Schwartz Performance – The Pride of Woodstock, Illinois
As car junkies, when we think Woodstock, it’s not the music festival – it’s Schwartz Performance. We envision slick looking muscle cars that turn on a dime and haul ass – a Schwartz Performance hallmark.
Woodstock, Illinois is located about an hour northwest of Chicago and it’s there you will find Schwartz’ 25,000 square foot shop, which specializes in full-on resto mod builds. They also design and produce a line of bolt-in performance chassis for muscle cars, classics and trucks: their G-Machine Chassis.
In the 1970s Jeff raced a serious amount of motocross to the tune of about 36 American Motorcyclist Association events a year. It was with his custom long travel suspension system on Puch and Monark motorcycles that helped win a number of races and to distill the notion of how important suspension innovation and setup is to racing. Eventually for Schwartz, motocross morphed into racing with a Regional Championship title in the National Council of Corvettes. (Though he still restores and races vintage motocross machines.)
The success in his Corvette led to a professional road racing career in various cars ranging from front-wheel-drive sport compacts to V-8 powered GT1 Corvettes and IMSA Camaros. He was named the 1982 SCCA Chicago Region Rookie Driver of the Year and later earned a spot in the Renault Elf Winfield Racing School in France to try out for a full-time ride with Renault missing it by just two-tenths of a second. (The top spot was won by Gerhard Berger, who went on to Formula One fame.)
The racing didn’t stop after Renault, in fact, it was more of a beginning. In the early years of the new millennium, muscle cars were undergoing a transformation from over the top restorations or straight-line performance to cars that could corner, stop and go fast. Jeff wanted to showcase luxury with performance so he built an ’82 Cadillac Brougham into a handling machine. The car, deemed ‘Cadillac Attack’ was run on several Power Tours with his teenage son Dale in tow, and in 2002 he won the Car Craft Magazine Real Street Eliminator beating out several lighter-weight GM F-Bodies.
His next project, an LS powered Ultima GTR, garnered the 2006 Silver State Classic 0-200-0 Challenge with a runner up title in the following year. That car also proved its street cred with a couple long hauls on the Power Tour before being sold years later to help fund other Schwartz test vehicles.
Fast forward 13 years and Schwartz Performance now offers nearly 30 bolt-in G-Machine Chassis for muscle cars, classic trucks and cruisers. The company currently has over 20 employees, including skilled craftsman, like minded enthusiasts and racers, and engineers to help design and manufacture the G-Machine Chassis as well as build entire vehicles. In fact, the shop has over 30 different builds in process!
Restomod performance and styling are the common theme in their builds as nearly every project is based on the foundation of their G-Machine Chassis. The cars and trucks come out with modern drivelines, incredible braking along with outstanding handling but above all, a smooth and comfortable ride.
One of the goals Jeff wanted to build into their chassis was a controlled and quality ride. This is achieved through engineering the system to use longer coilovers allowing for increased suspension travel. The coilovers are also adjustable to allow the driver to determine the feel they want on the road. The front upper control arms are supported by needle bearings to deliver bind-free movement, heavy-duty spindles were designed to support the weight of a muscle car and splined sway bars keep things level.
With a quick look around the shop, it’s apparent that there is no brand loyalty or specific build style. There’s a ’59 Impala on the rack getting a new chassis and powertrain. A ’70 Buick Skylark, ’49 Ford F3 pickup, ’69 Roadrunner, a ‘69 Cougar and even an AMX. They recently finished a 1929 Model A Depot Hack, a 700-plus horsepower ’82 S10, and built a custom chassis for a ’56 Porsche GTR with a rear mounted Audi V-8. Eclectic, to say the least.
Two notable builds that have recently rolled out of the Schwartz shop include a right-hand drive Cuda and the latest give-away build for Raybestos Brakes, a ’53 Chevy truck (their third build for Raybestos). The Cuda, which will soon be going to India where its owner resides, netted Schwartz their second Pro-Builder of the Year title during the Car Craft Summer Nationals in 2017. They’re the only builder to ever win that award twice, which was for a beautiful ’67 big block Chevelle back in 2014.
With such a racing pedigree, you can guess that Jeff gets out to the track and autocross events throughout the year. Schwartz Performance has a couple cars, a ’65 Tempest, a ’15 Z06 Corvette, and others that he and Dale run throughout the year. On occasion, his daughter Justina gets in on the racing for a little family rivalry to see who can click off the quickest laps. It’s a nice way to enjoy the hard work from the week, not to mention get ideas on how to improve what they build.
Throughout the show and event season, you’re likely to see a G-Machine Chassis-equipped car running through the cones of an autocross or on a road tour to the next big show. Their chassis are installed under cars to make them more fun and comfortable to drive and if you get a chance to look one over, or better yet, ride in one, you’ll be planning an upgrade for your hot rod sooner than you might think.
Schwartz Performance Photo Extra!