1971 Chevy Camaro - The Right Stuff

Project Orange Krate Gets A New Front Subframe, Suspension, Subframe Connectors, And Brakes.

Chuck Vranas Dec 1, 2010 0 Comment(s)
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If you like to go fast and take turns with maximum g-force, it's a good idea to first sit down and plan how to accomplish it. But remember, it takes more effort than bolting on a set of coilover shocks and wide, sticky tires to make it happen. Sure, if you want to cruise the strip, a lower stance can make your ride look cool, but if you want it to perform, you'd better figure on bringing more than that to the party!

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After dialing in the back half of Project Orange Krate, our 1971 Chevy Camaro, last month with the installation of Detroit Speed Inc.'s new Quadra-Link rear suspension combined with Baer Brake Systems' Extreme-Plus braking package, it was a clear choice to look to both companies once again for help in dialing in the front half of the car. Detroit Speed's hydroformed front subframe is a direct bolt-in replacement for the stock subframe, featuring cutting-edge suspension geometry to improve both handling and ride quality. The core of the Detroit Speed subframe rests within their unique hydroformed framerails for additional strength and stiffness. Since hydroforming is conducted at low temperatures, it allows the steel to maintain most of its original integrity regarding metallurgical strength and stiffness. Combined with stamped crossmembers, durable tubular upper and lower control arms featuring DSE's unique suspension geometry, signature coilover shocks, and power rack-and-pinion steering, the complete subframe is a winner straight out of the crate. Incorporating a splined sway bar, C6 steering knuckles, and bearing packs with the ability to run up to a 10-inch wide wheel while not having to alter the front wheelwells proves this system will be able to handle whatever you choose to run on the street or track.

With Project Orange Krate picked clean for the build-up, Peter Newell of Competition Specialties in Walpole, Massachusetts, wasted no time settling the car onto the lift to get busy. Since the new subframe came already assembled, it was placed on a rolling platform and rolled into position under the car to prepare it for installation. Using Detroit Speed's CNC-milled billet aluminum body mounts and related hardware, Newell anchored the subframe in place and raised the car on the lift to ready the subframe for being squared to the car. Using a simple plumb line, or in Newell's case, a cross-line laser level, four points were marked and cross-checked to ensure the subframe was within close tolerances of 1/8-inch diagonally from side to side before tightening it into place.

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Once this step was completed, Newell began to prepare the floorpan area for the installation of the Detroit Speed subframe connectors by first degreasing the area, then removing any old undercoating or contaminants to present a clean surface to work with. To increase the cars' stiffness by connecting the front subframe to the rear framerails, we selected Detroit Speed's weld-in subframe connectors. Their unique design allows them to almost disappear into the floorpan area once installed. One of the benefits here is that there is no compromise in ground clearance. Fabricated from rectangular steel tubing, the kit also includes laser-cut mounting brackets, end caps, informative illustrated instructions, templates, and even a step-by step installation DVD.

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Note that in our installation, we did not do any final welding of the subframe connectors to the new subframe since the car will be disassembled for final metal and bodywork. Once completed, the finish welding will be addressed to tie everything together. To wrap up the frontend, Newell bolted in Baer Brake Systems' aggressive Baer Claw Extreme-Plus braking system featuring their wicked 6S six-piston MonoBlock calipers paired with their cross-drilled and slotted two-piece 14-inch brake rotors. With Orange Krate's front and rear suspension installation now complete, the next time you see the car it should be down on all fours showing off its nasty stance with a vengeance.

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