The pro-touring craze has created a swarm of spectacular Chevelles and Camaros that finally sit right and fill the wheelwells perfectly. Basic understanding of the increased weight of the 17s, 18s, 19s, 20s, and even 22s has made bigger brakes and reworked suspension must-haves for exclusion from the dreaded poseur label. A pro-touring guy swaps wheels and tires, brakes, spindles, and springs in order to transition his car to the pro-touring theme. The result is a great-looking car that would probably handle fairly well on a winding road, but is more than likely relegated to form-over-function cruiser duty. Yet, in most cases, the owner is happy.
However, some musclecar guys have higher standards. The more serious and demanding among the musclecar crowd are not satisfied with their cars unless they really "work." There is a slice of the musclecar hobby discontent with simple wheels, stance, and brake upgrades if handling and straight-line performance have not been optimized. Whether Stock Car racing, road racing, or drag racing is in their blood, this crowd sacrifices a particular "look" if it is detrimental to handling and performance. Jeff Schwartz is a member of that crowd.
In the '80s, Jeff Schwartz was a professional road racer. Highlighting a prolific career of motorcycle and road racing, he raced a GT1 Corvette, showroom-stock race cars, and IMSA Camaros. Schwartz appeared in the street-machine world when he competed in Car Craft's 2002 Real Street Eliminator with an '82 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham Coupe and won the event. More shocking, Schwartz would show up one year later in his handbuilt Ultima--a street-legal endurance racecar--and soundly embarrass the competition again.
The birth of Schwartz Extreme Performance in Crystal Lake, Illinois, has allowed the building of killer street machines and dream cars that reflect a philosophy of pavement-shredding, all-around performance. One such vehicle, a '65 two-door Chevelle wagon, was slated for a complete build with Schwartz-style performance. Even though aftermarket pieces abound to improve the handling of GM's full-frame A-bodies, the development of a purpose-built performance chassis began to emerge. Adding up the costs and parts needed to make the stock chassis work to the level desired for the wagon, Schwartz determined that a "clean sheet of paper" build of a serious street chassis incorporating the best technology from the race track would be both cheaper and superior. Schwartz's 26 years of automotive manufacturing came together to expand the vision beyond his customer's Chevelle wagon.
SEP has recently announced the availability of the Schwartz Precision Chassis (SPC). The mild-steel chassis transforms any '64-72 Chevelle/Malibu from mundane grocery-getter to street warrior. The SPC is available in a number of other applications, including the '67-69 Camaro, which gives Camaro owners an affordable option to convert their 40-year-old unibody platform into a full-framed, high-performance slot car. Don't sign up for one of these if you have a stock restoration in mind.
Schwartz recommends an in-depth evaluation of a driver's needs and desires before a chassis is built. It can be ordered as a fully jig-welded chassis with front tubular A-arms for $2,995. From this as a starting point, SEP will equip the chassis with parts specified by the owner. Highly recommended is the complete roller frame with front and rear coilover suspension, 12-inch four-wheel disc brakes, rack-and-pinion steering, A Winters Aluminum Ford 9-inch housing with axles, and 18-inch wheels and tires for a bargain price of $11,995.The intensity and quality built into each chassis, along with product support from a real enthusiast, promises to make a huge impact on those looking for more than just pro touring. The SPC makes the case for the next step, moving from pro-touring poseurs to pro-turning performers. Bolt one under your Bow Tie and enter a new world of handling and dragstrip performance at a price that is easily affordable.
We asked Jeff Schwartz about piecing the chassis together over a one- or two-year period, starting with the basic $2,995 package. He assured us that because of the implementation of off-the-shelf circle-track or street-car chassis components, the budget-minded builder will do well with the basic package.
The initial course of direction would be to get the chassis rolling. Schwartz suggests either narrowing the housing on one's existing rear differential to fit on the frame or ordering an aftermarket rear. The Schwartz Precision Chassis is fully welded and includes mounting tabs for the four-bar suspension. Whatever rear is used, it must be fitted with the mounting brackets for the four-bar. While Schwartz offers threaded rods and threaded spherical rod ends, these components can be purchased from any circle-track supply house. If the coilovers or Air Ride Shockwaves have yet to be purchased, a piece of tubing can be drilled and temporarily placed to set up the car for rolling.
Since the upper A-arms are included in the base price, it's only a matter of completing the front suspension with lower A-arms and spindles, which are also available at any circle-track supply house. The steering rack is a standard race-style rack that will be recommended from Schwartz per individual applications, and the upper and lower ball joints are standard passenger-car Moog items.
Finishing off the chassis comes down to bolting on the brakes of choice. Of course, proper planning will allow the customer to use existing parts. Spring rates and swaybar sizes are finalized upon completion of the car. Run the brake lines and throw on the wheels and tires, and the homebuilt roller chassis is ready to go. And the tech support is second to none, and the phone lines are always open to help you each step of the way.