The “Arizona Rattler” 1983 Camaro Z28

DSCF3331 (Copy)Every year I go to Barrett-Jackson, and I bitch and moan about how there’s always a hundred first generation Camaros and never any good third generation models. Well this year I was pleasantly surprised by two very clean examples. This is the more extreme of the two and the one that has history rooted in our great state.

What started as an anemic 83 Z28 (with what could have been at best equipped with a 190hp L69 305) was transformed by local KC lights owner Pete Brown into this 498 cubic inch, fire-breathing monster. And this was way back in ’83, when the car was brand new. Typical of an 80’s custom it had some pretty dated graphics by today’s standards and some typical drag racing wheels. It’s been slightly modernized in the looks department with a monochromatic black paint job, a 91-92 spoiler and 18″ Iroc Z wheels, which in spite of their size are less obvious than you would imagine given the subtle body work on the car.

I guess my only complaint would the rest of the drive train – a turbo 400 automatic and Dana 44 rear end. I wasn’t really thinking about it (or looking) at the time, but it’s likely an IRS unit sourced from a C4 Corvette. Although these are both great components, it just seems like there was never a solid decision on whether this was going to be a straight line car, or a corner carver. If I was going to go to the trouble of changing the paint and wheels I probably would have thought about a 4L80 or even more preferably: A TKO or T56 manual transmission.

I find myself simply nitpicking though. This car is clean, sinister and exudes a real badass vibe. It’s almost as if by looking at it you can sense that if you found yourself next to this car at some midnight stop light confrontation, you’d be equally as concerned about getting your ass kicked literally, as well as in a race.

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2 thoughts on “The “Arizona Rattler” 1983 Camaro Z28

  1. Many years ago I remember seeing this Camaro and loving the look. I was thrilled when I learned it would be at Scottsdale this year, but, the thrill turned to disappointment when I laid eyes on it.

    Still interesting under its skin, the attempt to modernize the look of the outside was yet another tired, blacked out, large-spoilered, blackened large-wheeled, me-too job. The original graphics and wheels were a big part of its appeal and this generic, modern “go fast” treatment is not sinister in the least…just boring. I supposed it could have been worse: red painted brake calipers, all black powder coated wheels and copious amounts of LED lighting could have been present.

    • Although I tend to agree with everything you’re saying when it comes to most cars, I think in this car’s specific case, it wasn’t detrimental to the look of the car.

      The original graphics aren’t as ostentatious as some other ones from the same era, but they’re still quite dated today. I wouldn’t mind seeing them for the nostalgia factor, but I don’t think I would ever deliberately put something like that on a car I owned.

      The spoiler is the biggest one offered on the third gen Camaro, but it’s still a stock piece. I wouldn’t put one on any third gen I owned, but it’s not exactly fast and furious. I also agree that 18″ are too big for my personal taste, but not really big in the grand scheme of things.

      I think it would take many of the factors you listed at the end of your post or perhaps more contemporary wheel style, some blacked out lighting and a bullshit LS swap for me to cry foul. This one walks the line for me, but I respect your opinion. Thanks for the comment, I appreciate the perspective that’s different from the now-norm of “Bigger, Newer, Tougher”

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