Performance & Hotrod Business - January '15

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January 2015 n Performance & Hotrod Business n 55 avoid potential problems by prototyping with an actual car. Generally, because the goal is to create a chassis with a low cen- ter of gravity that maintains clearance for engine accessories and exhaust routing, mounting point placements are a critical part of the design process. Salvage the Factory Chassis? Most chassis builders don't recom- mend trying to salvage a factory chassis for a complete frame-off build. "For just a little more money, you can have a com- pletely new frame with much better ride quality and handling characteristics," says Schwartz. But often budget is a concern, and there are several ways to update an exist- ing chassis, assuming the steel hasn't been degraded by rust or stressed beyond its tensile limits. "I am actually a big fan of retain- ing most of the original chassis," says Vandervort. "Older cars use a better grade of steel in greater thickness with less reclaimed content than more modern cars." He suggests that for a fraction of the cost, replacing the front clip and upgrad- ing the rear suspension offers most of the functional advantages of a new chassis. Foster says that if a customer needs to maintain their GM-based frame, Speedtech offers a performance frame Box and Brace kit, which he says can add a great deal of strength. Schwartz adds that most new com- ponents for upgrading older chassis have been on the market long enough to have had most of the bugs worked out and go together "somewhat smoothly," cautioning that old bodies and chassis were built at several different factories using different dies, so a part that fits one Camaro may not fit another of the same year or era. The juries are still out on who will win the argument about what the most important component of a car is; and the cows have not come home either. But the reality is also that the informed enthusi- ast—who is your customer—will get a lot of his information directly from you. And the chassis will continue to be where it all starts. Get Up to Speed...

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