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The Test Car

Here’s Your Chance to See Why the Detroit Speed & Engineering Camaro Works So Well

If you’ve attended a Goodguys event in the past couple of years, chances are you’ve seen this blue ’69 Camaro, owned by Stacy Tucker of Detroit Speed & Engineering. The car rarely sits still at a rod run, especially if there’s an autocross event on the grounds—then it’s time to race.

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Tommy Lee Byrd

Story & Photography

The DSE test car rarely sits still at an event, and at the Year One Experience in Georgia, Kyle and Stacy Tucker absolutely love to blast around Road Atlanta and the autocross courses. Here we see the BFGoodrich tires gripping the road well, as Kyle puts his DSE suspension to the test.

Thousands of miles have been logged on autocross courses alone, but this car also sees abuse on the streets of Mooresville, North Carolina, where the Detroit Speed & Engineering shop is located. Kyle and Stacy Tucker not only have fun driving this killer Camaro, but they also use it as a test bed for new products, so it’s a win-win situation for this husband-and-wife team.

On the track, both drivers are aggressive and know the characteristics of the car very well, but it’s easy to see that Kyle has a heavier right foot and truly pushes the highly modified Camaro to its limits. And while the car’s limits are a little higher than most Chevys you find on the street, it started out just like any other ’69 Camaro.

Here’s what you’ll find under the DSE test car: one of DSE’s hydroformed subframes, which features tubular upper and lower control arms, rack-and-pinion steering and a splined sway bar. Available for small-block, big-block and LSX applications, the subframe bolts into place and you’re done—bolt on the brakes and go!

Fitted with a number of DSE components, Stacy’s Camaro is one of the coolest around and proves it every time it scoots around a road course or autocross course. If you find yourself asking how DSE made this old Chevy capable of outperforming more modern performance cars, then check out what the DSE test car consists of, and you will see that it’s more a matter of testing, tuning and tweaking its upgraded components to get the most rubber on the ground at all times.

The first step in keeping the tires firmly planted comes from the highly acclaimed DSE hydroformed front subframe. These hydroformed rails are super strong and offer the option to mount a small block, big block or LSX engine, but the Tuckers chose to keep the test car simple with a healthy small-block Chevy. The subframe easily bolts into place, but that’s not where the real performance comes into play (the components that bolt to the new subframe, however, offer myriad advantages over stock equipment). Countless hours of engineering and design work went into building the tubular upper and lower control arms, which provide much better camber and caster angles to keep those front tires as level as possible.

A vast improvement over stock Camaro equipment, these tubular control arms eliminate positive-camber gain on the outside tire during hard cornering, which is an obvious problem that ultimately results in an understeer or “push” condition. Another improvement is the C6 Corvette steering knuckles, which offer great strength at a light weight, while mounting on the top of the upper control arm, rather than being sandwiched between the two arms. Koni aluminum-bodied coilovers ride under the test car to provide adjustability, and feature a 450-pound-per-inch spring up front. Just like the one you’ll find on an assembled hydroformed subframe, a splined, race-style sway bar keeps the car level, making it possible to sling the car into a tight turn without dragging the door handles.

Kyle and Stacy Tucker are firm believers in Baer brakes, as they fit them on nearly every car they build and have great success with braking performance on the track and on the street. The test car features 14-inch rotors with six-piston Baer calipers, which bring the Camaro to a halt very quickly, and look awesome behind the spokes of 18×10-inch Fikse Profil 5S wheels. Another advantage of the hydroformed subframe is the additional real estate for larger wheels and tires—a 10-inch-wide wheel can fit without any inner fender interference if the correct offset is selected. Without a doubt, tire technology is just as important as a high-tech suspension, and the combination must work together to produce great results, so the Tuckers mounted a set of BFGoodrich KDW tires to the Fikse wheels. The soft compound is great for hard cornering, and it’s versatile enough for casual street use as well.

Though it isn’t a secret to the test car’s great performance, the GM Performance Parts crate engine does provide plenty of power and needs little maintenance between events. Displacing 383 ci, the small block is equipped with forged internals and is topped with a set of GM aluminum cylinder heads. Fitted with a GM single-plane intake manifold and a Demon carburetor, the test car’s engine is simple inside and out and sports satin-finish aluminum components. It’s also surrounded by a smoothed firewall covered in low-sheen black paint. The nicely detailed small block certainly gets the job done and mounts a Tremec five-speed transmission, which features a Centerforce clutch to put every ounce of power to the pavement.

Out back, the DSE test car uses Quadra Link rear suspension and features a Ford 9-inch rearend packed with 3.89 gears and a Detroit TrueTrac differential. The kit comes with the DSE’s patented Swivel-Link arms, which prevent binding during suspension articulation, and you can still use a stock back seat with this setup.

Also helping to put power to the rear wheels is the DSE Quadra Link rear suspension, equipped with swivel-link arms, Koni adjustable coilovers and a long Panhard bar for maximum performance without a ton of fabrication. The swivel-link design keeps the link arms from binding during suspension articulation, which allows the suspension to do its job under the harshest conditions. The Quadra Link is fitted to a Ford 9-inch housing, while another pair of huge Baer brakes rides on each side and hides behind 18×12-inch Fikse wheels and BFGoodrich 335/30 tires. How did they fit that big tire under this stock-bodied Camaro? The DSE crew simply drilled out the spot welds on the inner wheel houses and installed a pair of DSE’s own deep tubs to accommodate the monstrous tires. With this killer combination of suspension and drivetrain components, the DSE test car has the right stance, the right sound and certainly the right performance to make any Chevy enthusiast appreciate the effort.

And so, the recipe for success is revealed through Detroit Speed & Engineering’s test car, and making your Camaro perform to this degree is just a phone call away. DSE offers a variety of performance levels, so you don’t have to go all out if that interferes with the plans on your current project. Kyle and Stacy Tucker outfitted the test car with the most extreme components DSE offers and took the trial-and-error part upon themselves. This allows the customer to buy the parts, bolt them on and reap the benefits of a fine-tuned suspension. Also remember that first-generation Camaro suspension components fit the ’68-’74 Nova platform, and DSE has recently released a line of suspension goodies for the second-generation Camaro. Weight, gear ratios and overall power make a big difference in how your car performs, but if you can get the right suspension components beneath it, you’re heading in the right direction. And with four of the five Goodguys Street Machine of the Year finalists riding on DSE equipment, you can’t deny the popularity and functionality of DSE products, but Kyle and Stacy Tucker will continue to thrash on their test car to prove the point, and have a little fun, too. 

It’s hard to get a first-generation Camaro to sit right with a stock-style suspension, but this is the kind of stance you can expect from simply bolting on a DSE subframe and welding in the Quadra Link rear suspension. Also keep in mind the DSE test car has deep tubs to accommodate the 18x12-inch wheels and BFGoodrich 335/30 tires.
While the DSE test car has an untouched body, it’s far from stock underneath, as it features the full DSE treatment with a complete hydroformed subframe, Quadra Link rear suspension and deep tubs. The car sits just right over a set of Fikse wheels and grips the road with a set of BFGoodrich KDW tires.

ARTICLE SOURCES

Picture of Detroit Speed & Engineering

Detroit Speed & Engineering

185 McKenzie Rd,
Mooresville, NC

(704) 662-3272

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