Ahh man, these third-gens just keep getting more and more attention. Chalk it up to the nostalgia, their retro ’80s-style cool or the fact that you can still pick them up dirt cheap and turn them into something truly impressive, it’s no wonder Mike Musto of /Big Muscle has reviewed one, recently.
In this case, it’s an ’89 Camaro IROC-Z, a one-owner car from California that not only sports its original paint and interior trim, it’s been tastefully modified inside and out. Under the hood, rather surprisingly, isn’t an LS-swap but the old-school, tried-and-true 5.7L TPI (L98) powerplant that powered the car since Day One. However, its owner Mike Kamimoto has took it up quite a notch.
The 350 has since been bored and stroked to 383 cubic-inches, installed a Cali-smog friendly bumpstick, free-flowing intake runners and other botl-on modifications to put the power roughly at 400 horsepower to the rear tires.
As Musto points out, those might not be staggering numbers by today’s standards, but it’s enough for what Kamimoto bought the and built the car to do; autocross circuit racing!
Underneath, the suspension has been upgraded with various modern components, including QA1 shocks, the brakes have been upgraded with and, naturally, the wheels and tires have been brought into the 21st century with the help of 18-inch wheels wrapped in Falken rubber. He performed a mini-tub in the rear, which allowed him to run a 315mm-wide tire out back without any rubbing.
The brakes are budget-friendly, but effective, C4 Corvette brake calipers with cross-drilled and slotted 13-inch rotors, which provide more than adequate stopping power for this particular application. Inside, there are subtle changes; from the Recaro seats upholstered in the factory material, a seat belt bar to mount the Racequip racing harness to Mike in place, Auto Meter gauges to monitor engine vitals and a Momo steering wheel for better grip and steering feel.
The overall package definitely lends itself as a well-rounded and very functional Camaro. It’s just another example of what it means to think outside the box and to take a different approach to something most people have thrown away. Are third-gens the next collectible musclecar? Probably. But until then, you better scoop them up because they’re not going to get any cheaper!
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.