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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
909/735-2400
Ford Fox-body components

Edelbrock
Dept. CC
2700 California St.
Torrance, CA 90503
310/781-2222
Edelbrock Performer IAS shocks for several applications, including late-model GM F-bodies

Eibach
Dept. CC
17817 Gillette Ave.
Irvine, CA 92714
714/752-6700
www.eibach.com
Springs and suspension parts

Energy Suspension
Dept. CC
1131 Via Callejon
San Clemente, CA 92673
714/361-3935
Polyurethane suspension bushings and body mounts for many applications

HP Motorsport
Dept. CC
5055 S. 36th St.
Omaha, NE 68107
402/731-7301
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
216/398-8300
Many Eibach-built spring applications and suspension kits

Paxton Products
Dept. CC
1260 Calle Suerte
Camarillo, CA 93012-9053
805/987-5555
www.paxtonproducts.com
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

PST
P.O. Box 396
Montville, NJ 07045
800/247-2288
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

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

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