This hobby continues to amaze, inspire, grow and set the bar higher and higher than ever before. What were once just outdated, gas-guzzling vehicles have now become so much more. The best part of this hobby, our muscle cars don’t ever have to die. With the aftermarket continuing to produce more efficient and race-ready parts, bolting in performance is merely just a wrench-turn away.
If you think that the “American Muscle car” is solely an American ideal, you’re sadly mistaken. Case in point, Finnish native, Mikko and his ’78 LS3, gear-grabbing T-56 swapped Camaro drift car. After drifting and track racing vintage european vehicles for over five years, Mikko decided his driving experience was in need of a change. Mikko soon found a ’78 Camaro that would both satisfy his passion for driving something different but also allow him to participate in the Historic Race Finland series in the Roadsport V8 class.
While the car was originally built for the Roadsport class, Mikko isn’t afraid to enter in as a drift car either. Although the ’78 had already been built for the specific Roadsport V8 class, Mikko had decided it was up for a total overhaul including an LS3 powerplant, Tremec transmission and a complete upgrade of the front and rear suspension. The body, too, received a makeover to complete the build.
For power, Mikko relies on a tried and true Ls3 from Chevrolet Performance. It features a Lunait Voodoo camshaft upgrade, Lunati Gold Patriot double spring set managed by Tatech. To get all that fury out, the LS3 spits out exhaust through a Pacesetter 1 3/4-inch long tube header and 3-inch exhaust. It’s all good for near 500hp to the tires. Nice, right?
Not stopping there, the transmission was yanked in favor of a Tremec T56 out of a ’98 F-body donor Camaro. For extra clamping force, the Tremec was mated to a Clutchmasters FX500 clutch and flywheel. Out back, the rearend was left with the original 3.73:1 gear ratio, although a Posi-Trac differential was added with c-clip eliminators.
To control the bounce and weight transfer, Mikko also made sure to outfit the Camaro front to rear with lots of suspension components.
Mikko relies on a simple set of lowering springs, Bilstein shocks and a sway bar. Bushings were upgraded to polyurethane. Managing the slides are thanks to an ’81 Z28 steering box and arm, while the spindles are about 1.5 inches shorter, which allows the front wheels to turn in more aggressively until lock and eliminate the ackerman affect. For brakes, the Camaro uses a Wilwood Superlite brake caliper using 12-inch Corvette rotors.
Out back, the suspension gets similar revisions. The factory leaf springs were swapped for stiffer units and utilize iron bushings for less flex, although a Nissan S14 rear coilover shock was used in place of the factory monotube style. The rear sway bar and panhard bar are also upgraded units. Rear brakes are also 12-inch version of the Corvette rotors.
Of course, a car is not complete without a total exterior makeover. As we are sure you’re well aware, the ’78 Camaro weren’t the most handsome models for the second-generation. To fix this, Mikko converted the front end to resemble the ’70-73 Camaro.
This included a fiberglass front end, hood, doors. The trunklid and bumpers are also fiberglass and the windows were upgraded to Lexan to cut down on weight. Inside, the Camaro was treated to a full cage, g-braces and a stripped interior. Even the seams were welded together for extra body rigidity. With near 50/50 weight distribution front to rear (50.5/49.5, front/rear), this Camaro is a balancing work of art. At a trim 2,870lb. with a full tank of fuel, this Camaro is the equivalent to Usain Bolt.
To finish off the build, a set of 17×8 AR TT2 wheels with 1-inch spacers were used for the front. Front wheels were wrapped in race-ready, Toyo Proxes P235/45/R17 R888. The rear got a larger set of 18-inch wheels wrapped in Bridgesont RE71; P245/40/R18.