At the age of 16, just about every young man is ready to slide behind the wheel of a car-any car. Even without the car guy mentality, driving is fun, especially in the beginning. For Kentucky's Preston Edmonds, his first car is the one on these pages, but a lot has changed over the years. Obviously, being an '83 Camaro, this was no powerhouse from the factory, but Preston didn't mind. He racked up thousands of miles on the car and began modifying it one step at a time, as his budget allowed. After 18 years and lots of hard work, it's a super-clean machine and plenty fast, too.
Preston found the car in a local newspaper and it was everything he wanted. Third-gen styling was (and is) still fresh and Preston was happy with its performance. As time passed, his hot rodding instincts kicked in, and he made a few changes. More modifications were on the way, and it would be an endless cycle until this very day. At 34 years of age, he's still buying parts for it here and there, but it fits his tastes for the most part. Preston spends plenty of time at the helm of this clean and simple Camaro, and enjoys thrashing on it on a regular basis.
Underneath, Preston's Camaro is equipped with all sorts of goodies, but the unibody structure is basically stock, aside from the weld-in Southside Machine subframe connectors. Since drag racing was the main focus, he modified the suspension in order to transfer weight to the rear tires and keep the car stable throughout the run. The first order of business was to swap the original shocks for a pair of Lakewood 90/10 shocks up front. He retained the original power brake setup, but upgraded to slotted rotors fore and '89 Camaro disc brakes aft. For steering, he installed a manual box from an S-10 pickup to eliminate the weight and parasitic loss from the pump.
One of the key ingredients to power application is a good rear end, so Preston tossed the original 7.5-inch 10-bolt housing for a Moser 9-inch unit setup for a third generation Camaro. Inside the housing, you'll find a 3.70 gear set and spool, which send the 31-spline axles into motion. He shoved the well-equipped rear into place, using a set of Lakewood lower control arms and a Spohn torque arm, and he swapped in a pair of V6 Camaro coil springs for additional squat off the line. To control it all, he installed Rancho nine-way adjustable shocks, so he could dial it in to his liking.
For rolling stock, Preston bolted up a set of Weld Racing Draglites, measuring 15x3.5 front and 15x8 rear, all four wearing Mickey Thompson rubber. The 275/50R15 drag radials provide ample traction and allow Preston to hit the highway anytime he wants, but he has a set of rollers strictly for the street as well.
Another factor in this car's drivability is the engine. It's a healthy setup, built for nitrous oxide, but it runs on 93-octane pump gas, so cruising it around town doesn't make a big dent in Preston's wallet. He definitely spent a few coins on building the engine, but he did most of the work himself. Tuckers Machine in Murray, Kentucky, handled the machining on the 400 block and balanced the rotating assembly, but Preston did the rest. First, he installed the Lunati crankshaft, and slid the Probe Industries pistons and six-inch Hawks Racing connecting rods into the freshly-honed cylinders. This combination of forged components results in a bulletproof bottom end, so Preston doesn't worry when he hits the go-fast button.
On top, you'll find a pair of AFR 210cc Eliminator cylinder heads, which are box-stock and feature 2.08- and 1.60-inch valves. A custom-grind Cam Motion camshaft sends the valves into motion, while the Jegs 1.5 roller rockers provide a smooth transition from the pushrods to the valve springs. For induction, Preston relies on an Edelbrock Victor Jr. intake manifold, which draws in a mixture of fuel and air through the 830cfm Pro Systems carburetor. A Holley blue pump provides the fuel, while an MSD 6A-L ignition system sends fire to the combustion chambers.
Outgoing air travels through a set of Hooker 13/4-inch headers and into a massive four-inch exhaust system, complete with a Spin Tech muffler. Behind the 406ci small-block is a TH350 automatic transmission, built by Second Hand Power in Memphis, Tennessee. It's operated by a B&M shifter and power application is controlled by a BTE 4,000 rpm torque converter.
Since he built the engine himself, Preston doesn't have an exact figure on horsepower, but the car has run a best of 6.72 at 106 mph in the eighth-mile with the assistance of nitrous. (For you quarter-milers, that equates to about a low 10-second run at about 130.) Future plans call for a fogger system, but the two-stage plate kit will do for now. Brian Dixon wired the nitrous system and the second stage is activated through a digi-set timer that is adjustable in 0.10-second increments. A custom fuel cell supplies race gas to the fuel solenoids when the nitrous is engaged, and rides in the original battery tray.
Preston wanted good looks to go along with fast elapsed times, so when the original paint began to fade, he contacted his longtime friend, Rusty Edwards, for a fresh coat. While the car was in the body shop, Rusty shaved the door handles and all of the original emblems for a super clean look. He then blasted on the PPG materials, mixed in a custom off white hue and followed that with a few coats of clear. The bumpers, side skirts and rear spoiler are from a newer third-generation car, while the cowl induction hood is an aftermarket piece.
A peek inside Preston's Camaro reveals a mostly stock interior, but he's grown accustomed to this environment over the years, so there was no need to change it. He swapped the original seats for a pair of third-generation Trans Am buckets, and installed an eight-point S&W Racecars roll cage, made of mild steel. The dash is all stock, but Preston added an Auto Meter tach, and a Grant steering wheel. He then eliminated the A/C system, as well as the stereo to shed a few pounds.
Over the years, Preston has become attached to his Camaro and doesn't plan to let it go anytime soon. At first, it had the oft-maligned 305ci small-block, and it's now a rather healthy specimen on the track or the street. With good looks and plenty of pep, the '83 Camaro has gone through quite the transformation, but that doesn't mean he's finished with it. Regardless of his future plans, Preston has a fine example of a third generation Camaro, and it will only get faster with time.