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1989 Chevy IROC Camaro Convertible - Business Expense

Barry Kluczyk May 1, 2001
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Steven Hunt's '89 IROC convertible is a rolling resume. He's assembled, fabricated, painted, or stitched just about every piece of steel, aluminum, or cloth found throughout the car.

As the owner of a car-building business, Custom Street Dreams, in Wayne, Michigan, Steven's blue IROC is a loud proclamation of his shop's handiwork. Of course, when we encountered Steven and his Camaro, we had no idea that the car's many features weren't aftermarket pieces, but his own scratch-built parts. Our conversation turned into a kind of Abbott and Costello routine:

Super Chevy: "Cool rollbar. Whose is it?"Steven: "Mine."Super Chevy: "Yeah, but who made it?"Steven: "I did."Super Chevy: "No. We mean..."

And on it went with other parts of the car, like the instrument panel and underhood air intake. "I found that for my vision of the car, the parts didn't exist," Steven says. "So, I made them."

At first glance, the Camaro looks like a clean, lowered Third-Generation F-Body. But upon closer inspection, details continue to emerge and point to a carefully thought-out project.

The most apparent part of Steven's vision was the car's all-important stance.

"Stance is everything to a car," he says. "It goes both ways, too. A car with tons of expensive parts that doesn't sit right looks goofy. But a beater with the right stance can look terrific."

To achieve that "just right" stance, Steven installed a set of Eibach springs, Koni shocks, and Colorado Customs wheels that fill out the fenders perfectly. There are also Hotchkis sway bars, Energy Suspension bushings, and Wilwood disc brakes beneath the car. And to keep things firm, Steven fabricated a pair of subframe connectors and welded them in place.

"I learned a lot about suspensions with this car," Steven says. "I didn't just bolt on parts, but tuned everything. The car has big wheels and is low, but it still rides great."

The IROC looks great, too, wearing a custom candy blue paint job, SS stripes, and a tall cowl hood. No, Steven didn't lay-up the 'glass hood himself, but he installed some Auto Meter Phantom gauges in the rear section of the scoop. He also shaved the car's outside door handles for a cleaner look.

On the inside, Steven's IROC is draped in custom-stitched gray cloth. He added a Colorado Customs billet steering wheel, along with a billet shifter, and a Kenwood DVD/CD-Navigation entertainment system. But those are the only "off the shelf" parts. Other pieces, like the instrument faces, are handmade. The white-faced gauges look terrific and have a factory-made appearance, but Steven did the gauge faces himself.

And then there's that padded rollbar, which looks as integrated as any aftermarket piece. Steven designed it and, with the help of some weighty assistants, installed it with the subtle, but oh-so-right rake.

"No matter where you look, the Camaro has angles," Steven says. "A completely vertical rollbar would have looked dumb, so once it was bent and installed, I got a bunch of guys to lean on it until it laid back at just the right angle."

Steven crafted the engine's air cleaner box, too, but luckily he didn't need any extra muscle to shape it. The intake sits atop the engine and draws air from the cowl induction scoop, kind of like the setup on a '96-97 Camaro SS.

The K&N-filled steel box feeds air to an equally custom-plumbed intercooled supercharger system. Beneath all that tubing is a 383-inch small-block that, for one thing, wasn't assembled by Steven. That chore went to Headwinds in Westland, Michigan. There, the engine was treated to a steel crank, steel rods, and blower-friendly 8.5:1 TRW pistons. The supercharger was also taken into consideration when the camshaft was ordered from Comp Cams.

Headwinds also breathed on the Dart Sportsman iron heads, which sport 2.02/1.60-inch valves and a roller rocker setup. After Headwinds was done with them, the heads were good for 285 cfm on intake side and 210 cfm on the exhaust ports.

All that room in the passages was necessary to channel the forced air of the intercooled ATI ProCharger D1 blower (12-rib belt). Paul Powell gets the thanks for sorting out the engine's fuel injection needs. To feed the hungry mouse, Speed Pro 72 lb-hr injectors are used, along with a SEFI Fel-Pro box, MSD ignition, and a custom wiring harness to ensure all that fuel gets lit.

Plenty of car-show-ready polish and a red Hotchkis shock tower brace accent the IROC's underhood amenities.

As we've said, Steven's Camaro has been given the custom treatment throughout. That goes for the transmission, too. Instead of a stock five-speed or even something more exotic, like a 4L80-E, this car's torque transfer is handled with a Borg-Warner T56 six-speed manual pirated from a Viper. A Centerforce flywheel, pressure plate, and clutch absorb that torque before sending it downstream via a custom driveshaft and on to a 4.11-geared 9-inch rearend. Moser axles are linked to a Detroit Locker differential for bulletproof burnouts.

Despite the trials and tribulations of fabricating some of the car's more unique parts, Steven says the Camaro has been more pleasure than pain to create. He credits Don Nielson and Paul Powell with lots of help, but as the owner of his own custom shop, most of the sweat came from Steven's brow.

"It's a lot of work, but I love it," he says. "Seeing your vision finally finished is the best." It also makes for a great, full-scale business card.

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