There's something to be said for simplicity. It makes life easier, cuts down on distractions, and in the case of building a car, can mean less of a hit to your wallet.
Rodger Lee wanted to learn the fine art of autocross and road racing. As owner of Ironworks Speed and Custom, he'd worked on enough killer street machines that now he wanted to experience what it was like to go corner carving in one. For this, Rodger set out to build a dedicated autocross/open track car that hovered right on the edge of street legality. Unfortunately, when we got our hands on it, the Camaro was registered for street use, but not yet legal. It had no sideview mirrors or no turn signals, and a host of other infractions that kept us from performing the requisite street drive portion of our testing for our Suspension Challenge. Still, we thought it would be interesting to put the hardcore F-car through our battery of timed tests.
Rodger started with a bare-bones, rolling '67 Camaro. A GM Performance LS7 crate engine with Vintage Air Front Runner system would propel the Camaro through slaloms and short chutes, with a Tremec T56 for gear jamming. The next step was to throw the Chris Alston's Chassisworks (CAC) catalog at the F-body.
For the front, the CAC G-Machine front clip was installed. Designed from the ground up, the G-Machine system is an interconnecting group of suspension components built to fit seamlessly together, making installation easy for even a DIY'er at home. It starts with the hydroformed G-Machine front subframe that includes all the mounting provisions for all the major vehicle components. The subframe also provides a significant increase in structural rigidity over the stock front subframe, improving handling further. From there are CAC's G-Machine double A-arms that feature screw-in ball joints, adjustable-length upper arms, and self-lubricating polymer pivot bearings. The lower arms are fixed length, with the same self-lubricating polymer bushings as the uppers and rigidity similar to armor plate. For steering, a power rack-and-pinion unit directs the wheels (a manual rack is available too). Based on customer order, the subframe is built with motor mounts for either small- or big-block Chevy, including LS-based engines.
The rear suspension is CAC's G-Bar system. Utilizing a triangulated, canted bar four-link design, it centers around a weld-in piece that is easily installed by anyone with simple welding skills and requires no measurement outside of adjustments desired by the end user. Both the upper and lower arms are fully adjustable length-wise, and the lower arms feature adjustment points to tune vehicle ride height. The system can be used with a stock rear (CAC sells a kit for properly welding on the mounting tabs) or you can go with a made-to-fit CAC Fab9 housing. The mounting brace/frame for the G-bar system also bolsters the rigidity of the rear subframe, improving handling in conjunction with the triangulated four-link system.
Both front and rear systems use CAC's own VariShock double-adjustable gas shocks. Made in America with all aluminum construction, the VariShock features 16-step adjustments for both rebound and bump. Together this means the VariShock has 256 different adjustments, providing the capability to handle just about anything. And if you'd rather have air instead of gas, CAC also has VariShocks in an airbag design.
For more info on the full Chris Alston's Chassisworks product line, check out the compay website at www.cachassisworks.com.
Driving Impression—On the Autocross
There was so much potential in this car, and it took some trial and error and lots of adjustments, but we found it. The Chassisworks crew worked hard getting the suspension as close as possible to where we needed it to be on our Monday Test 'n' Tune sessions, very hard in fact. Softer and softer we went before the Camaro's handling started coming to our party.