It was in late 1989 when Richard Hubbard purchased this ’88 IROC-Z for the sole purpose of having fun and getting in some track time while retaining a balanced level of streetability. After all, with the third-gen being touted as the best-handling F-body right off the assembly line by the hard-core third-gen enthusiasts, this Camaro would be the perfect candidate for Richard’s needs. Having a love for early and late-model muscle cars, the second-generation Chevrolet dealership owner is quite familiar with the ’88 Camaro’s handling capabilities, and on the flip side, he’s certainly aware of its shortcomings.
With just 318 actual miles on the ticker, the car was sent out to the race shop (an area of the dealership dedicated to performance upgrades) where an aluminum Donovan V-8 and Doug Nash five-speed took the place of the stock mill and transmission. We believe Richard had every intention of getting the car out to the local autocross and road course, unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), the car sat rooted in Richard’s collection for the next 23 years without ever having the opportunity to strut its stuff on the track, or anywhere else for that matter.
In 2012, Richard felt the need to do a little “house cleaning” so he decided to sell off a few cars from his collection at the Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction in Scottsdale, Arizona. The motionless IROC-Z would be part of the purging.
This is where Shaun Dove checks in. Shaun is a car guy through and through, so it was no wonder he and his dad were doing a little “car stalking” at the Scottsdale Barrett-Jackson Auction. Hip to the auction scene, the father and son duo weren’t looking to hook a half-million-dollar Yenko or insanely rare ’69 ZL1, but they did catch wind that the Hubbard group of cars included a big-horsepower third-gen, which they hoped to snag for a bargain.
Carrying a low lot number, they knew stout F-body would be auctioned off early on Friday as opposed to making a prime time appearance on Saturday night, so Shaun and his dad were counting on being able to nab what is commonly referred to in the industry as a “well-bought” vehicle—a car that sells for a lot less money than it would actually cost to build. Besides, compared to a rare first-gen … or any first-gen for that matter, third-gens have yet to command the amount of coin as their early predecessors.
They were pretty hot on the ride since it fit their needs perfectly: an exciting car they could field at some of the new crop of street car driving events that have been popping up the past few of years. “There aren’t many guys running third-gens at these events,” said Shaun. “So we figured we could shake things up a bit with this car. Third-gens handle great out of the box, and by having a good amount of horsepower, this thing should really kick some ass! On top of that, it will be a really fun car to drive on the streets, too.”
Power? Yep. Sucking up 100-octane swill, the 410ci all-aluminum Donovan runs a dry-sump oiling system and belts out about 627 hp at 6,500 rpm and 598 lb-ft of torque at 4,800 rpm.
Having yet to dig into the motor, Shaun informed us engine specs are a little on the light side, but we do know the stout combo features a modified Holley 850-cfm with dual power valves, and a K&N element hovers on top to inhale fresh atmosphere.
A 3-inch primary single to 2½-inch custom dual exhaust system inherits the turbulence manufactured by the 1¾-inch Hooker headers and relies on a set of Flowmaster 80 series mufflers to slightly wane the small-block’s hostile tone.
More than capable of handling every ounce of grunt the Donovan can dish out, a Doug Nash five-speed transmission manages the gear changing, and 3.73:1 cogs and Detroit Tru-trac are housed in a Ford 9-inch rearend.
Besides a set of custom-built subframe connectors, the Camaro’s suspension was stock. With plenty of room for improvement, Shaun chose Hotchkis 1-inch lowering springs on all four corners as the prescription for the ailing stance. Hotchkis sway bars (17/16-inch hollow up front and 1-inch solid out back), trailing arms, Panhard rod, and poly bushings joined by Bilstein shocks turned the otherwise average ride into a capable competitor on the autocross and road course while still retaining a comfortable ride on the street.
The Evod Muscle Star wheels (17x9) on each corner with brushed hoops and polished centers set the performance-driven exterior tone, while JFZ calipers and 12-inch rotors scrub off steam and are managed by a Tilton dual master cylinder setup. Keeping in compliance with the treadwear parameters of many of today’s street car events, Shaun wrapped Nitto NT05 275/45R-17 around the attractive rollers on all four corners.
A custom-built rollcage, Recaro front seats, five-point harness, and the non-existent rear seats solidify the notion that racing is the main focus of this F-body. The stereo head unit exists only to fill an otherwise unattractive void in the dash. Auto Meter gauges housed in a custom-built cluster keep Shaun informed and an Auto Meter shift light demand he hammers the Hurst shifter at just the right moment.
With the lack of road time the car has seen over the years, the original factory GM white paint remains in near flawless condition—a far cry from the general population of 25-year-old Camaros.
Shaun confesses he’s not looking forward to those first rock chips to make their unwelcome debut, but those pesky freckles will only add some character to a car that has otherwise led a sheltered life long enough. Besides, most cars of this vintage would be on paintjob number two, at least.
With this car being built to race and have fun with, it’s time to get this party started. It’s not like it’s the only third-gen with just a little over 300 miles on the odometer … or is it?