When a business develops a new component that becomes a leader in the industry, management could rest on its success and enjoy the profits of being the best in the business. However, prudent management will continue to refine the products. Profits will drop if the business does not continue to advance or develop new products, and it will eventually succumb to a more aggressive company that develops and reinvests in a component with better options, greater performance, or that is more cost-effective.
Art Morrison Enterprises (AME) has enjoyed great success with a front clip they engineered for the first- and second-generation Camaro and Firebird and the 1968 through 1974 Nova. AME is not one to rest on their laurels, and has taken the time to re-engineered its popular GT Sport front clip with some subtle updates to ensure it will meet the needs of customers, remain cost-effective, and provide better performance than the previous version.
An Updated Upgrade
Speaking about the redesign of the Camaro subframe, Matt Jones, lead mechanical engineer at AME, stated, “The design process is a standard procedure we have for all products, although this one was modified a bit since we already had an existing frame.” To update the subframe, AME collected plenty of vehicle data about its customer’s desires. The data often pertained to wheels, tires, ride height, engine and transmission applications, and optional equipment.
Art Morrison uses CAD designing for each of its front clips, even takes the time to design the inner workings of the ball joints. AME engineers even design headers to fit multiple engine and cylinder head layouts. “Designing everything increases design confidence and quality,” affirmed Jones. In the case of the Camaro, the steering rack and engine fight for space. AME developed the GT Sport front clip to reduce — and in most cases — eliminate this concern.
Jones relayed, “the GT Sport front suspension has no relation to the factory subframe or any other car for that matter [no donor-car geometry is used].” The redesign is substantially lighter than the OE subframe, and utilizes symmetrical TIG-welded control arms made from DOM steel. This can provide increased negative-camber capabilities to keep the tire flat and firmly planted to the tarmac for more aggressive handling. Coupled with the greater camber adjustability, the caster can be set to a much more positive angle than factory specs. This will promote increased directional stability and steering wheel returnability. Also, the front anti-dive geometry designed into the upper control-arm frame mounts is kept to a minimum to decrease the caster change during braking or when a bump is encountered.
Suspension Geometry Improvement
AME also designed and positioned the steering rack to provide perfect Ackerman steering geometry. Coming out of a turn, the inner tire must navigate a sharper angle than the outer tire. Proper Ackermann geometry curtails either front tire from skidding while cornering. Lastly, AME engineered a positive scrub radius into the GT Sport subframe. This provides a greater road feel and feedback when the front tires begin to break loose in a corner.
Adjustability Is Built In
The coilover shocks are also fully adjustable. Custom settings can dial-in the suspension for the type of accelerating, braking, and cornering the car will encounter. Jones acknowledged, “since we know where the engine needs to sit [which is a function of ride height and floor/hood clearance], we can start placing components to meet packaging requirements. From there, it is refined until the geometry is satisfactory.”
Jones stated, “for Camaros, adding subframe connectors provides most of the needed body reinforcement — in most cases. Also, our rear clip uses 2 x 4 x 0.120-inch rails. This significantly increases torsional stiffness when used with subframe connectors. It becomes an amazingly rigid platform that a bolted frame just can’t compare.” The front clip requires no welding to install. But, if a customer decides to install the subframe connectors along with the rear clip, welding may be required. A 120V MIG welder can handle the job.
Zachary Ingram of ZRodz & Customs was the first to install AME’s new GT Sport front clip on a second-gen Camaro. Ingram stated, “the front frame kits from AME are available in a few different levels to meet the needs of all enthusiasts.” A customer can work with the AME sales representative to put together a complete subframe kit based upon the requirements of the customer and the vehicle.
However, if a customer has their own preferences and would rather pick out their suspension components, they can choose between different levels of coilover shocks or air-ride suspension. There are similar options that apply to the various brake packages AME offers. The subframe kits include a three-position-adjustable front sway bar with adjustable end links to eliminate any preloading concerns. If the customer desires, a front splined-bar-design can be selected in place of a front sway bar.
Measuring The Subframe
If replacing an existing, stock subframe, Ingram recommends taking some basic measurements of its placement before removing it. Additionally, he suggests taking note of the front body panel locations and their alignment. Ingram revealed, “AME did a great job building in some alignment adjustability for mounting the subframe to the Camaro. This allows fine-tuning adjustments to be made while reinstalling front sheetmetal.” Ingram suggested that before installing the front sheetmetal onto the subframe, this would be the time to check engine and transmission-to-body clearance. This is particularly important if a non-factory driveline combination is installed.
AME designed control arm and spindle geometry that is also superior to factory parts. This improves handling and accommodates larger brake, tire, and wheel configurations. Front tires up to a 275/35R18 can comfortably fit into the wheel openings. In some cases, even larger tires and wheels could possibly fit into the openings.
Ingram acknowledged, “The quality and fitment of the AME front subframe is second to none. The bent 2 x 4 3/16-inch-thick wall tubing is very impressive. Even more impressive are the welds on the crossmembers and mount locations.” Ingram found the fit of the AME subframe so good, most of his preparation time consisted of removing all the bolt-on components to allow for cleaning and scuffing of the subframe’s surface in preparation for paint application.
On The Road
So far, the only driving ZRodz & Customs has been able to experience is basic road driving. Ingram did immediately notice how much tighter the suspension felt and that it provided a much better feel for the road. He stated, “the rack-and-pinion, front anti-roll spline bar, and the upgraded coilovers definitely give more control of the car. We have installed quite a few front subframes on first-gen Camaros — as well as complete chassis builds — and have never been disappointed with the tech support and performance from AME.” To further test the Camaro, ZRodz plans to run the Camaro at several Goodguys autocross events coupled with a few long road trips.
If you are looking at turning your first- or second-gen Camaro into a G-machine, contact Art Morrison about the new-and-improved GT Sport front clip, subframe connectors, and even a rear subframe kit. The AME sales rep will work with you to provide the best options to meet your performance desires. With the GT Sport front clip installed, you will not only have a Camaro that looks great, but will have the cornering and stopping performance to match.