I am a longtime reader and subscriber to Chevy High Performance and a lifelong gearhead. Your magazine is great! I thought I would tell a story that spans a few years. I was a teenager through the muscle car era of the 1960s and early '70s, and I used to drool over the SS Chevelles, Z/28 Camaros, SS Novas, and all the BOP go-fast cars. My first car was a '65 Mustang convertible (yes, a dreaded Blue Oval, but it was cheap back then).
Fast-forward 20 years: second marriage and a new family. I was looking for the ultimate family vehicle and decided on a Suburban. I found a well-used, well-laid-out '78 that had a broken 454 but was otherwise in good shape. Towed it to a friend's house since I had no place else to work on it at the time. Tore out the engine to discover a broken lifter bore. So began the search for another block. After several weeks of searching I found a guy at a swap meet who had several and went to his home to buy the one I had picked out, but he had sold it and just happened to have a 0.060-over 454 two-bolt block with a set of 11:1 forged pistons. Hmm, I thought, this could be a good thing. I bought it for $250.
From there I bought a hydraulic cam and lifters from Summit and freshened up the bottom end. Otherwise no other go-fast parts were installed with the exception for a dual 21/2-inch exhaust. After all, it was meant to be a family hauler. The Suburban had the trailer towing package, which meant a 3.42 posi among other things. Long story short, the thing was strong and pretty quick, so of course I had to take it to the track. My friend's son, Freddy, was 16 at the time and was helping me turn some bolts on the project so he and his dad came to the track with me. Freddy had a '78 Camaro with a 400ci small-block, and we took that too. The Camaro couldn't hook up with the 3.08 open rearend and was still able to run in the mid 15s, and the Suburban ran a best of 14.9 at about 94 mph on street tires and full exhaust-not bad for the behemoth it was.
Freddy, a smooth talker, convinced me to put the 454 in his Camaro. We knew the 3.08 was a no-go, so we came up with a 12-bolt 3.42 with a posi out of a pickup truck. We also installed a set of headers. Beyond that, we left the engine the way I had it with a stock torque converter and the Turbo 350 that was in the Camaro, along with 10.5-inch slicks. It was running in the low 14s. As you know, one thing leads to another. Next we put in a higher stall converter, which helped but not enough. Then it was a bigger hydraulic cam with a high-rise intake and a 780-cfm Holley. This was better, into the mid 13s, but still not enough. Next was a pair of 96cc iron heads fitted with 2.19s and 1.88s and a bigger solid lifter cam with a 3,500-stall converter, and we upgraded the tranny to a Turbo 400 (we toasted the 350). Now we were in the low 12s around 115 mph. Yet, again, it still wasn't enough. In the meantime Freddy had found himself a girl and was finding less and less time to spend on the car, but we managed to get a 4.10 gear in it. Unfortunately, the last time we took it to the track the governor went out on the 400 so we didn't get in a full pass, but it was a rocket off the line! Eventually Ibought Freddy's share of the car.
My son and I are tinkering with the car now. We detuned it a little for some cruising. Now it has a nice lopey hydraulic cam, stock open-chamber heads, and an Edlebrock dual quad setup and is a ton of fun. We will get it back to the track one day. I guess if you had to classify the car it would be a rat rod. The body is a little rough and is primer gray at the moment, but that will change. Interestingly, while some of the parts were new, most are used GM parts, so this ongoing project hasn't cost all that much and we have many fond memories, with more great memories to come.
I was just sitting here at work reading my latest issue and decided to give you some options for corner-carving. I would love to see, of course, the first-gen Camaro. I own a '68 that has been sitting in the garage being worked on for the past four years, slowly. I've done the Guldstrand mod with the help of David Pozzi and Team Camaro. You see, I'm looking at getting better handling without spending a lot of cash. That mod cost me $28 in new drill bits, and what a difference it made!
Then I met David and his wife, Mary, at an autocross in Costa Mesa and found out she's running her second-gen Camaro with leaf springs and making big noise at the event. Yeah, Mary is one heck of a driver, but in other events when drivers allow other drivers to drive their car, it proves that the suspension setup is more important than driver ability! Seeing drivers run quicker times in vehicles not their own says something.
My choices are the first-gen Camaros with a leaf-spring shootout, similar to the springs I just read about in the suspension article. How about comparing shocks such as Koni to VariShocks?
I currently have leaf springs (five) and will be switching the springs to either Hotchkis or DSE. I'm leaning toward the Hotchkis since I already have the front springs and sway bar from them. I look forward to anything you guys print, as it all helps, be it motivation to work on the Camaro or what I'm about to purchase next for her. Keep up the good work.
C10 Corner Carver
In regard to Shop Talk in the Sept. '09 issue, I have a '70 C10 that I'm restoring. I have a 408ci small-block backed by an M20 Muncie and a 12-bolt rearend, but I haven't decided on which way to go with the suspension. I don't know if I want coilovers, a complete Air Ride setup, a four-link system, or trailing arms.
I'm not into having a truck that is original or having one that will lay frame, but more into a pickup that has a nice, lowered stance and that will handle like it's on rails-if that's possible. So if you have any room in upcoming issues to address old pickups with 500-plus horses that have good enough suspension to hang corners I would love to read it. I know you're saying to yourself that there are truck magazines out there for this, but I have been a reader of CHP for many years, and most of the pickup magazines out there don't have what I'm looking for. Thanks, Mr. De Los Santos. Keep up the good work.
