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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

To take the car from a run-of-the-mill Camaro to something this wicked took more than just Dean's vision; it took a paint and body guy who could execute it. "I took it over to my buddy T.J. at Mayhem Customs to have him work on the body of the car," he explains. "He created this custom body kit you see here and molded it into the body."

My friends said it would be too much of a task and take too long, but I didn't care. I already had the idea in my head.

The door handles were shaved and electronic poppers were installed to give the car a certain cool factor. It's just another design element that keep those onlookers staring. After the sinister hood was lowered into place and the bodywork was finished, T.J. strapped on his mask and meticulously applied House of Kolor Candy Apple Red paint. The finish has a rich, deep look that you just want to take a bite out of.

With the outside looking snazzy, it was time for Dean to take his creativity inside. Once again, he enlisted the help of an equally talented mind to execute the ideas he was looking for inside the cabin. Daran Abella at Paulie's Custom Interior completely transformed the bland '80s cockpit to something more modern, yet interesting. The tops of both doors were redesigned with metal instead of the traditional fabric or plastic. Custom Recaro seats were bolted into position over the new carpet and are covered in custom-colored leather. Daran took Dean's ideas from his head and turned them into reality as he fabricated a totally custom dash, center stack, and console that would be sprayed in the same Candy paint as the outside. Ultra-Lite gauges were sculpted into the custom dash to achieve the classic look, yet provide Dean with all the necessary vitals from the Rat. The car now features some modern creature comforts such as Bluetooth, navigation, killer audio, and DVD screen stereo—also installed by Daran. With well over 800 ponies on tap, and quite a bit of street time, Dean enlisted Drew Buckley to come up with a rollbar system for the car that wouldn't interfere with driving comfort, yet provide the safety he needed.

Underneath the Camaro are a plethora of suspension goodies to deliver the stance, ride, and performance Dean was looking for out of his Pro Street/Race car. The front 20x7 Coys wheels are tucked into the fenders nicely with a set of 2-inch drop Belltech spindles. Lurking behind those custom powdercoated spokes are Wilwood Pro Series four-piston calipers clasping 12.19-inch rotors. A set of adjustable QA1 struts were fashioned into place with the stock A-arms and stock-style springs. "I felt that 2 inches was just the right amount of drop that I wanted," he claims.

Out back, Dean contacted S&W again, and the folks there suggested their back half kit that would convert the car to a pure four-link. This would alter the position of the factory control arms so those wide rear tires could be used with the fully tubbed wheelwells and custom narrowed 9-inch rear. All said and done, the rear suspension was lowered a total of 5 to 6 inches on the adjustable height QA1 coilovers until the exact stance was achieved. A set of matching rear Wilwoods keep the tail in check during braking.

The whole build took about a year and it would have taken longer if his family wasn't there to push him every step of the way. Needless to say from the photos, the third-gen receives almost limitless attention wherever it goes—sometimes even the police take notice. It's almost unfair to bring it to shows at this point.

Either way, it's OK to stare. Dean built the car for you to look at and for him to enjoy.

By Kevin DiOssi
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