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Drag Racing Suspension Packages - Handle With Care

By , Photography by , Scott Killeen

'64-'72 GM A Body
H-O Enterprises

Built in the era of skinny tires, terminal understeer, and no-feel power steering, it might appear that GM's first-generation A-body intermediate chassis (Chevelle and clones) is a lost cause compared to today's slick high-tech handling offerings, but in reality, GM's chassis responds spectacularly once updated with modern components such as those available from H-O Enterprises. According to H-O, a high amount of roll resistance (stiffness) is a must for achieving responsive and accurate cornering; there are several ways to achieve a high roll rate. One approach involves installing large-diameter antisway bars on the car while leaving the springs stock. This enables the car to corner quickly while riding almost like a stocker, but problems occur at the high-speed part of the envelope "where the nice in-town ride balloons to floatyness, and the lack of nose-down rake leads to aerodynamic lift at over-100-mph speeds."

Another approach is to put a lot of spring into the car. This works really well in a road-race car-there is good roll stiffness, high-speed stability, and aerodynamic stability (assuming a nose-down rake with the spring change). But the downside is an extremely uncomfortable ride.

H-O puts just enough spring in the car to make it stable at high speeds while giving it the necessary rake, but not so much that the ride becomes a torture test; instead, beefy antisway bars comprise the remainder of the roll stiffness equation. A comment often heard from both the general public and professional racers alike is, "I can't believe how good it rides for the way it handles."

H-O's complete package comes in at just $700, not including the optional Koni shocks that go for $189 a pair. As for the tires and wheels, 16x8- or 9-inch rims with 47/8-inch backspacing mounted with P255/50ZR16 tires work well on most early A-bodies.

Start with 1/2-degree negative caber, 2 degrees positive caster, and 1/16-inch toe-in.

Front disc brakes were optional on the early A-bodies, but these days the original parts are hard to come by. Instead, H-O offers parts to swap on later (and still available) factory disc brake components.

Other Companies, Other Cars
BBK Performance

Dept. CC
1611 Railroad St.
Corona, CA 91720
Ford Fox-body components

Dept. CC
2700 California St.
Torrance, CA 90503
Edelbrock Performer IAS shocks for several applications, including late-model GM F-bodies

Dept. CC
17817 Gillette Ave.
Irvine, CA 92714
Springs and suspension parts

Energy Suspension
Dept. CC
1131 Via Callejon
San Clemente, CA 92673
Polyurethane suspension bushings and body mounts for many applications

HP Motorsport
Dept. CC
5055 S. 36th St.
Omaha, NE 68107
Components for A-, F- and G-body GM products as well as Fox-body Fords

Lakewood Industries
Dept. CC
8700 Brookpark Rd.
Cleveland, OH 44129
Many Eibach-built spring applications and suspension kits

Paxton Products
Dept. CC
1260 Calle Suerte
Camarillo, CA 93012-9053
Complete suspension systems for late-model
GM F-bodies

Performance Suspension Components
Dept. CC
3001 N. 35th Ave.
Phoenix, AZ 85017
602/272-4085 info
800/572-3768 order
Suspension rebuild kits for most musclecars; Hellwig and KYB parts available

P.O. Box 396
Montville, NJ 07045
Polygraphite suspension rebuild kits, Ground Zero coil springs, and G-Max sway bars for many applications; Catapult rear suspension arms for GM coil-spring cars; and KYB shocks for many applications

Dept. CC
3560 Cadillac Ave.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Polyurethane suspension bushings and body mounts for many applications

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