1978 Chevy Camaro - Cup Style

Eleven years in the making, Mark Giles turns a mundane ’78 Camaro into a fierce track player

View Full Gallery

Recently, there’s been a noticeable surge in cars being built with the intentions of including lateral motion as a major factor considered into the project. There was a time when the majority of street cars were built with the notion that bigger was better: you know, huge blowers protruding through hoods (that is, if they had one) while bulbous rear rubber wrapped around the widest of wheels shoehorned their way between massive wheel tubs. Those days are far from gone, but the idea of thrusting muscle cars through an autocross or road courseplaces where local Miata and Porsche clubs exclusively hold court on any given weekendare now being disrupted by a plethora of muscle car guys wanting to get in on their timed track action.

Camp 1105 01 1978 Chevy Camaro 2/10

Back in 1986, after securing a gig with Laughlin Racing in Easly, South Carolina, as a fabricator and chassis builder, the owner of this once-pedestrian second-gen, Mark Giles, was getting ready to head down the Pro Street road with this 1978 Chevy Camaro when he got the crazy idea to build a handling street car and not just a garden-variety g-Machine, either. While I was measuring and figuring out how to build the chassis, said Mark. The idea came to me to go in a different direction and instead of building a straight-line drag beast, I’d build a Winston Cup-style car.

Camp 1105 02 1978 Chevy Camaro 3/10

Being employed at a racing shop that specializes in chassis building has its perks. Perks in which Mark took full advantage of and built this chassis from scratch. He narrowed the front end so the stock fenders would accept the larger rubber he’d be running. That tire and wheel combo: 315/35-17-inch Michelin PS2s wrapped around a set of polished 10-inch Bogart LS wheels sporting a 5-inch backspace. Out back, a pair of 12-inch Bogarts backspaced 6 inches easily accommodate the 335/35-17-inch PS2s.

Camp 1105 03 1978 Chevy Camaro 4/10

With the suspension points all squared up for turning in both directions, he followed through with a set of SCP spindles and A-arms of his own design to join the performance handling ensemble of Hyperco springs and Penske dampers. All that racing stuff is a hardcore recipe fitting of the car’s track-bound demeanor. He followed up the rear with a three-link system just like they used to run in NASCAR, Mark points out. It’s actually a full floating 9-inch Ford Stock Car Products loaded with a Detroit Locker nodular with 3.91 gears.

Camp 1105 04 1978 Chevy Camaro 5/10

Aggressive and repeated stopping is the norm for this road rat, so Wilwood binders got the nod on all four corners13-inchers up front, and 11s out back.

Mark bucked the trend, well actually there was no trend when this build started (remember, this was 1986, and the g-Machine build style was 15 or so years away) but big-block power is his form of drug, so he nestled a Steve Allen Racing 440ci mill (a 427 bored 0.60 over and stroked 3.76 inches) between the rails. JE 11.5:1 pistons, Dart 320 aluminum heads, Crower crankshaft and a Crower solid roller cam (.707 intake lift @ .306 duration, and .689 exhaust lift @ .309 duration), Crower lifters, T&D shaft rockers, and Smith Bros. 3/8-inch pushrods make up the internal high points.

Camp 1105 05 1978 Chevy Camaro Right 6/10

Blake Carburetion in Mooresville, North Carolina, hopped up the Holley HP 830 carb. It’s perched on top of a Dart 41-50 intake manifold ported by JE Beard. An electric SX fuel pump provides a sufficient quenching of the thirsty, all-star cast. So what’s it all come down to? How about 718 hp at 7,300 rpm and 598 lb-ft at 4100 rpm Good enough to handle the logistics of any road course or measly autocross in quick fashion, we reckon.

More in the one-off department? You bet. Mark fabbed up his own oil pana dry sump system in which a Barnes oil pump keeps the internals sufficiently lubed.

An aluminum two-row radiator manufactured by C&R Racing in Indianapolis shares cooling duties with a Fluidyne oil cooler mounted within the radiator duct work.




Connect With Us

Get Latest News and Articles. Newsletter Sign Up

subscribe to the magazine

get digital get print