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2001 Chevy Camaro Z28 - Lateral Traction

Before We Hit The Track, Black Betty Gets A Major Suspension Upgrade From Global West

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Getting the first phases of a project car moving in the right direction can be the most crucial. You may have your mind made up about how you want your car to look, drive, and sound, but to get there you'll need to do a little research in order to compile the right parts for your ride.

Some guys are set on having a good-looking car without all the handling "bells and whistles." That's fine for some, but others need to get the most bang for their hard-earned buck and will want their car to perform as well as, if not better than, it looks. So keep in mind, wheels, tires, stance, sound, and paint all play an important part in the final outcome. Whether it's a winning track combination or a show car winner, it's all up to your personal taste.

It's no secret that we here at Camaro Performers like to go fast in as many directions as possible. Going straight is cool, but the opportunity to hang it all out in the corners is a rush that we can't seem to get enough of.

Our 2001 Chevy Camaro Z28, known as Black Betty, is pretty much in the beginning stages of receiving performance upgrades, so we decided to jump right into the suspension aspect of the car. Besides going for an aggressive look, we need our project car to handle as good or better than any fourth-gen out there.

We knew Global West Suspension, in San Bernardino, California, makes some serious handling components for fourth-gens, so we gave them a call and told them we wanted to turn our stock Z28 into a wicked-handling car that could perform well on the street and pull off some quick times on the autocross or road course.

Global West Owner Doug Norrdin is a racer himself and has been setting up performance and race cars since the early '80s, so we knew our project was in the right hands. Besides, the desperation in our voice was a dead giveaway that we would settle for nothing less than the best suspension components available for our car. Doug graciously opened up the Global West catalog and pointed us to a host of suspension upgrades that would help get our Camaro in and out of corners quickly and efficiently.

The rear suspension upgrade for our fourth-gen features rear lower control arms, antisquat brackets, Traclink torque arm, Eibach springs (keep in mind that this is racing, so Doug made us promise not to print the spring rates), and panhard bar. Up front, he suggested we go with their lower control arm bearing kit (it installs directly into your stock control arms) tubular upper control arms, coilover conversion kit that includes springs, thrust bearing kit, 3-inch helper spring, helper spring adapter, and upper spring mount. For shocks, we went with QA1 double-adjustable coilovers (PN DOE7855P) up front and QA1 double-adjustable out back (PN DTC2502P).

Normally, we would bang out this suspension installation in one article, but since there are so many important details to go over, we're going to have to do this in two parts.

Camp 1007 03 O 2001 Chevy Camaro Z28 On Lift 2/27

In the first installment, we'll cover what went on in the rear of the car, including subframe connectors and the Global West Traclink. In part two, we'll focus on the front suspension components. We'll also have the results of our testing with stock components compared to how the car improved with the upgraded suspension.

Straight Talk About Cornering
•We have a pretty good handle on what many of the bolt-on suspension components do for our cars, but we thought it would be cool to hear it from the man behind Global West Suspension, Doug Norrdin. We hit him with a few questions regarding what all this stuff actually does.

CP: What is the purpose and benefit of your antisquat kit?
DN: Antisquat kits provide additional holes for bolting the lower control arm to the rearend. Generally, this is to lower the arm at the rearend which, in turn, changes the way the car will apply power to the ground. It is a tool you will use for fine-tuning the suspension, especially if the car is lowered. In most cases, when you lower a third- or fourth-gen Camaro (depending on how low you go), the angle of the lower control arm is pointing down toward the front of the car. This is undesirable for traction. Adjusting the lower arm at the rearend by moving the attachment to a lower location reestablishes a better lower-arm angle and brings back traction.

CP: We understand that subframe connectors control chassis twist, but what other benefits to they provide?
DN: Subframe connectors provide additional structure for safety in case of an accident, and depending on the location of where the subframe begins and terminates, the frames can tie into the pickup points of a rollcage. They greatly reduce flex in the unibody and, on T-top cars, they reduce rattles and even leaks and, for performance driving, they transfer load quicker for improved transitions during cornering.

