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.