DM 1960 Impala



Lowering the Ride Height on a Danbury Mint 1960 Impala:
I love this model; it's so well done with amazing details, but it had a problem. The ride height was way too high, and made the car look strange, especially when sitting sitting next to my other cars. Luckily I found a relatively easy way to fix it, without making any permanent changes.
 

 
 
SIDE VIEW BEFORE - Note Location of White Walls

 
 
SIDE VIEW AFTER - Note Location of White Walls Now

 
 
FRONT VIEW BEFORE - Note Slanting Suspension Arms

 
 
FRONT VIEW AFTER - Note more level suspension arms

-  -  -  STEP-BY-STEP INSTRUCTIONS  -  -  -

INTRODUCTION & WARNING:
The nice thing about this modification is that does not damage the car in any way and it is completely reversible if desired. The steering will remain fully functional, as will the suspension at all four corners (although vertical wheel travel will of course be reduced). This method can also be used if desired on other models with similar suspension set-ups. It does not require any disassembly of the car, other than removing the front wheel covers and unscrewing the front wheels. It does however require some basic modeling skills, so don’t attempt if you are unsure. Always wear safety goggles, especially when using a motorized tool or cutting device. Small parts are being used, so keep area clear of children and pets until you’ve cleaned up afterwards.
 
 
TOOLS:
- Needle nose pliers

- Very small Phillips head screwdriver (jeweler’s type screwdriver is best)

- Exacto knife or small flathead jeweler’s type screwdriver

- Small hobby saw or Dremel tool with cutting wheel

 

SUPPLIES:

- Crazy glue gel

- Hollow metal tubing

- 2 wired twist-ties, about 4” long each (preferably coated in black vinyl)

- Glasses or safety goggles

CAR CRADLED UPSIDE-DOWN IN ORIGINAL STYRO BOX NOTE: Be Careful of Antenna When Inserting or Removing Car From Styrofoam Box

INSTRUCTIONS:
 
STEP 1

1) First, determine how much you want to lower the car. The rear suspension fix is simple so we’ll get to that last. You will be putting small spacers in the front suspension, but the wheels will be raised almost twice as high as the spacers because of their placement, so estimate the proper size spacer accordingly. I wanted about 3/16” ride height change, so my spacers had to be that height or about 3/32 of an inch.

Metal Tube, Cutting Disc, and Needle Nose Pliers NOTE: Go slowly if using a motorized cutting tool, and wear safety goggles!

Step 2

2) Next, cut an appropriate length (3/32” or so) of the metal tube to use as a spacer.  I tried aluminum and brass because that’s what I had laying around, but the brass was softer and less brittle so that’s what I used—your hobby store should have this in various sizes. The size I used was roughly 1/8” wide with a 1/16” hole through the center. Once cut, remove any flash or rough edges from the cut end of the spacer, which now resembles the letter “O”. Then you can cut the spacer along its length to open up one side. You should clamp it ideally, especially if you’re using a hobby saw. If using a Dremel tool, turn it down to about 1/3 speed and work slowly to avoid catching—if you’re very careful you can use the pliers to hold it like I did. Once cut, in profile it will now resemble the letter “C”. Finally, widen the slot you’ve just created along the length of the spacer by spreading apart the two sides of the cut. Repeat for a second spacer.

Spacer Cut From Metal Tubing NOTE: Shown next to Pliers for scale

Steps 3 and 4

3) Next get out the original Styrofoam box. You’ll use the top half to safely cradle the car upside-down. Remove the car’s convertible top or boot, and carefully place the car upside-down in the top half of the Styrofoam box, being sure to note the proper placement (arrow in box points to front of car).

4) Using the flat head jeweler’s screwdriver or exacto knife, gently pry off the front wheel covers. These don’t go all the way to the edge of the tire, so you’ll be prying it from the narrow space between the wheel cover and the “painted” rim of the wheel. Once, started, you can work your way around the wheel cover until it is loose enough to remove. Once the cover is off, you can easily remove the wheel rim and tire by loosening the Phillips head screw and washer. Repeat for other front wheel. You’ll notice some glue residue inside the wheel rim in the picture above, which you should remove before re-attaching the wheel covers (the final step).

Wheel Shown With Wheel Cover Removed NOTE: Pry gently around edge of wheel cover to avoid damage

Step 5
5) By pressing down on one side of the front suspension (this is the “A” arm) you will see the end of a post appear at the lower end. This is the post that the wheel pivots on from left to right. A small pin going through the end of the post limits the wheel’s vertical motion. By placing the spacer above the pin, you are decreasing the suspension travel, effectively lowering the car. Hold the spacer with your needle nose pliers and while pressing down on the suspension, place the spacer onto the post and squeeze the sides together with a light but firm pressure. You can now release the suspension SLOWLY--The spacer must be very snugly clamped to the post or it may fly off when the suspension is released. Once the spacer is securley in place, repeat for other side of car.

Compressing Suspension Reveals Tip of Shock Post

Step 6
6) Put the wheels back on, but don’t put the wheel covers back on until the end in case minor adjustments are needed. Check to make sure the front height is where you want it, and that the front of the car is level from left to right. If not, you may need to remove and file down a spacer to make it shorter, or cut a new one if it is not long enough. To remove spacer, remove wheel and press down on suspension, and then rotate the spacer until you can see the slit in one side. Pry the slit open with an exacto knife until the spacer is loose enough to fall out.

Spacer clamped to top of post (bottom in picture)

Step 7
7) Once the front is done, determine how much the back has to be lowered and put the car back on the inverted styrofoam box. Insert the end of one of the twist ties between the frame and the underside of the car just behind the rear wheels, and push it through until you can grasp the other end. Then pull both ends upward so the ends are on either side (front and back) of the rear axle. Repeat for the other side. Then press down the rear axle in the center until both wheels are at the desired height, and twist the ends of the ties together on both sides of the car. Snip off excess of twist ties, leaving about inch, and fold remainder down out of sight behind each wheel.

TwistTie wraps around fixed frame & suspension arm Insert both ties and compress CENTER of suspension before tying off

Step 8
8) Place car on level surface and check rear height relative to front. You can make small adjustments in the rear height now by pulling up the end of the ties, and twisting them tighter or looser as needed. Some left to right adjustment may also be needed until the car sits perfectly level in each direction. Once the height adjustments are done, fold the ends of the twist ties back down into the underside of the car out of sight. Then, make sure the front wheels are screwed on tightly enough, but be careful not to over tighten them—you should meet some resistance when rotating the tires, but not so much that they don’t turn.

Step 9
9) To re-attach the wheel covers, place a drop of crazy glue gel on the end of a toothpick and apply it to each of the two small guide holes in the wheel. These holes correspond to two small posts on the back of the wheel cover. Press wheel cover into place and rotate until the posts fall into the guide holes. Hold in place for a few seconds until glue begins to set. Repeat for other side.

 
There, now that wasn't so difficult was it? I'm not too fond of disassembling my cars because there's always the danger of breaking something. However this procedure is so easy that I was able to do it without fear of harming the model in any way. Best of all, now this beautiful model will make an excellent companion to my '59 Impala Coupe in Aspen Green from WCPD.
 
 

A special thanks to Alfred for sharing this great, and relatively simple, method of lowering this and many other diecast cars.