1970-81 Camaro Front Clip

This page 1970-81 Camaro Front Clip discusses using a Camaro or Nova front clip to upgrade your front suspension. 1970-81 Camaros and 1968-74 year Novas had a unibody with a partial frame from the firewall forward. The frame bolted to the body under the driver and passenger seats and mounted the engine, transmission and front suspension. You can unbolt the clip and connect it to your existing frame. In one operation, you will have steering, front brakes, engine and transmission mounts upgraded. You will have to fabric radiator mounts and support for the front sheet metal and bumpers.

Put a Camaro front clip on - When you "put" a Camaro clip on an older vehicle, you cutoff the front part of the existing frame rails and weld the Camaro front clip onto the frame rails. Hopefully, the clip frame rails are close to the older vehicle's frame rails otherwise there will be some creative fabricating to do.

My parts car was a 1976 Camaro and I looked at the front clip to see how it would fit with my 1954 Cdn Pontiac. There were two big problems that I could see.

  1. The frame rails were a complete mismatch. The Camaro has a box style of frame and the Pontiac has a top hat cross sectional style. I couldn't see anyway that I could mate them together and have it looking somewhat professional looking and would easily pass inspection.

  2. The other problem was the Camaro rails don't quite meet the Pontiac rails nicely at the firewall. The Camaro rails are narrow at the firewall and widen in the engine compartment. The Pontiac rails are wide at the firewall and narrow in the engine compartment. The two were exact opposites width wise!

Issues - If you are going to "clip" your ride, check that the local laws will allow it. There has been reports that you may not be allowed to register the vehicle. Supposedly, there has been talk that the original frame will crack right next to where the new welds are. I've heard that you won't be able to get your vehicle safety inspected prior to registration as more and more mechanics are refusing to safety "clipped" rides.

Build a new rear frame to accept front clip - If I were to do it again, I would use a Camaro clip and build new rear frame rails for the back of the car. The Camaro clip would bolt to the new frame rails. Properly designed, the new rear frame rails could bolt-up the Camaro's rear axle and springs. This is actually easier than it sounds but you would have to have a machine shop that can bend 2x3 or 2x4 thick wall tubing. You would use the original frame rails as a pattern.

While similar, the 1968-74 Nova steering uses rear-steer steering arms (unlike the Camaro). This may be an advantage for putting a rack n pinion unit in. The 1968-74 front drum brakes have separate drum and hub assembly. With minor mods to the front and rear hubs and a 10 bolt rear axle, you can add early 80s Riveria/Toronado/Cadillac 4 wheel disk brakes. You would have to figure out how to hang the front brake caliper using the rear bracket at the front wheels.

You could drop the front of the car properly by simply raising the position of the clip mounting points relative to the body. This would keep all of the steering geometry correct.

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Copyright March 2011 Eugene Blanchard