We are constantly hearing how shop classes are being eliminated at our schools. Wood working, metal working, and Automotive classes have been a long-standing tradition of American culture, giving hands-on experience in a trade that a person can be proud of. We stumbled upon this high school full of eager minds who are building a 1978 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 with the help of West Bend Dyno, of West Bend, Wisconsin.
The project started with Brad Riekkoff and his team at West Bend Dyno donating a rough around the edges Z28 to the school. The team of students, teachers, and West Bend Dyno technicians – with the help of aftermarket automotive businesses and experienced car builders – were able to rebuild the car and enter it in the Car Craft Nationals for their first crack at a competition. The car, named Teacher’s Pet, even rolled through the high school’s Homecoming Parade with the school Principal riding shotgun.
The Z28 was torn down, and the students were meticulous about putting her back together. The idea behind the project was to give the kids some real world, hands-on experience with rebuilding a car, and having them realize a sense of accomplishment.
The front suspension was treated to a host of goodies like QA1 upper and lower control arms, and a set of QA1 coilovers to keep the car riding perfect. The team also utilized a QA1 front anti-sway bar and a set of Detroit Speed solid body mounts. They also added frame connectors to add a little support to the body.
A Wilwood performance brake system uses Dynalite Pro six-piston calipers to provide stopping power up front. Although the steering is mostly stock, the students added solid u-joints between the column and steering box.
The rear suspension is a custom-built four-link with a panhard bar, using QA1 coilovers to set ride height and provide proper damping. A John’s Industries 9-inch rearend hangs off the suspension, and is loaded with 31 spline axles, a 3.73 gear set, and a TrueTrac differential. Wilwood four-piston calipers are used on the rear.
Detroit Speed mini-tubs were installed to give plenty of rear tire clearance, and a pair Carbon Kustoms carbon fiber inner fenders finish it off. A carbon fiber rear trunk lid from Carbon Kustoms was added as well.
Inside the car, a Topline Design and Speed rollcage was put together using 1 3/4-inch diameter DOM mild steel. Under careful supervision, the students welded the system in place.
Before installing the Procar seats to keep the driver and co-driver’s butts planted, the students installed Cool-It sound deadener from Thermotech. While working inside the car, the team also installed a set of Auto Meter gauges. Painless Wiring jumped in to help with a nose-to-tail wiring harness for the car.
We’ve covered all the fluffy stuff like the suspension, brakes, and body mods, but engine mods are what make our hearts beat faster. In what was probably the most epic field trip ever, the students went to Wegner Motorsports to work on the LS3 V8 that was destined to make their Z28 rumble.
The LS3 block was treated to a host of goodies. After being bored .040-inch over, a Scat 4340 crankshaft and I-beam rods sling a set of JE Pistons in the big holes. Comp Cams loaded the team up with lifters, a performance camshaft, rocker trunion upgrade, and a new timing chain. The heads were ported for better flow, and Del West titanium valves and a set of custom Wegner Motorsports valve covers top it off. Wegner also provided the front drive system. An AFCO aluminum radiator provides the necessary cooling, and Redline Oil provided all fluids the car needed.
An Edelbrock Victor Junior intake provides fresh air, and a set of Dynatech headers and a 2 1/2-inch exhaust system pushes the exhaust gases out the back of the car. The ignition and fuel-delivery duties are handled by a FAST system using stock LS coils, and an MSD starter gets it roaring to life.
When completed, the engine made 631 horsepower and 560 lb-ft. of torque on the engine dyno. That power transfers through a Hays Dragon Claw Clutch and into a Super T-10 four-speed manual transmission rebuilt by Automatic Transmission Design. It then travels through a chromoly driveshaft built by Don’s Auto Parts and Machine Shop. Once the power finally hits the ground, a West Bend Dyno session showed the car laying out a solid 542 horsepower and 480 lb-ft. of torque. The kids eventuall got the chance to do some testing in a place where most of us would love to let loose, their high school parking lot.
The car is far from finished, and West Bend Dyno intends to keep working with the kids to help the car evolve so they can learn difference parts and how various components can increase or decrease usable power. Soon, the intake manifold will get swapped out, and the car will be dyno’d again. Then the exhaust system will be swapped for a 3-inch system, and then the car will be strapped into the dyno again.
With so many bad things happening in our world right now, this is what America needs. teaching our youth how to do things with their hands. Getting dirty and learning as much as we can is what keeps us ticking. Keep your eyes peeled for the Teacher’s Pet, you’ll likely see it evolving and tearing up the tracks in the near future.