Early on in Project Nova’s tenure with PHR, we noticed that any time we put a jack under any of the X-body’s four corners we were met with lots of creaking sounds, tweaked doorjambs, and the three remaining tires preferring to remain glued resolutely to the ground. Throughout our suspension upgrades at Classic Performance Products, we always knew that—unless we did something—the effectiveness of those mods would be tempered by a flaccid chassis to produce less than spectacular results. What we knew all along was that some very simple, cost-effective chassis stiffening moves can produce performance gains on par with more expensive mods like we’d already done. It’s one of those things seldom spoken about when lavish groupings of parts are packaged together, but that suspension experts readily admit has a huge impact on vehicle performance.

With our body restoration in full swing at Outlaw Motorsports (Riverside, California), we were presented with the perfect opportunity to easily rectify the situation while the car was blown apart. Unibody cars like our ’68 Nova benefit from a weight-reducing, cost-saving design that eschews a full frame for an integrated body/frame arrangement, but as a result, it also means it suffers from torsional instability. Moreover, this chassis flex only gets worse with age. The extreme flex in our 43-year-old car meant that the impending restoration would guarantee we’d suffer paint damage soon after rolling it out of the shop. Not wanting to chance that, we placed a call to the Nova experts at Detroit Speed and Engineering, and placed an order for their X-body specific weld-in subframe connectors, and solid subframe/body bushings. In conjunction with our planned rollbar, we could virtually eradicate all traces of chassis flex in the little Nova.

DSE recommends both mods be done at the same time, as the weld-in subframe connectors necessarily mean you won’t have access to the body bushings as long as the subframe connectors are welded to the car. Unlike the rotted-out rubber bushings we replaced, the billet aluminum DSE ones will remain dimensionally stable for the foreseeable life of the car, while providing their own measure of chassis stiffening altogether separate from that of the subframe connectors. (The kit also comes with companion radiator core support bushings, which add a much needed measure of stability for your frontend sheetmetal, including the hood and fenders.)

DSE’s subframe connectors are somewhat unique in that they require a modest section of the floor be removed, with the affected floor area then being welded to the connectors. While the operation is marginally destructive to the Nova’s (and Camaro/Firebird’s) rear floorpan area, it’s unobtrusive. This isn’t something you want to do to a 100-point restoration, but if your bag includes any kind of spirited driving—dragstrip, autocross, or road course—the DSE subframe connectors are the best ones going, hands down. They also double as a safe jacking point, and being tucked way out of sight, have a zero visible profile. Their beefcake design also renders your Nova (or Camaro/Firebird) with a level of stiffness equal to or better than a modern car with a full perimeter frame chassis. Moreover, we’re thrilled that our CPP suspension and braking components will be able to live up to their true potential on the street, and out on the track. So go ahead, twist and shout—not out of frustration—but with the joy brought by a stiff and responsive chassis that will also keep your sheetmetal from buckling and cracking.

SOURCE
Eastwood
800-343-9352
http://www.eastwood.com
Outlaw Motorsports
800-924-1913
http://www.outlawMS.com
Miller Electric
1635 W. Spencer Street
Appleton
WI  54912
920-734-9821
http://www.millerwelds.com
Detroit Speed & Engineering
Mooresville
NC
704-662-3272
www.DetroitSpeed.com