We'd like to think we've seen a handful of crazy things in our day. But just when we think we have seen it all, something unexpected hits us like a ton of bricks. In the automotive industry, companies are making products that will literally blow your mind, and the latest concoction from Streetwise in Rancho Santa Margarita, California, is one such product.
The team at Streetwise (Doug Nagy, Ian Berwick, and "Johnny O" Omundson) has roots in off-road, road, rally, and drag racing, and has developed some very advanced sway bars for Tri-Five Chevrolets. The new driver-adjustable sway bars allow the vehicle's balance and ride to be easily tuned for street or track use while driving. The sway bars are adjusted by moving small levers mounted in the cockpit, which, then, move cables attached to the adjustment ends of the sway bars. The cables connect to the blade end of the sway bars. When the sway bars are in the vertical position, the blade is much more resistant to flex, as opposed to when they are in the horizontal position, thereby making the blade more flexible. The blade change enables the wheel rate to be changed while driving.
Although Streetwise does have roots in racing, the goal was not to turn a Tri-Five into a race car, but rather to improve the drivability and handling characteristics of the vehicle. Streetwise designed the sway bar stiffness to work with the spring rates to control body roll without compromising ride quality. Even though a big part of overall grip level is controlled by the tire compound and contact patch, the new Streetwise sway bars allow the vehicle to optimize the grip available in the tires. Working in unison with the sway bars are Varishock double-adjustable shocks from Alston Chassisworks. The fully adjustable compression and rebound shocks have a wide range of damping rates suitable for tuning to boulevard or track stiffness.
When developing the sway bars, Streetwise went through a series of modifications. First, they analyzed the chassis by determining base geometry, motion ratios, corner weights, and wheel rates. They then moved onto engineering and design. During this stage, Streetwise used Rapidvision 3D and Rapidline software. The Rapidvision 3D measuring system allows exact measurement of the suspension geometry. The Rapidline Design bench is a tool that uses three-dimensional encoders to input measurement points into a CAD program. The second aspect of the bench is used as a fixture device, which allows complete finish tooling and welding without removing the project from the bench. For accurate calculation of the ideal spring rate and sway bar stiffness, Streetwise turned to their experience and background in the tuning of race cars and performance streetcars.
However, before they started on the sway bars, there had to be a reason behind all of this. For you hardcore Super Chevy readers, you may remember Christopher Titus' '56 Speedster. You may also recall that he has a show on the FOX network. If you remember, the '56 is one sweet ride, but the C5 Corvette suspension didn't make for great handling. For that Titus contacted Streetwise to make the car handle better. With the Streetwise sway bar addition to the Titus '56, the car had a completely different attitude on the track. The shocking part is that this was just the initial test run. Once the car gets back to Streetwise, they'll fix the imperfections. Take a look at the numbers, and you'll see quite a difference.