True SStreet Struts

Since we’re sure that you are a regular Chevy Hardcore reader, we’re also certain that you have been following along as we progress with Project True SStreet. But, in case you’re new to this online gathering of all things Chevrolet, the project is a rolling fifth-generation 2014 Camaro test bed for performance bolt-ons, and it’s our quest to build an 8-second true street car that can survive 30-mile drives and 8-second quarter-mile passes. True SStreet is equipped with a Whipple-supercharged 376-B15 crate engine that makes upwards of 1,000 horsepower, and you can read all about the engine here.

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The Afco double-adjustable strut for the fifth-gen Camaro is a drag race-specific dampener. It not only dampens rebound, it allows for excellent weight transfer.

As for the fifth-gen Camaro – known globally as the Zeta II rear-drive platform, the car shares its underpinnings with other GM rear-drive nameplates. It uses a fully-independent suspension platform, developed to take on nearly any competition in the world, namely the Ford Mustang.

The key point to make here, is that this independent rear suspension is great when used in a daily-driver capacity, or when racing in a situation that involves cornering, but therein lies the rub for True SStreet – drag strips don’t have corners.

Afco's double-adjustable strut replacement begins with removal of the old struts and springs. It is very important to make sure your Camaro is adequately supported. Although we have a Bendpak lift, the job can be done with jack stands and hand tools in your garage or driveway.

We decided to remove the independent rear suspension and rearend in True SStreet for a full Moser solid axle conversion. This includes a Moser-fabricated rearend housing, their torque-arm rear suspension, double-adjustable rear shocks, and a Moser drag-racing specific anti-roll bar. Along with those upgrades from Moser, we also upgraded the brakes.

Up front, we needed a suspension that offered adjustability so we could dial it in to optimize the performance of the car. That necessitated drag racing-specific front suspension components. The fifth-gen Camaro is relatively new, and the pickings in regards to racing suspension pieces has been limited in recent years, leaving many drag racing street/strip enthusiasts to make do with the factory struts.

Assembly of the Afco strut is straightforward, thanks to simple instructions and the hand tools you probably have in your home garage.

Recently, we were excited to get a press release from our friends at Afco Racing, that introduced a double-adjustable strut that is designed specifically for fifth-gen cars (2010 through 2015 Camaro). It was a gift from the heavens above, and we quickly ordered a set to upgrade True SStreet.

With a simple turning of the dial, your strut can go from a performance enhancer to a comfortable ride generator.

With a simple turning of the dial, your strut can be adjusted to meet any track conditions or changes to your car.

Eric Saffell of Afco told us that the fifth-gen strut was something that has been long desired by their GM customers, “We developed these struts to provide fifth-gen Camaro owners with better weight transfer, and the ability to lower the car up to 1-inch. These are designed for drag racing purposes, but they still afford the car owner the ability to drive on the street if they desire.”

The coil spring support is threaded onto the strut next, followed by the coil spring. Remember to lube the spring bushing nut so it doesn't gall to the strut.

Weight transfer is crucial in drag racing, and this strut offers an option that is not available on the stock unit. “Our strut offers tuners the ability to ‘lock down’ the front suspension to create a really smooth weight transfer event. You often won’t need front end limiters with our strut, as the user can tighten the adjustment enough that even drag radial guys can make it work,” explained Saffell.

Why The Upgrade?

What We Used

IMG_5586The 2010 through 2015 Camaro uses strut PN 30032. Each strut will cost $749.99. Springs are sold separately for $74.99 each. An adjustable caster/camber plate is also required, and Afco has PN 40026 that cost $279.99.

Many times, drag races are won or lost at the starting line. Making the car hook is crucial, and a good launch is highly reliant on front-to-rear weight transfer. When a car launches, the front suspension separates and the car’s weight is transferred to the rear tires to help with traction.

The task asked of the front shock portion of the coilover during this occurrence, is to control the rate at which the front end rises and lowers. When the car properly launches, the front end will rise slowly, and then settle down in a controlled manner while the car is still accelerating. For example, during a launch, you want the front bumper to rise at a nice even rate through the first 20 to 60 feet of the track. You then want to have it settle down by the time the car reaches the 330-foot mark. What you don’t want is for the front of the car to jump up and then settle quickly. While a single-adjustable front shock/strut has an adjustable extension and a fixed rebound, a double-adjustable piece has multiple settings for both actions. Rebound/extension governs how quickly or slowly the front strut is allowed to extend, while bump/compression is the rate at which the shock compresses.

