You have all seen bigs and littles on drag race cars, and there's a reason why. The smaller wheels and tires reduce weight in the front of the car, while reducing the rolling and aerodynamic resistance. Between buying 8-inch-wide wheels and 4-inch-wide wheels, the 4-inch will be cheaper, and the same goes for the tires you wrap them with.
For the street, you have to be careful because with the smaller contact patch, you will be losing some braking and turning ability. The little front tires should only be on a car you do mild driving on the street with, and then blast at the dragstrip.
Price comparison between 15x8-inch Weld Star wheel and 15x3.5-inch: -$25 each
Price comparison between 245/60R15 BFG radial T/As and 155/80R15: -$19 each
Chrome-moly vs. Mild Steel Tubing
If you're going fast, you're going to need a rollbar or rollcage. Not only is it required by most sanctioning bodies at a certain e.t., but it's a safety issue. There are two materials you can use to build your cage: mild steel, or chrome-moly. The advantage of chrome-moly is that it's stronger, so a thinner wall thickness can be used, thus saving weight. Chris Alston's Chassisworks offers cage kits from four to 14 points to fit many popular cars and trucks. For comparison, let's look at the price and weight of its best-selling kit for early Camaros.
|Design: ||Material: ||Weight: ||Cost: |
|10-point ||mild steel ||157 lbs ||$295 |
|10-point ||chrome-moly ||118 lbs ||$604 |
Price per pound lost: $7.92
Chris Alston's Chassisworks
Plexiglass / Lexan Windows
Windows weigh a lot. Replacing them with Lexan is a fairly inexpensive alternative, and can be a do-it-at-home project. Lexan, sometimes mistaken for plexiglass, is a much stronger material, and is used in storefronts for security. It is stronger and more shatter resistant than glass, yet some states don't allow it on street cars. The materials are all available at Home Depot, including the tools to cut and mount it. To attach fixed windows, a simple rivet gun will do the trick, and stock glass retainers should work for the roll-up windows. For extra scratch protection, you may invest in some higher-quality material available at a plastic supply store that has a tint film. Clear One Racing Products has a selection of precut pieces for many early cars to make the job easier for you. For more custom applications, it supplies uncut sheets in various thicknesses.
Price per pound lost: est. $20
Clear One Racing Products
Strip It Down
Here is a truly free way to lower your car's weight. There are many unnecessary things put into cars for race day, or everyday, that can be removed.
If you don't live in a place that gets extremely hot, A/C really isn't needed. There are a lot of parts in this system that can drop 20 pounds off the front of your car and clean up the engine bay in the process.
The heater might be a harder thing to let go, but the heater core and blower motor cost pounds! Removing the heater tubes and blower motor box on the engine side of the firewall cleans things up, too. Heater core failure on a 40-year-old car is a pain to deal with, so nipping it in the bud isn't a bad idea. Along with the parts themselves, the extra 5 pounds of coolant can be discarded from the car for a total of around 10 pounds.
If you have ever sat in the back of an early ponycar, you'll agree they aren't that comfortable. You may have to cut down on the total number of people cruising with you, but giving the back seat the boot is another 20 easy pounds out. For race day, don't forget you can remove the passenger seat for another 32 pounds.
Carpet and Undercoating
Now we are getting down to the nitty and gritty. Many automotive manufacturers installed undercoating and carpet padding to reduce interior noise and keep some of the heat from under the floorboard away. Carpet was just installed to make the car look good, so if you scrap it all, you are looking at up to 10 pounds total weight loss. We recommend spray painting over the floor after the carpet is up for a clean look. If you prefer to keep your carpet, we'll point out that modern carpets and underpadding weigh much less than their older counterparts-as little as half the original's weight.
Price per pound lost: $0
Brakes are a big part of the vehicle's unsprung weight, so trimming the pounds from this system without losing their performance is optimal. Different cars need different brakes depending on how the car is used. An autocross or track car will need much more braking power than a drag or street car because the brakes are being used much more often and require a larger diameter and thickness rotor to dissipate heat. For the basic street car, Wilwood offers an 11-inch rotor, four-piston caliper setup to fit behind 15-inch wheels, and these brakes are significantly lighter than stock. This kit is great for street driving, drag racing, and mild autocross use. On a GM A-body, this kit lowers front-end weight between 20 and 25 pounds, while massively outperforming stock drum or disc brakes. At the extreme end of the brake kits, the drag-racing-only setup using a solid 10x3/8-inch rotor and single-piston caliper is 10 pounds lighter than the street kit.Since the brakes would need to be bled after this swap, you might as well pick up one of Wilwood's aluminum tandem master cylinders for another easy 7 to 10 pounds of weight reduction.
Price per pound lost: $13.73
|Brake Kit: (A-body/first-gen F-body) |
| ||Weight: ||Retail price: |
|CPP stock single-piston kit ||62 lbs ||$449 |
|Wilwood 11-inch street kit ||39 lbs ||$765 |
|Wilwood drag-only kit ||29 lbs ||$670 |