Motivational Engineering began with the vintage 350 cylinder block, looking for nothing more than a safe, strong rebuild peppered with specks of go-fast stuff. Mike Saiki put the machinework and requisite balancing act on Team C in nearby Bellflower. Then he gathered up the stock steel crankshaft, connecting rods, and forged aluminum pistons (10:1) and put them in the cradle. He linked the Isky camshaft to the crank snout with an Edelbrock geardrive system. That way he'd have both ends of the power module geezing, whirring, and sounding way off color and bumptious. The valvetrain is composed entirely of Iskenderian components, from the 280 Mega camshaft (0.485 lift, 232 degrees duration at 0.050 inch, and a 108-degree centerline) and the hardware to the hardened pushrods and the 1.5:1 roller rockers. He took the path less traveled with the cylinder heads, though, reviving some vintage camel-hump castings with screw-in rocker studs, guide plates, 2.02 intake valves, and Isky springs. The ignition is Pertronix but it looks stock. To maintain the sleeper motor aura, Mike used an Edelbrock Performer matched with a Holley 750-cfm vacuum-secondary carburetor and connected it to the cowl-induction cold-air intake. The boom tubes begin with Hedman headers and end with a Flowmaster True Dual exhaust system as plumbed by Mike's Performance Exhaust in Los Angeles. A Centerforce Dual Friction 11-inch clutch assembly winds torque to the Rock Crusher transmission, thence to a Cook's Machine Works (Los Angeles) driveshaft to the 12-bolt holding 3.73s and a Tom's Differentials-modified Eaton differential.
Though he didn't fall for the tubular control arm bit, Mark wisely increased shock damping with KYB adjustables at the front and rear in conjunction with Hotchkis lowering coils and leaves and matching antisway bars. Mike Saiki's guys rubbed on the subframe, smoothed it, and powdercoated the remains. A Camaro RPO N44 quick-ratio steering box directs the wheels from stock spindles.
Evidently the sheetmetal was pure enough to eliminate the usual straightening and filling, perhaps the greatest legacy of a desert-life vehicle. Hazleton Auto Body, a paintworks in Gardena, used PPG Dover White/Hugger Orange for the Camaro's righteous livery.
Wheels & Brakes
Mark went off the beaten path a little on the all-important hoop decision, to his credit. He got all sparkly on us with some bold Esajian PCH 5 rims (Torrance, California), 18x8 and 20x10. He shod them with Falken FK-452 skins, a high-performance, all-weather roller. The front gets 245/40ZRs, while the drive wheels spin 275/35ZRs. To increase the frictional coefficient, Mike Saiki thought big. A CPP Big Brake kit affords 13- and 12-inch drilled, slotted, and plated discs with commensurate two-piston calipers at all corners.
No moaning from all you Z10 fanatics, please. We know the original interior was (Code 727) Ivory, but Mark couldn't resist the much more familiar hounds-tooth, in this case orange. In all respects the interior is a mirror of days past, looking much like it would have when new. Motivational Engineering did all the work and included the factory console, gauges, and tachometer. A stock Comfort-Grip steering wheel directs from a tilt column, while the Hurst Competition Plus shifter is steadfast by Mark's knee. Hidden in plain sight: Kenwood CD player, 1,000-watt amp, and Pioneer speakers in the dash and rear deck.