1969 Special Deluxe Lifting Up The Rear. Please Help!

Discussion in 'The whoa and the sway.' started by Spitfire7, Oct 10, 2016.

  1. Spitfire7

    Spitfire7 Well-Known Member

    Hey guys,

    I am new here and just inherited a great 69 Special Deluxe. There is more about the history in the "Wet Behind The Ears" section where you can get to know me and the car.

    So, my Buick has air shocks in the rear, but they are busted and don't hold air anymore. If I remember correctly the previous owner of the car cut the rear springs just a tad to lower it. That's cool and all, but not really my thing and I like the higher lifter muscle car look. I don't want to go crazy with the lift, just a nice stance and a little rake.

    I have no clue where to even begin, so please guide me in the right direction with all your wonderful knowledge and ideas. Its been over 15 years since I have worked on cars. It used to be my dream and then life happened and I have been out of the game for a long time.

    So how can I get the rear up without using air shocks and to stay that way? To be very honest with you, I don't care to put in the best most expensive parts at this point, just something reliable, durable, and that works. So, help me make it look good on a very tight budget please.

    Here is the car about 6 or 7 years ago with the leaked air shocks filled at medium to low.


    And here it is when the air shocks worked and all the way up with a high powered air compressor. I would like to go possibly 1 to 2 inches higher than that in the rear.


    So currently right now the air shocks are empty and won't hold air so its low in the back. The front end is almost a tad higher. Not good and this is an immediate fix for me. So please do lead me to the right parts and the right knowledge.

    I will most likely have my local mechanic do it that has worked on the car in the past, but I don't mind bringing him the parts I need or at least having the knowledge of what needs to be done. Thanks in advance! Will send update pics once its complete, but we got a lot of work to due so lets get started.
  2. knucklebusted

    knucklebusted Well-Known Member

    The simple choice would be to put some taller springs in the rear. They are simple and easy to do. Second would be to fix the air shocks. It could be a line, it could be the shocks. None of these is over $100 for parts. If you ever wrenched on a car, these are easy projects if you have a jack, stands and some basic hand tools.
  3. Postsedan

    Postsedan 13427 L78

    PM sent :TU:

  4. wkillgs

    wkillgs Gold Level Contributor

    Stock replacement springs from Moog range from a 5379 for a base 6 cyl to a 6321 or 5385 for a GS with air conditioning.
    The 5385 is the A/C or HD spring. Should be a little over stock, maybe 1/2" -1". If you want to go higher, a non-stock spring would have to be selected from the spring chart in the catalog, or spring spacers could be installed.
    You can get the Moog 5385 from Amazon for $66.
    May be best to contact a vendor like Espo/Springs n' Things and discuss with them. They are very good for recommending springs for non-stock installs and their pricing is still very good.


    I'd expect others to chime in and tell us what they are using on their 69's.:TU:
  5. deluxe68

    deluxe68 Well-Known Member

    I had the same thoughts as yourself when I was doing my suspension. I was looking for the rake look but without cringing ever time I hit a pothole. Air shocks were out of the question for me, I felt there were better ways to achieve the stance I was looking for without taking the possible chance of ripping the top shock mount out.
    Never researched other suppliers for OEM springs, just MOOG. IIRC there were three options (stock, variable rate and HD)
    I do not remember the part number but the variable rate was not enough for my liking at the time.

    So this is what I did the second time around,

    Ordered from EATON Detroit Spring Inc.
    BBB (OEM) non A/C springs with a 2'' lift in rear and 1'' in front, the attached picture was the end result with 26.6 tall tires.
    So after the disappointment I decided to go a totally different suspension direction with my tire and rim combo.
    Ended up with MOOG 6321 rear springs w/drag bags and then I cut the fronts down.

    Attached Files:

  6. Spitfire7

    Spitfire7 Well-Known Member

    Thank you so much for all your help here. So I have nothing to reference these style of springs to. So in regards to this picture of my car would the Moog 5385 springs look like that or would it be less? This is my car with stock springs and maxed out air shocks. I want to eliminate the air shocks and just get the springs to look like this, but possibly 2 inches higher than what is seen in the picture. So what should I go with?

    Also, I looked on that springsnthings site and I couldn't find much on there. Maybe my computer anti virus thing was keeping me from seeing some things, not sure.

