When it comes to developing new products, a company’s existence can usually be traced to whether they spent any time researching and developing anything new for their market. If they choose not to create anything new, eventually that market will cease to need their product.
The ExtReme chassis is a fully-boxed, jig-welded frame that is internally-gusseted to create a frame that is not only extremely strong and rigid, but is lighter than the factory C-shaped channel used for a factory chassis.
Never Slow Down
Speedtech Performance is one company that refuses to become irrelevant. They continually spend countless hours researching new products that can help enthusiasts improve the performance of their vehicles. We recently caught up with Ben Meissner, president of Speedtech Performance. He gave us a sneak peek at their all-new ExtReme Chassis that they were initially developing for 1967 through 1972 C10 Chevrolet pickup trucks.
We followed along as Ben explained the benefits of the chassis they are testing in their 1967 C10 short-bed shop truck. Ben told us they initially planned to build a bolt-in style front clip for the truck, based on their current Pro Touring subframe. While we’re sure that idea would have generated a lot of interest, they instead decided this was an opportunity to create an entirely new suspension that was better than anything currently available. They realized that proceeding with a new chassis would afford them the opportunity to incorporate it into their C10 truck, Chevelle, and Tri-Five complete chassis’, as well as their Camaro and Nova subframe offerings.
By utilizing the C5/C6 brake caliper-mounting configuration, consumers have a wide range of brake options to choose from. – Ben Meissner, Speedtech Performance
In order to make it a Speedtech-approved part, certain requirements needed to be met. Ben said the chassis had to deliver great street manners, and also deliver race-winning performance on the track. In order to accomplish these goals, they enlisted the help of a veteran road racing and chassis-building legend, Ron Sutton of Ron Sutton Race Technologies.
With the players and goals set in stone, any previous suspension designs were ignored, and the team started development by using what they feel is the most forward-thinking musclecar spindle available.
The front suspension was built around the new ATS ExtReme spindle. A unique steering-arm design and location keeps bumpsteer virtually eliminated through the entire range of suspension travel, and the Ackermann Angle at near maximum when at 95 percent turn. This creates optimum tire slip-angle, and significantly increases front tire grip.
You Have To Start Somewhere
Speedtech teamed-up with American Touring Specialties (ATS), and together they developed what is being called the ExtReme spindle. These new spindles are forged from strong-and-lightweight 7075 aluminum, and feature a unique ATS design.
Features Of The New ExtReme Frame And Suspension
- Box-welded construction with strengthened crossmembers.
- The only chassis designed exclusively with the ATS ExtReme spindle.
- Rack-and-pinion location and ATS’ spindles provide optimum Ackermann Angle.
- Delivers more than 30 degrees of steering angle.
- Optimum roll center for low, mid, and high travel systems.
- Near zero bumpsteer (less than .005-inch during standard travel).
- Increased shock length provides more suspension travel.
- Standard three-piece chromoly splined sway bar.
- Torque arm and four-link rear suspension options.
- Excellent for street and track use.
Unlike many aftermarket pieces, this new spindle is not based on the standard Corvette spindle. We’re told that it has much better design-geometry than any Corvette or Corvette-copied spindle. The extended lower ball-joint-shoulder raises roll center, and helps control tire lift when powering through a corner at a spirited pace. The design also delivers reduced kingpin and steering-axis inclination angles.
When the team felt the spindle’s design was perfect, they began creating the rest of the suspension around the spindle’s capabilities. With their never-before-attempted goal of creating a suspension that works successfully with vehicles that are either lowered or at stock ride height, Ron and the design team created what you see in the photos.
Ron tells us, “This was a tough project, because we needed to achieve the optimum, front, dynamic roll-center for any suspension strategy the customer wants to run, and we did it. It turned out absolutely perfect!”
Ron continued, “Having the best Ackermann Angle, optimum camber gain, and minimal jacking effect of any available front end, makes these the best handling, steering, and driving chassis, or subframe available. They are an upgrade from Speedtech’s current product offerings, and frankly any complete chassis or front subframe in the Pro Touring market today.”
The control arms are CNC-formed and TIG-welded, and have additional bracing for strength. The upper shock and control arm mount incorporates optimized camber and caster geometry, and allows for a longer shock stroke. Any stock or aftermarket brake kit from a C5 or C6 Corvette will work on the spindle.
The stainless steel cross shafts used for mounting the control arms allow the end user two different base camber settings. The arms use greasable Delrin bushings that will not flex, deform, or squeak like polyurethane, and don’t create a harsh ride like Heim joints. The chassis comes with standard coilover shocks that have an optimum motion-ratio for improved response and control, and allow easy height and dampening adjustments. Shock design, valving, and spring rate can be customized to a specific vehicle and driving style.
The forged-aluminum spindles are taller than stock spindles, and create an optimum camber curve, kingpin angle, caster, Ackermann and bumpsteer geometry. Speedtech tells us that they use heavy-duty, sealed C7 Corvette hubs as standard, and utilize the C5/C6 brake caliper-mounting configuration. This allows for a wide range of brake options.
An unbelievably strong, gusseted upper shock and control arm mount incorporates optimized camber and caster geometry, and allows for the use of a shock absorber with a longer stroke. This also allows a longer range of suspension travel at extremely low ride heights.
Steering is a breeze with the power-assisted rack-and-pinion.
When traveling down the highway, you need to be able to steer around the slow-moving traffic taking up precious asphalt in front of you. The quick-ratio, power-assisted rack-and-pinion is located in the optimal location on the chassis. By placing the rack in the proper location, the steering geometry is less affected by suspension travel as it goes through its normal motions. This virtually eliminates bumpsteer through the entire range of suspension travel.
The torque arm rear suspension provides unsurpassed stability and a very smooth ride.
Bringing Up The Rear
Although this doesn’t pertain to the upcoming subframe units for cars, the rear suspension of the complete chassis is centered around Speedtech’s tried-and-true Articulink lower trailing arms. These arms are based on a two-piece, off-road, race-spec arm, which allows the trailing arms to rotate as they articulate as the suspension is experiencing its full range of motion. This rotation eliminates binding, and allows a smooth, fluid-like motion over most road imperfections. The trailing-arm mounts have multiple mounting points for the axle, which makes for an easy adjustment to the vehicle’s instant center. The billet Panhard bar keeps the rear axle centered, and the coilover shocks come with adjustable valving, and the ability to control ride height. A 9-inch rear housing is standard.
There is also an optional, splined, rear antisway bar available for racing applications.
When it comes to smoothing the bumps for your chassis, you can choose from either Viking, Ridetech, or JRI shock absorbers. Any of these available shocks can be custom-built to an individual’s needs. A billet lower shock-mount allows 1 1/2 inches of ride height-adjustment above and beyond what the shock itself offers.
The ExtReme chassis is also available with a custom fuel tank from Rick’s Stainless Tanks.
Speedtech offers the ExtReme chassis with an optional, custom-fit stainless steel fuel tank from Rick’s Stainless Tanks. It features a GM-style fuel pump assembly with enough output to handle just about any horsepower range.
The soon-to-be-finished Speedtech shop truck rolling on the new ExtReme chassis.
If you are interested in this next-level suspension, retail production for the 1967 through 1972 C10 pickup; 1967 through 1981 Camaro, Firebird, and Nova, should be available as you read this. If you are a fan of Tri-Five Chevys, and 1964 through 1972 A-bodies, your offerings will be available soon.