Most classic Bow Ties have changed hands at least a few times in their life. New models debut, family needs take precedence, or other uncontrollable things force first owners to part ways with their cars. Jerry Lum never had to face that tough decision, though. He's owned this '71 Z28 since it was new, custom ordering the car from Jack Wall Chevrolet in Pasadena, California, and it was Global West's entry in our second-annual Suspension & Handling Challenge, presented by Nitto Tire.
Being a member of the Guildstrand Racing Association for 15 years, Jerry didn't keep the Z28 stock for long. The goal was always to improve and optimize the total performance of the car, and with many second-gen Camaro experts to talk to, finding the right ways to improve the F-body was never difficult. Using the car as a daily driver for 20 years, Jerry had plenty of seat time to evaluate the modifications installed on the Z. It was mothballed for a dozen years while Jerry's sons were growing up, but was returned to service and treated to some modern upgrades thanks to the suspension pros at Global West.
Global's front control arms, one-inch front lowering springs, and rear 1.5-inch lowering leafs were installed, along with re-valved Koni shocks, and some stock height aluminum body bushings. For stopping power, Wilwood O.E. replacement aluminum calipers were installed up front, and '85 IROC Camaro aluminum drums out back. That's not a lot of mods, but as you'll see they worked fabulously.
For power, the Z28 uses its original LT-1, rebuilt with an .030-inch overbore, Comp roller cam, Edelbrock intake, Demon carb and Doug Thorley headers. All this power is sent through a Centerforce clutch and Tremec TKO-600 five-speed to the 12-bolt rear with an Auburn differential and 3.73 gears. Exhaust is custom made from stainless steel pipe.
Driver's Impression - On the Autocross Course
This second-gen Camaro shined in the autocross portion of testing and proved its mettle by posting some good times right off the start. Like the CPP Nova, all the bits and pieces worked well together to create a very compliant and willing car. Second-gen F-bodies are the coolest Camaros (at least in my opinion, but then I'm sorta biased) and their OEM suspension and steering corrected some of the inherent geometry issues that the first-gens had. Global West has created some good upgrade bits to make the cars even better and this was immediately evident.
The Global West Camaro flew through the initial offset slalom and apex turn-in was quick and linear. Turn the steering wheel a bit and you change direction that same bit, which is how it should be. Like the DSE Chevelle, I could easily feel what was going on underneath my butt and looking down the course was a piece of cake. The only concern came when I needed the brakes to get slowed down for the end sweeper. Under hard pedal application, there was a bit of confusion between the front half of the car and the rear as there was a bit of early front lock up followed by the rear coming around.
This was easy to work with, as I just adjusted braking points and respected the load and weight transfer limits. I then found out that this car still has those tiny OEM front rotors/calipers with drum brakes on the rear! Guess no one told this car that the brakes should suck as they honestly weren't that bad. The other drawback was just plain cockpit ergonomics ... the seat was low and the steering wheel a tad bit small in diameter for my liking.
Up to and through the end sweeper, the Camaro offered great turn-in, was balanced over the hump, and then easily positioned for corner exit. Power was easy to modulate and in the left-right-left power element, lifting off the throttle transferred weight letting me slide to the apex and on down the course. The power was adequate and meshed well with the other systems for this Camaro. Global West did a great job with this car. Driving it was easy and pegged my grin-meter after each run. - Mary Pozzi
Driver's Impression - On the Street
Sometimes, a short drive on surface streets can raise more questions than it answers. This car had a lot going for it, but there were two unknown factors after I cruised the greater Irvine, California, area in this puppy. There was a lot to like, but I wasn't crazy about the steering, which had a dead spot on center. Also, the steering feel got lighter as you went faster, though it was accurate. The ride was slightly firmer than some of the other entries and I was anxious to see how this would translate when it came to actual performance numbers. "This car definitely feels like it's got a lot of potential," is what we wrote in the test book.
This turned out to be quite an understatement as it out-performed the 2010 Camaro in every instrumented measure-slalom, skidpad and autocross. Call it game, set, match.
Yes, the ride was firm, but it was never harsh and gave the car a purposeful demeanor. The fat-wrap on the steering wheel and excellent cloth Recaro seats only amplified this. I might be tempted to swap out the clutch for something a little lighter and trade in the shifter-it liked to go into fifth when you wanted third. Other than this, it was a thrill to drive. Amazing what can be accomplished with simple parts.
Global West '71 Camaro Z28 Specs
Type: Built Gen I LT-1 Small-block 355 cid
Block: Stock iron
Fuel Delivery: Demon 750 carb, Edelbrock Air Gap intake
Transmission: Tremec TKO 600 five-speed
Clutch: Centerforce Dual Friction 10.5 inch diameter
Rearend: GM 12-bolt, 3.73 gears, Auburn differential with posi
Steering: Delphi 670 steering box
Front Suspension: Global West 1-inch lowering springs, Global West A-arms
Spindles: stock GM
Front Shocks: re-valved Koni
Front Sway Bar: Stock GM
Rear Suspension: Global West, 1.5-inch lowering springs
Rear Shocks: re-valved Koni
Rear Sway Bar: None
Front Brakes: Wilwood aluminum factory replacement calipers, stock rotors
Rear Brakes: '85 IROC Camaro aluminum drums
Wheels & Tires
Wheels: Vintage Wheel Works Vintage 45, Front - 17x9.5, Rear 17x11
Tires: Nitto NT05 Front - 275/40ZR17, Rear - 315/40ZR17