Third Generation Chevy Camaro 1982 - 1992: Street Performance and Race Mods


Camaro Performance Suspension:

The Camaro was designed to have a performance suspension for high G-force handling from a stock sport vehicle but there are many upgrades available if you want better cornering or off the line traction. Improvements to the stock suspension can be targeted to road racing or drag racing. Drag racing optimized suspensions tune the weight transfer to the rear wheels for improved traction while road race suspensions are optimized for lateral cornering and balanced fore-aft braking and acceleration loading.

Road race course handling performance is improved by keeping the load of the vehicle on all four tires equally. Body roll tends to transfer weight to the outer tires reducing the contribution of the tires on the inside of the turn. During the eighties the debate was waged between the handling improvements contributed by sway bars vs spring rates. Both are essential but Herb Adams was perhaps the strongest proponent of the LARGE sway bar to control roll rates to improve handling. Cars destined for the smooth asphalt race track can accommodate lowered stiff springs to lower "Center of gravity" (CG) and reduce body roll but this suspension philosophy fails when introduced to pot holes, road crowns and the natural undulations of the public roads. Cars destined for the street need softer spring rates not just for a smoother ride, but also to keep the tires in contact with the road. To make up for the softer street springs, stiff roll bars are recommended.

Performance polyurethane bushings are often used to replace the stock rubber bushings. The intent is to limit adverse geometry changes due to heavy load resulting from aggressive driving and hard cornering. Front suspension deflections will change the desired caster and camber settings to that less optimal for cornering, thus decreasing cornering performance. Bushings made from solid aluminum or steel or use of heim joints will eliminate unwanted movement of suspension components but will also transmit tremendous forces directly to the chassis. Polyurethane components will provide improved stability while affording some cushioning. Bump stops made of Polyurethane are also superior to the stock item as they absorb more of the bump with less rebound.

Suspension Components:

Suspension vendors and components to improve race performance:

PST: Performance Suspension Technology


  • 2 Lower ball joints
  • 2 Outer tie rod ends
  • 2 Control arm bumpers
  • 2 Stabilizer bar links and bushings
  • 4 Lower Inner control arm bushings and lube
  • Strut rod bushings (not shown)
PST front end bushing kit

This is a performance front-end components rebuild kit for the 1982-92 Camaro with "Polygraphite" bushings to improve vehicle control and responsiveness. Kits also available for 1967-81 and 1993-2002 Camaros.

Hawks Third Gen
Available in red or black
Hawks Third Gen Suspension polyurethane rear bump stops

Polyurethane rear bump stops and machined aluminum spacers.

Hawks Third Gen Suspension polyurethane rear bump stop mounted

Polyurethane rear bump stop installed. This limits axle travel and reduces rebound forces.

Energy Suspension
  • bump stops
  • sway bar bushings
  • control arm bushings
  • coil spring isolators
  • strut bushings
  • shock bushings
  • tie rod boots
  • body mounts
  • engine mounts
  • transmission mounts
  • ...
Energy Suspension polyurethane parts

Gen one Camaro sub-frames shown with Energy Suspension front-end components.

Herb Adams suspension

Moroso Part #:
  • MOR-86010 (front) 1.31" dia
  • MOR-86510 (rear) 1.0" dia
Herb Adams front sway bar

This forged and heat treated chrome-moly steel sway bar is substantially thicker than the stock Z28 sway bar.
Attachment mechanism to the lower control arm is also more elegant using 5/8" spherical ends.


Part #:
  • 87411030 (front)
  • 261246 (rear)
Koni 87411030 front shock

Front shock replacement, Koni three way gas shock.

Koni 261246 rear shock
Rear adjustable shock: pull the black, tubular plastic sheath down to expose the adjustment button, press the button and turn to adjust to one of three valve settings. Three clockwise clicks puts it at the stiffest valve setting.

Front upper strut mount
(also known as "Camber Plates")
Camaro front upper strut mount
After market front upper strut mount is stiffer and may offer greater range of adjustment.

Third gen strut and camber plate.

QA1 struts/shocks and Caster/Camber plate
QA1 has both stock replacement strut/shocks and larger stronger units which require the QA1 Caster/Camber plate.
  • Independent compression/rebound (HD), simultaneous compression/rebound (HS) and drag race adjustable (HR)
  • Supports coil over configuration
  • Ride height adjustable

Third gen coil over rear shock.

QA1  rear shock
Front K-member:
HAWK LS1 / LS2 / LS6 / LS7 Conversion rack and pinion/K-Member

Camaro/Firebird 82-92 LS1 / LS2 / LS6 / LS7 Conversion Appleton rack and pinion and K-Member
Also see:

Third gen front and rear independent suspension kits.

Heits third gen front and read independent suspension kits

Heits third gen front and read independent suspension kits
Third Gen '82-'92 F-Body IRS front and rear kit. Front kit is bolt-in. Rear kit is bolt and weld-in IRS with a 65" standard width and 63" narrowed track width available. Also available in standard and high (800) horsepower configurations. Uses a custom Ford 9" differential. Unit shown is for a third gen Camaro. Units available for 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th gen Camaros.

Heidts Third gen rear Ford 9" diff IRS kit

Camaro Adjustable Suspension Installation:

An adjustable suspension allows one to adjust ride height, weight transfer control, stiffness and the corner weights to balance and tune the car's suspension. The front cross member replacement will help you lose a lot of weight from the front-end.

