, and are dependent upon the coilover selected. While non-adjustable options are permanently fixed, Detroit Speed’s single-adjustable shocks offer a whopping 60 clicks of tunability. Hardcore enthusiasts can even opt for a top-of-the-line, remote-canister shock, which offers double-adjustability via 12 clicks of high-speed, and 25 clicks of low-speed tunability.
As for that unique C-notch plate that comes with each kit, Detroit Speed has engineered it to create a gain of 2 1/8 inches of jounce travel past the original frame rail surface. An integrated, progressive jounce bumper controls final axle travel.
Pricing for the bolt-in C10 Square body rear suspension kit is currently listed with an MSRP that starts at $3,295.00, whereas a basic weld-in option starts at $3,095.00. This affordability, paired with Detroit Speed’s relentless dedication to superior engineering and quality control, make this QUADRALink rear suspension kit both a bargain and a blessing for C10 fanatics.
A Few Closing Statements
For those of you who might be wondering what ride quality feels like once this kit has been installed, Detroit Speed’s engineering project lead, Ryan Matthews, has this to say:
“The biggest, most apparent change — post-install — is the QUADRALink has a much more controlled, calm ride quality. With the leaf springs installed, we noted a tendency to sharply jump around over bumps — which is no longer present with the QUADRALink. We’re also confident there’s an increase in forward bite due to testing, and rear feel, in general, is much nicer around corners, especially with the long bed. Overall, there’s a significant increase in capability and driving feel with a great improvement in comfortability as well.”
Determined to provide C10 owners with looks that are just as sharp as the performance felt while behind the wheel, we are also told fans of this platform can expect to see a front suspension system from Detroit Speed sometime in 2020.
In closing, we leave you with a quote that we discovered on the company’s website. A quote that comes from none other than famed football legend, Vince Lombardi, ”We are going to relentlessly chase perfection, knowing full well we will not catch it because nothing is perfect. But, we are going to relentlessly chase it, because, in the process, we will catch excellence. I am not remotely interested in just being good.”