What We Did:
Button up the 9-inch and install the Baer 6P brake system
We're geared for acceleration and able to stop on a dime under any condition
Bare Moser housing: call for pricing; Complete DSE 9-inch: $3,250 & up; Baer 6P brakes: $1,800 & up
It's hard to believe that with all of the technology incorporated into late-model vehicles that old-school methods are still the best ways to upgrade your Chevy's handling and traction. Our Project F73 Camaro, for example, was upgraded from a leaf-spring suspension to a Detroit Speed and Engineering QuadraLink four-link system (PN 041711), which includes an adjustable track bar, upper and lower control arms, and performance coilover shocks. While the control arms on the DSE system incorporate the company's new Swivel-Link technology, the four-link idea is a classic tried-and-true method for superior traction and the ability to easily adjust the suspension for any given autocross or road course.
With all of the cutting, welding, and bolting of the Detroit Speed suspension components already on our Camaro ("Four-Way Connection," Sept. '10) A&E painted the axlehousing, brackets, and subframe modifications with a flat-black undercoat. Because we planned to add more room for wider rear tires, we ordered a custom 9-inch rear axlehousing from Moser and had Detroit Speed weld its suspension brackets to it.
Detroit Speed offers both a bare housing and a complete bolt-in assembly, in addition to a 12-bolt option. Concerned about getting the correct dimensions? Don't be. Detroit Speed has a precise recipe to replicate its powerhouse machines, and this is exactly what we used. To fit the rather meaty 335 BFGoodrich KDWs, the axlehousing measures in at 51.25 inches from end to end. This is quite a bit shorter than the factory rearend, but with the addition of new mini-tubs and custom offset Rushforth wheels, we had no fear that everything would fit perfectly.
With the housing and suspension in place, the next step was to install the Moser nodular iron centersection featuring a 1/2-inch pinion offset, including a TrueTrac posi-unit and 3.89:1 gears. Moser also sent a pair of its heavy-duty 31-spline axles. Ours didn't come with a hole predrilled into the flange to bolt on the axlehousing backing plate, but A&E used a drill press to create one large enough for the bolts to fit through.
The Moser axles are beefy, heat-treated pieces that measure 56.25 inches, flange to flange. They also have a larger bearing to handle higher horsepower and torque loads and are fitted with longer, 1/2-inch drag-race-style wheel studs, so we're sure they will be plenty strong to handle a pair of slicks, just in case we decide to do big-rpm clutch dumps at the dragstrip.
Along with installing the Moser axles, A&E also bolted in the rear portion of the Baer Pro Plus brake system. We wanted the Camaro to have racing-style stopping power and opted to use this new and affordable brake system that use six-piston calipers and 14-inch rotors in the front and rear. While the 6P calipers look the same as the ones we installed in the front of the Camaro, the rear calipers actually have smaller pistons that help maintain proper front-to-rear brake bias.
The Pro Plus system also features a parking brake that fits inside the rear rotor hat. Because the rear caliper bracket bolts onto the axle flange, Baer supplies a new backing plate spacer that will allow the parking brake system to bolt onto the rear caliper mount bracket. The procedure calls for simultaneously inserting the axle, parking brake, and spacer plate to the housing. A&E found it was easier to use a light adhesive to hold the spacer plate onto the parking brake unit, which makes installing the hex head bolts through the hole in the axle flange much simpler.
Once this was done, the calipers need to be properly aligned to the rotors. Shims are used to align the top and bottom of the caliper mounting bracket to the axle flange bracket. A&E measured the distances between the inner sidewall of the caliper to the rotor, and used the appropriate amount of shims to ensure they were properly aligned. With the correct combination of shims in place the caliper bracket is bolted to the axle bracket. When it comes time to change pads, however, the calipers can be unbolted from the top of the caliper bracket, leaving the axle mount brackets and shims in their permanent position.
To gain as much traction as possible, it was imperative to stuff some wide rubber into the rear wheelwells. Although we made plenty of room with the DSE rear tubs and QuadraLink suspension system we also had to utilize a custom set of wheels: a set of Rushforth 18x12 Livewire wheels for the rear and 18x10s for the front. They have a brushed-aluminum face with a clearcoat, and polished inner and outer lips. With a 5.625-inch rear backspacing on the rear pair, we were able to fit BFGoodrich P335/30ZR18 tires with plenty of room to spare.
The wheels have plenty of clearance between the shocks, inner fenders, and outer fenders. Furthermore, the Detroit Speed suspension also allows us to fine-tune the ride height with the adjustable coilover shocks, and aside from the fact that the rear looks totally sick, it has the right combination of rubber, traction control, and power distribution that will make the car incredibly fun to drive on the street and track.