Suspension Swapping: Using Off-The-Shelf Parts to Solid-Axle-Swap An S-10

    Suspension Swapping

    Ali MansourPhotographer, Writer

    One of the challenges when building a truck with limited aftermarket support is that you have to be rather creative when it comes to reaching your goals. For our ’01 Chevy S-10 4x4, we knew that the few off-the-shelf suspension systems available wouldn’t suffice for our lofty wheeling goals. This was mostly due to the light-duty independent front suspension components the truck rolled off the assembly line with. Removing the IFS from the truck would require ditching the front driveline components and the torsion bar suspension as well.

    In a previous issue, we gave you the rundown on the junkyard 1-ton axles that were built for our Crew Cab Chevy you see here. In this story, we’re turning our attention to the suspension that will be securing the high-pinion Dana 60 front and 14-bolt rear under the pickup. While building a custom suspension initially seemed like the best (and our only) option, we quickly discovered that a few suspension companies had parts that would cut down on time and money spent at the shop.

    This realization came thanks to the fact that we’ve been working on our truck at Low Range 4x4 in Wilmington, North Carolina. Low Range 4x4 works on a wide range of Jeeps, trucks, and SUVs, day in and day out. As such, the company has hands-on experience with many of the latest aftermarket suspension parts. As luck would have it, Low Range had installed a Rock Krawler X Factor long-arm suspension on an ’05 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. We checked out the triangulated four-link rear and three-link front that came with the kit and quickly realized that the arm lengths and suspension design could work perfectly for our needs. Couple this with an assortment of DIY fabricator parts from another North Carolina company, Barnes 4WD, and we quickly had an idea of how we could easily and efficiently create a custom suspension with readily available aftermarket parts. While we still have plenty left to do to our S-10, we’re happy to get this mini-truck flexing in the right direction.

    Suspended Thoughts

    A few things to note. First, you may notice we did not cover sway bars. That’s simply because we’re still unsure if we’re going to go with a dual sway bar setup that would always stay connected (Currie Antirocks are a good example of this). Or, we may go with a more conventional single bar with disconnects at the front. We still need to address the exhaust system that has to be completely redone and find a new home for our fuel supply. While there are plenty of custom touches to this pickup, going with readily available suspension parts greatly reduced the time and money spent.