The 3rd-generation Camaro and Firebird never really earned much respect from car enthusiasts. Despite the fact that they looked fantastic and handled remarkably well, the drivetrain and build quality is where everything came undone. The engines were anemic, the gearboxes were weak and the 9-bolt rearend was anything but ready to handle any sort of real power. Oh, and they rattled worse than a ’60s British sports car and the T-top seals, when so equipped, were prone to leaking.
Whether you opted for the Chevrolet of Pontiac variant of the F-body, you were stuck with a 145 hp 305 ci small-block Chevy mill during the first two inaugural years, or you could spec the 165 hp Cross-Fire 305. However technology and perseverance in the engineering department finally paid off, thanks to the development of electronic fuel injection. No longer were enthusiasts relegated to pencil sharpeners for engines; the sky was the limit in what they could do… to a point.
Unfortunately, the TPI engines that later followed were equipped with restrictive intake runners that limited induction and the revs to around 4500 rpm, tops. Thankfully many aftermarket companies, such as ACCEL and SLP offered high-flowing, low-restriction solutions for these power blockers. But the F-body twins still never captured the street cred their direct opponent, the 5.0 Fox body Mustang and even their Buick cousin, the Grand National had.
Throw in the fact that the reputation of the substantially weaker carbureted and TBI versions were causing confusion with spectators at the drags and provided meager performance to their owners and it only makes sense that even to this day, 3rd-gens aren’t really taken seriously in automotive circles.
But technology marches forward, and there are those holdouts still partial to the first of the “modern F-bodies.” Gordon Rojewski is one such individual and although his car has been seen all over the internet for the last few years, his particular example set the standard in what can only be considered the benchmark for 21st century 3rd-gen owners – no LS required!
His example is equipped with a 400 cid. SBC, TPI-based fuel injection, a single 76mm turbo, and a T-56 gearbox. Out back, is a Strange Engineering 12-bolt rear axle with 3.73 gears. Gordon’s Formula is also equipped with Bilstein shock and struts, and a healthy combination of BMR and Hotchkis suspension components. For the record, those are Formula 43 RAD14 18-inch 3-piece wheels at all four corners. The combination is said to be good for 920 hp and 910 ft-lbs at 18 psi boost at the crank; not bad for a turbocharged 3rd-gen!
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.