CP: Many aftermarket suspension companies use larger sway bars with their kits but, on your fourth-gen system, you went with the stock sway bars. What's the main reason for that?
DN: For a lot of the newer applications, the factory sway bars are generally big enough. In many cases, the springs, especially the fronts, are too soft. The manufacturers increase the cornering ability by adding roll stiffness through the larger sway bar. This is fine, however, sway bars only work in cornering and do nothing for straight-line deceleration (nosedive). Going to a bigger bar still won't help that condition, and you can get into a situation where the bar lifts the inside tire because of excessive roll stiffness. Our program is designed to increase the spring rate in the front to reduce nosedive, which will improve braking and cornering ability. This doesn't mean the car will go ridged. What we are going to do is raise the envelope of the car's handling ability. Going to a race spring increases it even further. The question is, at what level of the performance envelope do you what to be?

Camp 1007 02 O 2001 Chevy Camaro Z28 Suspension Kit 3/27

Here's the rear suspension kit from Global West. It features the Global West Traclink (PN TSC-24), antisquat brackets (PN VTC- 27), rear tubular control arms (PN TBC-14), panhard rod (PN PHC-4 spherical bearings), and rear springs (PN S-67 competition). All components come with all the necessary mounting hardware.

Camp 1007 03 O 2001 Chevy Camaro Z28 On Lift 4/27
Camp 1007 04 O 2001 Chevy Camaro Z28 Undercarriage 5/27

To get started, Global West installation expert Eric Norrdin starts off by removing the lower trailing arms. Remember to chock the wheels and set the parking brake before any suspension upgrade.

Camp 1007 05 O 2001 Chevy Camaro Z28 Quiet Ride Rear Control Arms 6/27

Here's the Quiet Ride rear control arm compared to the stock arm. It's 2 inches in diameter and offers much more stability than the stock pieces. Because they use performance rubber bushings on the rearend side, road noise will be greatly reduced. We could have gone with the full road race versions (PN TBC-1) that feature spherical bearings on both ends, but we will be doing a lot of street driving, so road noise may be an issue on long drives.

Camp 1007 06 O 2001 Chevy Camaro Z28 Torque Arm 7/27

To get started, Global West installation expert Eric Norrdin starts off by removing the lower trailing arms. Remember to chock the wheels and set the parking brake before any suspension upgrade

Camp 1007 07 O 2001 Chevy Camaro Z28 Rear Antiqsquat Brackets 8/27

Here's a close-up look at the rear antisquat brackets. These will allow the rear control arms to be adjusted lower for increased traction during launch at the dragstrip or coming out of corners on an autocross or road course.

Camp 1007 09 O 2001 Chevy Camaro Z28 Small Sanding Disc 9/27

With the front of the lower control arm bolted in, Eric removes the powdercoat from areas of the antisquat bracket with a sanding disc that will be welded to the shock mount.

Camp 1007 10 O 2001 Chevy Camaro Z28 Bracket 10/27

Eric then test-fit the bracket before hitting it with the welder. It's also a good idea to do some tack welding to make sure the bolts go through before permanently welding it in.

Camp 1007 11 O 2001 Chevy Camaro Z28 Antisquat Bracket 11/27

Here is the antisquat bracket all welded in and prettied up with black spray paint. You can also see how the parking brake bracket was cut in half and then welded back in place.

Camp 1007 12 O 2001 Chevy Camaro Z28 Crossbrace 12/27

Before installing the main beam and Traclink, Global West Owner Doug Norrdin got involved by removing the crossbrace under the exhaust, then he loosened the fuel and brake lines from the floor in order to make room for the main beam.

Camp 1007 13 O 2001 Chevy Camaro Z28 Welding 13/27

You'll need to do a little cleanup on the shock mount as well. This will ensure an optimum welding surface. You may have to cut off the parking brake bracket (as was the case with our car) to make room to install the antisquat bracket. Just weld it back in place once the antisquat bracket is welded in place.

