“It’s really Atomic Orange, but I call it ‘pumpkin’!” Jim Brink of Carlos, Minnesota, tells us during our shoot of his very clean and well put together ’73 Z/28 Camaro. Jim felt that a true Z/28 deserved a color worthy of its heritage, hence the Atomic Orange candy coating.
Jim is one of those guys who just can’t leave well enough alone and has to keep busy with something new. You might recognize his name from a recent spread in our sister mag Chevy High Performance, where his LS-powered Nova graced the cover. That’s because Jim is a self-described “LS nut.” He’s shoved the venerable LS motor into just about everything he can get his hands on, such as this punkin’-powered Camaro to a Jeep CJ.
“I needed a new project and Larry, my painter, had this one for sale,” Jim says. “The car was an ex–drag car with no rust, but it was beat. It has turned out great. I did everything all the car mags say not to do: I took over someone’s old project and made it great!”
Jim isn’t one to just let a car sit and be stared at, either; he really does drive all the creations he comes up with. This car made the 900-mile roundtrip to the Des Moines Goodguys event, averaging an impressive 22 mpg.
“The Goodguys drive was completely uneventful. The car did well in the 100-plus-degree heat and ran great the entire trip,” he says.
In addition, his four-hour roundtrip journey to the location we chose for this photo shoot went by with exactly zero hiccups. The thing that stands out about all of Jim’s LS builds is how clean they are. You might have to look twice to see that virtually everything has been changed in some way,raising the bar for factory looking installs. And for that, Jim gets our official nod of approval.
What: Punkin’ Orange ’73 Camaro Z/28
Where: Carlos, Minnesota
Engine: Being the king of all LS nuts, Jim had to put the new LS3 in his Camaro—it seemed only fitting. Though the motor is fairly stock, Jim installed a Texas Speed cam and a got a custom tune by Speartech. The drive-by-wire throttle body is stock but with custom wiring by Speartech. The motor puts out a very respectable and streetable 411 hp with 400 lb-ft of torque.
Transmission/Rear End: With six-speeds all the rage, Jim made a bold choice and went with a TKO-600, which is a five-speed for those keeping score. Jim felt that the extra weight and cost for six gears just wasn’t worth it in the end. The clutch and flywheel are new pieces borrowed from the LS7 application and are proven to handle plenty of power even if Jim feels the need to go forced induction. The rearend is an 8.5-inch GM unit stuffed with Moser 30-spline axles, an Eaton Tru-Trac, and Richmond 3.73 gears.
Exhaust: Jim couldn’t live with the stock exhaust manifolds so he used a set from Dynatech with 17⁄8-inch primaries and a 3-inch collector that flow into 21⁄2-inch Dynomax turbo mufflers. It’s all handmade using madrel-bent pieces.
Paint/Body: Larry Lehn of Alexandria, MN, did the body work and Atomic Orange paint job. Jim felt the car’s styling was a home run right from the factory, but he replaced the grille with one from a ’72 and left the rest alone.
Suspension/Brakes: Using the stock subframe and a QA1 coilover conversion, Jim was able to balance good handling and a modest budget. A solid AGR 12:1 steering box replaced the old worn-out stock one, and the car still retains the leaf spring setup with Hotchkis leafs and Bilstein shocks. Front and rear sway bars are mandatory and measure 11⁄8-inch in the front and 1-inch in the back. The front brakes are 13-inch rotors and calipers from the C5 Corvette and the rear brakes come from the ’02 Camaro.
Interior: Jim crafted his own dashboard filled with Auto Meter gauges and a Pioneer sound system. Jim also rewired the entire car with a Painless kit and added Procar black vinyl seats to improve the ride comfort while on long trips.
Wheels/Tires: The wheels are made by Vintage Wheel works and measure 18x8-inch in the front and 18x9.5-inch in the back with Nitto NT555 tires on all four corners.
Thanks: Jim wanted to thank Alexandria Motors, NAPA auto parts, and Douglas Metal Finishing for all the help with his latest LS creation.