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1982 Chevrolet Camaro - It’s OK To Stare

Tattoo artist Dean Strickland takes a buzz on an '82 Camaro with some wild results.

By Kevin DiOssi, Photography by Kevin DiOssi

Yeah, that's right, look again. This time it's OK to stare. Once you've taken a peek at Dean Strickland's Camaro, you can only react two ways. The first being all-out admiration for the level of skill, work, and creativity it took to pull off; the second being a head shake because you simply don't get it. No matter which way you react, you'll want to look and keep looking. Dean's Camaro is the perfect example of hot rodding at its finest, as it embodies every element of creativity you could imagine.

As we take a peek inside of Dean's mind, we get an idea of how he came up with such a terrific project. His family is made up entirely of hardcore gearheads, through and through. From his wife, Beth, to their children and parents, all of them almost exclusively bleed Chevy (with a Mopar or two in there for good parody). He owns and operates their successful family tattoo parlor called Xtreme Ink Slingers near his home in Reddick, Florida. There, he and Beth have been working with their family to create meticulous pieces of art without four wheels. However, when Dean shifts his mind to building cars, things can get pretty crazy. With a stable filled with classic Chevys, from trucks, Novas, and El Caminos, he was looking to add a centerpiece that would shock at shows.

The car was seen in passing sitting in someone's backyard in Bronson, Florida. "I sent my parents over one day to see if the car was for sale," he explains. "Sure enough, they were looking to get the car out of their yard and let me steal it away from them for a measly $100." Sure, it wasn't in good shape, but it was still a Florida car and didn't have much rust. After taking the F-body home, the plan to street/strip it spun into building a unique Pro Streeter. "My friends said it would be too much of a task and take too long," he recalls, "but I didn't care. I already had the idea in my head."

One of the first things you'll notice about this street freak are those gigantic rear wheels. Much like the A-10 Warthog being built around its 30mm cannon, Dean crafted his Chevy around what would be the centerpiece of his creation—the 20x18 Coy's C5 wheels out back. Yes, you just read that correctly. The wheels are 18-inches wide and wear Mickey Thompson Sportsmans in the swollen size of 29x18x20. While you may begin to chuckle a bit, bite your tongue until you know what lurks under that Goodmark cowl hood.

In 1982, the General was churning out some pathetically depressing powerplants. The carbureted 5.0 squeezed out a whole 145 hp. That's not even enough power to turn these steamrollers, so something had to be done. After contacting his friend Mike to build the new motor, a plan was put in place. A World Products Merlin III punched out to 540 ci with 345cc aluminum AFR heads acts as the heart and soul of this Camaro now. The pistons were sourced from JE while the rods and crank came from Eagle. High-quality internals and heads are worthless without the right cam, so a custom 258/266 0.647/0.647-inch Comp hydraulic roller spins inside. A single Quick Fuel 950cfm carb is bolted to an Edelbrock Victor Jr., and ingests the copious amounts of air the big-block consumes all the way up to redline. It was strapped to an engine dyno, where it climbed to 820hp and 795 lb-ft of torque.

A Lane's Transmissions Turbo 400 with a Hugh's 3300-stall converter was selected to keep things streetable. It's shifted with a trick B&M shifter that was incorporated into the custom interior. Ocala Driveline manufactured an aluminum driveshaft that feeds into the S&W Race Cars 9-inch rear that Dean put together. A set of Hooker 3-inch ceramic-coated headers spill into a custom-made 3-inch stainless exhaust fabricated by local shop Modern Muffler, and features a set of Magnaflow mufflers.

By Kevin DiOssi
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