Big, fat tires are all the rage these days – it seems even soccer moms gotta’ have dubs for the minivan.
Of course, hot rodders have been into wide treads forever, but the popularity of “pro touring” vehicles has pushed the limits of how much rubber can be stuffed inside the fenders of older vehicles, particularly in the rear fenders.
For first-generation Camaros and 1968-74 Novas, Detroit Speed & Engineering’s (DSE) has the solution with their Deep Tub kits, which replace the stock rear wheelhouses with wider, “mini tub” versions. These tubs provide room for rear tires up to 335-mm wide and give an almost factory appearance.
Detroit Speed’s tubs look like the Camaro’s inner wheelhouses, but are 2.75 inches wider. They are made from 18-gauge steel. The company also offers sub-frame connectors for Camaros and Novas, as well as an upper shock cross member. The kit, which lists for about $1,300 (vs. $400 for the tubs alone) also comes with offset shackles needed to relocate the leaf springs, but as that is more or less a straightforward swap of the shackles and springs – but we’re focusing just on the tubs in this story.
We followed the installation of the deep tubs on a ’69 Camaro. DSE offers the parts as DIY kits and includes detailed instructions, but it’s not a job for those who aren’t familiar with welding. There is a lot of craftsmanship involved and ensuring a correct and straight final product requires skill. This is especially true when taking into account the project is being performed on a 35-year old vehicle that has likely seen some chassis flexing over the years.
The rear “frame rails” must be notched and re-boxed to accommodate the tubs and tires. It’s a procedure that, while relatively straightforward demands experienced welding and metal-finishing skills. Cutting into the stock rails also reveals the early F-cars’ built-in weakness – they aren’t very thick or sturdy.
Installing the tubs requires some minor modifications to the rear seat, but still allows the stock seat cover to be used. DSE says a 110-volt welder will handle the job, but a 220-volt tool is recommended.
The accompanying photos aren’t meant as an instruction guide, but more of an overview of the tasks involved in outfitting a vehicle with the deep tubs. But if you do attempt the project yourself, DSE has one big piece of advice: measure everything before cutting.
You don’t want your wide rear end to look crooked!
Detroit Speed & Engineering
185 McKenzie Road
Mooresville, N.C. 28115