Equipped with a competitor’s coilovers, base performance numbers for the roadster were established with three separate timed runs. Changing to Black Series resulted in times comparable to the original coilovers. Next up were the Master Series, which yielded slightly better times as the car appeared to understeer less going into the corners. Installing the Select Series brought about the biggest improvement, with a noticeable change in cornering ability when the firm position was selected. Body roll was noticeably reduced as was initial understeer. Of course with all the combinations the small-block Chevy had more than enough power to bring the rear end around, producing oversteer as our test driver, Bret Voelkel, repeatedly demonstrated.
Our final test was one of the most interesting. The RideTech coilovers generated times comparable to the original shocks and similar to the others with the exception of the Select Series on firm, but there was more to learn during ride testing.
Unfortunately track testing with the ’34 was cut short by a transmission problem but one thing was clear from the outset: the coupe needed stiffer suspension to control body roll. With independent suspension up front and a solid axle in the rear we began testing with the Black Series and found it leaned badly enough in the corners to look as though the running boards were in jeopardy of dragging on the ground. Switching to the Master Series reduced lap times considerably, made the car much easier to drive, and reduced the howl of protest from the tires in each and every corner. The increased compression and rebound damping offered by the Master Series helped considerably, but on this car antiroll bars would be advisable to get the most out of the suspension.
Assessing ride quality is a seat-of-the-pants operation for most of us, but not for RideTech. They use a means of evaluation based on technology developed by NASA to measure the frequency of movement space shuttle astronauts were subjected to. That technology has been adapted by OEM automotive engineers to aid in suspension development and is used by RideTech as well. Simply put, accelerometers measure the vertical, horizontal, and lateral movements of the car, as well as pitch and roll and convert those five readings into a numberthe lower the number the better the overall ride quality. For this part of the testing the two cars were driven back and forth over the same section of road three times at 35 mph, the data was collected and printed out as a total ride quality number. We can honestly say the seat of our pants agreed with the data collected, and lower numbers really do indicate better overall ride quality.
Again the ’32 was first up and not surprisingly the softer the suspension the better the ride. However, that’s only true up to a pointtoo soft and the car will begin to pitch up in the rear and roll side to side and the ride quality will suffer.