The first weekend in March we set out to see how well our 1965 Plymouth Belvedere would do at Willow Springs International Raceway. We didn’t have expectations beyond reality about how well it would do, because there is currently only one modification to the suspension: a set of front and rear sway bars from Hellwig Products.
We installed a hollow front sway bar and a solid, adjustable sway bar in the rear a couple of months ago, and after the first time out with the bars installed, we knew that the old B-body handled better than it ever has. But we wanted to know how well it would do at the track We intended to find out, and it exceeded our expectations.
It should be noted that the Belvedere currently has the stock suspension with it’s 47-year-old bushings. Slightly worn out, and in need of some attention, but we wanted to set some baseline numbers and see just how well the car handles with only a set of sway bars helping through the turns. The Plymouth was originally set up for cruising: tall 60-series Mickey Thompson Sportsman S/T tires all around, a 3.23:1 Eaton Detroit Truetrac spinning freeway gears on the Moser Engineering axles, and a mild 246 RWHP thanks to the FAST EZ-EFI. It’s not exactly comparable when you consider that many other cars on the track have low profile tires, built engines and complete sport suspension packages.
What was impressive, however, was that we found ourselves catching up to other cars that, on paper, should have mopped the floors with us through the turns. A few modern Mustangs were on the track and we caught a couple of them, but the favorite part of the day was reeling in a modern Porsche Carrera in the fastest turn on the track: turns eight and nine – the sweeper.
By all intents, the Porsche should have walked away from us – not just in the straights but also in the turns – and it started to leave us behind when we lapped a slower Mustang. But then we entered the long sweeper and we reeled in the Porsche, clicking about 105 on the speedometer at the apex before hitting the front straight where the Porsche’s power and acceleration got the best of us. But we wonder what he was thinking when that old Belvedere started to fill up his rear view mirrors in the turns?
Although we’ve been at this track a few times before, this was our first time at any track with the Belvedere. The Hellwig sway bars helped us maintain some dignity, and they left a few people surprised and impressed, especially us. One person passed by us in the pits and commented about the sway bars (you can’t miss them), and could tell that they mean business.
Overall, we were very happy with the way the bars installed, and even more content with how well this old car handled on a track where it’s not uncommon to see track-only cars. We may not have had the horsepower to keep up with them in the straights, but we weren’t drag racing – we were road racing – and Hellwig Products kept us in the game! Be sure to check out the line of sway bars at Hellwig Products and see if they have a set of sway bars for your musclecar. Hellwig sway bars turned this cruiser into a weekend warrior with potential.