With the demise of the Ford’s Crown Victoria and its Panther chassis, OEMs have officially fully abandoned the traditional full frame on passenger cars for the sake of unibody and monocoque platforms. Hot rod shops, on the other hand, have been increasingly refining and improving frames and even developing applications for muscle cars that never had them to begin with.
Is that a step backward? If we were dealing with modern cars with their advanced engineering and unibody construction it would be, but these chassis are designed from scratch to address all the ills of notoriously flimsy vintage unibodies and less-than-stiff factory frames, and bring them to levels of strength and rigidity not possible in stock form.
But that’s not the only benefit; these frames have all been engineered with clean slate suspension systems that take advantage of the increased chassis rigidity to create vastly improved vehicle dynamics. Quarter-mile, twisties, and even just cruising the streets in daily driver mode will all be dramatically improved over stock. In this case, looking to the past with a full-frame chassis can create a car that outperforms its modern counterpart.
Art Morrison Enterprises (AME)
Designed to be a complete bolt-on chassis solution with ease of installation in mind, GT-Sport chassis installation only requires minor trimming or fabrication, depending on the application. Thanks to FEA (finite element analysis) design, the frame has greatly increased strength and stiffness over stock. Additionally, the C6 Corvette-derived front suspension with either tubular steel or Corvette C6 forged aluminum A-arms has greatly reduced sprung and unsprung weight, which benefits acceleration, braking, and handling. A triangulated four-bar assembly, a three-link, or AME’s new ¾-link rear, which combines both, plant the rear with either a Panhard bar or Watt’s link for lateral location. Special Strange Engineering adjustable coilovers are used on all four corners, along with beefy application-specific antisway bars. Small-block, big-block, or LS mounts are available as well as mounts for a wide variety of manual and automatic transmissions including Powerglide, TH350, TH400, 700-R4, Tremec TKO five-speed, T56 six-speed, Richmond five-speed, or Richmond six-speed transmissions.
Don’t see your application on the GT-Sport list? Provided you don’t have an aversion to a bit of cutting, Morrison has you covered with the Max-G Muscle Car line of chassis. The idea behind the Max-G is creating a new platform upon which a unibody-type vehicle can be dropped on once the floorboards have been removed and the firewall trimmed. Sounds like a lot, but for some cars it’s actually far easier than trying to deal with a separate front clip, rear clip, and subframe connectors.
’67-69 GM F-body (Camaro, Firebird)
’64-72 GM A-body (Chevelle, GTO/LeMans, Olds 442, Buick GS, El Camino)
Max-G Muscle Car Applications:
Camaro, Challenger, Chevelle, ’Cuda, Dart, Demon, GTO, Mustang, Fairlane—the sky’s the limit. Max-G Muscle Car chassis are individually CAD-engineered for the specific year, make, and model of the car, so if you’re up for the required cutting and fab work, Morrison can create a Max-G chassis for anything your heart desires.
GT-Sport starts at: $11,600; varies per build
Max-G starts at: Inquire; varies per build
Just like how they’ve quietly built some of the best hot rods, muscle cars, and customs since 1961, Dooley and Sons’ first-gen Camaro chassis came out without a great deal of fanfare, but ranks up there with the best of the best in quality. Their F-body chassis fits ’67-69 coupes or convertibles, and is 100 percent bolt-in with no cutting of sheetmetal at all. The front suspension is an in-house design developed with Pro Touring–type handling in mind. power rack, RideTech triple-adjustable shocks, Baer six-piston brakes, and splined front and rear sway bars are standard. In the rear, it’s a 9-inch with Detroit Truetrac and your choice of ratio. Or if IRS sounds better, Dooley has just released a version with an independent rear suspension.
’67-69 F-body (Camaro/Firebird)