In the last issue, we went through the process of upgrading the rear suspension on our '01 Z28 project car, which we affectionately call Black Betty. We covered the installation of a plethora of Global West suspension components, including Traclink, antisquat box, lower control arms, springs, QA1 shocks, adjustable panhard rod, and subframe connectors. In this issue, we'll cover the installation process of the front suspension components. And just as with the rear components, we dipped deep into the Global West Suspension catalog to assemble a suspension system up front that will complement the components installed on the rear. To start off, we went with their lower control arm bearing kit (you install it right into your stock control arms) then moved onto their tubular upper control arms and coilover conversion kit that includes springs, a thrust bearing kit, 3-inch helper springs, helper spring adapters, and upper spring mounts. For shocks, we once again went with QA1 double-adjustable coilovers. Although bolting up the front suspension is not quite as involved as what we did on the rear, it's just as important. This is where adjustability really comes into play, which has a huge effect on the handling characteristics as well as the ride height of your car.
Also in the last issue, we addressed the fact that some Camaro guys may want to bolt on suspension components only to get an aggressive stance and the "right look" for their car while still retaining a smooth, comfortable ride. But there are others (like us) who care only about getting the most performance possible out of their suspension, as they'll be spending quite a bit of time on the track. With the amount adjustability available in today's suspension systems, it's easy to get your Camaro to handle aggressively at the track and, with a few clicks on the shock adjustment knob, have a comfortable drive home from the event. Doug Norrdin and the crew at Global West Suspension in San Bernardino, California, have been upgrading suspensions on street performance and race cars for over 25 years and have a handle on what their customers are looking for in a performance suspension.
When we took Black Betty over to Global West for the suspension upgrade, we told them we wanted to have the baddest fourth-gen, in terms of handling, on the planet. Although the car gets plenty of street driving, we were more than willing to sacrifice ride comfort for killer times on the track. Surprisingly, with their front suspension kit and QA1 shocks, we didn't give up tons of streetability in order to achieve our goal of having our project knock down the lowest times possible on the track.
For the second and final installment, we'll show you how to bolt up Global West's front suspension components on our '01 project car. We'll then follow up with testing numbers to show how the car's performance improved.
Wheels and Tires
By upgrading to a larger wheel and wider tire, the car made a nice jump in handling performance. Plus the combination of New Gen Dominator wheels and Nitto NT05 tires give our project an aggressive demeanor.
It's important to remember that the suspension components are only as good as the wheels and tires will allow. In order to achieve quick times at the track, you're going to need strong, light wheels (they have to look cool too), and performance tires. As of now, most street driving events require tires with a minimum treadwear rating of 180. If you show up to an event with tires rated below that number, which means they're made of a stickier compound, you'll most likely be turned away or at best be put in an exhibition class where your times will not count.