Project Camaro
Suspension Tweaking and Solving Cooling Issues

May 1, 2019
By Scott Lewis

I was contemplated the next modification for my Camaro. I was driving it a lot. Over a few weeks I started adjusting the shocks firmer and firmer. I started at 3 in front and 4 in rear (the range is 0-18). The instructions suggest 0-6 for street driving. The car was floating way too much at 3. I turned the front to 5 and the rear to 5 right before heading to photograph a 1969 Corvette.

That owner also has a 68 Firebird and I recommended these shocks (just the adjustable shocks without the coilovers). After the photo shoot I said, "Watch this!" I reached under each corner and tightened up the shocks. I turned the fronts to 7 and the rears to 6, because it was still too floaty on the way to his house. I told him that was research for his car. He has bigger tires and tighter clearance than I do. He needs a firmer shock to prevent rubbing. He was stunned I adjusted all the shocks so quickly. About 2 minutes all the way around.

I still found 7 too floaty and turned them up to 8 the next weekend. There is a tiny bit of float on large highway dips, but it is acceptable. On the next Ferrari drive I turned them up a couple of notches, 10 in front and 8 in back. It worked great. However, the next time I drove the car regularly it seemed harsh. I didn't notice harsh with the Ferraris as we were going... um... you get the idea. I set the fronts to 9 and the rears to 7. And they have remained there. It is also better at controlling body lean (which impacts what part of the suspension will be modified next).

All this leads to one of the issues I mentioned last time. Engine temperature. The car gets right up to 190 right away. In cool weather it stays at 190-200. Well, those days are long gone. Here in San Antonio we are at about 100+ every day (I am typing this in June 2018... sorry). The car just keeps getting hotter and hotter. On the June drive with the Ferraris I was at 220-225 when we stopped to regroup. I had to shut of the car because at idle it was starting to go over 235. Once we got underway it stayed between 220-230. More than I feel comfortable with.

Time to do a little research. This car came with a small 2 row radiator and a 4 blade non-clutch fan. That's it. It is running a new 180 degree thermostat. I have a 160, but I can't image that will matter. Once the temperature gets over 200 the thermostat has little to no effect. I simply need more airflow and more cooling capacity for 100+ degree ambient temperatures.

I did a little reading online and the good aluminum radiators use larger tubes to increase water flow & capacity, while old brass/copper radiators use more rows (3 or 4). However, stacking too many rows has its downsides in that it limits airflow through the radiator more. I decided to bite the bullet and buy a Cold-Case 2 row radiator. It claims 40% better cooling than a stock radiator. And it comes with a 60 day COOL warranty and lifetime warranty. I also ordered a 7 blade fan, which required the use of a fan clutch. Of course I needed the hardware kit to attach the fan to the clutch and the clutch to the water pump.

The swap was easy. I drained the fluid and only missed the drain pan a little. There were only 2 "issues" with the new aluminum radiator.

1) The holes in the radiator brackets were just a little short of reaching the holes in the core support. The holes in the radiator were slotted, so I pullout out my drill and elongated them a little more.

2) The factory radiator had tabs on the side the shroud fit into. That aluminum radiator had tabs, but they were pretty soft, flexible tabs. But, that is not really an issue because...

3) The shroud did not exactly fit over the new radiator. Well, I got it to fit, but it is not correct. The shroud is designed to fill the gap to the radiator. See, the original was a 2 row thin radiator. There is extra material on the shroud to fit between the end tanks (which are much thicker now than the two row core). This mean no gaps for air to get by. I managed to stretch the shroud over the new core area. It is above and below the radiator. If I were to trim the top and bottom of the shroud to meet up with the new thicker core, it would fit perfectly... and... then the side tabs would work as expected to slot the shroud up to the radiator.

I left the shroud alone until I know the radiator and fan do the job. I might consider cutting up the original shroud, and even painting the top of the radiator black (so it looks stock).

OK, so far so good. The very first drive with the Camaro I watched the temperature climb slowly to 180 degrees, then it went to 190. Here is were I am unsure of what temperature a 180 degree thermostat should keep the car at. Let's continue driving. The temperature rose to 195 degrees then... all of a sudden... it drop right down to 180 degrees.

That's the clutch fan kicking in. It stays pretty well between 180-190 when the weather is cool (cool by San Antonio standards). It runs at 190-200 even in 100+ degree weather. I have not see it go over 210 since the radiator and fan were installed.

Now the big question to ask is... do I trim the shroud? If I do, and for any reason need to return the car to bone stock (resale value, restoration), the shroud will have a big gap with the original radiator.

For now I am leaving the shroud alone.

Running Total
Previous Total $28,238.17
Cold-Case Radiator $325.00
18 Inch 7 Blade Fan $93.95
Fastener Kit $8.00
Fan Clutch $109.47
Current Total $28,774.59