Not too long ago there were only a few options when it came to rear suspension set-ups for your Camaro. Now you can get all kinds of configurations, but it might be difficult to decide which system is best for your car. The two systems that get the most attention are the triangulated four-link and the three-link. We wanted to find out how these systems compare on the same car with the least amount of variables possible. To do this we contacted Art Morrison Enterprises to see if it was up for a challenge.
We barely got the question out before Craig Morrison said they had a '69 Camaro that would be perfect. The crew at Art Morrison fitted the car with a three-link rear set up and made sure to have any tabs needed to convert the car to a triangulated four-link during the test. We took the car to our El Toro Field test facility in California, and flogged it on the skid pad and the slalom course with the three-link first. Then we converted it to a four-link in just a few minutes and did the testing again.
We had our resident West Coast hot shoes do the test-driving, "Quick" Nick Licata zigzagged the slalom and Jason "I Drive In Circles" Scudellari took care of the skidpad. After it was all said and done the two systems could be considered equal to most of the world, but to an experienced driver they were totally different. We're not going to tell you what to buy because we're not going to guess your needs, but after reading the story you should be able to make a well-informed decision on what link setup is right for you. Enough fluff; let's get into the good stuff.
We asked Craig Morrison to give us a little overview of the two suspension types so here are the words straight from the proverbial horses mouth: "The three-link rear suspension is exactly as the name implies. This suspension is three separate links connecting the chassis to the axle. There are two parallel lower tubes and one centralized upper link. This design with its spherical rod ends allows for a nearly infinite amount of body roll, and eliminates any of the roll bind that may happen in the triangulated four-bar design. With the spherical rod ends in place, there is a lot of roll and lateral movement available with this type of suspension design. For this reason, it is necessary to add a track-locating device to prevent any lateral movement of the housing. In our instance, we added a Watts link. This type of track locator utilizes a bell crank with two bars going to each side of the chassis and the bell crank being mounted onto the third member. As the rear end housing moves through its range of travel, the bell crank rotates, keeping the rear end perfectly square with the frame.
"There is a higher level of adjustability with this type of suspension and for the experienced driver; they can tune the suspension more for track conditions and/or to maximize performance. For the new driver this could be a disadvantage as they might get in over their heads with which direction to go with adjusting the suspension. Also, with the centralized upper tube and the Watt's link behind the housing, there will be more fabrication work required to fit that upper link under the floor pan. With our Camaro test car it was necessary to fabricate some panels to cover this link. While it did get into the rear seat area and seat springs were trimmed for final fitment, the rear seat can still be used and two adults can still sit on the back seat comfortably."
Said Craig Morrison: "The triangulated four-bar, once again as the name implies, is a four-bar suspension design with the upper tubes angled (triangulated) in towards the housing. This type of suspension was what was featured on the GM A-body platform of the '60s.
"After working with the geometry, this type of suspension has a very stable and very low roll center. Because the upper bars are angled, it acts as the track locating device, eliminating the need for an extra bar such as a Panhard bar or Watt's link to control lateral movement. The room created usually helps route the exhaust system. An extra benefit is that the low profile nature of the suspension will fit under most stock floor pans with little-to-no fabrication needed. The poly-bushed rod ends eliminates any road vibrations from traveling up to the divers cabin, increasing the overall comfort of the driver and passengers.
"The biggest supposed downside with a triangulated four-bar system is roll bind. Roll bind is a situation when the suspension is articulating and because of the different length bars, the suspension will bind up, not allowing it to work the way it should. In the Morrison Tri4-bar set-up, roll bind will be induced at about 6-degrees. While this sounds like a very small amount, 6-degrees is actually a lot of roll. The only time that you may see that sort of situation is out on a road course with slicks on a large sweeping bend, if at all."
Even after multiple attempts Nick could only squeeze out a 5.79-seconds, which puts his speed at 50.2 mph. That is .8 mph slower than the three-link. "The four-link was a bit loose, which produced a manageable amount of oversteer. In this instance the car performed better on the skidpad and again the times reflected that," Nick explained.