Sway bars appear to be very simple parts. Let’s face it, they’re either solid or hollow bars with a roughly 90-degree bend at each end. Installation is generally a pretty simple process as well. But when it comes to how your car handles, these simple-looking bars play as much of a role as any other part in the suspension.

We wanted to put this to the test on a First-Gen Camaro. The installation of the rear bar alone could have stood on its own as a story because it is a little more involved than some other cars, but we also wanted to hit the track to see just how well these new bars would work.

We got together with the folks over at Hotchkis Performance and arranged for shop time to get some bars installed. We chose their PN 2207 Performance Sway Bar Set which consisted of the 1 1/8-inch hollow bar for the front and the 7/8-inch hollow bar for the rear. Even with the extra work involved with the rear bar, we managed to complete both ends in about four hours. Then the fun began. We took the Camaro out to a slalom course and ran some times and wore in some tires, but even with as much fun as that was, we knew that to get a more real-world feel we had to hit the track. Our opportunity came with the Hotchkis/Baer/Yokohama Track Day out at Buttonwillow track. The Camaro’s suspension performed well with the only causality being the power steering system (a problem we’ll solve later). By the end of the day we felt the time and money was well invested.

Then the fun began. We took the Camaro out to a slalom course and ran some times and wore in some tires, but even with as much fun as that was, we knew that to get a more real-world feel we had to hit the track. Our opportunity came with the Hotchkis/Baer/Yokohama Track Day out at Buttonwillow track. The Camaro’s suspension performed well with the only causality being the power steering system (a problem we’ll solve later). By the end of the day we felt the time and money was well invested.

<table bgcolor="#c0c0c0" bordercolor="" cellpadding="" cellspacing=""><tbody><tr><td style="vertical-align: top;"><br></td><td><font size="5"><span style="font-weight: bold;"> <font size="4">BEHIND THE WHEEL</font></span></font><br></td><td style="vertical-align: top;"><br></td></tr><tr><td style="vertical-align: top;"><br></td><td> Only half the story is in the installation. For the other half we persuaded Carl Casanova into driving the Camaro out to the Hotchkis Track Day at the Buttonwillow road course. It was here that we could get a real feel for the all out performance gains of the new bars much more than we could ever hope to get safely on the street. When it came time to evaluate the new handling we figured who better than the man that knows the Camaro the best, so we asked Carl to write up a few of his impressions.<br><br><span style="font-weight: bold;">Corner entry:</span><br>Turn-in was faster than expected but very manageable. Good control and feel with some understeer. Understeer was not excessive, just enough to keep the car from getting loose in the rear. Suspension remained compliant even over rough sections of the track and under braking.<br><br>Sweepers:<br>The Camaro would start to four-wheel drift under full-throttle acceleration, but it was easy to manage. The car remained fairly flat on non-banked turns/sweepers but it was not harsh. On large constant throttle sweepers the car would understeer. It would be interesting to try a test with more negative camber.<br><br>Apex/exit:<br>Depending on gear selection and throttle position, the car could be understeered or throttle steered. It was easy to control and change direction. Easing off the throttle resulted in understeer and regained control. On off-camber apex/downhill turns it was easy to make the car drift, so being careful with the throttle was important.<br><br>Esses:<br>What a gas. Small amount of understeer, constant as speeds increased. Similar driving style to slalom. The car (and I) really felt at home due to my time on the slalom course. The Camaro was very quick and agile with no adverse effects from the corner “bumpers.”<br><br>Possible Fixes:<br>Get the driver some lessons.<br>Use some shoe polish to determine front tire wear patterns and camber needs.<br>Drop 2-3 psi of front tire pressure to increase bite.<br>Use shoe polish to determine rear tire pressure needs.<br>A smaller steering wheel is in order, since this one is too close to my legs for comfort.<br><br>General stuff:<br>I really liked the way the car handled. It saved my butt when I got it fully sideways and managed to correct it with only one over-correction (Hey, I’m a novice!)  The car is forgiving when necessary but can move when pushed. It would be nice to try more front bite. We need to get Mark Hotchkis behind the wheel to make a good judgement call, but overall I’m very pleased.</td><td style="vertical-align: top;"><br></td></tr></tbody></table>
SOURCE
Hotchkis Performance
12035 Burke Street
Suite 13
Santa Fe Springs
CA  90670
877-735-6425
www.hotchkis.net
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