*photos by: Burrell Images
There’s the old cliché of “what’s old is new again,” but with the remerging popularity of the third-generation F-cars, it’s never been more true. When we interviewed Bruce Hawkins of Hawks Third Generation a couple of months ago, that became much more apparent than ever. Bruce was happy to tell us all about the continual rise in popularity and prices of the ’80s-era Camaros and Firebirds, citing that they’re the new classics buyers will be clamoring over. They already are, in some cases. For further proof, check out eBay or Auto Trader – the numbers people are asking these days could astound you.
During our visit at Hawks,’ we couldn’t help but notice a particular red IROC Camaro sitting in the corner of their shop – freshly built, tuned and awaiting final detailing and delivery. Upon closer inspection, it quickly became apparent this was no ordinary IROC-Z. In fact, it wasn’t an IROC at all. Digging a little deeper, we come to find out it was actually an ’84 Z28 that was completely rebuilt from the ground up! Owned by loyal Hawks customer, Anderson Santos, it’s no longer motivated by the original, carbureted 305 ci. H.O. V8 – an LS2 from a 2005 GTO now sits in its place.
Already well-aware of the work Hawks Third Gen performs, seeing a Magnuson TVS 2300 blower strapped to the top of the LS2 engine and breathing through a 102mm Nick Williams throttle body and a duo of K&N cone filters was no surprise to us. What did catch us off guard, however, were the numbers; a peak output of 705 hp and 655 lb-ft of twist to the tires on the Dynojet dyno sheet completely surprised us. The hitch? Apart from a set of cylinder heads, that, (* wink *wink) may or may not have received some work, a Hawks custom-grind blower cam, NGK plugs and MSD wires, the engine itself is completely stock!
Utilizing a 10% overdrive crank pulley and 10% overdrive cogs, the Maggie blower pumps 13-psi. of boost into the GM-cast 243 heads and out a pair of Hawks 2-inch LSX-swap 3rd-gen F-body headers – feeding into a 3-inch Y-pipe, Borla mufflers and 3-inch tubing. It drinks 93-octane fuel through twin in-tank 255 lph fuel pumps and 60-lb. injectors, with the fuel pressure adjusted to 43.5-psi. thanks to an Aeromotive return-style, boost-referenced regulator.
The car is shifted with a Pro 5.0 shifter through an LS1 F-body spec T-56 that has been fortified with heavy-duty internals from the crew at Hawks. Sitting between it and the blown LS2 is a Ram flywheel and twin-disc clutch. All of that supercharged horsepower and torque is sent to the ground, via a 3-inch aluminum driveshaft to a Moser 12-bolt rearend.
Inside the Moser’s pumpkin, you’ll find a TrueTrac differential, 3.73 gears and a set of 33-spline axles. Responsible for bringing the blown beast to a halt, are Baer 13-inch brakes, front and rear, that can be seen peeking through a set of classic chrome C4 ZR-1 wheels. Measuring in at 17×9 in the front and 17×11 out back, the wheels are paired with all-season performance rubber up front and Mickey Thompson drag radials on the power end.
Now, you really don’t think that Hawks would build a car like this with over 700 rwhp, and not upgrade the suspension, would you? Of course not, and they were happy to get the Camaro sorted out, accordingly. A set of Hotchkis subframe connectors were called upon for strengthening the unibody construction of the chassis.
Up front, the stock K-member remains in place while an OEM WS6 sway bar improves the handling with the help of Hotchkis springs, KYB GR2 struts and Spohn lower A-arms. In the rear, you’ll find a matching set of Hotchkis springs and KYB shocks with Spohn lower control arms, sway bar, Panhard bar and a Hawks Sinister torque arm.
Rounding out the total package is an updated look that blends third-generation IROC-Z with fifth-gen ZL1. An ’85-90 IROC-Z ground effects kit has replaced the original while an ’87-90 rear spoiler, complete with CHMSL, now sits in place of the factory version. The twin-scooped hood has been ditched in favor of a fiberglass Cervini’s piece, with a custom touch.
The team at Hawks put their own spin on the Cervini’s hood, cutting out a hole to set in a place an OEM, carbon fiber ZL1 heat extractor that is not only functional, but helps bring the ’80s Camaro into the 21st-century. It gives the car a unique look all its own, and adds a premium touch that coincides with the overall package.
