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1988 Chevrolet Camaro - It Melts Clutches

Is that tire smoke or clutch smoke? Mike's '88 Camaro makes both.

By , Photography by ,

This '88 Camaro was Mike Bighley's first car. unlike those of us who spend our lives in pursuit of our true love-our first car-he kept his, building it up to the wolf-in-sheep's- clothing twin-turbo monster you see here.

Mike bought it in 1997, just around the time he turned 16. It was a base coupe model equipped with the optional LO3 TBI 305. Churning out 170 hp, it was an OK car for a 16-year-old. At 17, he got wise and began working on it, mostly adding bolt-ons. he did the typical cam/heads/exhaust stuff for several years, enjoying the building and driving experience. When he reached the limits of the 305 block, he upgraded to a TPI setup on top of a GM ZZ4 crate engine. That might be where many of us would have left it alone. But the motor oil really hit the fan when Mike, at age 23, decided he wanted turbos.

Mark found a deal on a strong reciprocating assembly and got to work. he did a lot of research on the Internet and some experimenting with different combinations in his own car before coming up with the iteration we came across at last year's Summer Nationals in St. Paul. here's the condensed version: a pair of Master Power T70 turbochargers, two intercoolers, custom headers, an edelbrock Victor-e intake, Fast Burn heads, 150-pound injectors, and four fuel pumps.

He dialed everything in using a FAST XFI engine-management system. How much power, you ask? Running on e85 fuel with 20 psi of boost, how does 854 hp at the wheels sound? Cooler still is the story Mike tells about the time he first cranked up the boost that high. "The clutch welded itself to the flywheel. I had to separate them with a pry bar." Steamy. he's still messing with the settings, ultimately shooting for 1,000 hp at the wheels at 24 psi.

All along the way, Mike steadily improved the drivetrain and chassis as well. He swapped out the stock trans in favor of a stronger T56, replaced the small 10-bolt rear with a Moser 9-inch, and added a rollcage and subframe connectors to take most of the wet noodle out of the Camaro's unibody. In addition to all the mechanical work, Mike, a bodyman by trade, painted the car himself. Control freak!

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