Pro Touring 1985 Chevy Camaro

By Nick Licata   –   Photography by NotStock Photography

For well over 15 years, we’ve been hearing how the third-gen Camaro (1982–92) is going to be the next big thing when it comes to building a somewhat affordable muscle car. Due to the car’s popularity at the time, every mullet-wearing local rock singer/guitarist had one, albeit they were typically the second owner, but including “I drive a Camaro” in your pick-up line upped your chances of scoring the hottest chick at the local dive bar or bowling alley.

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Ironically, Motor Trend named the ’82 Camaro “Car of the Year.” Was the award fueled by lack of viable competition, ad dollars, or piles of party favors making their way to the decision makers at MT? We’ll never know for sure, but it was the ’80s man, and the Camaro was hot!

006 Side profile 1985 Camaro in red pro touring modifications

Unfortunately, the third-gen Camaro’s lack of power was a by-product of the government’s rage against horsepower and creating stringent smog laws that disallowed domestic automakers to build new cars with anything that resembled performance. Big-blocks and big-inch small-blocks capable of creating horsepower reminiscent of their ancestors of the late ’60s and early ’70s were all banned. In 1985 the Z28 and IROC Z28 came with a humble 215hp 305ci engine, but what the third-gen Camaro lacked in horsepower was made up in handling prowess. Even stock the car handled well and could pull 0.92 g’s on the skidpad in showroom trim. Because of that, Car and Driver magazine named the ’84 Camaro the “Best Handling Car Built in the United States.” If you wanted sports car–like handling performance in a relatively affordable package, you’d have to shell out around $11,000 to $14,000 for the IROC Z28. A bargain at the time? That all depended on your budget. But if you just had to have a Camaro, that was as good as it got.

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003 Red 1985 Chevy Camaro custom LED headlights iroc build

Even with that lack of power, it had little effect on sales as GM was flinging out these plastic-bumpered Camaros off the assembly line like Chips Ahoy! cookies on a conveyer belt. Although the majority of the approximately 1.5 million were V-8 powered, many of them featured the measly four- and six-cylinder engines (four-cylinder discontinued in 1986), but none of that mattered to the gold chainers who bought one. To them, a Camaro was a Camaro and it was cool regardless of what engine was underhood. The sleek, sexy body lines set it apart from anything else.

023 Custom Carbon fiber rear diffuser on a 1985 Camaro IROC Z

Today, there’s still an ample supply of affordable, used third-gen Camaros ripe for picking. What makes that even better is that the aftermarket has been gradually offering replacement restoration and performance parts hoping to cash in on the third-gen Camaro’s big wave. So far that wave appears to be more like a ripple in the muscle car world, but Terry Kervin, owner of this ’85 Camaro likes to set trends—not follow them. “I wanted to own something different than the typical first- and second-gen Camaros that you see just about everywhere,” Terry says. “The third-gen Camaro deserves a lot of attention, so owners and builders just need to get creative with this platform.”

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018 Custom Carbon fiber rear wing pro touring 1985 chevy camaro

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Terry hit up Jesse Greening and the team at Greening Auto Company in Cullman, Alabama, to build a totally custom third-gen. GAC is known for building award-winning hot rods, many of which follow anything but the norm. “We’ve built a lot of common muscle cars and hot rods over the years, and we’ve also built quite a few non-traditional-style cars, so it’s exciting when someone asks us to build something different,” Jessee Greening says. “So when Terry approached us about building a third-gen Camaro, we jumped on it and were up for the challenge.”

022 Rear panel and taillights of a 1985 Camaro IROC Z

Greening found an ’85 in Arizona that appeared to be in rough shape, but like most cars found in the desert, the sheetmetal showed little rust. With a solid canvass as a starting point, Greening got together with renowned automotive artist, Eric Brockmeyer and the duo went to work. “Terry let Brockmeyer and I loose in the creative department. Having no restrictions made it easy for us to come up with a unique build that would bring an ’80s Camaro into the modern muscle car world while still retaining that ’80s-era vibe,” Greening says.

007 Red 1985 Chevy Camaro aggressive stance pro touring design

With the rendering pinned on the wall for inspiration, the Greening gang took the iconic Camaro’s body, accentuated its sleek lines, reworked the front and rear fascia, and then integrated the ground effects to comply with the custom decklid and front spoiler. That trick GAC hood louver plays off the original, only this one actually promotes airflow into the engine bay unlike the factory piece that was for decoration only.

With the body mods complete, Autobahn Collision Center in Wapakoneta, Ohio, sprayed the F-body in a seductive layer of Glasurit Porsche Red accented with a flat black hood and Greening’s own IROC-Z stripe and graphic. For added flavor they added a carbon-fiber rear diffuser and accented the front spoiler with a carbon-fiber lip all done by Zach Ingram at Fiber Forged—but what also stands out is the custom GAC LED headlights that give Terry’s Camaro a seductive look all its own.

010 custom engine bay iroc 1985 camaro

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With the Camaro refined on the outside, a 440ci Don Hardy LS7 was fitted between the custom inner fender panels to coincide with this third-gen’s aggressive nature. The Greening crew dressed it with custom carbon-fiber valve covers from Fiber Forged and topped it with a Holley 1,000-cfm throttle body that pulls air through the custom GAC air cleaner prior to feeding the Holley single-plane intake manifold. A set of Ultimate Headers headers and 2.5-inch stainless exhaust raise hell before the MagnaFlow mufflers tone things down a bit. All that LS7 goodness makes its way to a GearFX rearend via the Bowler 4L85E transmission.