Wanting to know more about the backstory on the car at this point, Anderson, the car’s owner, was happy to tell us all about it:
“I bought the Camaro, the Bronx Bandit as I call her, from its original owner in 1990. At the time, I was looking for a car that had power and looks. It was originally equipped with a T5 5-speed and a completely stock, 190 hp 305 H.O. motor. Throughout the years, I’ve changed the engine and transmission combination several times to keep up with whatever was on the street at the moment.
Overtime, the car eventually got to the point to where I didn’t want to drive it and my family wouldn’t want to ride in it. I’ve removed the heater, the A/C and other creature comforts, as well as a lot of other components that ultimately made the car uncomfortable to drive – and the smell of exhaust fumes became overwhelming. I basically modified the car to the point to where it was undrivable.
I decided that with this next build, I wanted to make my Bronx Bandit how it was when I first bought it (fun to drive and easy to live with). I wanted to blend power and speed, but incorporate the original Camaro looks and its timeless styling – with a modern sports car feel. I sat down with Bruce at Hawks and explained to him what was important to me in carrying out this project. He hit the nail on the head and totally delivered.
The car idles and drives like it had when it was stock. It’s completely docile in traffic, but when you step on the gas, that all changes. Before this iteration, it used to ride real stiff; not anymore. It’s now as smooth and as comfortable as its ever been. The heater, A/C, cruise control and other anemities are all back in their rightful place and the rear cogs on the blower just scream when you nail the throttle!
Under the hood, I was totally blown away by the quality and attention to detail. When I first laid eyes on the engine bay, all I could say was ‘wow!’ The ZL1 carbon fiber hood accent also lends to modern sleek look that is very eye-catching and adds to the look of the third-generation Camaro. Overall, I’m extremely pleased with the outcome and even more so now that my family can enjoy the ride with me.”
- CAR: 1984 Camaro Z28
- OWNER: Anderson Santos
- ENGINE BLOCK: 2005 GTO; LS2
- CRANKSHAFT: Stock, LS2
- PISTONS: Stock, LS2
- CAMSHAFT: Hawks Third Generation; custom blower grind
- CYLINDER HEADS: Stock 243; undisclosed modifications
- COMPRESSION RATIO: 11.0:1
- INDUCTION: Nick Williams 102mm throttle-body, dual K&N cone filters, GM 2-bar MAP sensor
- POWER ADDER: Magnuson TVS 2300
- INTERCOOLER: Magnuson heat exchanger
- BOOST: 13-psi.
- IGNITION: Stock LS2 coils, MSD wires, NGK TR6 plugs (gapped to .022)
- EXHAUST: Hawks 2-inch LSX-swap headers, 3-inch Y-pipe w/V-bands, Borla 3-inch mufflers and tubing
- FUEL DELIVERY: Aeromotive regulator, 60-lb. injectors, dual in-tank 255 fuel pumps
- OILING: Stock LS1 F-body; pan, pump and windage tray
- TUNING: Bruce Hawkins, Hawks Third Generation
- TRANSMISSION: Hawks-built, F-body spec T-56; Pro 5.0 shifter
- CLUTCH: Ram twin-disc and flywheel
- DRIVESHAFT: 3-inch aluminum
- REAREND: Moser 12-bolt; 3.73 gears, 33-spline axles, TrueTrac differential
- SUSPENSION: Hotchkis springs, WS6 front sway bar, Spohn rear sway bar and LCAs, KYB GR2 shocks/struts, AGR steering box
- CHASSIS MODS: Stock K-member, Hotchkis subframe connectors, Hawks Sinister torque arm, Spohn Panhard bar
- BRAKES: Baer 13-inch; front and rear
- WHEELS (street): ZR1 replicas; 17×9.5 (front), 17×11 (rear)
- TIRES (street): 275/40/17 all-season radials (front), 315/35/17 (rear)
- HP/TQ.: 705/655
- BEST 1/4-MILE ET: N/A
- BEST 60-FT.: N/A
Rick Seitz is the owner and founder of GMEFI Magazine, and has a true love and passion for all vehicles. When he isn’t tuning, testing, or competing with the brand’s current crop of project vehicles, he’s busy tinkering and planning the next modifications for his own cars.