Driving Impression—On the Street
Speed Tech has attended the last three Super Chevy Suspension & Handling Challenges, and each time has brought a vehicle so completely different than the others that they defy comparison. In 2009, it was a big-block '69 Camaro. I mean, you better have your ducks in a row if you're bringing a fat-block-powered anything to a suspension comparo—and Speed Tech did. Our event in 2010 saw a stunning LS-powered third-gen Nova that was definitely on the cutting edge, and it performed just like that.
For this go-round, it went old school in a sense. Climbing into the '66 El Camino, I was reminded of the hot rods we all used to build (and some still do): a tach mounted on the steering column behind a wooden wheel and clean under-dash gauges. The aftermarket seats both helped achieve a desirable driving position and were comfortable. The B&M automatic shifter on the floor was like an old friend.
But there was nothing old-fashioned about the way this car drove or handled. Like the Nova from the year before, it was a strong competitor with few, if any, weaknesses. Sure, having 53 percent of your weight on the nose doesn't help, but apparently no one told the car this (see Mary's previous comments).
In our street drive, there was no sense of the El Camino's work-vehicle roots. Perhaps the steering was a little slower than some of the other entries, but I prefer this to it being too quick and darty. The suspension was smooth and compliant. As we noted in the logbook, “It doesn't rub you the wrong way.”
Over the rough patches of pavement we sought out, the suspension rarely got upset.
In the autocross you have to marvel at its ability to run way beyond the 2011 Camaro SS bogey car. The Elco was nearly 8 seconds quicker than GM's state-of-the-art ponycar. That's a testament to the design prowess of the parts used. They're simple and effective. That's always a great combination. –Jim Campisano
Speed Tech El Camino Specs
Engine Type: 383 small-block
Block: GM iron with 3.75 Scat stroker crank
Fuel Delivery: Holley 750-cfm carb, Edelbrock Air Gap intake, AFR heads, and Holley mechanical fuel pump
Transmission: Bow Tie Overdrives 200-4R
Converter: Bow Tie Overdrives 2,200-stall
Rearend: Factory 12-bolt, 3.73 gears, Eaton limited-slip differential
Front Suspension: Speed Tech Track Time kit, including tubular arms
Steering: AGR 12:1 box
Springs: 550 lbs/in
Spindles: AFX Tall forged aluminum spindles (7/8-inch drop) with C5 hubs
Shocks: QA1 coilovers
Sway Bar: Speed Tech 1-1/4-inch hollow
Brakes: Wilwood Superlite, 6-piston calipers and 14-inch rotors
Rear Suspension: Speed Tech Track Time with adjustable upper and lower Articulink arms
Springs: 350 lbs/in
Shocks: QA1 coilovers
Sway Bar: 1-inch hollow
Brakes: Wilwood Superlite, 4-piston calipers and 13-inch rotors
Total Cost of Suspension: $8,855 (total includes brakes)
Wheels & Tires
Wheels: Rushforth Livewire, front-18x9 (4.75 bs), rear-18x10 (5.5 bs)
Tires: Nitto NT555, front-255/44R18, rear-285/44R18
LF: 1,000 lbs., RF: 978 lbs.
LR: 855 lbs., RR: 885 lbs.
F = 53.2 R = 46.8
'66 Speed Tech El Camino
Slalom: 44.7 mph (average of the best five runs)
Autocross: 45.44 sec. (best lap)
2011 Chevy Camaro SS
Slalom: 44.10 mph (average of the best five runs)
Autocross: 53.28 sec. (best lap)