We left you last month with the body straight and ready for the paint shop. As you can see from the image above, there has been a slight lapse in continuity! At the last minute we decided to hold the dirty prep work and all the paint stages for an early '06 issue that will feature paint and bodywork.In this month's installment, though, we discuss the requirements to improve the handling and road manners of the First-Gen Camaro without sacrificing ride quality. Accept it as fact that these cars were horrible handlers in stock form, due to several factors:

*Poor A-arm geometry (virtually no negative camber)
*Springs that were too tall (high center of gravity)
*Tiny front sway bar, no rear sway bar (no resistance to roll in a turn)
*$.50 shocks (poor ride quality)
*Bias-ply tires (great for smoky burnouts but little else)
*Drum brakes prevailed (even the front disc brakes were grossly inadequate for the weight of the car and the speed it could attain)

The aftermarket (compaines such as Hotchkis Performance, Detroit Speed, Flaming River, Baer Brakes, BFGoodrich, and Bonspeed) has responded to these inherent deficiencies and created products that are literally bolt-on upgrades. In addition, these companies have spent tons of money and time to improve on GM's engineering so that customers will benefit from the improved ride quality and handling. You can now make any Camaro handle as well as any current performance vehicle, and look better doing it!

The lead image depicts the original "air" suspension system--no drag, light weight, and ride and handling like you are driving on a cloud! This picture simply approximates the stock wheel and ride height of the First-Gen Camaro as a reference to the final ride height in the right- hand image.

Yes, the attitude could be lower and it could even be raked. However, this car does not bottom out and the wheels do not rub in any steering maneuver. It handles like a slot car and rides better than I ever imagined! If you are going to lower your car more than what the aftermarket parts are designed for, be aware that you may degrade the ride, the handling, or both! There is nothing worse than putting time and money into your ride, then not wanting to drive it because it beats you to death, rubs the wheels, or slams down over every bump in the road. Though this engineering and design costs, it is amazing that you can buy extremely high-quality kits for a little more than the cost of stock or off-brand components. You do get what you pay for.

SOURCE
BF Goodrich Flaming River Industries, Inc.
Bonspeed (US Wheel, Inc)
15702 Producer Ln., Dept. CHP
Huntington Beach
CA  92649
Hotchkis Performance
12035 Burke St., Ste. 13
Santa Fe Springs
CA  90670
877-466-7655
www.hotchkis.net
Classic Tube
80 Rotech Drive
Lancaster
NY  14086
800-882-3711
www.classictube.com
Phil's Alignment Shop
1517 N. Cannon Blvd., Dept. CHP
Kannapolis
NC  28083
Detroit Speed & Engineering
7-04/-662-3272
www.detroitspeed.com