Even during the muscle car era, the OEs stuffed their cars full of sound damping material to keep the interior nice and quiet. This only got worse in later decades as softer drivers wanted an even quieter cruising experience. If you can deal with the increase in cabin noise, just pull up the carpet and have at it. Be forewarned that while some sound damping is easily removed by hand, much of it is a gooey, tar-like substance that must be scraped off using a heat gun. Nevertheless, the results are worth the effort. From firsthand experience, we learned that removing the sound damping material on our 1993 Mustang project car saved over 50 pounds. With the gooey stuff out of the way, throwing the carpet back down retains a civilized appearance but with much less weight. Perhaps the best part about this trick is that it's 100 percent free.
Going strictly by numbers, opting for an aluminum radiator over a brass unit doesn't save that much weight. Most radiator manufacturers estimate the weight savings of aluminum conservatively at 30-40 percent when compared to brass radiators. That works out to 7 to 10 pounds for most muscle car applications. That said, saving those pounds goes a long way once factoring in how far forward in the car the radiator is mounted. For those of the straight-line persuasion, BeCool (989-895-9699, www.BeCool.com) offers Featherweight Series radiators—designed for drag cars that log their mileage in quarter-mile increments—that weigh as little as eight pounds. The company also manufactures aluminum radiator core supports for Tri-Five Chevys that cut an additional 10 pounds of fat.
Reducing wheel weight is of critical importance on three different fronts: static weight, unsprung weight, and rotating weight. The benefits of reducing static weight and unsprung weight have already been discussed elsewhere in this story, but the effects of rotating weight are equally as important. The farther way the weight of an object is distributed from its axis of rotation, the more energy it will require to accelerate. Wheels with heavier rotating mass are more difficult to decelerate as well, placing more strain on the brakes. Consequently, as the quest for improving grip calls for increasing wheel and tire size, rotating weight can skyrocket. To address this issue, aluminum is the material of choice for the vast majority of performance wheels. While a factory 15x7 steel wheel weighs about 24 pounds, a cast-aluminum 15x7 Vintage Wheel Works V40 hoop (714-278-1600, www.VintageWheelWorks.com) weighs 16 pounds. The differences between aluminum and steel become more pronounced as the wheel diameter increases, and although it might not seem like a big deal, trying to save every last pound when shopping for wheels can pay big dividends.
No one puts a rollcage in their car to save weight, but if you're going to do it, you might as well go with chrome-moly. Although mild steel and chrome-moly weigh the exact same, chrome-moly is a far stronger alloy, which allows reducing the wall thickness of the tubing by 30 percent while maintaining a similar strength to mild steel. The result is a rollcage that's 30 percent lighter, which adds up to some substantial weight savings in 'cages that require lots of tubing. A quick look through Competition Engineering's chassis catalog (203-453-5200, www.Competition Engineering.com) shows that its 10-point mild steel 'cages weigh 160 pounds as opposed to 120 pounds for its chrome-moly 'cage kits.
Dimple Die Holes
Let's get this straight up front. Mercilessly drilling into your car with a hole saw is a far cry from adding dimple die holes for aesthetics and strength. The idea behind it is similar, but one is tasteless while the other is becoming an increasingly popular trend in high-end Pro Touring machines. Another difference is that a dimple die stamped hole will preserve and even add structural rigidity to the workpiece due to the finished rolled edge it leaves. Although the amount of weight you save by doing so is minimal, it still moves the scale in the right direction. All you need to dimple die body panels is a die set, a drill, and either a hydraulic press or a hand-held pneumatic punch tool. These Mittler Brothers dimple dies are available through Summit (800-230-3030, www.SummitRacing.com), and will dimple metal as thick as .125 inch. When finished, the dimple die process leaves you with a clean, strong hole that has a 45-degree flare angle.