How to Improve Handling in Your Chevy Camaro or Nova Part 1

Click Here to Begin Slideshow Today, it’s pretty easy to “fix” the steering response and handling on a first generation Camaro or ’68-’74 Nova. You just dig out your credit card and dial 1-800-Cool-Parts. For some of the really good parts, it’s easy to end up spending thousands (and some cases, closer to $10,000) on front suspension bits and pieces. For example, a loaded high end aftermarket subframe can ring up the cash register to the tune of almost $8,500 alone. Yes, it’s possible to install aftermarket a-arms and other components on a stock subframe, but you’re still out of pocket to the tune of $1500 or so for some of the systems. And you still haven’t addressed the issue of the shocks or the steering. Or the rear suspension. For bucks down folks, there has to be another way. To find that way, we asked Classic Industries (18460 Gothard Street, Huntington Beach, CA 92648; PH: 800-854-1280; Website: www.classicindustries.com). We tossed ideas around and collectively came up with a series of parts that will dramatically improve the steering and handling of your fifty (+) year old musclecar – all without breaking the bank. Essentially, the idea the Classic Industries team came up with involves a select group of very high quality components that, for the most part, simply bolt in. Yes, some bits (such as bushings) will require a press for removal and installation, but that’s the extent of it. No welding. No grinding. No cutting. No fab. If that sounds like the path for you, then follow along. Before we go much further, we’ll point out we’re assuming the springs are sorted out on the car. We won’t be addressing springs with this series, but companies like Classic Industries offer a complete range of spring configurations along with a wide range of spring rates. Other things we won’t touch on (at least for now) are sway bars - that’s a story in itself. More on the balance of the suspension setup below: We’ll start with the front suspension bushings. Most factory bushings are simply worn out. Rubber deteriorates over time, and of course the miles and road conditions witnessed by the car in question take their toll too. A considerable part of the front-end rehab program involves the front bushing choice. If you’ve been around the block with high performance suspension, you’ll find popular urethane replacement bushings have a tendency to seize or stick (what Penske and other big time suspension folks refer to as “stiction”) during operation. When the suspension system in a race or high performance car has this stiction, it means the shock can't do its job effectively. The bushing is actually acting like a damper and that’s really not good news. Bushings based upon some form of Delrin (Delrin, by the way, is a very hard “plastic” material) are far better suited to high performance applications. Delrin does not have cold flow tendencies, and as a result it has the capability to maintain alignment over time. It is also accepts grease (the good kits include grease nipples). That’s what makes it a good choice for high performance applications. In construction, quality Delrin bushings are multi-piece affairs. For example, the Global West upper a-arm bushing layout prescribed by Classic Industries consists of an anodized billet aluminum body along with a Delrin insert. The bushing body, along with the Delrin insert, is machined so that grease flows through the bushing. The a-arm cross shaft passes through the Delrin bushing, just as it does with a conventional stock rubber/steel bushing. On the outside, a flat Delrin washer is positioned on each end, the pair of them acting as thrust washers. The Classic Industries Rx called for Global West Del-A-Lum bushings for the lower a-arms as well. The setup for first gen Camaros and similar Novas also consists of a machined billet aluminum body, but since there is no cross shaft (a bolt simply passes through each side), the Delrin bushings are designed with an inner steel sleeve. Like the uppers, the lower bushing and the billet body are both machined so that grease can flow through easily. A set of thrust washers manufactured from Delrin are installed on either end after the bushing bodies are pressed into place. The Global West lowers also include a zerk fitting for each bushing. Global West recommends a good quality synthetic lube for this task (for example, Neo Z12). In operation, a set of quality bushings such as these experience zero stiction. They allow the a-arms to travel freely up and down. As mentioned above, the shock absorber is then allowed to do what it was designed to do: dampen the suspension movement. If you have an adjustable shock (and we’ll get to that later), then you can control how the suspension reacts for your particular application. In the next issue, we’ll dig into high performance wheel alignments. Then, we'll check out shock absorbers. We’ll show you how to gain valuable caster with a simple component swap too. Watch for it!

How to Improve Handling in Your Chevy Camaro or Nova Part 1

Click Here to Begin Slideshow

Today, it’s pretty easy to “fix” the steering response and handling on a first generation Camaro or ’68-’74 Nova. You just dig out your credit card and dial 1-800-Cool-Parts. For some of the really good parts, it’s easy to end up spending thousands (and some cases, closer to $10,000) on front suspension bits and pieces. For example, a loaded high end aftermarket subframe can ring up the cash register to the tune of almost $8,500 alone.

Yes, it’s possible to install aftermarket a-arms and other components on a stock subframe, but you’re still out of pocket to the tune of $1500 or so for some of the systems. And you still haven’t addressed the issue of the shocks or the steering. Or the rear suspension. For bucks down folks, there has to be another way.

