When Chevrolet released the Camaro in 1967, engineers surely never planned it would have the longevity and passionate following it does, especially 55 years later. The first-gen Camaro lends itself so well to modifications that it might be okay to call it the Lego of the car world. In short, there are so many parts that simply “bolt-on”, you can easily build the car of your dreams.
To help one enthusiast do just that, Speedtech Performance was tasked with upgrading Armen Weis’ ’69 Camaro. A few months ago, we covered the installation of the subframe connectors In in this first-gen Camaro (you can check that out right here) and now we are moving on to a major upgrade, the front suspension.
Making Good, Great
Although the Camaro front suspension is 50-plus years old, and in rebuilt condition, it could be deemed “sufficient” for a stock restoration. However, if you are like Armen and have any ideas about performance handling needs, then you really need to consider upgrading. It doesn’t matter how much power you have under the hood, it’s useless if your suspension can’t control it.
Speedtech Performance agrees, and that is why this first-gen Camaro is getting a full-boogie upgrade at the Speedtech Performance facility. For this installment, we’ll be checking out the Speedtech ExtReme Front Subframe.
The Speedtech Performance R&D team developed the ExtReme product line by implementing what they have learned through years of development and testing. According to Speedtech Performance, this resulted in, “a totally new, optimized, push-the-envelope type of suspension that outperforms anything else in the pro touring market.”
For starters, the team felt they needed to achieve the optimum front dynamic roll center for any suspension strategy a customer wants to run. This is combined with improved Ackermann steering geometry of any available front end along with optimum camber gain.
What Is This Ackermann
To keep it simple, Ackermann is the difference in wheel angle resulting in different turning radii between the front tires. Having the proper Ackermann can help the car turn better through the center of the turn. If you look at this logically, when your front tires turn your car, the radius at which each tire turns is different (one is larger). The inner wheel is closer to the center of the turning radius compared to the outer wheel. This requires the inner wheel to have a smaller turning radius. If they turned at the same radius, the outer wheel would always “slip” when corning.
The ExtReme front subframe is the perfect addition to any car, whether designed for street driving or blasts around the autocross. The box-welded construction incorporates tabbed through-frame crossmembers for added torsional rigidity.
It also offers an aggressive, lowered static ride height while achieving full suspension travel. In fact, we’re told a 315mm wide tire can be utilized on the front of the car. This is also the only chassis to feature the all-new Next-Gen ATS spindle.
The ATS spindles are forged from 7075-T73 aircraft-spec aluminum and utilize C7 Corvette sealed hub assemblies. The hubs are positioned to deliver a 1-inch ride height drop, and the bearing pack offers a high load capacity, individual wheel speed sensors, and wheel fitment that does not alter the track width or bolt pattern of the vehicle. The ATS spindle also offers better geometry than any Corvette, Corvette copy, or aftermarket spindle. This makes it great for autocross and street driving. It is also compatible with all brake systems designed for Corvette C5/C6 spindles. Finally, it requires less caster to achieve optimum tire contact patch and achieves optimum tire slip-angles, increasing front tire grip.
In case you were thinking about just upgrading the spindles on your first-gen Camaro or ’68 through ’72 Nova, the ATS spindle bolts directly in place of the OEM assembly to either factory or aftermarket tubular control arms. You A- and G-body guys will need to use Speedtech Performance steering arms to make use of factory linkage or aftermarket steering rack kits.
Some Assembly Required
If you are wondering what makes the ExtReme subframe kit, extreme, let us clear that up for you. This Camaro front suspension upgrade is a totally customizable package which makes it perfect if you’re looking to build anything ranging from a street cruiser to a track racer — or a combination of both. A quick call to Speedtech can get you a conversation with a technical advisor who can make sure you get what you need, and not some one-size-fits-all unit.
With the standard kit, you get a fully welded box-style ExtReme subframe with high clearance frame rails, extra-high-clearance, geometry-enhanced, upper and lower front control arms, aircraft spec 7075-T73 forged-aluminum spindles, race-tuned power rack-and-pinion steering, adjustable, splined sway bar, custom-valved JRI single-adjustable coilovers and an adjusting wrench with JRI springs in your choice of spring rate. Finally, engine-frame stands for LS Chevy engines and an adjustable transmission crossmember that fits most all transmission options. However, as they say on late-night television, “but wait, there’s more.”
Speedtech Performance says this subframe is customizable, and that means options. The available upgrades and accessories consist of custom fit stainless headers, LS or LT engine adapter plates and engine mounts, and solid body mounts, just to name a few. Again, calling Speedtech Performance will allow you to select any available option.
We would be remiss if didn’t let you know that your factory steering column might not be the right length for the correct steering shaft angle and may not work with the ExtReme suspension components. Speedtech Performance recommends an Ididit steering column for best results.
So there you have it, a plethora of benefits for including the ultimate Camaro suspension upgrade, an ExtReme subframe, in your Camaro or Nova. Now all you need to do is decide which options you want bolted to yours.