Defying Gravity

Road Race Performance for Your Fourth-Gen Camaro

Andrew Schear Nov 19, 2003 0 Comment(s)

The world of suspension technology isn't a hidden treasure, nor is it brain surgery. Some think that building a g-machine takes a 4-year engineering degree and tons of dough. If you're one of those people, unlearn it! Now, we're not saying that every Heavy Chevy can handle like an F1 car on pennies of budget, but when exploring the realm of Fourth-Generation Camaros you'll be surprised what a few aftermarket parts will do to your lap times.

Late-model Camaros have the reputation of being excellent handling cars right off the showroom floor. When doing every day street driving, that may seem believable. We wanted to see how our '02 Z28 performed under the rigors of on-the-edge track testing. Yeah, we knew it wasn't a Z06, but our baseline results surprised even us. While our quarter-mile acceleration was a respectable 13.55 and our 60-0 mph braking was a hair above 130 feet, our 200-foot skidpad results yielded a disappointing .80 g's, and our 420-foot slalom was even more inadequate at 40.9 mph. For those of you not quite up to par on all these figures, we'll let you in on a little secret, there's room for improvement to say the least.

When we got back to the office with our heads hung low, we immediately got on the phone with SLP Performance Parts, Weld Wheels, Nitto Tires, RK Sport and Bilstein of America. We were driven to make our Camaro a respectable handling machine.

While the OE GM suspension offers a plush ride, it lacks rigidity. Our first order of business was to stiffen the F-body unibody construction. Using SLP Performance 1LE sway bars, sub-frame connectors, strut tower brace, boxed rear arms and an RK Sport adjustable panhard bar, we were able to tighten things up a bit. To give us a more agile feel and a quicker rebound when in the twisties, we installed Bilstein BTS custom valved shocks and progressive rate springs. And finally, we ditched the stock wheel/tire combo for a more aggressive Weld Forged Evo Mecham 18x9.5-inch set of wheels with Nitto NT555 275/35/ZR18 tires on all four corners. Our little F-body went from a mild mannered slop machine to a road ready street bruiser, if you're not believin' it, check out the numbers!

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