    Can you also tell me more about these spring spacers? If I were to get the Moog 5385 springs with spacers would that give me 2 inches higher from the look in the picture? Thank you so much.
  7. Spitfire7

    Spitfire7 Well-Known Member

    Wow, this is really great and helpful. I am trying to make out the look in that picture you attached, but do you have a pic further away looking at the side? Please read my response to wkillgs. Maybe you can chime in since I think I am getting close to what I need.

    Tomorrow I will also swing by a shop and he is going to let me know what he can do. I would like to have information for him and possibly even bring him the parts. I don't have the jacks or the tools to do this properly, so it will have to be done in a local shop.

    If my air shocks are not working so great, does this mean I should buy some stock shocks as well?

    How much will the higher springs, stock shocks, and labor cost me generally speaking?
  8. wkillgs

    wkillgs Gold Level Contributor

    For coil spring spacers just search eBay for 'Chevelle coil spring lift kit'. Avail in 1" to 3", about $50. Here's one:

    I think your car looks great at that height! Already looks a little higher than stock.
    The 68-69 have low cut wheel openings so you can expect some tire to be covered.
    Tire size affects the look a lot, yours fill the wheelwell opening nicely. What size are they?

    Best way to compare spring height with cars that have different size tires is to measure from the center of the wheel cap to the fender lip. Can any 68-69 guys post their specs?

    Best to phone Springs 'n things and talk to them. Laura is pretty sharp.

    Shocks... if you go much higher than stock, you may need longer shocks too.
  9. deluxe68

    deluxe68 Well-Known Member

    That's the only picture I took. As fast as I let the car down it was back up and the new springs were removed. I put the old ones back on until I figured out what I was going to do.
    For some reason the measurement of 25" is sticking to me (from the ground to the bottom of the rear wheelhouse opening)
    Those rear springs have a free height of 14.312 with a .625 coil diameter.
    As far as current measurements, center of rim / I have 23.25 from the ground to the underside of the wheelhouse opening.
    and 10.5 from the center of the rim to the wheelhouse opening. My rims are 18" with an overall tire diameter of 26.6
    On my car the wheel openings toward the doors (bottom of rocker) my measurements are 9.25 in the front & 12" at the rear.

    BTW I'm with Walt, your car looks great the way it sits now.
  10. Spitfire7

    Spitfire7 Well-Known Member

    Thanks guys for all the input and help. I know most people like the lower more hotrod look now a days, but I am oldschool muscle car. Think 1970 into the 80s Muscle car look with the raised rear and the 15" cragers and the raised white lettering on the tires. It doesn't get any better than that IMO. I know I am probably in the minority at this point since its all going low profile tires, large rims and lowered suspension, but I am just not there yet.

    So I took it to a local shop today and he recommend the station wagon springs as well. One of you said earlier that it might be too much. Is there any way to tell before I buy? I hate the fact that I will have to spend a lot of money just to see if it will work and then pay more money to uninstall, send back, and get new springs. Also, what if it actually doesn't make much of a difference at all? I gotta have some sort of idea of what I am getting into before I buy. I am totally in the dark at this point and spending hundreds of dollars gambling in the dark is not ideal. Does anyone have pictures, references, charts, etc?

    So, lets just say if my car was stock ride height and the top of the crager 15" rim is being cut off by about an inch by the rear fender, what would it look like with the station wagon springs? Would the rim now be exposed showing fully by 1 inch, 3 inches, or 6 inches or something in between? Any ideas?

    Do you guys have a link to the exact station wagon springs I should get? I found this, but is this right or wrong for my 69 Buick
  11. Spitfire7

    Spitfire7 Well-Known Member

    Here are some inspiration shots of what I want to do as far as the rear lifted. I think that looks amazing!


  12. deluxe68

    deluxe68 Well-Known Member

    You should provide us with some of your measurements so we can try to compare the difference.
    What's the tire size your running on your 15" rims?

    Looks to me that my set up sits as high if not higher at the rear. Look at the ground clearance under the door front and rear.
    BTW, my rear shocks were fully extended with those springs so new taller shocks would have been necessasary.

    I know it's a bad picture but I think you can still see the rake. If I kept that set up and used shorter front springs,
    imagine what that rake would have looked like.

    You may want to give a look at the spacers that were recommended above.
  13. Spitfire7

    Spitfire7 Well-Known Member

    Cool yeah would be happy to give you measurements. My rims are Crager SS 15" and tires are 233/60/15. It had 275s, but these new tires were put on not too long ago and I want to go back to 275s soon, but I hate to not use these great new tires. Does that help?

