"Tight" is a good way to describe both of these carefully crafted, transgenerational Camaro concoctions. "We're just so happy with how it turned out," Roger declares. Josh agrees and sees it as a bonus that the project got his father back into the game. Jim sounds a similar note: "It's a great car," he says. "I don't know what I'd change." With this pair, we'd say all the best changes have already been made.
All it took was a few well-chosen mods to put these Camaro cockpits into fighting shape. Jim latched onto a pair of '94 Dodge Laser front seats. Paul's Upholstery of Alexandria, Minnesota, recovered the buckets and the stock back seat in black ultra vinyl with cloth center inserts so they would resemble what the car came with in 1979. Jim installed a new headliner and Lecarra steering wheel, along with a Pioneer stereo and speaker system. Since Jim decided to do without A/C, dash pieces from a donor second-gen were installed where appropriate. Josh had even less work to do: His '89's seats and gray cloth upholstery are original; the dual-CD stereo with Kenwood front speakers, Sony Xplode rears, 10-inch subwoofer, and 250-watt Alpine amp not so much. Both builders opted for a full complement of Auto Meter Ultra Lite gauges. Jim modified his '79's stock gauge panel to accept the new dials, while Josh opted for a Covan's Classic panel ably wired up by his dad, Roger.
Both these F-bodies received heart transplants from '02 Camaros that were on their way to the wrecking yard. The LS1 found in the last fourth-gen Camaros came with LS6 intake manifolds and were rated at 310 hp along with 340 lb-ft of torque, both massive improvements over the '79's original 305 and the '89's 2.8L six-banger.
Both cars breathe through custom ducting capped with K&N filters. Jim's '79 exhales through Edelbrock TES headers with Flowmaster 2 1/2-inch dual pipes and mufflers. Josh's '89 uses the stock '02 Camaro manifolds, a Y-pipe fabbed up by Josh and his dad, and a 3-inch I-pipe running into a Flowmaster muffler with dual outlets.
Both setups use the stock serpentine beltdrive, though Jim eliminated the A/C compressor to avoid modifying his crossmember. Josh, on the other hand, kept all this accessories and notched his third-gen's crossmember to make it work.
A Griffin aluminum radiator with a Spal electric fan handles cooling duties in the '79, controlled by a Painless fan relay and temp control, while the '89 uses the radiator and fans from the '02, utilizing a custom upper mount. The '79 uses a TPIS engine wiring harness and computer programming; the '89 employs a custom engine wiring harness by Speartech Fuel Injection Systems, allowing the new ECM to reside in the factory '89 location.
Both Camaros required fuel system mods to run their late-model powerplants. The '79 still has a stock fuel tank and employs a Bosch external fuel pump with an '04 Corvette filter regulator. The '89's standard in-tank pump was replaced with a Holley 67-gph unit along with a Corvette pressure regulator. Out back, Thoennes Transmissions of Alexandria, Minnesota, rebuilt the 8.5-inch 10-bolt in Jim's '79 with 3.73:1 gears and an Eaton posi and connected the duo with a 2-inch-shorter custom driveshaft. The stock freeway-geared rear in Josh's '89 was ditched in favor of a straight-from-the-junkyard '88 Trans Am Borg Warner nine-bolt running 3.27:1 gears with a factory limited-slip.
Both cars use the '02 Camaro 4L60E tranny-Jim's '79 has a B&M cooler and a Shiftworks detent conversion to allow the stock shifter to work with the newer tranny, while the box in Josh's '89 is now backed by a Yank SS3600 converter. Why the higher stall speed? Josh and Roger added a cam from Minnesota neighbors TPIS into the mix (0.215 /0.220 degrees duration at 0.050, 0.559 /0.557-inch lift, 112-degree lobe separation) and were rewarded with a leap from 282 to 343 hp as measured on a Mustang dyno, necessitating the looser converter.