We built this car to replace the first 1987 Camaro we built. It was crashed early on in our product development days for our 3rd Gen product line. We learned a few things during that build and started off with an even better plan for the DSE-Z 2.0. We will build a car for any new product line we have at Detroit Speed. It is one step of our new product lines. We were able to test fit prototype designs and then develop the parts before we went to production. Our parts go on many different cars before we release to our end customers.
It took 11 months to build. Ryan Mathews, Matt Butts and Andy Stapp did most of the build, they built it in our Detroit Speed race shop. The same shop and guys that maintain and prep our cars for battle week in and week out. Matt is a bonafide 3rd Gen lover and has built a few himself so it was a natural and happy spot for him. While the bulk of the build happened with Matt, Ryan and Andy our body shop crew of Michael Neighbors and Austin Moore, handled the body and paint work inside and out and underneath.
My earliest memory of being involved with cars was when I was about 5 years old, riding by my dad in his ’40 Ford coupe banging 4-speed Muncie gears.
My dad was, and still is, an avid old school car guy. We always had cars around he was building or working on. He took me to the local Saturday night dirt track where I loved the smell of alcohol and hot brakes, tires and gear oil. I was hooked somewhere between hot rods and racing, for life, at that point.
I found this car on Charlotte Craigslist and it was very ugly, however, the main car shell was intact, rust free and a hardtop. I am a junkie always looking for the next car build on Craigslist and FB Marketplace. The car was a clapped out red V6 Camaro. It was in a sketchy area so Matt and I both went to check it out. I ended up making a deal on the car for $500.00 and brought it back to the shop. It was a solid car but ugly…it was, definitely a $500.00 car. We disassembled the car and I sold parts on Craigslist that we wouldn’t reuse for $600.00. I was making money...but it was temporary. We blasted the car and started installing the Detroit Speed product line and building a roll cage. The car was built as our customer project cars are, all parts mocked up and installed less wiring before we move on to the body shop phase. We decided the 2.0 version of our 3rd Gen needed to be something different than our white 1.0 car. We decided on the factory electric blue that is a perfect match for this generation of car. We painted the underbody a dove grey. It is always a clean look and easy to maintain plus it gives us a chance to look for any issues as we maintain the car between weekends. During assembly we wanted the car to have as many stock features as possible, so we found the original “Camaro” step and repeat fabric for the seats. We had Robert McCarter stitch it into the rear seats and front Cobra seats. We have the Detroit Speed quick-change seat tracks in the car, so we can easily change between the street seats and a driver’s shell seat for road race weekends. To add to the IROC heritage, Alex Stivaletti, our social media and marketing team member designed the DSE-Z font to replace the IROC-Z label at the bottom edge of the door. He also did a Detroit Speed Equipped bubble decal that replaces the IROC bubble decal on the rockers of the car. Customers buying our speed kits get the bubble decal with the kit…pretty cool to a 3rd Gen dude, I think.
Did you know we also have a tee-shirt of the car? It is very cool and a must a have, for any mullet minded 3rd Gen owner that is worth their salt.
The best weekend out in this car, for me, was at the Motor State Challenge in Michigan. You could run the Gingerman road course one day and then go to Tire Rack and run on their test track setup for an autocross. Mark Stielow and I chased each other all day on the road course testing each other’s courage and best stunts we could think of while pushing each of our cars to the limit. The DSE-Z then backed it up on the autocross the next day running up into the top of the field with the fast C5/C6 guys that were there that weekend.
We are trying to keep the car nice as we use it to continue to develop and introduce new products to our 3rd Gen product line. Our body and paint shop did an awesome job on the paint and we need to “try” and keep it nice even though we thrash it each weekend.
I don’t think I would do anything different in this build because I am very happy with it, but maybe next time we will just leave the chambered exhaust off. The car sounds amazing, the MAST destroked LS7 has a shift point of 8500 rpm and it is loud. Next time we will just leave the small amount of chambered exhaust off for the full effect.
- American Autowire - Wiring
- AutoMeter Products - Gauges
- Baer Brakes - Brakes 14"; Calipers 6R; Pistons #6
- Bowler Performance - Assembled Transmission; Shifter
- C&R Racing, Inc. - Radiator
- Callies Performance Products - Magnum Crankshaft Stroke 3.625"; Ultra 1-Beam Rods Material/Length-6.350"
- Cam Motion - Custom Cam Shaft - Lift .776/.756
- Centerforce Clutches - Clutch and Flyweel 8%
- Cobra Seats USA - Seats
- Detroit Speed, Inc. - Builder; Rear Suspension Four Link Quadralink, Antiroll Bar, Pan Hard Bar, Springs/Airbags, Coilovers. Front Suspension MacPherson Strut, Spindles Factory, Springs/Airbags, Weight Jacking Kit, JRI Shocks Double Adjustable Strut, Antirell Bar with Wonder Bar. Other Suspension Modifications, Caster/Camber Plates and 3pnt Strut Tower Brace, Fuel Tank/Material/Capacity-14 gal., Bodywork, Front Bumper, Install Rollbar, Custom Interior, Door handles, Rear Bumper, Glass, Outside Mirror, Tail Lights, Graphics, Painter, Custom X-pipes on Exhaust System. Bodywork performed by Matt Butts and Painters were Austin Moore and Michael Neighbors of Detroit Speed.
- Diamond Pistons - Pistons; Compression Ratio 12.0:1
- Dynotech Engineering - Driveshaft Aluminum 3.5"
- Earl’s Performance Plumbing - Chassis Plumbing
- EATON - Limited Slip Tru-Trac
- Eckler Industries - Fiberglass Front Bumper, Extensively Modified (Extended to Sit Flush with Custom Laminated Carbon Splitter)
- Forgeline Motorsports - Wheels FF3C Concave; Front: 315/30/R18 Rear: 315/30/R18
- GearFX Driveline - Rear Suspension; Ratio 4.11
- GM Performance Motor - Chassis; Wheelbase Stock; Alternator; GM Water Pump LS7; GM Hood; Engine Machine Work and Assemble
- Holley Performance Products - Fuel Dominator Injection; Belt Drive System
- Hooker Blackheart - LS Swap Headers, X-Pipe 3"
- JRI Shocks - Shocks
- K&N Engineering, Inc. - Air Cleaner
- KICKER - Bluetooth Head Unit; Front Speakers
- Mast Motorsports - Engine LS7 388ci; Assembly and Machine Work; Aluminum Cylinder Heads
- Moser Engineering - Axle, 31-Spline
- MPI Steering Wheels - Steering Wheel
- MSD Performance - Intake Manifold - Atomic Air Force LS7
- PPG Industries Inc. - Paint; GM Bright Blue Metallic
- Ringbrothers - Hood Hinges
- Schroth Racing - Seatbelts
- Spal Automotive USA - Fan
- Stainless Works - Resonators and Mufflers
- T&D Machine Products - Shaft Mount 1.8:1
- Tilton Engineering - Master Cylinder; Pedal Assembly 600 Series
- Trackspec Motorsports - Louver and Custom Louver Rain Tray 1982-84 Z29, Fiberglass
- TREMEC - Transmission-T-56 Magnum
- Turn One - Steering Box
- Vintage Air - Air Conditioning and Defrost Unit
- Vision X Lighting - Headlights
- Woodward Precision Power Steering - Steering Column