    So it seems like I have two options:

    I could get the 5385 which are for the Heavy duty GS model and then spacers with that.


    I could try out the station wagon springs. Someone said the station wagon springs might be too high for me. Is that true or would it look similar to the pictures above of the three cars?

    Do I absolutely have to get new shocks? Are you saying mine would be topped out and limiting the full extension of the spring ride height?
  14. deluxe68

    deluxe68 Well-Known Member

    Your current tires 235/60 are going to hurt your rake efforts a little (26.1 vs. 27.99) the 28" would be your 275/60 series.
    There's an inch in height right there. Remember that your tire diameter has an effect on rear gearing also. There are online calculators to help you with this.

    What kind of ride quality are you looking for? If you don't care I would think that the spring and spacer option would be the least expensive option and might give you the look your after or pretty close. Custom made springs should cost more but you could always call and find out really how much they really would cost you so you could do a price comparison.
    Either way the "old school" rake your looking for is going to require longer shocks.

    Moog's website has the free height and load ratings listed with their spring options, I would check it out so you can see the differences between the springs.
  15. wkillgs

    wkillgs Gold Level Contributor

    ^^^ what Tony said. A 275/60-15 will raise the rear of the can an inch, giving you more rake.
    Are those 235's in the pic of your car? they look bigger.

    I wouldn't recommend station wagon springs, they're rated at 1200 lbs and the GS's 5385 are rated at 602 lbs..... that's the weight each spring is designed to hold up at the installed height of 9". A rough calc gives 3.5" higher, and they are going to be a lot stiffer, giving a harsh ride.

    5385 specs: Holds 602 lbs with rate of 166 lbs/inch.

    For 2 inches higher, figure a spring with similar rate designed to hold 602+(2" x 166)= 934 lbs.

    Some examples:
    5415 holds 949 lbs with rate of 169, I get +2.05"
    5411 holds 984 lbs with rate of 161, about +2.37"

    You really should call Springs n things, they do these calculations all the time.

    I would stay on the conservative side... go an inch or 2 over stock and if you want more, buy a spacer.
  16. Spitfire7

    Spitfire7 Well-Known Member

    Hey sorry, what did you mean by "(26.1 vs. 27.99) the 28" would be your 275/60 series" ?

    So would you know of some good taller shocks that would go well with my GS model springs and spacers? I have no idea what I would be looking for. I guess I really need to be pointed in the right direction very literally.

    I think I will also attempt to do this myself if I can get my hands on the jacks.
  17. Spitfire7

    Spitfire7 Well-Known Member

    I thought the tires were actually 233/60/15. I might have read it wrong though.

    I was looking into spacers. What if I just kept my current springs and shocks and got some 3" spacers for $60? Would that solve everything and give me that look?
  18. Spitfire7

    Spitfire7 Well-Known Member

    Also, I did some calculations

    It appears the stock springs for my model are about 8.5" under load which are either a Moog 5379 or a 5413.

    The 5385 is 9" under load, so that only gives me about half and inch higher right?

    Then the 5395s which are the wagon springs are 10" under load. So I am thinking this might be the best bet, the 5395s. What do you think?

    The other option would be, what if I just got 3" spacers on my current springs and shocks?
  19. wkillgs

    wkillgs Gold Level Contributor

    In addition to the installed height, you have to look at the weight (load).
    A 5385 is 9" with 602 lbs on it.
    A wagon 5395 is 10" with 901 lbs on it.... so that's +1.5 inches difference in installed height, plus another 1.8" since your car is much lighter.
    Would be about 3.3" higher than stock.

    For an accurate comparison, you need to measure the spring height in your car now.
    Jack up the body of your car until the spring is 11.8" and that's what it'll look like with the wagon springs.

    Your old springs are worn out, best to replace them for about $70 instead of spending $50 on spacers.

    Please call Springs 'n things. They have far more experience than any of us here do. The last 2 sets of springs I bought from them, 10 yrs ago, were $55 and $70 a pair..... about the same as any other discount supplier.
  20. TrunkMonkey

    TrunkMonkey Well-Known Member

    Your Special looks good up or down, and everywhere in between. Love that color, makes it look 120MPH sitting still.

    Some cars and colors are just perfect. For me, the A '64 Skylark in Black, a '65 GS Flame Red, and '68 Wildcat Scarlet Red, and your Special in that color blue.

    Oh, there's more, but those will make my neck snap to. :bglasses:

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