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1982 Chevy Camaro - Affordable Track Car

Jason Lewis' '82 Camaro Z28

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Tech Notes
Who: Jason Lewis

What: '82 Camaro Z28

Included: For $500, Jason got a clean dent-free body, all the parts to put the 305 back together, and a head gasket kit. Jason reassembled it all, fired it up, and it passed smog on the first try. He drove it that way for a while to get a feel for the chassis.

Used: Jason wanted a more reliable mill and something worth adding parts to later, so he traded his ex-Red Bull rolling-billboard Ford Sport Trac for a 290hp, 350-inch GM crate engine. Next, he found a complete '95 T56 and installed it, reusing all the junkyard parts, including the clutch that is still holding.

New: During the trans installation, the car was on jackstands, so Jason "ordered pretty much the entire Hotchkis catalog for around $1,500." The third-gen equipment included the springs, sway bars, lower control arms, frame connectors, and Panhard bar. Jason also added a set of Koni single-adjustable shocks. Mostly for safety and to further stiffen the chassis, he measured some bends for a six-point 'cage and welded them in after work. Also new are the OMP racing seat, Flaming River wheel, and five-point harness.

Tech tip: The car is most stable one click from the softest setting on the shocks.

Brakes: The factory stuff was abandoned for a Baer brakes Track 4 kit that included spindles, four-piston calipers, and 13-inch discs. He also used a Track 4 on the rear and even kept the parking brakes. "Out of the box, it bolted right on. You just change the spindle. I've never wanted for more brakes; the brakes are perfect."

Wheels/Tires: To fit the brakes you need at least a 16-inch rim, so he used the rollers from a C5 Corvette. Vette wheels have zero offset, so he had to use a 2-inch spacer in the front and a 1.5-inch spacer in the rear from Hawks Third-Gen parts. "With 275/40ZR17s on all four corners, if you push too hard on a track day, you can swap the fronts for the rears and keep going."

Exhaust: The headers are Edelbrock 50-state-legals that feed into a 2-into-1 Flowmaster American Thunder kit.

Kills: "I will hound very expensive cars in the twisties. I am all over tricked-out SRT8 Challengers, but when I get into the straightaways, I can barely get by them. Sometimes they have to lift to let me around. The T56 is a blast on the track. On a track day when it is legal to pass in the corners I can get it done. I can hang with all-wheel-drive stuff until the turbos get spooled. It's very frustrating, I need more power."

Estimated total investment: $9,500

Speed: Lapping guys in $30,000 imports

'82 Z28: $500

Crate engine: Traded for garbage Ford truck or $1,999

Complete junkyard trans swap: $800

Hotchkis suspension: $1,500

BAER brakes: $1,500 front, $950 rear

Safety stuff: seats: $500; harnesses: $120

Flaming River steering wheel: $250

C5 wheels: $400; spacers; $259

275 tires (discontinued General Exclaim UHP): $550

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