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.