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Installing traction bars on a 1967 Camaro

Traction Bars That Really Work on First-Gen Camaros

Larry Weiner - August 01, 2011 09:00 AM

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These parts are included in CalTracs Camaro kit. Note that the U-bolts are optional, but recommended.

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Unhook the emergency brake cable from a hook in stock lower spring mounting plate.

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Remove the lower shock mount nut and bolt.

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Remove nuts from four T-Bolts that attach the spring perch and spring mounting plate to leaf spring. Remove the spring mounting plate.

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Lift the differential off the leaf spring.

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At the front of the leaf, remove the three bolts from the front spring mount. At the rear of the leaf, remove the lower bolt from the shackle and remove the leaf spring from the vehicle.

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With the leaf spring removed, unbolt the front spring eye nut and bolt. This will release the leaf spring from the front spring eye mount.

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Press out the stock front spring eye rubber bushing.

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CalTracs two-piece 6061 aluminum front spring eye bushing and washers replaces the stock rubber spring eye bushing.

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Here’s a comparison between a stock rubber bushing and the CalTracs aluminum bushing. Note that the assembled CalTracs bushing is shorter than the stock rubber bushing. This is to allow space for the CalTracs pivot assembly.

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Pressing the CalTracs aluminum bushing into the front spring eye.

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We're assembling the CalTracs pivot assembly prior to installation in front spring eye mounting bracket.

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This is the front spring mounting bracket with leaf and CalTracs components bolted together and ready for installation on the vehicle.

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Install the front spring mounting bracket on the Camaro chassis.

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CalTracs leaf spring mounting plate and shock absorber are installed.

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We offer a detail photo of the ¾-inch rod end used to attach the adjustable preload link on the pivot assembly.

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Next, we’re moving the ¾-inch rod end to the lower hole on the pivot assembly. This was done because CalTracs recommends that the preload link should be parallel to the ground. In the case of the Camaro, this was the lower hole.

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Installing the preload link is short work.

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The preload link will need adjustment. Compress the suspension prior to adjusting the preload links and be sure the vehicle is on a level surface. The CalTracs must have no preload before adjusting. For an initial setting, adjust the preload link until the roll pin on the front pivot assembly makes initial contact with the upper surface of the spring. This is the zero point. Both sides must be set to zero before continuing to preload. Turn the bar, continuing to lengthen for ¼-turn (two flats on hex side of preload link).

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The preload link has been adjusted. Note the location of the roll pin on the front pivot assembly and that it is just contacting the top of the leaf spring.

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This is the completed CalTracs installation. Note that the preload link is parallel to the ground.

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A look at the Camaro with the CalTracs. Sharp-eyed muscle car enthusiasts may notice them during the day, but at night, with their black powdercoating, the CalTracs shift into stealth mode.

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When the 1967 Camaro debuted, it was an immediate hit with Chevy enthusiasts. The styling was decidedly different.

The powertrain components were well known for their durability, especially those used in the higher horsepower applications. Transmission choices included Muncie M20, M21 and M22 four-speeds, plus the Turbo 400 if you ordered a 396. Final drive ratios for the 12-bolt rear end ranged from a freeway-friendly 2.73:1 all the way up to a tire smoking 4.88:1 and Positraction was available across the board.

The new 350 cubic inch small block that was standard in the Camaro SS produced excellent low-end torque and ample power, making it a great street and strip engine. In addition, there were several optional 396 big blocks, along with the introduction of the high-winding 302 in the Z/28 later in the model year.

But there was a weak link in every Camaro produced in the 1967 model year. Owners who drove their cars enthusiastically found it in short order: Chevrolet equipped all 1967 Camaros, regardless of powertrain, with mono-leaf rear springs. During aggressive acceleration, especially in drag racing, these vehicles suffered from severe wheel hop, which was definitely not the fast way down the track, to say nothing of creating a situation where the rear suspension was prone to breakage.

While maintaining the originality of the Camaro is the primary objective, sometimes it’s fun to participate in one of the many vintage muscle car drag racing events that are held throughout the nation. Leaving the rear suspension stock and racing the Camaro, even on old style bias belt redline tires, reminds one of the old cliché “waiting for an accident to happen.”

Back in ’67 when the Camaro was new, many aftermarket performance parts manufacturers, seeing the opportunity, quickly developed traction bars that were designed to cure the notorious wheel hop problem. Because of the way they were engineered, many of these traction bars functioned by making the forward portion of the mono-leaf spring rigid, which solved the wheel hop problem but ruined the ride of the car. If the Camaro was used just for racing, it was not an issue. However, when these cars were new, the majority of the owners drove them as everyday transportation, in addition to “extracurricular activities.” While most were willing to accept the compromise of diminished ride quality as a trade-off for improved performance, it was just that, a compromise.

Today, 44 years later, the technology has improved. Calvert Racing Suspension manufactures a product called CalTracs, a traction bar that not only eliminates the 1967 Camaro’s Achilles heel by smoothly putting the power to the pavement using the original mono-leaf springs, but, unlike the traction bars that were available back in the late ‘60’s, CalTracs also retain good ride quality.

CalTracs are made in the U.S.A. using race-grade materials. They are easy to install and do not require any vehicle modifications. All of the components supplied in the kit are far beefier than the stock parts, starting with the 5/16-inch mild steel rear spring mounts. The CalTracs spring mounts secure the leaf springs to the differential and provide the lower mounting point for the shock absorbers. They also incorporate the rear attachment points for the preload links that are an essential component in controlling wheel hop.

The preload links are manufactured from 4130 chromoly with TIG-welded ends, making them lightweight but strong, complemented by ¾-inch rod ends that have a static load capacity of over 14,000 lbs and are fully adjustable. The CalTracs also replace the stock rubber front spring eye bushings with two-piece bushings made from 6061 aluminum. These insure that the front pivot point is squared and rigid for strength and reliability whether you are racing regularly, occasionally, or just cruisin’ enthusiastically.

For those of you who want to display your Camaro at car shows in the stock class, it’s just as easy to revert back to the stock parts as it is to install the CalTracs. Follow along with us as we upgrade the suspension of the Camaro with CalTracs so we can have some real fun on the weekends, laying waste to unsuspecting muscle cars with our innocuous, stock appearing first gen F-body.

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