Camp 1007 14 O 2001 Chevy Camaro Z28 Welding 14/27

With the bracket fitted correctly, Eric goes for it and permanently welds it in place. There's no turning back now.

Camp 1007 15 O 2001 Chevy Camaro Z28 Control Arm 15/27

With that done, Eric was then able to tighten up the front end of the control arm. He informed us that we could stop right here and have a noticeable improvement in the car's handling. This might be a good place to stop if you are on a budget, as you can always add more upgrades later on. But for our purposes, we're going all the way in one shot.

Camp 1007 17 O 2001 Chevy Camaro Z28 Stock Torque Arm 16/27

It was then time to remove the stock torque arm. Just a few bolts up front and on the bottom of the rearend took care of that. Make sure the car is set so the angle of the rearend doesn't change.

Camp 1007 18 O 2001 Chevy Camaro Z28 Carpet 17/27

With the rear seat bottom out of the way, be sure to have someone up top pulling the carpet away from the floor so as not to pull a loop on the drill bit.

Camp 1007 19 O 2001 Chevy Camaro Z28 Traclink 18/27

Moving on to the Traclink, be sure to lube up the end with bearing grease before installing the washer and rubber bushing. The Traclink will transfer acceleration energy to the tires, reduce nosedive during hard braking, eliminate wheel hop, and increase side bite when accelerating out of the corners. It's everything we'll need to give our project car a competitive edge.

Camp 1007 29 O 2001 Chevy Camaro Z28 New Spring Installation 19/27

With the body lifted, the new spring easily slides onto the stock perch.

Camp 1007 32 O 2001 Chevy Camaro Z28 Drilling 20/27

To install the new shocks, Eric had to bore out the bottom of the shock mount with a 5/8-inch drill bit.

Camp 1007 33 O 2001 Chevy Camaro Z28 Qa1s Bolted In 21/27

From there, our new QA1s bolted right in.

Camp 1007 34 O 2001 Chevy Camaro Z28 Panhard Rod 22/27

Here is Global West's adjustable panhard rod with spherical bearings sitting on top of the stock, flimsy, non-adjustable rod. The new panhard rod benefits from ease of adjustability and will control lateral movement of the rear axle. Eric set the new panhard rod on top of the old one so he can get the length adjusted as close as possible before bolting it in.

Camp 1007 35 O 2001 Chevy Camaro Z28 New Panhard Rod 23/27

As you can see here, the new panhard rod easily bolts into the stock location.

Camp 1007 36 O 2001 Chevy Camaro Z28 Piece Of Aluminum 24/27

Doug used this piece of aluminum to measure the distance between the tops of the fender on each side of the body to the wheel in order to find the exact roll center of the car. He notched it on the top section so it would have room to clear the tire. You can use a piece of wood or plastic just the same. We were off by 1/8 inch, which translates to two threads of adjustability on the panhard rod.

Camp 1007 37 O 2001 Chevy Camaro Z28 Global West Subframe 25/27

The Global West subframe connectors will provided our T-top Z28 with the necessary chassis stiffness we'll need when hanging it out in the corners. These are 2 inches in diameter and consist of 0.125 wall thickness.

Camp 1007 38 O 2001 Chevy Camaro Z28 Rocker Rails 26/27

They fit snugly up under the rocker rails and we lost no ground clearance. These will also come in handy in the case of side impact, and they also make a nice jack point. When welding them in, Eric points out to be careful and not get too much heat in the floors.

Camp 1007 39 O 2001 Chevy Camaro Z28 Suspension Installation 27/27

To finish up the rear suspension installation, Doug uses an angle finder to compare the pinion angle of the driveshaft to the rearend. If the angle of the rearend is off just one degree from the driveshaft, we'll have a nasty vibration in the car that will cause handling issues at speed and even a loss of horsepower. We certainly don't want that.


QA1 Motorsports
Lakeville, MN 55044
Global West Suspension
San Bernardino, CA 92408



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