Around here we love first-gen Camaros. Their classic style set the stage for all the generations that followed. But let’s face it; the technology of over 40 years ago didn’t lend itself to razor-sharp handling, or even the butter-knife sharp type. Add in decades of wear and the result is sketchy handling that can take some of the fun out of what should be a smile-inducing drive down any winding road. This is made even worse due to us being spoiled by modern cars with 21st-century road manners and handling.
Luckily, it’s easier to make our first-gens handle great than it is to turn a nimble, modern car into anything close to a classically cool-looking Camaro. Today, there are a ton of exotic options to transform a first-gen; most of these involve welders, cutoff wheels, and really deep pockets. But there are also bolt-on solutions for gearheads on tighter budgets.
Chris Sanford’s ’67 Camaro is a perfect example. It was a clean cruiser, but came up lacking in the lateral-maneuvering department. A sweet ride overall, but Chris felt it was time to address the items that were conspiring to make using the ’maro a real buzz kill; namely the handling and brakes. He wasn’t looking to build a track car, just something that was more capable when the straight and narrow got a little more curvaceous.
Stuffed into the handling category are the steering components. After all, even a car with a great handling package will suck to drive if it has vague, unresponsive steering. For handling, Chris decided to go with Classic Performance Products’ (CPP) Stage-IV “pro-touring” kit (PN 67PTK-4). This system includes front and rear tubular control arms, drop springs, along with front and rear performance sway bars. The kit also includes QA1 coilover shocks, but CPP was able to customize the kit for us by swapping in some standard gas shocks. His ’67 was rolling on tired four-wheel disc brakes, and while it stopped OK, Chris wanted something better. He was in luck since the Stage-IV kit came with CPP’s big-brake system, which included rotors, calipers, hubs, spindles, parking brake cables, brake lines, brackets, and everything else needed for a high-performance four-wheel disc brake system. To this Chris added a 500 series steering box (PN CP50004) along with some fresh components to replace the worn out stuff.
Now, a big pile of shiny new powdercoated parts is cool and all, but we wanted to see what the gain would be from such an expenditure. And while these kits are pure bolt-on deals, there are a lot of parts, so we’ll install the front bits this issue, and in the next we’ll tackle the rear followed by a visit to our test track to check out this old dog’s new tricks.