Call it "keeping up with the Joneses," or even chalk it up with not being able to leave well enough alone. No matter how you look at it, the necessary task of refining and dialing in a car is a long (although fun), process. It's also a very important one if you want your Camaro to be a true performer.
We see it all the time; a newly-built car hits the streets, and even though it's filled with the best parts available, it fails to impress at the track. But it's not the fault of the parts, or the builder. The cold, hard truth is that it's in need of some sorting out. Spring rates need to be dialed in, shock or air settings adjusted, and a host of unforeseen gremlins taken care of. Things that looked great on paper, proved to be problematic in the 3D world, and systems that work great on the street, falter or flat out fail when subjected to the rigors of track use.
There's a reason why GM spent millions of dollars and countless hours getting the new '10 Camaro ready for street duty. Every part on a car needs to work harmoniously together to reliably produce a ride capable of taking all the abuse we tend to heap on them. When you're talking about a custom-built car, like one of our classic Camaros, the task is twice as hard. Often we're trying to integrate aftermarket parts from a variety of companies. This is why any car typically evolves from being done enough to cruise around the block, to done enough to tear up a racetrack or drive across the country. It's a process as basic to hot rodding as the actual building of the car.
Our '68 project, Bad Penny, is no exception. It seemed like the more we beat on the car, the more kinks we found in its armor. But rather than bemoan the problems, we set about addressing them. The result is a better overall car, both in terms of performance, and reliability. After all, cars, much like Rome, aren't built in a day.
Chasing Tenths It's called the "point of diminishing returns," and it's a phrase that perfectly describes most aspects of hot rodding. If it costs "X" amount of dollars to run fast, then it costs exponentially more to run a bit faster. It's pretty easy to get to 90 percent, but it can be challenging and expensive to squeeze out the last 10 percent of potential performance. Our suspension was pretty high-end already, but we wanted just a bit more.
We found the main culprit to be our stock rubber control arm bushings. Sure, they help lessen the harshness on the road, but they tend to deform under hard cornering, throwing off our alignment specs when we need them most. By going with spherical bushings, we gave up a little ride "cush" for killer steering response and rock-solid geometry. Other upgrades were done to increase reliability and fix items like control arm angles and brake pad knockback. Besides, a car that is "just done" isn't as much fun.
While we were doing this upgrade someone asked, "Why do the drop spindles when your car is already low?" The answer is that we did it precisely because the car was low. In other words, with our '68 at its best stance, the control arm angles were all wonky, and to get the control arms parallel to the ground, the front of our car would end up sitting like a 4x4.
The 1.25-inch drop of the Raceseng uprights let us have our stance and proper suspension geometry. We also gained some needed front shock travel.
Easy Breathing Engine breather systems are often overlooked by builders, and we're no exception. When we originally built our car, we slapped a couple filters on the valve covers and called it good. It was fine for the street, and even for the occasional autocross, but once we hit the road course, and started performing sustained 1.3g gyrations, it proved woefully inadequate. What we needed was a proper system, so we came up with a plan and headed to Pozzi Racing to make it happen.