Once the coil and seat have been fitted, top mount assembly begins with these retainers and bushings.

With a double-adjustable shock like our Afco part number 30032 Big-Gun struts you have both adjustable extension and rebound capabilities. A front shock (or strut) rebound controls or addresses two major things:

  • How the car absorbs bumps and ruts in the track or street surface.
  • How the car handles the return from a wheel stand

Ultimately, we were excited about the Afco units, because it offers the double-adjustable settings we will need in order to address our heavy fifth-gen that tips the scales at slightly more than 3,500 pounds.

The Struts

As Saffell explained above, The Afco Big Gun strut fills a need that racers and chassis builders across the market requested, which is a strut that can be used to control front end travel hydraulically, instead of needing mechanical limiters like a chain or cable.

A few other cool features that the Big Gun strut has:

  • Click by click adjustment
  • Fully independent compression and rebound adjustments
  • 35mm piston diameter, which is 37-percent larger than OE
  • Index-capable compression adjuster for increased clearance options at the base of the strut
  • Custom valving options available
  • BNC Compression valving to smooth out wheels-up landings
  • CAD designed and FEA optimized
  • Rebuildable and revalvable as needed
  • Includes locking coilover kit

Strut assembly continues as shown. The factory brake line brackets reinstall to the strut assembly. Once completely assembled, it is ready for reinstallation on your Camaro.

The Afco double-adjustable strut offers tuners the ability to ‘lock down’ the front suspension to create a smooth weight transfer event. – Eric Saffell, Afco Racing

Adjustability Is Key

When an aftermarket company is manufacturing a specific part that is oriented toward some type of dedicated racing or performance street/strip use, unlike the OE product, they are able to focus on the performance aspect of that part. Take for example, the Afco strut. It allows the end user to create a true performance-oriented suspension.

The manufacturer of an OE strut needs to consider many different operational parameters like a comfortable ride. Saffell, who is very passionate about the new strut design, told us, “Mainly these double-adjustable struts are a huge improvement over OE struts for drag racers, because the valving has been optimized to deliver better performance handling. It’s really all in the valving and the adjustability. ”

Once the coil and seat have been fitted, top mount assembly begins with these retainers and bushings.

We know that some of our readers might not be ASE-certified technicians, but this is not an issue when it comes to assembling and replacing the struts. Assembly is easy, as you can assemble the units on your work bench at home in a matter of minutes. Now, it will take some time and patience to install the assembled units into your car, but trust us, the results will be worth it.

Top strut mount assembly continues by installing the top spring support, and the caster/camber plate. This mount will be inserted into the strut tower and will be an integral part of camber/caster adjustment.

The Final Details

When the install is complete, we strongly suggest double-checking your work before putting the car back on the ground. It is easy to miss fasteners that weren’t properly tightened, and it only takes a minute to check your work. Also, don’t forget that all bushings should have been lubed during installation to ensure no galling of dissimilar metals, and quiet operation.

Our completed Afco double-adjustable drag strut is on the workbench ready for installation. Coil spring tension should be relaxed and ready for proper ride height adjustment once installed on the Camaro.

Unfortunately, even with our new struts installed, Project True SStreet is still not quite ready for any final suspension adjustments. That is because the engine and transmission are still on the floor next to the car. But rest assured, when the time comes, we will show you what adjustments we make to our Afco struts to make our Camaro a true higher-performing vehicle.

Afco double-adjustable drag strut installation is easy. First, place the top portion of the camber/caster plate on top of the strut location, then, attach it to the lower portion of the plate down under. Tighten the fasteners to their proper torque and double-check your work.

Check back with us often as we continue to build Project True SStreet, and follow along with the unfolding of a Camaro powerhouse that is long on adrenaline, and a great deal of fun to build up.

All fasteners are torqued to proper specifications per your Chevrolet manual or Afco instructions.