By Blake Foster
Last month, we covered the introduction to this new endeavour of mine, trying to convey my thoughts on Pro Touring to paper and make them understandable. Hopefully, you were able to get a bit of history as well as a bit of an idea what I am talking about with the Pro Touring topic.
When you get down to it, what car actually classifies as PT?
There are a lot of correct answers. If you remember last month, my definition of PT was to "Improve all aspects of a classic car to the point that it becomes exhilarating to drive again" and not in the same way as the cars come in stock form.
Probably the most popular PT car in the last five years would have to be the 67-69 Camaro. Not a big surprise here as they are probably the most popular car in a lot of classes. There are several reasons for this, including they are easy to work on, you can buy virtually every part you need to build a new car, and the aftermarket supports the line in every area. Take us, for instance; Speed Tech Performance parts line-up is made up of sixty percent parts for first-gen Camaros.
Mustangs are starting to become popular, especially 1967-70, 567 Chevys too, and not to be left out, the Cudas and Challengers. As the previous list becomes too rich for most people’s blood, the less-popular models come on line in the form of the 1975-81 Camaro, the Ford Maverick, 1968-74 Novas and even the Torinos. But by far, the GM brand is the strongest, always has been and always will be
Many other countries are getting involved as well. Norway and Australia are on board despite the astronomical costs involved. It seems serious cars guys don't really care how much it costs if they really want something cool.
So what is the most important thing for a Pro Touring car, or any custom car for that matter? In my mind, stance is by far top of the list, no compromises.
You can have the best paint, custom one-off wheels, the most horsepower, but if the stance isn’t right, the whole thing falls apart.
Think about it; how many times you have seen a primered '68, '55 or '34 whatever with steel wheels, and you had to look at it a second time? You can’t figure out why you can’t stop staring at it. It’s because the car is just right.
Take a look at the two Camaros and ask yourself what is wrong with these two cars. They may not be your favourite, but just look at them. Here is a good example of not quite getting it right (no disrespect to the builder or owner). The yellow car sits too high for the wheels that are on it, the front tires are taller than the rear. It is an attempt to do something cool and that failed. To fix the car, it needs shorter front tires or taller rears, and it needs to be lowered. It is more like a build from the early '80s. I am willing to bet that the front wheel offset was ordered wrong, not enough back space, and that then forced the ride height to be too high. Then you gotta raise the back to match. They at least got the distance from the rim to the fender lip the same on both ends, but if it was mine, the front would be lower on the wheel lip than the rear. Compare the black one to it.
You gotta get the car to sit right! Okay, enough about stance.
This month, we will begin to cover what is involved in the transformation of a classic muscle car into a PT car that can be track day raced or driven to the local car show if that is your flavour. The modifications that qualify for Pro Touring include anything that improves the car's drivability, handling, braking and over all enjoyment. And with so many cars fitting into PT, there is no one answer to the correct modification, but let’s take look at the popular ones.
A good adjustable suspension system will pay dividends in the long term as you change your driving habits. If you choose to go to a track day or AutoX, you can make changes without changing any parts. There are as many suspension components and matched packages to choose from as there are different cars to choose from, as well as component manufacturers. We will cover some of the most popular next issue.
Another area where there are just TOO MANY options. What does a PT car require? Well, that again is a really vague question, and answer. Most of it depends on the customer's and/or builder's likes and the style of build. If the build is more directed to the show circuit and cruising, then the builder may pick a nice billet wheel with full polish and or chrome. If the idea is to drive the car hard in some sanctioned events, then a lightweight forged three-piece wheel with a smaller diameter is probably in order. Again, with hundreds of different manufacturers and styles to choose from, we could devote an entire issue to this topic.
Wow! Here is a subject with a lot of options (isn't it awesome that we as car guys have so many options???). As far as PT goes, there are some accepted standards; four-piston calipers with 12-inch rotors would be the minimum, and they can go all the way up to eight-piston calipers and 15-inch rotors. This is possibly a little overkill, if there really is such a thing. Wilwood Engineering has just released a 15-inch carbon rotor and carbon pads with six-piston calipers that will prove in short order to be the best of the best, with a rotor that weighs in at 3.5 lbs! This is the first (that I know of) aftermarket carbon/carbon road race brake kit available following the OEMs such as Corvette, Bentley and Ferrari, although carbon/carbon brakes have been available for drag race cars for some time. The trend of having lots of go and no whoaaa is long gone. Brakes that only five years ago would have been reserved for road race cars are now commonplace on almost every serious PT car. The fact that when you go to a Pro Touring event, there is usually a Brake Stop Challenge, should indicate how much emphasis there is on brakes.
This is the part everyone spends too much time on. We all want 900 hp!...well, we do. Does it make sense? I guess it depends what you’re doing with the car. Recently, Speed Tech Performance competed in the Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational at Spring Mountain, Nevada after the 2010 SEMA show with our 1972 Nova. There were 52 cars invited from a 1932 roadster pickup to an 1,800hp 1989 Trans Am from Finland with a bunch of Camaros in between. Our car is well set-up, has a 510hp LS2 and a 6-speed. We figured it would do well. We actually finished 5th overall. To my point, the cars that had 850hp and up did better on the three mile road course and in the brake stop challenge but, in most cases, not as well in the AutoX. The beautiful thing is, today you can have it all - 500+ hp and 22 mpg in a '69 Camaro. How much do you want/need for what you plan to do with the car? A Twin-Turbo 632 that can make 2,000+ hp will not work at all if you are planning to Auto X your car. If your car is set up to Auto X, it typically will not run 9's in the quarter mile. Don't get me wrong, it has been done; with great expense and effort, I suppose anything can be done. It is mostly about balance.
This is the part the builder gets to play with - A/C, stereo, interior and paint. These are the creature comforts that can add the most individuality to the finished product, there is no doubt about it. They are also the parts that can add up the fastest. I will not spend a lot of time on this as there are way too many opinions as well as options.
Next month, we will start to dissect the individual areas of the car, beginning with suspension
Blake Foster is the owner of Speedtech Performance and American Touring Specialties. Both companies are located in Pitt Meadows, B.C. and cater directly to the Pro Touring market with high-end products and full Pro Touring conversions. He can be reached at 1-888-878-9384 or firstname.lastname@example.org
No related posts.