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How to Make Your Muscle Car Handle (Performance How to) Paperback – January 15, 2011

4.7 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

If you want your classic muscle car to go fast and to handle you should read this book. ---Classic American Mag (UK), October 2011

From the Back Cover

The great American muscle cars of the 1960s and 1970s were not lacking in horsepower, but their handling and braking prowess left a lot to be desired. Luckily, modern interest in these cars has prompted a wide range of aftermarket companies to develop outstanding new products to correct the design flaws in these cars and upgrade the materials they originally shipped with. The result of these efforts are greatly improved cornering and braking capabilities, which make vintage muscle cars both safer and more pleasant to drive. Author Mark Savitske explains suspension geometry and engineering, and then shows how to make classic cars handle like (or better than) new cars. All of the great makes and designs are addressed, and much is to be learned once the suspension’s design challenges are understood.
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Product Details

  • Series: Performance How-To
  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: S-A Design (January 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1934709077
  • ISBN-13: 978-1934709078
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.4 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #704,269 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The book does a good job of explaining in plain English many of the terms you hear associated with suspension modification, and their relationships to many of the modifications aimed at better handling. Besides allowing you to speak about suspensions without sounding like an idiot, it can aid you in creating a plan to put together parts that will work as a system and keep you from buying parts twice.
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Written so that anyone with decent mechanical ability can understand steering geometry and suspension. Mark explains the unsafe and inherent steering, and suspension design flaws of older muscle cars. He then explains in detail how to correct the poor design issues using parts that are currently available in the market place right now. If you own a Chevy A-body this book is worth every penny. The 66, 67 Chevelle is really covered well. Mark also covers other GM makes such as the GM G-body years, 81 to 88, and the GM 1st, 2nd, and 3rd gen. F-bodies. Also covered in the book are Ford Fox Bodies 74 to 93, and Mopar muscle cars.

Learn about Front End Geometry, Rear Suspension Geometry, Springs, Rates and Shocks. Aftermarket A-Arms, Sway Bars, Wheels, and Tires. It will also help you to understand what is required to achieve the stance you have been looking for in your car.

I recommend this book for anyone who is building a Resto-Mod or a Pro Touring car. This book can also help owners who just want to update their old cars so that they ride, and steer better, with improved safety.
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When I started rebuilding my car, I never gave the suspension much thought. Maybe a new swaybar, springs, and call it good. Then I talked to Mark. I've learned more about suspensions talking with him and reading this book than I ever dreamed I would. Even if you're not building a car, it's a very entertaining, informative, interesting book to read. I can wait to use some of the new terminology I've learned on my friends.
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I was somewhat disappointed in this book. It is not quite detailed and comprehensive enough to be considered a reference for all the suspension modifications that are possible, or why you should choose one over the other. There is a decent discussion of basic concepts in suspension kinematics and how to relate those ideas to observable attributes of you car. There is a short section on tuning strategies that I wish was longer. And then there is a lot of space devoted to discussion of particular vendor's solutions; with a thinly disguised emphasis on the author's own company's products, and those of a few others; but, without a comprehensive index of everything that is available. To his credit, the author states explicitly that he has not set out to write that kind of book -- he just wants to write something the average car guy can access. His avoidance of engineering jargon is successful, but every time he gets close to making a general conclusion that might be useful and actually teach something to the average car guy, he backs off and invokes the I-am-a-suspension-guru-and-you-should-just-believe-me attitude so common in the popular automotive press. The result is an unsatisfying stew of inconsistently-justified, anecdotal solutions for particular cars (mostly GM) that adds little to the advertiser-driven product hype that can be found in any number of specialty magazines. Not a total waste of money... but that's mostly because it didn't cost that much.
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This book does a good job of going over the majority of upgrades to positively impact handling on classic cars. The book gives good insight into what is in the market, and also explains how these parts can be used to provide resolution to problems with the stock suspension. The book does dive into some of the aspects of how to determine suspension geometry, but is not so involved that you need to pull your engineers cap on to understand. There are also section specifically dedicated to the three major domestic car manufacturers, which will help in building a game plan of developing your own suspension for your classic car. The book did not really go into a great detail about the benefits of aftermarket frames for full frame cars such as the GM A-body cars, but does give enough information to help guide the reader in the types of questions to ask when considering the benefits of such an endeavor.
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If you're building a "Pro-Touring" type muscle car - and ESPECIALLY if it's a GM A-Body car (though other cars are also addressed here) then this book should be required reading before you ever start. I've worked with the author directly and used many of the recommendations found in this book. The result is a 1966 Pontiac that has demonstrated an ability to outhandle and outperform new Corvettes, Mustangs and Camaros. Not a wild claim - these are at events that are well run, timed and documented. The proof is there, and this book helps to provide the foundation for understanding how to plan your build - whether you just want to make driving your muscle car more pleasant, or if you want to do what I did and hammer the car on open road racing courses and autocross courses.
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For anyone thinking of upgrading their ride, this book should be read and studied first, before laying out any money on a parts purchase. The book outlines the basics of suspension design, how it affects handling and it's practice as implemented by the factories. I now know the shortcomings of the stock suspension and how to remedy them. The author, Mark Savistke, writes in language that is easy to digest and makes this an easy read that I'm probably going to enjoy reading multiple times.
I've got a 1970 Chevelle SS that's in need of an update and with the sea of parts companies out there that sell seemingly ubiquitous parts, I was hesitant to say the least as to where I was going to spend my money. Mark gives you the knowledge to ask the questions that matter.
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