First off, I have subscriptions to a couple of different car mags, and yours is the one I read first, no matter the order they are received in.
I have a '92 25th Anniversary RS Camaro that I'm just about finished with. I have a 406 SBC that ran 580 horse and 570 torque on the engine dyno (I had to toss the dyno numbers in there, right?). I also replaced the five-speed with a six-speed. I know, I know, I did it in the wrong order, but I had the money for that part of it and did it, as it was the most expensive part of the build.
I haven't even read the suspension article in the new edition, and I felt that compelled to write in. I did a few minor upgrades to some of the suspension components, such as installing polyurethane bushings in the front end. I used a Spohn Performance crossmember and trans mount, and I'm planning to replace the rearend components with the matching Spohn parts as money allows.
I would like to see more third-gen suspension upgrades for the street. I am interested in what the other parts are available, such as tubular A-arms, shocks (QA1 does not currently have front struts available for my car, which drives me nuts, as QA1 is just 20 minutes from my home), subframe connectors, and maybe even a full K-member swap to see what that will do for the overall performance of the third-gens. I plan on doing these things myself this year, but it would be helpful to know which parts worked the best together. Along those lines, how about doing a story on the best overall suspension geometry settings for the street when it comes to caster, camber, pinion angles, and so on? Again, thank you for a super magazine!
Brian C. Peterson
Big Car Handling
Reading your article in Shop Talk is exactly what I've been waiting for. I have a big-body '64 Impala SS. I have recently been seeing more suspension products for these monsters, but have not seen any articles or performance results. I hope you will consider testing them out as I am sure that many owners of these vehicles would like to see the possible improvements in handling.
More Impala Talk
That's a great idea to visit the suspension topic in your Shop Talk editorial from Sept. '09. My 17-year-old son Stefan and I are restoring a two-door '66 Impala. We are upgrading the engine from a 327ci small-block to a 396ci big-block. Common sense tells me that we'll need to upgrade many things, including the suspension! Along with the suspension, we are going to upgrade the power steering system, upgrade from four-wheel drums to four-wheel discs, and the rearend, but that's another story.
Initially my hope is to get some guidance and recommendations on the suspension for the '66. The power steering system, brakes, and rearend will have to wait!
More Third-Gen Tech
I think your mag should do a suspension article on third-gen F-bodies. Would like to see some things sorted out and explained before I buy parts. I'm primarily a drag racer, but some of this stuff crosses over to cornering. One is an adjustable Panhard bar. Everybody wants one, but nobody knows why. Could you explain why we should get one and how to set it up? How about checking the track of the vehicle to see if everything is going straight? Jeg's sells a bracket to raise and lower the Panhard bar. Is this the way to go?
Also, I just recently purchased a BMR lower control arm relocation brackets. Some people say these are great; others say they don't do anything. Airbags in rear coils? Could you explain how to tune with them? Do we really need adjustable struts? And for drag racing type stuff, what about the Lakewood Lift Bars (PN 21700)? How do these work? Are they any different from PeteZ bars the Stock Eliminator guys use?
What about rear coil springs for drag launches? I've heard to use six cylinder springs or any number of aftermarket springs. I own two third-gens-a Camaro (drag racer with a 383) and a Firebird (350 TPI)-both of which have numerous aftermarket parts, and I'm looking to add more. Thanks!
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Ever seen that creepy guy in your local coffee shop? Yeah, the guy with the abnormally large cup of coffee, laptop, numerous cell phones, and papers randomly placed on the table. I've just become that guy. I have always wondered if any of these people did any work or if they're desperately just trying to look busy in an effort to seem important. Either way, its easy to be that person. I don't mean to brag, but I'm sitting here at Panera Bread-a local bakery chain that serves fresh-baked breads, muffins, and of course, coffee. While the food is a definite plus, the ability to jump onto their free WiFi service is the real reason I am here. If you recall last month's internet blog (chevyhiperfomance.com) ranting about the move to a new office, it's pretty far. In fact, it's a 145-mile round-trip and brutal on a daily basis.So while I won't be at the office five days a week, I think I can fit in just fine here checking e-mails, going over edit, and getting some creative ideas down on paper.
I've got to say, working remotely is awesome and has a definite plus. Not only am I saving precious fossil fuels and mileage, but not having to do the 2-hour commute means more time slamming down stories and throwing e-mails. Never did I think I would be the creepy guy on the computer in the corner-whatever. I am here now and I'm embracing it. While these are all good things, there are a couple causes for concern though. Namely, the fact that I have to be super self-reliant to the tasks at hand. The days which I am out of the office have to be filled with work. Plus, no writer should be anywhere near a coffee house. My keyboard is practically smoking and I'm already pounding my third large cup of coffee and feeling jittery. Henry D is starting to wear off on me.
If you've an opportunity to try working remotely, do it. It's challenging and also rewarding at the same time. To realize I can work virtually anywhere is a satisfying feeling. What's amazing is how many other people are here too. I'm counting the room right now ... five other customers are here on their laptops. Imagine that. People working? Got a Panera Bread in the L.A. area near you? Yell out "Rooster." The creepy guy in black Dickies is probably me.