1967 Chevy Camaro - No Frills

Chris Alston’s Chassisworks ’67 Camaro

Patrick Hill Feb 1, 2012 0 Comment(s)
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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.

Sucp 1203 04 1967 Chevy Camaro 2/8

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.

Sucp 1203 08 1967 Chevy Camaro Chassis 3/8

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.

Sucp 1203 02 1967 Chevy Camaro Front 4/8

Other factors out of my control, however, made it almost impossible to accurately drive this car with predictability. For one, the seat. This car was built for its owner, and this guy is tall … like 6'6” tall. Which, when compared to your Stig for a Day, is a shade more than 1 foot's worth of human. Settling myself in the seat that was mounted directly to the floor pan, I found myself looking at a horn cap with nary a windshield in sight.

Sucp 1203 03 1967 Chevy Camaro Rear 5/8

Two borrowed hotel pillows later (thanks, La Quinta Inn) got me seeing at least above the dash pad, which brings me to my next pesky annoyance, er … the seat. Not being adjustable fore and aft made it difficult to be at a workable distance to the steering wheel or the pedals, but not both. I opted for pedals as keeping the LS7 tamed was more important than changing direction. Adding to this was the cupcake tin thingy with the bottoms cut out that doubled as a floor mat. Not sure why this was solidly mounted to both floor pans, but I requested that the driver's be removed as it trapped my heels, making smooth and planned pedal transfer impossible.

And while you readers ask why I mention this stuff, it's because I wanted to be an effective force behind the wheel of this car. This Camaro had all the cool Chassisworks suspension and handling goodies, all the go-fast stuff we lust after for our personal rides. It had such promise … and here I am fluffed up by pillows, my chest getting very friendly with the steering wheel, and my feet tip-toe tapping a happy dance with the pedal assembly.

So fluffed, smooshed, and with toes massaging the go-pedal, I left the starting line and got the Camaro hustled through the short sweeper before the slalom, down the offsets, around the horn at the end, back to the Chicago Box, and from there, to the finish, all the while trying to keep any hint of sideways to a bare minimum. Aged BFG rubber didn't make life easier, as it took a very deft touch on the accelerator to keep the Camaro straight and pointed where it needed to go. The steering was very light and quick, making changes of direction immediate, but with less suspension feedback than I like.

On the flip side, the brakes were pretty good and got the car slowed quite well. Were we able to get the suspension tuned even softer (it was vastly improved from Monday's hard, open track setting), who knows how quick we could have gone.

The Camaro still felt skittery when making quick directional changes, and I will freely admit I find one that exhibits this tendency difficult to autocross. What worked best with this particular car was braking and accelerating only when it was pointed straight, or nearly so. Had this testing taken place on a road course, I'm positive I'd have felt differently.

 sucp 1203 05 1967 Chevy Camaro 6/8

Personally, I like to see some compression and movement in the suspension when I effect a turn, brake, or accelerate, and this car didn't offer that softness I needed. Softness gives a car time. Time to react, and time to gather itself for whatever I ask of it next. It's absolute for traction, and the best benefit is softness and compliance offering wordless conversation to the driver.

What's cool about the Chassisworks suspension is everything is adjustable, and with more time for a few more changes, all can be right with this Camaro in an autocross environment. Add to that fresh tires and some allowance for different-sized drivers, this car could be a serious player and quite fun.

Despite the mismatched car/driver relationship, the Chassisworks Camaro turned in some eye-opening times. It was 9.21 seconds faster in the autocross than a 2011 Camaro SS—second only to the Roadster Shop Chevelle for fastest time of the day. I can only wonder how much faster had I been given an office with ergonomics that fit my body. –Mary Pozzi

Chris Alston's Chassisworks '67 Camaro Specs

Engine Type: LS7 427ci
Block: GM
Fuel Delivery: GM fuel injection with Aeromotive fuel pump

 sucp 1203 06 1967 Chevy Camaro 7/8

Drivetrain

Transmission: Tremec T-56 six-speed
Clutch: GM
Rearend: Strange 9-inch, 3.70 gears, Wave-Track differential

Chassis/Suspension

Chassis: Chris Alston's Chassisworks (CAC) G-Machine Direct-fit subframe
Front Suspension: CAC G-Machine with tubular upper and lower arms
Steering: CAC G-Machine Power Rack n Pinion
Springs: 500 lbs/in
Spindles: CAC G-Machine Sculpted tall with 2-inch drop
Shocks: CAC VariShock double-adjustable coilovers
Sway Bar: CAC 1-1/4 hollow with spherical bearing end links
Brakes: Wilwood 6-piston calipers and 14-inch rotors
Rear Suspension: CAC G-Link
Springs: 200 lbs/in
Shocks: CAC VariShock double-adjustable coilovers
Sway Bar: CAC 3/4 splined-end tubular
Brakes: Wilwood 6-piston calipers and 14-inch rotors
Total Cost of Suspension: $10,000

Wheels & Tires

Wheels: Budnik GTB, front-18x10 (6 bs), rear-18x12 (8 bs)
Tires: BFGoodrich KDW, front-295/35R18, rear-335/30R18

Sucp 1203 07 1967 Chevy Camaro Budnik Gtb 8/8

Weight
Total: 3,000
LF: 767 lbs, RF: 818 lbs
LR: 704 lbs, RR: 710 lbs

Percentage

F: 52.9, R: 47.1

1967 Camaro
Slalom: 46.2 mph (average of the best five runs)
Autocross: 44.07 sec. (best lap)

2011 Chevy Camaro SS
Slalom: 44.10 mph
Autocross: 53.28 sec.

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