Quick install specs:
✚ 13-inch, drilled brake rotors
✚ Adjustable QA1 coilover shocks
✚ Stiffer sway bars and bushings
✚ 2-inch drop spindles
✚ Better suspension geometry
Let’s face it, the handling and braking performance of a bone-stock 1970s muscle car is pretty terrible when compared to today’s standards. Years of use wreaks havoc on stock rubber bushings and the ’70s-era brake designs leave a lot to be desired, especially if you are familiar with how a modern car, such as a Camaro or Corvette, behaves. Yes, some old muscle car owners may feel that their stock drums and ancient caliper discs work fine, but take it from someone who’s recently experienced an aggressive jaunt between cones in a modern brake and suspension-equipped second-gen Camaro: They don’t know what they are missing. Corner carving with your old hot rod is a blast, and, thanks to today’s aftermarket, it’s possible to make your 40-year-old car perform like a modern-day champ.
Classic Performance Products is one of our favorite companies to offer disc brake conversions and performance handling suspension setups for Chevy’s popular body styles. Using the C5 Corvette spindle, the engineers at CPP have come up with a 13-inch disc brake kit that can drastically change the performance capabilities of your vehicle. Couple that with some tubular control arms and adjustable coilovers from CPP, and you can have a nasty road hugger in a weekend. A shop that’s no stranger to these types of installs is Don Lee Auto in Rancho Cucamonga, California. Shop operator Tim Lee has been building cars for three decades and was a perfect choice to install the CPP suspension and brakes on the Eddie Motorsports Camaro. We opted for a few different part numbers to upgrade: PN 7081SWBK-SC5R includes the assembled front brake assembly; PN 6869RWBK-P12 for the big discs in the rear; tubular upper and lower control arms (PN 7081TCA-UKB , PN 7081TCA-LKB), adjustable coilovers (PN GMP35); and a front and rear sway bar kit (PN CP709U-BLACK and PN CP681U-BLACK). We also opted for CPP’s Sport leaf springs and bolt in QA1 shocks as well (PN 7081RLS-D and PN TC2109P0).
In the following pages we show off some of the steps it takes to install modern brakes and suspension on a second-generation Camaro. Hopefully, readers will be inspired to abandon their factory hardware for something from this century.
Here’s your average second-gen Camaro front suspension and steering; just stamped-steel factory components and greasy hardware. Replacing the cracked and worn bushings alone would tighten things up, but we aimed to do more than that.
The rear suspension of the Camaro was also stock, but, like the front end, the rubber bushings were all cracked and weathered.
Installation started with the removal of the factory sway bar endlinks. Note the squished bushings.
Once the castle nuts are removed, it takes some smacks with a hammer to jar loose the factory brake assembly.
The lower control arm is attached with two bolts, which are easily removed with an impact gun at Don Lee’s. Even with the bolts out, it does take some whacks with a mallet to get it free.
We thought we had some debris stuck between the rotor and the brake pad, but this groove is actually factory.
The tubular control arms from CPP are not only lighter and better looking, but they also come with brand-new ball joints and bushings.
A side-by-side comparison of the lower control arm shows how much cleaner the CPP parts are. After this, we can say goodbye to the rat hair–entangled grease blobs hanging out in the control arm crevices.
The upper control arms bolt up to a flange on top of the frame.
Then, shims are used between the arm cross-shaft and said flange when it’s time to align it.
The lower control arm simply gets muscled into the factory K-frame after the urethane bushings are well lubed.
One of the many things we like about CPP’s brakes is that the spindle, rotor, and caliper come all assembled. Once the upper and lowers are in place, it’s just a matter of lowering the whole setup onto the ball joint.
The brake system also comes with high-quality stainless braided lines that hook into the factory hard line.
A mock-up without the shock and coil shows you how much cleaner than stock this brake setup is.
We opted for QA1 single adjustable, aluminum-bodied coilover shocks for our project.
You can adjust the overall behavior of the shock, as well as the ride height with these.
Before assembling the new steering components, the length of the tie rods must be measured and recorded.
Then, the length is matched using CPP’s aluminum tie-rod sleeves (PN ES2004SP-AB).
The new sway bar from CPP simply bolts in place of the stock one, using new hardware and bushings, of course.
The new leaf springs use brand-new bushings that get knocked into place with a mallet.
Before the new springs can be installed, the U-bolt holes needed to be widened to accept the new hardware.
Once the new spring isolator bushings were in place, an impact gun was used to cinch everything up.
The QA1 shocks simply bolt up in the stock location, which positions the adjuster knob in an accessible location.
The C-clips were removed and the factory drum brakes were chucked.
CPP caliper brackets were installed using the new Grade 8 hardware.
CPP’s Big Brake kit (PN 6869RWBK-P12) for the rear is a popular upgrade in GM vehicles. It uses a cool caliper design that has the parking brake integrated into the caliper itself.
To install the rear sway bar, these links are first bolted to the stock frame using the CPP-supplied U-bolt and hardware.
This allows you to mount the bushings and brackets that essentially hold the whole setup in place.
With the rear sway bar in place and the diff cover back on, it was time to take the Camaro for a spin.
As you can see from the finished installation, the CPP stuff looks ready to rock. An aggressive slalom revealed noticeably improved performance with minimized body roll.