1966 Chevy Chevelle - Autobahn Conqueror

RS Performance's New Chevelle Chassis And Suspension Proves Itself On Track

Thomas J. Lyman Dec 27, 2007 0 Comment(s)
Sucp_0712_08_z 1966_chevy_chevelle RS_performance_badge 1/15

To be able to go find some grocery-getter Chevelle (the chassis fits all models up to 1972), and throw this amazing example of fine engineering at it, is just awesome. We're talking a 3,500-pound car that would probably out-handle a Corvette.

To see if that hypothesis is true (unfortunately without the Corvette side-by-side comparo), we tested out the vehicle at Autobahn Country Club Joliet, just outside of Chicago. The 2.04-mile South Course happened to be a more than adequate proving ground for the Chevelle, which had seen very little aggressive throttle use, much less heavy loads under cornering. We strapped into the Cobra seats, mated to Corbeau four-point harnesses that keep the upper torso pinned to the shoulder bolsters of the awesome buckets, and prepared to literally beat the hell out of the car.

Sucp_0712_09_z 1966_chevy_chevelle Taillight 2/15

After turning on the master power switch and the fuel pump, a press of the big red button labeled "Start Engine" brought the horses from the Hardcore Racing 540 big-block to life. A slow jaunt around the track-to throw some heat into everything and to get a feel for the sightlines in the 14 turns-helped familiarize us with the Master Control paddle shifters, and also helped in learning to flick the paddle-shift unit a few times to understand the inner workings of that unit. The steering wheel-mounted shifters are mated to a 4L65E semi-auto transmission, which handles even the hardest upshifts with aplomb.

Autobahn's South Course represents all types of corners-from off-camber, slow-as-a-sermon, patient, increasing radius turns to if-you-have-the-balls, uphill braking entry, flat-out exit, long sweepers that will cause a certain muscle to tense up, even in the most experienced driver. Remarkably, the Chevelle was up to the task, and then some: the car handled absolutely flawlessly for a 3,500-pound-plus vehicle (not really that remarkable, considering that we expected nothing less from The Roadster Shop/RS Performance in terms of chassis and suspension).

Sucp_0712_13_z 1966_chevy_chevelle Driver_side_view 6/15

Furthermore, from all exterior vantage points, no single person watching yours truly hustle the Chevelle around witnessed any signs of body roll (when traveling in excess of 120 mph, you tend to not notice much else but the 90 right hander rapidly approaching). Even some of Autobahn CC's members on hand for lapping noticed how planted the car seemed, and were gawking at the car all day long.

Another interesting facet to the car was its behavior on corner entry and exit. With such a heavy front end, we expected the car to push on entry, and had planned lots of trail braking to induce some rotation at the beginning phase of the corner. However, on the first hard lap, there appeared to be very little, if any, understeer-quite a pleasant surprise. At exit, if there was even the slightest signal of a push, it was nothing the car couldn't correct with a little throttle.

Sucp_0712_14_z 1966_chevy_chevelle Rear_view 7/15

But we weren't done yet. Two weeks later the car arrived at our West Coast test facility in Southern California, where we subjected it to our battery of braking, slalom and skid pad tests. Once again, the Chevelle left us with nothing but smiles. It pulled .98g on the skidpad, stopped from 60-ft in a scant 117 feet and ran our 420-ft slalom in 5.76-seconds, which equals 49.71 mph. This is the fastest slalom time we've ever recorded.

In summary, the car represents the best offerings in the aftermarket, in terms of driveability and performance combined. The chassis/suspension combo is absolutely one of the finest we have ever encountered, and should be absolute dynamite on the market.

With the current trend in Bow Tie customizations veering into the G-Machine/Pro Touring realm, RS Performance is poised to shake things up with its Chevelle chassis and suspension for A-body monsters.

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