Over the course of the last couple of months, we have been working diligently with Greg Lovell, the owner of AntiVenom, to install and test various rear end upgrades on an otherwise stock fifth-generation Camaro (OK, it has a full exhaust and an intake, but that’s basically stock around here!). In the July 2010 issue of GMHTP, we installed a set of Drive Shaft Shop (DSS) axles, Pfadt trailing arms, and a pair of sticky Nitto drag radials, which all worked together to drop our 60-foot times and almost eliminate wheel hop on the launch. Happy with our upgrades and confident in our DSS axles, we then turned inside the differential to install a set of Richmond 4.10:1 gears and a new Spec clutch to our drivetrain, two modifications that further helped lower our 60-foot times and even dropped us well into the 12.5-second zone, which was decent for a bolt-on 2010 Camaro.
Step 1—remove the entire rear...
Step 1—remove the entire rear subframe from the Camaro. OK, it sounds really bad on paper, but thanks to GM’s engineering team, removing the rear subframe isn’t really that difficult if you have some patience, a couple of pole jacks, and a free afternoon.
Naturally, after running a 12.5, we wanted to go even faster with Greg’s fifth-gen SS, but one could certainly say that we were still slightly paranoid that a catastrophic rear end explosion was just one bad launch or hint of wheel hop away. On top of our fear, we also felt that the entire rear subframe of our Camaro behaved as if it was disconnected from the road and the first 60-feet of the track felt more like riding on a Camaro than actually launching inside of one. This feel, while quite hard to explain, is actually one of our biggest complaints about the fifth-gen and probably the reason many enthusiasts describe them as “heavy and disconnected.”
Never ones to give up, we started making phone calls and doing research to see how we could fix the disconnect issue while further increasing the differential stability and adding some level of strength to the entire rear subframe. This search didn’t take very long and led us to two industry insiders, Energy Suspension and LPW Racing. Energy Suspension has been supplying quality bushings to high-performance cars for years and when we saw its new line of replacement rear subframe bushings, we had to order a set. Built to replace the stock rubber and plastic subframe bushings, which are engineered by GM to reduce noise and vibration in a stock car to help sell them to grandmas, the Energy Suspension units are designed instead for “the diehard track or drag racer demanding ultimate performance over isolation.” The benefits of polyurethane are numerous, as we all know, but in a the fifth-gen Camaro, swapping to a set of polyurethane rear subframe bushings can literally change the entire driving experience, giving the Camaro a tight, well connected feel and virtually eliminating rear movement and slop.
The rear subframe was designed...
The rear subframe was designed to be modular and easy to work on and surprisingly comes out of the Camaro in just three separate pieces. First, Greg Lovell removed the spindle assembly, including the brake caliper and rotor, the axles, and then unbolted the lower shock mount from the lower control arm.
Along with the bushings, we also set out to install the new LPW Racing Ultra-IRS differential cover, which we first laid eyes on at the PRI Show in Orlando, FL. Built specifically for the fifth-gen Camaro, the LPW Racing cover “adds much needed strength to vehicles with independent rear suspension” and eliminates case distortion while controlling gear deflection by pre-loading the main caps. Not only that, but the LPW cover increases fluid capacity, which reduces operating temperatures and increases fluid life, both good things on our quest for rear end reliability.
Unfortunately, installing the bushings isn’t as easy as just unbolting the old ones and swapping the new units in. To gain access, we needed to remove the entire rear subframe from the Camaro and break out a plethora of cutting tools to free the stock bushings from the subframe itself. You can see the install on the following pages, but if you plan on tackling this yourself, make sure you plan ahead and schedule a full day for the installation. It is messy work for sure, but as we all know, a little elbow grease and some hard work can really take a car to the next level.