My First Car (1997 Chevy Camaro)
February 4th, 2016
Way back in the day, when I was about 19, I purchased a 1997 Camaro. It only had 75,000KM and one owner I believe, and just in awesome condition. This is technically my first car (because the T-Bird was given to me), so it has a special place in my heart. Some may argue that I’m putting this car in this section is wrong because the car was equipped with a 3.8L V6 putting out 200 Horsepower and 225 Foot Pounds of Torque at the crank, but compared to the Mustang GT with the 4.6L V8 it was just as fast stock for stock, so it wasn’t the slowest thing out there. Given the look and layout (that new at the time aero styling) some people may say it’s more of a sport coupe than a muscle car, but this is a matter of opinion.
When I was looking at cars I was all over the place. I had a budget and operating costs were a concern (fuel and insurance), so the idea of owning any type of V8 seemed out of the question. This helped narrow down the selection. This particular car just spoke to me when I saw it on the lot. It was probably the glossy black paint making it look sinister with those aggressive looking headlights (1997 is the best year, you get the older head lights but the updated interior), and driving it with the 5 speed manual was very entertaining. I’m glad I picked this car because it kind of set the tone for my taste in vehicles here on out. I am partial to American Muscle but I have broadened my taste now that I own another V6 rear wheel drive car, a Nissan 350Z but that’s for another story. The point is a have developed a taste for rear wheel drive vehicles and it’s all thanks to this car.
This was also the first car where I got really interested in modifying vehicles. There was nothing crazy about this car, it was all bolt-ons, but I did considerable research on the parts I decided to use and this was a very thorough build. Practically the entire suspension was swapped out in favour of tubular components with poly urethane bushings. Eibach Springs (Pro-Kit) were installed with Bilstein dampeners to control the ride. There were some core things on the chassis I should have replaced which I didn’t which would have been cheap, the sway bar bushings and installing stainless steel braided clutch and brake lines. If I would have done that as well, driver feel would have been very precise for that car. The head unit was changed out and all 4 speakers with Dynamat installed throughout the cab, unfortunately I never got around to amplifying the speakers or adding a sub, I regret that a little but rest assured I learned my lesson from that. Interior wise I just added as much aluminium bits where ever it made sense. For convenience and security, the vehicle was outfitted with a 2-way Compustar Security and Remote Starter system (my very first combo install) and we added actuators so it would have power door locks. Unfortunately the car was never completed in my true vision before I sold it, because I needed something more practical and money.
So what was it like owning the car? Definitely a fun car to cruise around it, I thought it looked good, and with the FlowMaster exhaust (there was a specific system for the V6) if you kept the thing under 2500 rpm and sounded like a V8, any higher it makes that GM V6 buzzing sound like what the Grand Nationals sound like but not as cool. The car is definitely not going to win any 0-60 acceleration awards, but it was spirited enough to make it fun. The tuned up suspension has to be the highlight of this car though. It just felt so precise and well planted no matter what you did, the tires also have a lot to do with the precise control. I just think too many people focus on adding power and not developing the chassis first. I would rather have a well sorted out suspension and braking system over gobs of power, because you’ll utilize the power you already have and then when it’s time to make more power, you have a chassis that can keep up.
-SLP twin cone cold air intake
-Pace Setter ceramic coated headers
-ZZP water pump under-drive pully
-MSD Blaster Coils
-MSD Ignition Wires
-BMR Tubular front a-arms
-UMI Performance Trailing Arms
-UMI Performance Torque Arm
-UMI Performance Panhard bar
-Eibach Pro-kit Springs
-BMR modified short throw shifter
-BF Goodrich KDW2 summer tires
-JVC KD-NX5000 single din navigation head unit
-Inifity Reference coaxial speakers
-Passport SR-1 built in radar detector