Subscribe to the Free
Newsletter

Here’s One of the Coolest Third-gen Camaros You’ll Ever See: 1989 Chevy Camaro

Millennial Falcon: Justina Schwartz isn’t your typical lazy teenager. She built herself a badass third-gen camaro with her own two hands

Stephen Kim Oct 1, 2015
View Full Gallery

The nerve of today’s lazy, entitled, ungrateful youth. In their sheltered universe, hard work and determination take a back seat to sending out selfies and emojis. Parents everywhere want to know why these kids think everything should be handed to them, but maybe parents handing kids whatever they want has something to do with it? Oh yeah, constantly reminding them that they’re winners probably doesn’t help, either. Fortunately, there are always exceptions to the rule. Not only is the 1989 Camaro on display here one of the nicest, cleanest third-gens you’ll ever see, it was built from the ground-up by a 15-year-old girl. Old-school discipline is still alive and well, and as an added bonus, sometimes it releases a beastly hot rod into the wild.

1989 Chevy Camaro Front Low 2/42

Over the last decade, Schwartz Performance has earned a well-deserved reputation for building some of the most innovative, high-performance muscle cars on the planet. The man behind the brand, Jeff Schwartz, is an old-school kind of guy that transformed a string of bad luck into the American dream through sheer determination and willpower. So when his daughter asked for her first car, he made sure to pass along the same old-school work ethic to the next generation. “In 2005, my dad lost his job and started Schwartz Performance. He needed a cheap daily driver, so he sold the new car he had at the time and bought an ’89 Camaro for $1,800,” Justina Schwartz recalls. “He drove the car for a while and handed it down to my brother Dale, who drove it all through college. Dale bought his own car once he graduated, so my dad had this old Camaro just sitting around. I asked him if he was going to build me a cool car like the ’82 Trans Am my brother bought, and he told me ‘You can build yourself a cool car with my help, just like Dale did.’”

1989 Chevy Camaro Front 3/42
1989 Chevy Camaro Rear 4/42

Growing up with a dad that raced everything from dirt bikes to IMSA GT1 Corvettes and Camaros, Justina was always fascinated by the many project cars sitting around the house. Once Dad started his own shop, her interest grew. Although she wanted a car to go autocross in, she had no idea how to turn wrenches. “When I started restoring the Camaro in early 2013, I was 15 years old and I had just gotten my learner’s permit,” she says. “I didn’t know anything about cars when my dad gave the Camaro to me, and I had no idea what I got myself into. I was a girl who hated getting her hands dirty.”

1989 Chevy Camaro Engine 5/42
1989 Chevy Camaro Engine 6/42

Fortunately for Justina, mechanical aptitude and a complete lack of inhibition runs in the family. Given the amount of work that the car needed, her willingness to learn was instrumental throughout the 20-month build process. “The car was basically a beater. The paint was all messed up and the interior was gross,” Justina remembers. “I only drove it once before we started tearing it apart. During the drive, it suddenly shut off in the middle of an intersection. My dad told me to put it in Neutral and hope it starts up again. The original 305 was worn out, but we didn’t want the hassle of an LS swap. My dad had a 350 lying around, so we bored it out to 355 ci and rebuilt it. We also installed a new 700-R4 transmission.”

1989 Chevy Camaro Front Side 7/42
1989 Chevy Camaro Seats 8/42
1989 Chevy Camaro Steering Wheel 9/42

With the new engine and driveline complete, Justina began gutting the interior. Along with new carpet and a set of fourth-gen Camaro seats, she fitted the cabin with a rollbar, a Grant steering wheel, RJS five-point harnesses, Dakota Digital gauges, and a Kenwood stereo. “I’m not a big, strong man, so I had a hard time getting the seat bolts out. Fortunately, whenever I got stuck my dad and brother were willing to help,” Justina explains. “One of my favorite parts of building the car was figuring out the wiring. Labeling all the wires, looking through wiring diagrams, and matching everything up was really fun.”

Cosmetically, the third-gen had seen better days, but luckily rust was at a minimum. “The front bumper was all beat up because my brother wasn’t very careful when he drove it, so we had to get a new one. We also replaced the driver-side fender and fixed a couple of rust spots,” she explains. With no male ego to appease, Justina wasn’t afraid to seek experienced help when necessary. “I’m not a very good welder, so my dad helped with the patch panels and also installed the mini-tubs. He also gave me some good advice on what he thought would look good. I didn’t like the flat original hood, so I found a nice Sunoco-style hood that flows really well with the car’s body lines. I thought the stock spoiler was too small and didn’t look good, so I replaced it with a 5-inch spoiler.”

1989 Chevy Camaro Head On 10/42
1989 Chevy Camaro Profile 11/42

A testament to Justina’s dedication to the project, she spent every spare minute she had working on the Camaro until it was finished. “I worked on it every weekend during the school year, and once summer vacation arrived, I went to the shop early almost every day,” she recalls. “Now that the car is finished, I am beyond proud of myself for taking on the task of restoring it and I can’t wait to autocross it. Throughout the build, I just kept telling myself that it would all be worth it in the end. I am very lucky to have had the opportunity to build this car, and I will never forget how much I learned. I never imagined it would turn out as good as it did.”

The story of Justina and her third-gen proves that not all millennials are unmotivated sacks of laziness. If more people took the Schwartz approach of putting their kids to work, there would certainly be more cars on the road.

1989 Chevy Camaro 15/42

Tech Check
Owner: Justina Schwartz
Vehicle: 1989 Chevrolet Camaro
Engine:
Type: GM small-block
Displacement: 355 ci
Compression Ratio: 10.0:1
Bore: 4.030 inches
Stroke: 3.480 inches
Cylinder Heads: World Products iron castings
Rotating Assembly: Eagle crank and steel rods, Speed-Pro pistons
Valvetrain: Factory GM roller lifters, rockers, and timing set
Camshaft: COMP Cams 230/236-at-0.050 hydraulic roller, 0.487/0.490-inch lift, 110-degree LSA
Induction: Edelbrock Victor Jr. intake manifold, Demon 750-cfm carb
Ignition: MSD distributor and plug wires
Exhaust: Hooker 1.625-inch headers, dual MagnaFlow 3-inch mufflers
Output: 400 hp at 5,800 rpm and 420 lb-ft at 4,200 rpm
Drivetrain
Transmission: Keith Arnold 700-R4 automatic and Midwest 2,500-stall converter
Rear Axle: Moser 9-inch rearend with 31-spline axles, limited-slip differential, and 3.90
Chassis
Steering: Stock
Front Suspension: Stock with QA1 double-adjustable coilovers
Rear Suspension: Custom Schwartz control arms and Panhard bar, double-adjustable Viking coilovers
Brakes: Baer 14-inch rotors and six-piston calipers, front and rear
Wheels & Tires
Wheels: Weld Racing S77B 18x9.5 front, 18x12 rear
Tires: BFGoodrich g-Force Rival 275/35 front, 315/30 rear
Interior
Seats: GM fourth-gen Camaro
Audio: Kenwood
Upholstery: Factory cloth
Gauges: Dakota Digital VHX
Steering Wheel: Grant
Carpet: ACC
Shifter: Stock
Exterior
Body Prep and Paint: Schwartz Performance, PPG Santorini Blue
Hood: Hawk’s Third Gen

X

Connect With Us

Get Latest News and Articles. Newsletter Sign Up

sponsored links

subscribe to the magazine

get digital get print
CLOSE X
BUYER'S GUIDE
SEE THE ALL NEW
NEWS, REVIEWS & SPECS
TO TOP