To find that way, we asked Classic Industries (18460 Gothard Street, Huntington Beach, CA 92648; PH: 800-854-1280; Website: www.classicindustries.com). We tossed ideas around and collectively came up with a series of parts that will dramatically improve the steering and handling of your fifty (+) year old musclecar – all without breaking the bank. Essentially, the idea the Classic Industries team came up with involves a select group of very high quality components that, for the most part, simply bolt in. Yes, some bits (such as bushings) will require a press for removal and installation, but that’s the extent of it. No welding. No grinding. No cutting. No fab. If that sounds like the path for you, then follow along.

Before we go much further, we’ll point out we’re assuming the springs are sorted out on the car. We won’t be addressing springs with this series, but companies like Classic Industries offer a complete range of spring configurations along with a wide range of spring rates. Other things we won’t touch on (at least for now) are sway bars - that’s a story in itself. More on the balance of the suspension setup below:

We’ll start with the front suspension bushings. Most factory bushings are simply worn out. Rubber deteriorates over time, and of course the miles and road conditions witnessed by the car in question take their toll too. A considerable part of the front-end rehab program involves the front bushing choice. If you’ve been around the block with high performance suspension, you’ll find popular urethane replacement bushings have a tendency to seize or stick (what Penske and other big time suspension folks refer to as “stiction”) during operation. When the suspension system in a race or high performance car has this stiction, it means the shock can't do its job effectively. The bushing is actually acting like a damper and that’s really not good news.

Bushings based upon some form of Delrin (Delrin, by the way, is a very hard “plastic” material) are far better suited to high performance applications. Delrin does not have cold flow tendencies, and as a result it has the capability to maintain alignment over time. It is also accepts grease (the good kits include grease nipples). That’s what makes it a good choice for high performance applications. In construction, quality Delrin bushings are multi-piece affairs. For example, the Global West upper a-arm bushing layout prescribed by Classic Industries consists of an anodized billet aluminum body along with a Delrin insert. The bushing body, along with the Delrin insert, is machined so that grease flows through the bushing. The a-arm cross shaft passes through the Delrin bushing, just as it does with a conventional stock rubber/steel bushing. On the outside, a flat Delrin washer is positioned on each end, the pair of them acting as thrust washers.

The Classic Industries Rx called for Global West Del-A-Lum bushings for the lower a-arms as well. The setup for first gen Camaros and similar Novas also consists of a machined billet aluminum body, but since there is no cross shaft (a bolt simply passes through each side), the Delrin bushings are designed with an inner steel sleeve. Like the uppers, the lower bushing and the billet body are both machined so that grease can flow through easily. A set of thrust washers manufactured from Delrin are installed on either end after the bushing bodies are pressed into place. The Global West lowers also include a zerk fitting for each bushing. Global West recommends a good quality synthetic lube for this task (for example, Neo Z12).

In operation, a set of quality bushings such as these experience zero stiction. They allow the a-arms to travel freely up and down. As mentioned above, the shock absorber is then allowed to do what it was designed to do: dampen the suspension movement. If you have an adjustable shock (and we’ll get to that later), then you can control how the suspension reacts for your particular application.

In the next issue, we’ll dig into high performance wheel alignments. Then, we'll check out shock absorbers. We’ll show you how to gain valuable caster with a simple component swap too. Watch for it!

How to Improve Handling in Your Chevy Camaro or Nova Part 1 1

OEM, along with replacement stock style control arm bushings, wear out. Years, miles and environmental conditions take their toll. Sooner or later, they have to be replaced.

How to Improve Handling in Your Chevy Camaro or Nova Part 1 2

The ultimate solution prescribed by Classic Industries for a high performance car are these bushings: They’re Delrin bushings from Global West. They provide for free front end movement (zero stiction).

How to Improve Handling in Your Chevy Camaro or Nova Part 1 3

The upper bushings are multiple piece affairs based upon a billet aluminum body along with a Delrin sleeve and Delrin thrust washers. The upper kit can be used with a stock or replacement upper shaft. More on the shafts later.

How to Improve Handling in Your Chevy Camaro or Nova Part 1 4

The lower bushings Classic Industries recommended differ slightly. Here, the design is similar, but it has a steel inner sleeve. This allows the a-arm attachment bolt to pass through.

How to Improve Handling in Your Chevy Camaro or Nova Part 1 5

When the bushings are disassembled, you can see the machined passages that allow grease to flow through the bushings. High quality synthetic grease is recommended.

How to Improve Handling in Your Chevy Camaro or Nova Part 1 6

Both the upper and lower bushings are engineered to accept a zerk fitting (included with the respective kits).

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