On the Autocross
Three weeks later, I'm still blown away by how well this '72 Camaro performed. Of all the cars that I passed through my course, on paper this one would have been voted "least likely to succeed." No LS power, automatic trans, and sitting high atop the Nitto NT05s, the Camaro wasn't the fastest nor equipped with the widest Nitto rubber. Thankfully, it did have everything CPP offered as upgrades with the exception of two key suspension bits—the rear springs were definitely not CPP, and when I looked closely at the rear, a set of CalTrac bars peered back. I mean it in all sincerity when I say that this drag race and hard launch configuration isn't in any autocross suspension "How-To" manual. I drive what's given to me and still was feeling pretty optimistic I could get this car 'round well.
Predictably, the Camaro got off the line exceptionally well, and felt like it actually lifted itself up as it crossed the start timers. Entering the initial left-right transition before the crossover, I quickly found that this isn't a car you can lean on but rather one you pivot and slide to get it around a corner. There was absolutely no body movement felt nor the "sway delay" on directional changes that usually goes with it. This car is a rotating machine and under full throttle, proved itself very quick through the slalom. Traction was iffy at times as this car mandated a "toss and catch" type of driving and staying on top of brakes, throttle, and steering was a must at a 10/10ths driving effort. What I loved were the liberties the Camaro allowed me as there was a very fine line between being in control and very loose when pushed to the limits.
CPP brakes again hauled the car down for the end turnaround and using power for track-out, the Camaro moved over and launched itself towards the two-cone slalom before the hard left-hander. Trail braking hard again got the car rotated, and I loved that it came back quickly with rapid steering input. Hard right into the "Box" and then another 90-degree right got the Camaro through here quick … dancing quickly! Sweepers brought the rear around a little but easily controlled with steering. Hard braking for the first right hand wallom with a quick flick of steering input got the car rotated. A repeat produced identical results to the left and then a mad dash to the finish clocks sealed the deal.
Full potential of this Camaro? We'll never know as I'm absolutely positive with those CalTrac's and rear drag race leafs ditched in favor of the known goodness of the CPP replacement parts, this car would have been extremely compliant and even faster through the clocks. I loved the steering response, and it's evident that CPP has done its homework with good geometry for their control arms. The CPP proprietary-valved Bilsteins kept the tires grounded as well. As it stands, CPP should be very happy, as the times this car turned were the quickest of the day in the autocross. What stood out the most was at no time did the car feel like it was going to swap ends. It responded to my rough and tumble driving methods and while I don't endorse these gyrations on the street, they sure worked well here.
The Classic Performance Parts Camaro made looking ahead a must as driving this car never had me thinking I was ever going straight. In fact, due to the CalTrac-fitted rear leafs the only time I felt in control was going straight! Looking back, it was a dance atop concrete and one I was ever glad to be a willing partner of. There's no way this particular car could be driven any other way on this type of course; no other car let me get away with the "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride" antics I put that Camaro through that day. Each run had me thinking I'd left some on the table and pushing harder on the next one got me chunks of time. This, dear readers, is rare.—Mary Pozz