Understated elegance and imagery are qualities of a righteous car build. Abstention from the norm, celebration of diversity and timelessness form another aspect. These facets are undeniable certainly and are often difficult to achieve. But for those who undertake it, this is their reason; this is their art. They are starring in a movie of their lives, not sitting in the back row watching it.
Just as there is night and day, there is always pressure on the builder and pressure is magnified when the clock is accelerating nonstop toward the drop-deadly date. We would think this is especially acute when the client is known well to the aftermarket.
Now, we all like Camaros and some of us were around decades before the first Mustang-beater hit the street on September 29, 1966. Some of us actually had one in their driveway. The popular notion was to covet the first-gen originals. On the other hand, some of us think they are dated and more than a little boring compared to the successors, they come on as done to death. These days, all Camaros seem to be worthy cannon fodder.
Mike McLin earned his reputation, first as a painter then as manager and co-owner of The Restomod Store in Independence, Missouri. He has vivid recall of early years with a dad who had always been a car guy. “He’d been building cars since way before I was ever thought of,” he said. “On his fireplace mantle there is a picture of me sitting on the fender of a Model A project he was working on. You could say I owe my automotive career to my dad. I’ve been at this since I was old enough to go to salvage yards with him, about 46 years.”
In March 2015, Heidts Hot Rod and Muscle Car Parts contacted Mike to build a Camaro for the SEMA show that year. The object was to showcase Heidts new Pro-G independent rear suspension and a new front subframe for the 1982-’92 F-body. Mike bit the bullet and peeled his eyes. “I started searching for a non-T-top, manual transmission car in April. It took a bit to find one that wasn’t a rust bucket since we live in the Midwest where rust is always an issue.
“We bought a 1990 in April,” said Mike. “We finished it the week before SEMA.” Mike, Michael, and Chris McLin and Mark Myres were the protagonists. The quartet descended. They did all the modifications in metal. Most prominent are the fenders and quarters, which have been stretched 1 1/2 inches to give the car a wider look and to accommodate the 10- and 12-inch wide wheels. The supporting cast includes custom ground effects and a hood that was fabricated with a 2015 Corvette hood vent insert. They gave it a custom front valance and they shaved the turn signals. To complete the silhouette, they fabricated a deck blade. Those prominent taillights were custom-painted. Mark Myres dropped in the Procar seats with yards of Ultraleather and finished the rest of the cocoon in it as well.
What was the most memorable part of the experience, what was the payoff? “So far, it’s been the SEMA show,” Mike gushed. “That’s pretty much the Greatest Show on Earth if you’re in the automotive industry. The most challenging part of the build was probably the deadline. It was a surprise when Heidts contacted us in March. To find a suitable car and have it ready in less than seven months for thousands of people to look at your work was something.”
Would you do something different had you to do it over again? “I really can’t think of anything we’d do differently. The body changes we made are subtle. Looking at it, you know there’s something different about it, but most people can’t figure out what.”
While the Camaro’s suspension was brought to the utmost and the body smoothed and streamlined, Mike figured a car like this needed an engine with more than average output to put that toughie suspension to work. He bought a new LS3, a couple of high-capacity snails, a fabricated intake manifold, a 102mm throttle body, a Spearco/Turbonetics air-to-air charge cooler core, and built a one-off turbo system. Having great faith that the LS3’s very ordinary innards would take the gaff repeatedly without unraveling, the only internal change was a Tick Performance Stage 3 Turbo hydraulic camshaft.
Rather than fabricate stanchions for the Turbonetics snails, Mike used Hooker cast-iron exhaust manifolds. The custom stainless steel system employs space-saving Spintech mufflers and expands from 2 1/2-inch round pipes to 3 1/2-inch oval tubes.
Though Boomin’ Tin was ostensibly built for the Heidts project, it wasn’t meant to be a giveaway car or anything like it. Restomod retained ownership and recently sold it to local car nut Rick Villers, a savvy enthusiast who can appreciate understated elegance brought about by major yet subtle changes. Now he can star in his own movie.
|Owner||Rick Villers, Blue Springs, Missouri|
|Cylinder Heads||OE, 2.165/1.590 valves, 68cc combustion chambers|
|Rotating Assembly||OE, nodular iron crankshaft, powdered metal connecting rods, hypereutectic aluminum pistons|
|Valvetrain||Brian Tooley Platinum valvesprings, OE 1.7:1 rocker arms and pushrods, Edelbrock rocker covers|
|Camshaft||Comp Cams/Tick Performance Stage 3 Turbo hydraulic (223/227-deg. duration at 0.050; 0.621/0.600-inch lift)|
|Induction||Top Street Performance fabricated aluminum intake manifold, 102mm throttle body, larger fuel pump and lines, Turbonetics Hurricane 6654-4 turbochargers, air-to-air intercooler, K&N air cleaner|
|Ignition||OE coils, MSD 8mm primary wires|
|Exhaust||Hooker LS cast-iron manifolds, custom stainless steel 2 1/2-inch round-to-3 1/2-inch oval system, Spintech mufflers|
|Ancillaries||Griffin aluminum core, SPAL fans, Power Master alternator, Concept One accessory drive, Painless wiring|
|Output (at wheels)||704 hp|
|Transmission||TREMEC T-56, LS7 flywheel and clutch assembly|
|Rear Axle||Heidts Pro-G IRS, limited-slip differential, 3.73:1 ratio, Inland Drive Shaft prop shaft (Kansas City, MO)|
|Front Suspension||Stock spindles, Heidts K-member with adjustable lower arms, splined antisway bar, caster/camber plates, QA1 coilover shocks|
|Rear Suspension||Heidts Pro-G independent system, antisway bar, Heidts coilover shocks with QA1 springs, subframe connectors|
|Brakes||Wilwood 14-inch rotors, six-piston calipers, front; inboard Wilwood 12-inch rotors, six-piston calipers, rear; Wilwood proportioning valve|
|Wheels & Tires|
|Wheels||Boze Alloys Chicane 18x10 front, 19x12 rear|
|Tires||Nitto Invo 275/35 front, 345/30 rear|
|Upholstery||Mark Myres, The Restomod Store; custom door panels; modified console|
|Steering||ididit column, Heidts power rack, Billet Specialties 14-inch Formula wheel|
|Shifter||Clayton Machine Works|
|Dash||OE, wrapped in Ultraleather|
|Instrumentation||Dakota Digital VHX series|
|Audio||Pioneer head unit, Hifonics 6-inch speakers, front; 6x9-inch speaker, rear; 12-inch subwoofer|
|Bodywork||The Restomod Store (Independence, MO) custom steel ground effects, shaved turn signals, quarter-panels and fenders widened 1 1/2 inches, custom steel deck spoiler|
|Paint By||Mike McLin, The Restomod Store|
|Hood||Custom fabricated w/ 2015 Corvette hood vent insert|
|Bumpers||Custom front valance|