Use the following components:
  • Front:
  • Rear:
    • Autofab - Third gen Camaro rear adjustable coil over kit with adjustable QA1 shock (Shock: DR5855B, spring: PN12-130) and Autofab bolt in brackets
      7443 Washington Blvd., Elkridge MD 21075 (410)796-8777
    • QA1 Precision products - Rear shock PN DR5855B and spring: PN12-130
      21730 Hanover Ave, Lakeville MN 55044 (800)721-7761

Front Alignment:

First Gen
1967 - 1969
Second Gen
1970 - 1981
Third Gen
1982 - 1992

Camber+1/4 degree+2 degrees

+1 deg (+/-0.5deg)
Caster+1/2 degree-1/2 to -3/4 degrees

+3 deg (+/-0.5deg)
Toe-In1/8 inch3/32 inch

+0.15 deg (+/-0.05deg)+0.2 deg (+/-0.05deg)

Torque Specs:

Gen 3 Camaro:
Strut to steering knuckle bolt195265
Strut upper mounting nut5070
Front upper strut mount to wheel housing tower2820
Front lower control pivot bolt nut6590
Bump stop to control arm2028
Control arm ball joint to steering knuckle90120
Steering knuckle to tie rod end nut4054
Tie rod clamp nut1419
Pitman arm to steering gear nut180250
Idler arm to frame nut5070
Power steering box to frame bolts80110

Shock Absorbers:

  • Custom Mount vs Stock Mount: Maintaining the stock mounting positions allows maintainability by any garage and replaceability by any OEM style replacement part. This may desirable for your street machine but ultimate performance may be had with a custom setup.
  • Coil Over: Coil over assemblies allow for ride height adjustment and pre-compression adjustment to customize the spring stiffness. This is important in adjusting corner weights (see below). This is important for road course racers.
  • Adjustable: Stiffness and rebound adjustment can adjust the ride for different applications such as drag racing, road courses and street driving. Drag racers prefer a shock setting on the front to allow extension to assist in weight transfer to the rear wheels. Road course racers prefer a stiff setting to improve handling. If on a date you might want to soften the ride for comfort.
  • Material (steel/aluminum): Lighter is better. A lower un-sprung weight improves handling on bumps. The sprung weight is the vehicle which rides on the suspension. The un-sprung weight is the tire, wheel, control arms, spindle, brakes and shocks. It is always desired to have a low inertia assembly which can follow the contour of the bumps.


Engineering terms:
  • DOM: Drawn Over Mandrel tubing results in uniform wall thickness and OD/ID concentricity. Cold drawn after forming results in higher yield and tensile strength than a tube with a welded seam.
Front-end Suspension terms:
  • Geometric center line: The connecting line between the theoretical midpoints of the front spindles and the theoretical midpoints of the rear axle.
  • Thrust line: Determined by bisecting the rear total toe angles where the toe angles are parallel to the tire/wheel assembly. A thrust line to the vehicle left is considered "Negative" and to the right is considered "Positive".
  • Thrust Angle: is the angle created between the geometric center-line and the thrust line.
  • Camber: The inward ("Negative") tilt or outward ("Positive") tilt at the top of the wheel assembly from the true vertical. Straight up and down is zero degrees camber.
  • Toe: Toe-in ("Positive") is a condition where the front of the wheels are closer together that in the rear. Toe-out is considered "Negative". The amount of toe can be expressed in degrees or fractions of inches.
  • Setback: If a vehicle has "rear setback" then one wheel assembly is further back from that on the opposite side of the vehicle.
  • Caster: Forward ("Negative") or rearward ("Positive") tilt of the steering axis from true vertical. Caster is viewed from the side of the vehicle looking inward to the center of the vehicle. Positive caster gives the vehicle directional stability.
  • SAI: (Steering Axis Inclination) The angle between the center-line of the steering axis and the vertical line from the center contact area of the tire (as viewed from the front). The effect of SAI is to urge the wheels to move to a straight ahead position after a turn. Inclining the steering axis inward causes the spindle to rise and fall as the wheel is turned one direction or the other. Increases the vehicle stability.
  • IA: Included Angle = SAI + Camber

Spring Rate Calculations:

Front suspension geometry The spring rate as measured at the wheel is the stiffness as measured in pounds of force required for an inch of displacement. Due to the geometry of the suspension, the spring rate of the suspension spring may be very different than the spring rate at the wheel due to angles and lever arm lengths of the various components. For any given suspension stiffness at the wheel, calculations are required to find the stiffness of the suspension spring.

Spring Rate Calculation: Start with the weight of the car that all the springs will be supporting: W(car)
Calculate the weight that will be supported at each wheel: W = W(car)/4

The spring force of the suspension spring will be: (W * D2)/D1
Apply the spring rate correction factor below.
The actual spring rate is chosen by compressing (pre-loading) the spring to achieve the spring force required. A stiffer spring requires less pre-loading to support the weight and will provide a stiffer ride.

Spring Rate Correction for Angle Mounting:
Shock Angle
Correction Factor
Spring Rate Correction for Angle Mounting diagram
Example: desired spring rate = 250lbs-in mounted at 25 degrees.
Spring rate of 250lbs-in / 0.82 = 301 lbs-in required to provide the equivalent mounted rate.

The wheel rates are often adjusted for weight transfer and balance. For more on the adjustment of corner weights for vehicle balance see our article on measuring and suspension tuning of the vehicle corner weights.

Suspension geometry software for front and rear calculation of rebound movement, roll center, moment arm length, bump steer, ackerman geometry, roll steer, spring and shock travel, etc
Suspension Design Software
Online suspension geometry calculator


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