020 Close up of Custom black 1985 Camaro wheel red brake caliper

Yes, the third-gen Camaro’s stock suspension was adequate for the time, but to match this Camaro’s 640-plus horsepower it carries today, a Detroit Speed QUADRALink suspension resides out back, complete with double-adjustable JRi shocks. Up front, DSE tubular control arms along with their caster/camber plate is accompanied by DSE/JRi double-adjustable strut kit and sway bar. It’s all tied together with DSE subframe connectors for additional chassis stiffness and maximum handling performance.

Baer XTR six-piston charcoal gray calipers and 14-inch rotors offer precision stopping power and look brilliant behind the black GAC one-off custom wheels wrapped in Michelin Pilot Super Sport rubber. The combination looks great and stays connected to  the Camaro’s ’80s roots.

The interior incorporates a modern interpretation of the Camaro’s original style while paying homage to that IROC-vibe third-gen enthusiasts dig so much, sans feather roach clip clamped on the rearview mirror, of course. Chris at Mobile Toys Inc. (MTI) in College Station, Texas, overhauled the interior with custom 3-D–constructed door panels and center console all wrapped in black Relicate leather. The seats came out of a late-model Hyundai and received a matching leather treatment. MTI built a custom dash mimicking the original by creating a molded copy using composite and aluminum then mounted period-correct-looking Dakota Digital VHX modern gauges.

014 Dashboard with carbon fiber digital gauges touchscreen

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Terry’s ride wouldn’t be complete without a kick-ass sound system and this one has just that. It starts with a Kenwood head unit and includes four 6.5-inch Morel speakers throughout with four Focal subs tucked in the spare tirewell—perfect for thumping some bass-heavy ’80s tunes.

017 Custom Black leather seats with red stitching modernized pro touring 1985 chevy camaro

So, while we continue to wait patiently for the third-gen Camaro to take off in popularity, we can only hope Terry’s ’85 will influence others to take this seldom-used platform and build a third-gen of their own. What the Greening Auto Company has done here could quite possibly be the catalyst that shows those fence-sitters how cool these F-bodies can be built.

008 Rear view 1985 Chevy Camaro red pro touring with wide tires

TECH CHECK
Owner: Terry Kervin Atlanta, Georgia
Vehicle: ’85 Chevy Camaro

Engine
Type: Don Hardy Race Cars LS7
Displacement: 440 ci
Bore: 4.185 inches
Stroke: 4.00 inches
Cylinder Heads: LSX-LS7
Rotating Assembly: Lunati crank, Mahle pistons
Camshaft: DHRC (0.657/0.657 lift, 250/263 deg. duration at 0.050)
Induction: Holley 1,000-cfm throttle body, Holley single-plane intake manifold, GAC custom air intake
Fuel Injection: Holley Terminator
Assembly: Don Hardy Race Cars
Exhaust: Ultimate Headers headers, custom 2.5-inch stainless steel exhaust by GAC, MagnaFlow mufflers
Wiring: Coach Controls
Ancillaries: Vintage Air front drive system, Fiber Forged valve covers, Ringbrothers hood hinges
Output: 640 hp and 580 lb-ft

Drivetrain
Transmission: Bowler Performance 4L85E
Converter: 2,800 stall
Rear Axle: GearFX 12-bolt rearend, Truetrac limited-slip differential, GM 3.50 gearset, 33-spline axles

Chassis
Front Suspension: Detroit Speed tubular lower control arms, DSE/JRi double-adjustable shocks
Rear Suspension: Detroit Speed QUADRALink, DSE/JRi double-adjustable shocks, Detroit Speed subframe connectors
Brakes: Baer XTR six-piston calipers, 14-inch rotors, Master Power master cylinder

Wheels & Tires
Wheels: Custom GAC (18×9.5 front, 19×12 rear)
Tires: Michelin Pilot Super Sport; 285/35R18 front, 305/35R19 rear

Interior
Upholstery: Black Mainstream emphatic 2 carpet, custom black Relicate leather door panels, center console, seat covers
Installation: Mobile Toys Inc. (College Station, TX)
Seats: Late-model Hyundai covered in Relicate Black leather with suede inserts
Steering: Late-model GM column, MOMO steering wheel with custom-machined adaptor
Shifter: Lokar
Dash: Fiberglass mold from original with carbon-fiber overlay by MTI
Instrumentation: Dakota Digital VHX
Pedals: Custom by GAC
HVAC: Vintage Air
Entertainment System: Kenwood head unit, four Morel 6.5-inch speakers, four 10-inch subs in rear by MTI

Exterior
Bodywork and Paint: Autobahn Collision Center (Wapakoneta, OH)
Paint: Glasurit Porsche Red
Front Bumper: Custom aluminum by GAC
Rear Bumper: Custom aluminum by GAC with custom exhaust cutout
Headlights: GAC custom one-off
Taillights: Classic Industries modified by GAC

Click on this issue’s cover to see the enhanced digital version of Pro Touring 1985 Chevy Camaro.

acp february 2024

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