It is almost surreal to realize that the basic front end of a muscle car hinges on the strength of meager bolts that hang from the body of the vehicle. The subframe cradles the engines within its grasp, while the extra space on the outer framerails supports the additional suspension components such as the A-arms, spindles, brakes, and wheels. Remove the engine and it's hard to believe a factory subframe can be unbolted and replaced in an afternoon.
Suffering the constant pounding of the road, wheelstanding slams, and articulation from spirited canyon runs or autocross competition, the factory subframes on our beloved Camaros and Novas can only take so much abuse. Unlike full-frame muscle cars that have the benefit of remaining rigid throughout, a subframe may have issues obtaining the same rigidity since it's only mounted to the underside of the body. The twisting action and articulation from high-performance driving won't necessarily cause the car to fold in half under strain, but lifting the inside tire on a sharp turn isn't helping the car maintain traction either.
Factory subframes also lack space since they were only designed to allow for the stock rim and tire dimensions. Limited tire movement can inadvertently cause the tires to rub in hard corners and prevent lock-to-lock steering action. To run more advanced suspension geometry when hanging big binders with monster rolling stock up front, clearance is needed. Many aftermarket subframes provide additional space for engine oil pan crossmembers to fit various engine/transmission combinations
Aftermarket subframes are practically NASA spec. They have finely crafted, robotic welds and feature high-strength hardware and suspension components that sling from each side of the frame like the limbs of a Roman gladiator. These new pieces of the suspension are not only stronger but lighter than the factory design, serving only one purpose in common-to perform. Their sole function is to plant the tires firmly to the ground to help create an aggressive stance.
Subframes can be as simple as an OEM replacement or custom-tailored to your needs. Whether you are slamming the front end from a wicked wheelstand or creating a solid foundation for autocross field work, these highly engineered subframes can get the job done. We created an easy-to-view listing of the newest offerings in subframes.
Speed Tech Performance
Speedtech's front subframe assemblies are available bare or complete and designed as a direct bolt-in replacement. The complete kits feature a set of high-clearance control arms that allow you to fit up to a 10-inch tire. They also come with rack-and-pinion steering, a powdercoated sway bar, and coilover shocks. The ability to make additional fitment changes with the company's adjustable transmission crossmember makes any GM transmission possible. This subframe not only allows for a small- or big-block (stock pan) to fit, but newer LSX powerplants can easily slip in too. A factory alignment hole is also built in to ease installation, as are tow/tie hook mounts.
Jim Meyer Racing
With the addition of firewall support tubes, you can put triangulated strength back into the front of your early or second-gen Nova. JMR's front assembly subframe utilizes all of the factory holes for easy bolt-in installation with no welding or drilling. The standard kit features GM spindles, 11-inch disc brakes, and ball joints. Tubular upper and lower A-arms, coilover shocks, and manual rack-and-pinion steering are also included. Old school enthusiasts will enjoy JMR's optional Gasser kit featuring a solid front axle conversion subframe. Also available are '67-81 Camaro Pro Touring subframes.
Detriot Speed Incorporated
Using a blend of current OEM technology and aftermarket performance, Detroit Speed & Engineering has developed a hydroformed steel subframe. Hyrdoformed steel is processed at a low temperature, which increases material strength without sacrificing stiffness. The DSE subframes come bare and utilize tubular upper and lower A-arms, a coilover shock/spring with Detroit Tuned shock valving, C6 steering knuckles with bearing packs, rack-and-pinion steering, and an exclusive splined sway bar. The kit allows for up to 10 inches of tire width and will cradle small- and big-blocks, including LS powerplants. Second-gen Camaro subframes are also available and include many of the same features.
Hotrods To Hell
Stiff suspension for cornering is hard to deliver without sacrificing an overall comfortable ride. Hotrods to Hell's Nova II frontend kit comes in three stages. The first stage incorporates a large underslung swaybar, Wilwood disc brakes, and Hotrods' shock/spring combo. Stage II includes an upgraded spring/shock combination. For more serious kits like the Stage III shown here, Wilwood's new forged Prospindles with larger Superlite six-piston brakes are added along with Bilstein or QA1 shocks. These kits come fully assembled and ready to bolt in with all hardware and detailed instructions.
Heidts Hot Rod Shop
It's important to maintain the factory fit, which is why Heidts has designed its complete front-end subframe kit to bolt in with no modifications. Heidts' Pro-G suspension package delivers unbelievable cornering and handling with the standard kit. It includes tubular control arms, power rack-and-pinion steering, 2-inch drop spindles, rebound-adjustable coilover shocks, and 11-inch Wilwood brakes with four-piston calipers. Simply unbolt your old sheetmetal, engine, transmission, and old subframe, then slide the new one in-it's that simple. For a true complete-handling second-gen, rear four-link assemblies are also available.
Need to stuff 10 inches of rubber on the front with improved clearance for headers and oil pans? The Chassisworks team headed by Chris Alston has a corner-killer G-Machine front subframe package for first-gen Camaros or Novas. Chassisworks began with the popular version of their NoFab front clip which can improve handling, braking and steering. The G-Machine adds new, heavy-duty 13- or 14-inch brakes, a power steering rack and double-adjustable, billet-aluminum VariShocks. What's more is the G-Machine can also be packaged with extra-large antiroll bars, double-adjustable upper control arms, and reinforced lower control arms. The G-Machine package is a direct bolt-in design that requires no custom fabrication and comes with detailed instructions.
With over 26 years of experience, Fatman Fabrication has engineered a topnotch subframe to meet today's performance demands. Each subframe will readily accept a small- or big-block with the factory oil pan, along with LSX engines. Polished stainless steel control arms, a power rack, a sway bar, billet adjustable coilover shocks, and a steering kit including joints and a shaft hose kit all come as standard equipment. What's more is the choice of either stock or dropped spindles along with a bracket that allows for OEM '69 Camaro single-piston calipers and rotors to fit.
Auto Metal Direct
If a complete OEM-style subframe is what you are after to replace a rusty, weakened, or damaged original assembly, Auto Metal Direct has a direct bolt-in solution. These new subframes are patterned like the original units. Since some subframes were slightly different depending on particular years, AMD researched and developed subframes specifically for each application. Every subframe features correct cut-out holes, bends, brackets, and weld beads just like the original unit. Also available are subframes for '67-69 Camaros.
Following the success of its first-gen bolt-in subframe assembly, the GT-Sport clip was designed for second-gen Camaros to improve acceleration, braking, and handling. The GT-Sport assembly will benefit second-gens with lighter weight and increased stiffness over the OEM unit. It's easily installed without welding and/or fabrication. It includes components seen on the C6 Corvette, like forged aluminum control arms (Strange adjustable coilover shocks), a specially modified Vette spindle with a lowered steering arm, and an AGR power rack-and-pinion which sits 2 inches lower in the frame. Morrison's front clip will accommodate wider front tires and can be configured for small-, big-block or LS engines. Most popular GM automatics and four-, five- and six-speed transmissions are also supported.