No longer can you mask your ride with flashy paint and chrome. Nope, if you're going to build a wickedly awesome street car or g-machine, it better be the whole package from front to back, top to bottom, inside and out. Today's machines must look, drive, handle, brake, and be all-around state-of-the-art if you want to leave an impression. Of course, a lot of that comes from pure imagination and creativity, but on the other hand, combining the right cold, hard parts is key.
Whether it's a pulley or brake job, parts truly make a car. New aftermarket parts not only look cool once installed, but they also serve a purpose. They bring these vintage straight-line rockets to a halt or help them go around a corner, and they bump up safety and drivability. Hot rod guru Gary Heidt has been applying his touch of suspension innovation to tons of cars throughout the years, and his latest Chevrolet concoction is sure to make eyes pop and mouths drool, all the while serving a purpose.
If you remember back a few months ago in Super Chevy, we took a stock orange '69 Camaro and added Heidt's Hot Rod Shop front control arms and new drop spindles, along with a few other suspension components, and it made a world of difference. In fact, that was the best handling Camaro we have yet to test here at Super Chevy! Trying to take things to the next level, we're going to round out the back of the Camaro. In this day and age, performance starts in the front and ends in the rear, or vice versa. Granted, you can post incredible numbers by just concentrating on one aspect of the car, but in order to reach the full potential of the car's capabilities, it's a must to do the complete package.
Subframed cars are notorious for flexing, bending, twisting and who knows what else. In past years, aftermarket companies, including Heidt's, have solved this problem on First-Gen Novas with the addition of front clips, and even more recently with rear clips to tie the car together. First Gen Camaros have a unibody with a front subframe, which means they have the same characteristic as all subframed cars. Although Heidt's doesn't make a complete front clip for Camaros, it does offer an assortment of parts for the front. In the back, however, it's a different story. Heidt's has designed a rear clip that not only improves handling, but more or less puts a full frame underneath the car.
Heidt's Hot Rod Shop has designed, engineered, and made available its Camaro parallel four-link rear clip, which allows for maximum performance from the rear of a First-Gen Camaro. The kit includes chassis and axle brackets, adjustable links, full upper coilover crossmember, Panhard bar, adjustable Heidt's coilovers, subframe connectors, hardware, and adjustable link mounts that allow suspension tuning. The kit is also a fully bolt-in system with no cutting or modifications to the floor.
The components are fabricated from mild steel, meticulously welded together, and then powdercoated gloss-black for an eye-appealing finish.
When buying a rear kit, Heidt's also offers up a few choices. A buyer can purchase an installation-ready Currie 9-inch with the brackets welded to the housing, and even opt to have Heidt's send a third member and Wilwood disc brakes. If for some reason you don't want to run a 9-inch, Heidt's also sells the brackets for the kit, but in this instance you would have to weld all the brackets to your own axle housing. Heidt's also has several coilover upgrades over the stock finished coilovers that come in the basic kit. One other upgrade Heidt's offers is a fully chromed setup with a chrome spring and shock. The other is a billet coilover setup.
Installing the kit is way easy. In fact, we did the install like most of you would do it at home: on the ground, on jackstands, on our backs, because the kit is a fully bolt-in kit with no modifications, and all that's necessary is to rip out the existing suspension and replace it with the supplied parts from Heidt's. Once we had the kit installed, even our stock driveshaft was the correct length.
We did run into a few problems regarding U-joint clamps, but they were an easy fix, and on top of that we'll dive into those issues next month, when we finish up the install and hit the track to get our numbers.