Every person has his own idea of the perfect street machine. For Mike Michaelian, it’s a Pro Touring ’71 Camaro. At the age of 17, Mike purchased the one-owner cruiser from his father. Over the next 10 years, the daily driver received minor upgrades to mix new-car driveability with the classic looks and power of the musclecar era.

Being a mechanical engineer by trade, Mike is well aware that you need a solid foundation to build an exceptional machine. He immediately went to work on the suspension, replacing everything with new bushings, shocks, and larger sway bars to ensure a smooth, firm, and quiet ride that would handle the performance of his future driveline plans. Before a ZZ4 crate engine could be placed between the fenders, a quicker-ratio steering box took control of the front wheels. Mike knew that the current fuel-injected LS1-equipped Camaros and Corvettes have just as much power as his ZZ4 and would pull down better mileage if he were to go carbureted. This called for an aftermarket electronic fuel-injection system to improve bottom-end torque and mileage.

Mike contacted TPI Specialties and purchased a Mini-Ram intake manifold connected to an SLP throttle body. With the hard parts installed, Mike used a factory GM computer and programmed his own chip to come up with the proper fuel and spark management system. Since Mike’s hot rod is meant for the road, he installed a 3.42-geared 10-bolt rearend and shortened the driveshaft to fit the TH700-R4 overdrive transmission.

Once Mike’s ride had the poise and power of a street machine, the time came for some modern styling. He installed a pair of ’91 Mustang bucket seats, new door panels, a new dash, and custom-fitted Auto Meter gauges into the dash pad. A Kenwood six-speaker, 250-watt, 10-disc CD-changer stereo system keeps the beat.

A new carpet and headliner complete the interior and demanded the exterior receive some tender loving care to match. That came when Mike covered the sheetmetal in ’98 Dodge Intense Blue paint. Mike wanted LT4 Corvette wheels to finish the Camaro’s exterior appearance, but their offset wouldn’t clear his Camaro’s brakes. Instead of choosing a different wheel, Mike decided to convert his Camaro over to four-wheel disc brakes using the existing 11-inch rotors in the front and a Stainless Steel Brakes rear disc-brake conversion kit with 10-inch rotors. This allowed Mike to use 17x8.5 front and 17x9.5 rear wheels.

The increased tire and braking capability improved handling while reducing the stopping times. The rear-disc brakes were one of the subtle things that allowed the new-generation tires and wheels to add to Mike’s new-car styling.