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Third-Gen Camaro Suspension - Symphony In F
Improved Suspension Will Make Your Camaro Sing
Jul 1, 2000
Santa Fe Springs, CA 90670
Montclair, CA 91763
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Third-Gen Camaro Suspension - Symphony In F
Here are all the components we installed on our project Camaro.
Had our Z been a tuned-port model we could have utilized Hotchkis' strut tower brace. Because it's carbureted, we will look for one to fit.
The stock measurements were 27.25 inches rear...
...and 26.5 inches front.
A look under our project Camaro shows that it was in really good condition and unmodified.
One thing not included in this project was new front swaybar bushings. We will call up Energy Suspensions for a set of their polyurethane bushings to take out the play found in the factory rubber bushings.
We started the installation by removing the rear trailing arms.
In the close-up you can see that the factory piece is made of stamped steel and fitted with a minor re-inforcement piece inserted into it.
You should not remove both trailing arms at the same time, as the rearend may shift and make it hard to fit the new arms. Before installing the new Hotchkis trailing arms, the bushings should be well lubricated with the special grease included with the parts.
Hotchkis offers new, high-strength bolts for use when installing their trailing arms. We used the new bolts and installed the new arm the same as the factory part. Both sides install in the same manner.
Moving to the rear sway bar, the end links were unbolted...
...the bushings were unbolted...
...and the bar was set aside.
Next, the stock Panhard rod was unbolted and removed.
Then we raised the vehicle and pulled the factory springs free from the car.
The lower factory shocks are easy to get at.
The upper mounting bolt is a little more difficult, however, and required making access from inside the car at the point where the rear compartment turns down at the rear seat. After folding down the seat the carpet was carefully pulled up and the foam cover was removed.
With the bolt exposed it was easily unfastened.
Be sure you have someone under the car to catch the shock should it fall free.
The new Bilstein shock required no special mounting and uses all of the factory mounting locations.
When installing the new springs, Paul recommends using electrical tape to hold the spring isolator in place.
The Panhard rod bolts in like the factory part but should be properly adjusted beforehand. With the suspension loaded, adjust the end until the bolt holes line up, then tighten the nut to hold it firm.
Hotchkis uses a much stronger mounting bracket and U-bolt on the rear swaybar.
It helps to have a second person to hold the bar in place while the other aligns the bracket and secures the bar to the rearend.
New end links are part of the kit and include new polyurethane bushings.
On the front of our Camaro we set out to swap the springs and struts. This proved to be fairly simple, but care should be exercised in removing the springs.
The first step was to set aside the brake caliper so the hose wasn't damaged when the A-arm was lowered.
With the lower A-arm supported, the strut was unbolted and the spindle was lowered.
In the engine compartment, the plastic top strut mount cover was removed and the bolt loosened.
With the strut out of the way the spring was fairly simple to remove.
To get the new spring in place Paul used a special technique that utilized two prybars to help the spring into its pocket.
The Bilstein struts are designed to use all of the factory mounting hardware.
Though Hotchkis says the factory Z28 front swaybar is sufficient, they recommend upgrading the end links with their new stronger links with polyurethane bushings. At a later date we will also upgrade the swaybar mounts with Energy Suspension's polyurethane mounts for added support.
One of the most beneficial components Hotchkis sells for F-bodies are these subframe connectors. They require a little welding but add a great deal of support. Before welding them in it was necessary to grind off the powdercoating from the areas that will be welded.
To begin the subframe install, the driver's side unit was bolted to the forward trailing arm mount. Because this mounting location will be welded in, the trailing arm was allowed to hang free of the mount until the install was completed. A spacer was used to keep the mount from collapsing.
At the front of the subframe connector the driver's side was prepared and welded to the subframe.
The rear was also prepped and welded. To ensure the trailing arm fit properly, any excess weld was ground off before the weld was painted and the trailing arm re-installed.
The passenger's side is just as easy to install, but due to the exhaust routing the subframe connector is a little different then the driver's side rail. To work with the exhaust system the subframe mounts under the firewall. This requires 2.5 inches of clearance between the pinch weld and the exhaust.
To clear the way for the subframe connector we took the Camaro to Muffler Man...
...where master fabricator Craig made quick work of rerouting the stock exhaust by cutting out a small section between the catalytic converter and the Y-pipe.
A new pipe was easy to fabricate.
With the new pipe welded in (but unbolted at the catalytic converter to make room for welding) the body and subframe connector were prepped and welded together.
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