Chevrolet Camaro Suspension Upgrade - Stiff Upper Lip
Second Chance For The Street With New PST Suspension Components
From the May, 2010 issue of Chevy High Performance
By Sean Haggai
Photography by Sean Haggai
With the recent, explosive rise in popularity of second-gen Camaros, now is the time to build one. It's hard to go around any corner without seeing these gems in action; be it on any number of message forums to local drag race websites. The good news is, they're still relatively affordable and perform well right out of the box. Yet as nice as they are, we're fortunate to have a plethora of aftermarket companies that offer products for them, including Performance Suspension Technology (PST). If you didn't already know it, they offer off-the-shelf suspension components that are ready to be bolted in, the minute you take them out of the box.
With the car on the lift,...
With the car on the lift, we started to tear down the old suspension out back. Using a 9/16-inch socket, Lou Zamora removed the bolts for the worn-out shocks.
The owner of this Camaro has an iron-headed big-block that's just waiting to be dropped in with the full intention of transforming it into a street terror with the occasional grudge night races at the local track. In order to prep it, our initial once-over revealed that the entire suspension was shot and in no condition to handle the power whatsoever.
After some debate on the direction to go, we called PST, who got us in touch with everything we needed to make this big-block Camaro worthy. PST suggested their line of rear 11/2-inch multi-leaf lowering springs for the rear with their 2-inch drop springs up front, which are suited for the added weight of a big-block. At the same time, we opted to replace the front subframe bushings with PST's polyurethane units and all new hardware. This would provide a completely new foundation to work with and more importantly, this would allow the owner to safely harness the power to the ground as it rips through the quarter-mile.
Old vs. New: Leaf springs...
Old vs. New: Leaf springs
While the old leaf springs may have had a little bit of life left in them (as seen by the arch), the new ones from PST will not only lower the car but should be able to adequately handle the extra grunt of the big-block to come. Also, the rubber pads that ride on top of and below the leaf spring will wear over time so new PST pads come with the rear leaf kit. With the shocks out of the way, Al Jimenez began to disassemble the leaf-spring perches. To loosen the four nuts from the perch, Jimenez used a 5/8-inch socket attached to an impact gun. Once removed, we kept the perch, but tossed out the old U-bolts, nuts, and washers. Multi-leaf kits come with all new hardware including larger diameter U-bolts, nuts, and washers.
Getting the job done, we headed back to Lou's Performance in Sun Valley, California. While this job can be completed in the comfort of any home garage, it's hard to shy away from a lift, especially when it's available. Needless to say, Lou's team made quick work of the suspension components in a day's outing and showed just how easy it was to modernize this rubber-bumper chassis.
Obviously, without the engine,...
Obviously, without the engine, transmission, driveshaft, or interior the ride height is going to be affected. Just for reference, we thought it would make sense to measure the ride height before and after the install. The ride height for the unladen Camaro in front was 29 3/8-inches while the back measured in at 28 3/4-inches.
To remove the leaf spring...
To remove the leaf spring completely, the rear took a 3/4-inch wrench while the front three bolts that fasten the leaves to the body used a 9/16-inch socket and impact gun. Once the leaf spring was removed, the bushings in the rear can be taken out and thrown away.
We like one-stop shops and...
We like one-stop shops and PST can provide nearly every bushing for your project vehicle. In our case, everything from the suspension to the body bushings are available for this second-gen. To complete the package, most come with all-new hardware, which eliminates the need to chase down new bolts and washers at your local hardware store. Even better, the polyurethane bushings have a longer life span over traditional rubber components and are stiffer to cut back on any deflection, or "squish," in the bushings under load.
It was time to add in the...
It was time to add in the new leaf-spring bushings. With the old ones pushed out of the rear subframe, Lou greased up the new PST bushings and pressed them in with a large set of pliers. The front portion of the new drop leaf-spring was also given the same treatment with brand-new PST bushings.
Lou hung the new U-bolts and...
Lou hung the new U-bolts and then installed the new rubber spring pads to isolate any road vibrations. Next, the leaf springs and pads were sandwiched with the factory spring perch. From there we installed the new nuts with their washers and tightened everything down with an impact gun.
One of the...
One of the best parts about doing a project build is you never know what you'll find along the way. While loosening the fuel tank to gain better access to the rear body bushings, our eyes widened as the original buildsheet from the factory fluttered to the shop floor. While it's a bit tattered, you can still read some of the factory options. It turns out, this Camaro came with factory A/C and power brakes and it was originally built in the old GM plant in Van Nuys, Ca.