1983 Chevrolet Camaro Radiator Installation - Keeping it Cool

With Be Cool Radiators

Joe Rode Dec 5, 2006 0 Comment(s)
Sucp_0608_01_z 1983_chevrolet_camaro Blown_radiator_hose 1/43

Photo by Mike Harrington

There's not an aftermarket part that we have run across that doesn't excite us even a little bit, although some are definitely farther up on the fun chart than others. One that falls very near the bottom of said chart is a new radiator. Not really on the same planet as bone-jarring, side-splitting, head-turning additions like a power-adder or a camshaft/manifold/header combination, but a good radiator is the necessary foundation for any hot engine combo, nonetheless. As the experts at Be Cool so confidently put it when talking about its module assemblies, "Buy one part number, get everything you need to keep your car cool-a singular solution." For the most part, that was true.

We decided to go one step further (actually several steps further when you figure all of the brackets and components involved in moving a smog pump, power steering pump, alternator, and air conditioning compressor), and replaced the stock cast-iron water pump with a new Weiand Action +Plus aluminum pump. We think these pumps are a great value at about $90, and the boys at Holley claim that the trick eight-blade cast-aluminum anticavitation impeller provides much greater water flow and cooling than the stock pumps at a lower weight and with less horsepower draw. What more could you ask for? While a quality aftermarket aluminum radiator, like those manufactured by Be Cool, is not cheap, the satisfaction of knowing that it has the capability to handle any cooling situation is, as they say, priceless.

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We weren't looking forward to digging into the abyss of smog motor engine accessories. But we knew the added clearance we would have from removing the stock mechanical fan and clutch would be a nice bonus.

The Be Cool module assembly comes complete with an aluminum dual 1-inch core crossflow performance radiator with oval fluted tubes, a Spal hi-torque electric puller fan, a vented coolant recovery tank with a diamond-cut finish, a billet Be Cool radiator cap, and all mounting hardware and wiring. The module assemblies are available in 400, 700, and 1000hp configurations. Being the true hot rodders that we are, we of course chose the kit that was way overkill for our application. But hey, you're only going to spend a grand once on a radiator so you might as well give yourself the room to grow.

The radiators are the same for all three horsepower ratings; the difference in the kits is the size and number of the fans. The 700hp kit we used has two 11-inch fans. All of the Be Cool module systems use puller fans that mount on the inside of the engine compartment and pull air through the radiator. Puller fans are always more desirable, as they offer significantly higher airflow when compared to an identically sized pusher fan. An added advantage of a puller fan is that it does not block airflow to the radiator.

Sucp_0608_05_z 1983_chevrolet_camaro Radiator_draining 3/43

Why does everything with these old cars have to start from underneath with grease and dirt falling in your face? We removed the bottom radiator hose to drain the antifreeze and the bottom half of the fan shroud. Make sure you capture the antifreeze and don't let it run down your driveway and into the gutter, as it is toxic; it can also be reused if not too old.

As is the case with almost every installation involving aftermarket parts, we had some hiccups. Besides its reputation for superior parts, we chose products from Be Cool because it offered a specific module assembly kit for our '83 Third-Gen Camaro. But to be honest, there were times when we were very frustrated with the lack of accurate and usable instructions that came with the assembly. At one point, we had to bring an evening session to a premature halt because we couldn't figure out how the top of the radiator was supposed to be mounted in the car. To compound our frustration, an initial early-morning call to Be Cool yielded no satisfactory answers to help us identify a mystery bracket that was included with the kit.

After examining the parts once again and making another call, we were able to put things into place. We also ran into a couple of small fastener and fitting snafus that delayed things more than we would have liked. Despite our frustration from the installation, to the point of suspecting a less than satisfactory outcome, the Be Cool assembly turned out to be a clean and accurate fit, when all was said and done, with everything working together very nicely. With our new radiator installed, we know that when the Camaro project gets to the point where we get to really wring it out on a road course, we have the confidence that it will stay as cool as it does when we roll down the streets of our hometown cruise.

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