Immediately after World War II there weren't many new fresh and exciting cars in the nation's showrooms, but by the mid 1950s things were changing. All the car companies began pushing the envelope and as the decade was coming to a close the stylists had pulled out all the stops and fins were the name of the game—and in 1959 Chevrolet decided to play that game.
When the new Chevys for the 1959 model year were introduced, the design (particularly the rear fins, often referred to as "bat wings") was hated by some and loved by others. We've always been in the latter group so the decision was made to build one for the 2014 AMSOIL/STREET RODDER Road Tour car. Once a likely candidate was found we shipped it off to Hot Rods by Dean for construction.
Everyone involved agreed that these cars can look cool, but underneath all that sculptured sheetmetal is a chassis that had no redeeming qualities when new, and they haven't gotten better with age. Heaving an original 1959 Chevy into a hard turn at speed will have the body tilting precariously and the passengers hanging on for dear life. And panic stops accurately describe any attempt to bring the car to a halt in a hurry. For our purposes the stock squishy suspension, weak X-frame with little torsional rigidity, numb feeling power steering, and borderline brakes had to go.
From the beginning the purpose of the Road Tour was to prove that street rods built with aftermarket parts could not only be great looking and fun to drive but be safe and reliable as well. Our requirements mean that these cars have to be part hot rod and part grand touring car so we turned to Roadster Shop for a solution to the original suspension system's shortcomings. In the February issue of STREET RODDER we detailed the construction of Roadster Shop's replacement 1958-64 Chevy perimeter frame and their new RS Fast Track independent rear suspension; this time we're taking a look at their new RS Fast Track independent front suspension.
Based on C6 Corvette spindles and Z06 hub assemblies, Roadster Shop has optimized the suspension geometry for applications like our Chevy. Handling has been enhanced by increasing camber gain during hard cornering and lowering the roll center. Bumpsteer through the full range of suspension travel is practically immeasurable and to control body roll there is a 1.25-inch-diameter splined antiroll bar with Corvette endlinks to keep the chassis flat when negotiating corners.
Standard on all Fast Track suspension systems and complete chassis are non-adjustable, RS by Penske shocks that are custom valved for the best possible ride quality and handling characteristics. Upgrades available include double-adjustable shocks as well as double- and triple-adjustable remote reservoir shocks for those who are looking for the utmost in tunability and performance.
Basically the RS Fast Track IFS is everything the original wasn't. It provides the handling characteristics we wanted with an improved ride and a much lower stance while still providing full suspension travel. The RS Fast Track IFS is available with a universal crossmember designed for frames with 29 inches between the 'rails and comes with track widths of 54.75 or 58.75 inches. It's also available on the 1958-64 Chevy replacement frames, as shown here.
To keep up with the construction of the 2014 AMSOIL/Street Rodder Road Tour Chevy at Hot Rods by Dean you can follow along on the pages of STREET RODDER or check out streetrodder.com for more information on the car and to find out how you can join us on this year's tour.