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1986 Chevrolet Camaro - Chump Change

Tyler Witt's '86 Z28

By Eric McClellan, Photography by Eric McClellan

"It's just a good, old fashioned, father-and-son build," Tyler Witt, a police officer by trade, casually tells us about his eBay score. Tyler and his father bought this '86 Camaro on eBay in fall 2004 for the paltry sum of $2,001. Clay Witt, Tyler's father, adds, "We were really surprised that the seller was spot-on when he said it was a clean car."

As father and son set out to make a daily driver for Tyler, they had one major concern: budget. The pair was able to piece together this car as it sits for less than the cost of a brand-new, soul-sucking econobox. They held firm and rubbed their pennies together to get this Camaro on the road for only $8,500, including the price of the vehicle.

To be fair, it doesn't hurt when your dad co-owns Tuned Port Induction Specialties (TPIS), the shop that pumps out crazy LSX builds, big and small. But don't let that detract you from the simple fact that serious fun can be had on the cheap.

"We started with a bare 5.3 iron block and punched it out to 5.7 liters," Clay says, explaining how they were able to build an affordable 444hp motor. "I had a bunch of stock parts lying around, so we threw 'em in and made a nice daily driver."

You could say this car is a bit of a Frankenstein: an iron 5.3L block with an LS6 intake and cam, a 4L60E tranny, backed up by a 10-bolt rearend from a '00 Camaro with 3.42 gears and a posi. Complementing that power is the whoa-factor of a set of CTS-V calipers mounted on 13-inch Corvette rotors and Corvette ZR1 wheels. "The calipers were a bit tricky," Clay continues. "They took a bit of machine work to mount to the spindle. But at $127 each, they stop like a dream."

All they had left to do was to slap on a coat of paint, which was applied by Jeff at Bodywerks in Elko/New Market, Minnesota.

"We built it to have a fun car project for father and son, and it's been a project that will continue into the future." We gotta admit, for the 20,000 miles per year Tyler puts on the car, the vehicle has certainly paid for itself in parental brownie points over and over again.

Tech Notes
What: '86 Chevrolet Camaro Z28

Owner: Tyler Witt

Where: Bloomington, MN

Engine: Engine builder dad cherry-picked the best of the stock parts lying around the shop: an iron 5.3L block punched to 5.7 liters with a stock crank and rod combo topped with 5.7L pistons. The LS6 cam and matching LS6 valvesprings work well with the stock aluminum 5.3L heads that were modified to accept the larger 5.7L intake valves. The motor is capped off with an LS6 intake with a TPIS 90mm throttle-body. This combination makes a very respectable 444 hp and 434 lb-ft.

Ignition: A stock GM ECM out of a '00 Camaro controls the motor. TPIS tuned it for better power output and increased reliability. Stock GM coil-on-plug-style coils were retained.

Exhaust: They kept it simple with cast manifolds, adding a custom 2 1/2-inch exhaust system with stock Camaro mufflers.

Drivetrain: The Camaro uses a 4L60E trans with a stock converter. The power is fed into a '00 Camaro 10-bolt rearend with 3.42:1 gears and a posi unit.

Suspension: Eibach springs and polyurethane bushings improve the stance and keep the stock unibody more controlled in the twisties. A TPIS Panhard bar out back keeps the back end in line.

Brakes: The duo figured out that a set of CTS-V calipers would fit the stock spindles with some massaging. They clamp hard on a set of 13-inch Corvette rotors. The rear brakes are stock from a fourth-gen Camaro.

Wheels/Tires: The wheels are from a Corvette ZR1 and wrapped in Nitto rubber.

Interior: The interior is just as conservative as the rest of the car. The seats are from a '93 Camaro, and a full set of Auto Meter Sport-Comp gauges monitors the LS motor as it hums along the highway. Tunes come in the form of a custom install with 2x12 subs and a Clarion six-disc changer.

Paint/Body: Jeff over at Bodywerks of Elko/New Market, Minnesota, sprayed the car Cyber Metallic Grey. A subtle rear spoiler was added as a hint to others that this car isn't just a stocker under the hood.

By Eric McClellan
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