You can design every facet of a car with computer modeling, every bit of it, but you can’t experience one bit of the car’s dynamics or idiosyncrasies while sitting behind a keyboard any more than you can drive a dynamometer. You must leave the matrix and sail into the vagaries of the raw world. Detroit Speed’s proponents Kyle and Stacy Tucker are mechanical engineers. They came to fruition in a regimented factory discipline, so no one is more aware of this dichotomy than these two.
Thus far, DSE has made examples of the A-body, the early X-body, and the first-gen F-body. For the past year or so, they’ve been hard at iterations of the second-generation Camaro. Certainly, these cars are “beaters” when Kyle finds them, usually structurally solid but sorely lacking in every mechanical respect. He found this ’701/2 gem on eBay, a 350 two-barrel wheezer with a ’glide and a 10-bolt behind it. He drove it for year like that, adding bolt-ons and mentally cataloging changes needed and their effect on the whole. He logged lots of street miles with this in mind.
Kyle says, “It looked good mini-tubbed and with big wheels and tires and drop leaf springs. The following year, we installed our hydro-formed subframe and QUADRA Link rear suspension, updated the driveline, and started going faster. Since then, the car has turned thousands of miles on the street and from events and thousands of laps around autocross and road courses.
“We have always used our test cars to develop and better the DSE product line. Whatever we learn on the weekends becomes available in our product line as running changes. This is my favorite go-fast car.” Indeed, dedicated followers have seen this car in action on pages and the websites of CHP, Camaro Performers, and lateral-g.net. To keep it simple, Kyle used DSE catalog items, not one-offs, to transform the car.
The product of a calculated chain of events has produced very consistent performance in hot dog competition. Since its inception, the Camaro has lots of Goodguys autocross notches on its beltline and has taken overall wins at the Third Annual Run Thru the Hills, the First Run to Music City, and the fastest road course times at Putnam Park and at Road America.
Exposure is paramount. Products on top-finishing cars are likely to be sought after. Both Tuckers do the driving and both always come very close in elapsed times if not recording the lowest elapsed time—a good indication that the product is on point. To the DSE troops, function always takes precedence over form. Their mules are clean and unrumpled, even so they don’t have to be pretty. They have to run hard, be right on the edge, and never shed a part. In essence, they are capable of being driven anywhere and under any circumstance, save for frozen roads.
Their superstructures are at once rigid and supple. Tires must be able to track the surface at all times, not lose contact because the spring rate or roll stiffness is too high. Fluid motion and a complete contact patch are the goals. As much as the DSE equipment enables this to occur, they also allow you and me to fit the largest rubber available under the sheetmetal. With its fatso 295-series front rubber, Kyle’s second-gen looks like this year’s winner.