Magazine project cars typically have a finite life; as each car is built to fulfill its project goals. They stick around for a little while, then the magazine staffer who own the vehicle often sells it off to fund the cost of upgrades to a new project; their next victim so to speak. Such is the case with Silver Streak, the 1988 Camaro that was a Super Chevy project—and multitime cover car—back in 1999. It’s now owned by Bruce Hawkins of Hawks Motorsports, a shop that specializes in the F-body chassis.
“My company was started in 1999, which is the same year Super Chevy built this 1988 Camaro as one of their project cars. Since I had just started the business and it was an F-body-focused company, I was glued to the build each month,” says Hawkins.
Project Silver Streak was cast aside not long after it was completed. A resurrection was likely out of the cards up until Hawkins came across it in an unlikely place. “Fast forward 15 years later while scanning through an auction list of some cars, I recognized the 1988 Camaro from years before. Once I verified this was the car from the Super Chevy magazine feature I made the purchase, no hesitation,” he says.
Then it was time to begin the rebuilding process, and Hawkins set out the goal of updating it to 2016 standards to optimize the performance while retaining the heritage of the well-known car. Although the car had serious performance pieces already—a 331 stroker LT1 engine, T-56 transmission, and 9-inch rearend—Hawkins had big plans for the car.
“When I first received the car it was rough and dusty like it had sat in a barn since 1999. It still had the original pieces installed in 1999. I did not want to change the paint scheme as it made the car recognizable,” he says.
The first order of business was to revamp what he calls “the outdated interior” with a fresh factory black interior. Then he began the drivetrain swap. An LS7 was fully updated by Hawks Motorsports to include a set of Wiseco 11.2:1 pistons, a pair of Mast Motorsports 285cc aluminum heads, and custom Comp Cams camshaft among other bits to improve performance. With a custom Hawks Motorsports exhaust system, the car puts out 585 rear-wheel horsepower and 485 lb-ft of torque through the Hawks Motorsports-prepared TREMEC Magnum, which is equipped with a Ram Pro Street dual-disc clutch.
As with the other cars in the 2016 Falken Tire Super Chevy Muscle Car Challenge, the real star of the show here is found underneath the car, in the form of the Heidts Pro-G suspension system designed to take the third-gen F-body chassis to places previously unrealized.
“Bruce Hawkins had mentioned he found this car, and we decided it would be a great opportunity to build an iconic car that many in the community still remembered into a modern-day track car,” says Scott Diedrich of Heidts.
The third-generation F-body platform was capable in stock form with its torque arm suspension, but the engineers at Heidts saw an opportunity to develop something completely unheard of on the mid-80’s machine—an independent rear suspension system.
“Heidts has the only aftermarket IRS designed specifically for the third-gen F-body platform. The Heidts IRS allows owners to keep the stock location of their gas tank and their stock interior completely intact. This particular IRS is the high-horsepower variant good for up to 800 horsepower, and features disc brakes, adjustable coilovers, and a Currie third member with Positraction,” says Diedrich.
This rear suspension system is a weld-in unit, which requires somewhere around 30 hours of installation time, according to Diedrich. The system includes a sway bar and a set of Heidts adjustable coilovers. Some cutting of the wheelwells is required. The beefy components used in this kit are designed to handle plenty of power and drastically improve the suspension performance of the third-gen F-body in the process. It is a fair amount of work but certainly achievable, especially when we look at some of the other cars that have run in the Challenge and the modifications performed to those platforms.
Heidts replaced the factory front suspension with their bolt-on tubular K-member system, which improves suspension geometry by providing 2 degrees of antidive. Tubular A-arms, a Heidts sway bar, and a pair of adjustable QA1 coilovers ride underneath caster/camber plates. There is also a three-point adjustable strut tower brace designed to stiffen up the engine bay and tie the towers into the main structure, along with a set of Heidts/Alston weld-in subframe connectors to complete the package.
In the interest of equipping the Silver Streak with braking capabilities to match the new suspension’s competence, the Hawks Motorsports team outfitted the car with a quartet of Baer Pro Plus brakes, which feature six-piston calipers and 14-inch platters.
The Silver Streak has come back to life—check out its performance results to see just how well it did when stacked up against the competition!
|What Makes It Handle|
|Chevrolet Performance LS7 with Mast Motorsports 285cc heads, assembled by Hawks Motorsports, TREMEC Magnum six-speed trans, Ram dual-disc clutch, Currie 9-inch rear, 3.70 gears|
|Heidts Pro-G front tubular kit and IRS conversion.|
|Heidts tubular K-member with 2-degrees of antidive. Tubular control arms that are stronger and have geometry improvements. Three-point strut tower brace for increased chassis stiffness. 1 3/8-inch solid sway bar. QA1 Pro Coil shock system with matching springs.|
|Quick-ratio power steering box|
|Baer six-piston calipers with 14-inch discs front and four-piston calipers with 13-inch rotors rear.|
|Heidts High-Horsepower Pro-G Independent Rear Suspension (IRS) that can handle up to 800 hp (stronger CV shafts). Heidts adjustable shocks with matching Heidts springs.|
|Falken Azenis RT615K; 275/35/18 front and 295/40/18 rear|
|Weld Racing S77B 18x9.5 front (6.1-inch backspace) and 18x10 rear (6.6-inch backspace)|
|Suspension package: $10,684, plus $5,500 for brakes|
|How’d It Stack Up?|
|Slalom Average Speed||100-Yard Dash||Road Course Lap Time|
|Heidts/Hawks Motorsports Silver Streak 1988 Camaro||49.2 mph||4.97 seconds||01:15.1|
|2010 Camaro SS||42.1 mph||5.76 seconds||01:25.9|
|The Silver Streak, with its new drivetrain and highly efficient suspension system, was simply stellar at the 2016 Falken Tire Super Chevy Muscle Car Challenge in the hands of legendary driver Danny Popp. In fact, Popp was one of only three drivers to dip into the 4-second zone in the 100-yard dash, carding a 4.97 blast to immediately put the others on notice that the Heidts machine was not to be toyed with. This bettered the benchmark fifth-gen Camaro SS’s performance by nearly eight tenths of a second—an eternity in an acceleration contest. In the slalom, the Silver Streak was on fire, running a best speed of 49.2 mph. The third-gen Camaro was one of three cars to dip into the 5-second zone in the slalom, putting the balanced performance potential of the Heidts independent rear suspension on display for all to see. On the road course, the Silver Streak Camaro was put to the test and came out with a Top 3 finish, over 10 seconds quicker than the benchmark 2010 Camaro.|
Photography by Robert McGaffin