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What is Pro Touring?
The name "Pro-Touring" was first coined in 1998 by then Chevy High Performance editor Jeff Smith, discussing one of GM engineer Mark Stielow's '69 Camaros. He said, "Pro Touring is about killer acceleration, brutal brakes, and corner-bending capability combined with cross country comfort. Toss in occasional jaunts to the drag strip, a slalom, or a top speed contest, and you have the makings of a car for all reasons- Pro Touring"
In essence the car Mark built was a major jump in a different direction from the hot rods, muscle machines, and ever so popular Pro Street cars of the 1980's and 90's. Pro Street cars were the thing to build because of their mean drag race car looks with a street legal and driven capability. Unfortunately, like their race car counterparts, with their supercharged big blocks, small brakes, skinnies up front and big baloonies out back held in by paralell 4 links, they mostly only did one thing well- drive fast in a straight line. A/C often wasn't an option, and stereo tunes were typically barely audible and somewhat useless. Comfort and ride were usually like, well, driving a drag race car down the road.
Steering away from the Pro Street fancy, Stielow had a whole different concept in mind- build a street car that had a race car attitude but this time the race venue meant shredding straights and burning corners. That wasn't all, Mark's Camaro actually drove comfortably on the street and had all the amenities too, like a heater, a/c, a stereo that you could hear, over drive, and eventually fuel injection for better drivability. Lower profile performance tires on larger than 15" wheels kept the car glued down and larger brakes stopped it quick.
Photo: Mark Stielow's "White Car" above, built around 1994.
Mark wasn't the only person to head in this direction, several other cars with this new type of styling began to surface. In the early days parts were very limited and it often meant trying to adapt suspension parts from other cars to work on the early cars' frames. In time, companies started producing some of these key basic parts to improve handling. Early experimental parts led to a greater desire to milk every bit of handling prowess from these previously clunky and unbalanced cars' suspensions, and over time part quality and availability has grown into the likes of what you see Speedtech Performance producing today. Now about 15 years later, it's not uncommon to see an early muscle car or hot rod outperform in everyway the latest and greatest performance and sports cars rolling out of Detroit or elsewhere in the world.
Three basic key ingredients define a Pro-Touring car- better acceleration, better handling, and better braking. The emphasis isn't on being a trailer queen with saran wrapped tires, although many of these cars are car show trophy worthy, but rather their emphasis is on being driven, and often driven hard. generally speaking Pro Touring can perhaps be summed up in four main categories. Check them out below, see where your car's build fits in, and let Speedtech Performance get you set up with all the parts you need!
Show and Go.
Show and go Pro Touring cars are mostly geared for the guys that enjoy driving their machines to the local car shows and cruise-ins, enjoying the socializing of the car show scene. Cars range from early 1930s hot rods to muscle cars through the 1980's. Suspensions and drive trains are all over the spectrum while lots of polish, big styling, and cool comfort define these cars. They benefit from adding great looking bolt on parts like tubular control arms, larger sway bars, quicker steering boxes, bigger brakes, and even complete chassis and subframes to yield a more responsive, predictable and modern feel along the drive. Although they have many of the right parts, they may never set tire on a track but are certainly right at home cruising comfortably from here to there. No matter the driving style, owners of these cars have the confidence in knowing their suspension is available on tap at any time.
Street/ Cruise/ Race
These cars are typically the main stream muscle cars from the mid 1960's to the late 80's. They include the street cruisers ready for some fun spirited driving as well as those that do like to push the limits a little at occasional track days. These cars often sport a little more power in the engine bay and a little more grunt under the car too. Above and beyond the suspension upgrade basics, they benefit from further upgrading parts such as swapping in complete rear Torque Arm suspensions on the leaf spring cars like Camaros and Novas. For the Chevelles, Impalas and G Bodies, the weak and flimsy rear factory 4-link parts are replaced with improved components like our Articulink trailing arms and frame mounted tubular sway bars. Adjustable coilover shocks are used for tuning street and race performance characteristics, and minitubs with maximized tires all around sustain the look and aggressive handling. Full frame Chevelles and other A body cars also benefit from the stiffening effect of a frame brace kit.
These cars are the bare bone street slayers of hot rodding within the group; usually budget influenced toned down in comfort and bling-bling with the key focus on the suspension and brutal face-against-the-glass handling. With an often blurred line between street and race car, these cars sacrifice some of the creature comforts in the name of sheer performance. Factory suspension components are typically all but long gone, and often a little more radical drivetrain, racing seats, 5 point harnesses and roll cages are surrounded by an equally matched maximized suspension. Kits like our Chicane coilover conversions typically sport heavier spring rates and more aggressive settings on race valved coilover shocks like our Viking Crusader line. Combine that with sticky street tires and these cars are ready to roll at a moment's notice. Seeing a lot of both street and track driving, their patina and paint chips give them just as much character as their show cruising counterparts.
These Pro Touring cars (and trucks) aren't for the weak in heart or spirit. They are purpose built with first and foremost the goal of race event domination. Don't get confused, they aren't full race cars, still sporting things like climate control, bumpin' stereos and you could still drive them comfortably to track days. But these cars are designed to see mostly track time and are very good at performing at the top tier. Things like performance built LSx engines, T56 6 Speed transmissions and Speedtech's ExtReme suspension systems are the norm, as are full race valved coilovers and maximized sway bars and spring rates. Super aggressive stances and only the best 200 tread wear tires help them dominate events like the Optima Ultimate Street Car Series.
Where does your car fit in?
No matter your car's history or your cruising style, anyone can enjoy the benefits of a well set up Pro Touring machine. Speedtech is here to help you with that transition from old to new, we've got the best parts with the greatest value, and the experience and friendly know-how to help you get the job done right. Once you do, you'll find yourself asking why you didn't convert to Pro Touring a long time ago?