Hoonigan Garage Grows a Mullet with Detroit Speed Camaro
Having already torn it up at the Hoonigan display at SEMA 2018, LS7-powered third-gen Camaro pulls up for a closer examination.
Who remembers 1987? More than a few people lost their shirts on Black Monday (in the same year Wall Street’s Gordon Gekko declared that “Greed, for the lack of a better word, is good”). Al Unser Sr. becomes the oldest winner of the Indy 500, and the second to do it four times overall. Jessica McClure falls down a well, then rescued on national television. Rhonda Rousey, Sebastian Vettel, and Tim Tebow are born. Liberace, Andy Warhol, and Henry Ford II pass away.
And sometime in that year, a particular 1987 Chevrolet Camaro hardtop left the assembly line, eventually finding its way into the garage of North Carolina-based aftermarket supplier Detroit Speed Inc to become the DSE-Z. The Hoonigan Garage recently welcomed back the Camaro for a close-up, having witnessed the beast tear it up at their “SEMA of Shred” display at SEMA 2018.
“I brought our 1987 Camaro — as we like to refer to it as — the DSE-Z,” said Detroit Speed’s Dustin McNeill, “‘cuz it’s owned by Kyle Tucker, owner of Detroit Speed. DSE-Z, for ‘Detroit Speed & Engineering.'”
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McNeill says the Camaro is Detroit Speed’s test bed for front and rear suspension components for the third-gen GM F-body, allowing the company to “beat up on” potential new suspension bits to determine how well they perform, how much it would take to break them, and so on. The car has tested such parts at Road America (where it hit 180 mph on the front straight) and Las Vegas, along with more than a few autocrosses.
“It is GM Bright Blue Metallic,” says McNeill of the exterior. “It’s PPG paint. It was a color for third-gens back in the day. It is street-legal, driven on the street, done some Ultimate Street Car events.”
The details on this hardcore Camaro are incredible, including the custom badges made for it, the carbon fiber splitter at the bottom of the fiberglass nose, the OEM plastic hood with functional vents, and the custom vinyl graphics to display the sponsors on said hood, instead of taking up valuable window space.
“We kept it pretty much stock up here, other than the roll cage and the pedals,” said McNeill of the interior. “The dash is actually out of another Camaro. The only thing that’s been replaced on the dash is the top dash pad.”
The rest of the Camaro’s office space includes custom seats, Detroit Speed’s own pin-adjustable seat lock, a roll cage that is tucked away neatly against the car (something McNeill says Detroit Speed likes to do on all of their cars), and stock door panels with manual-cranking windows.
“This a cool feature of this car,” says McNeill of the engine inside. “It has an LS7. It is a Master Motorsports Black Label. It has the Holley EFI throttle body, 105 millimeters of throttle body. We do drive-by-cable just for a better feel and a little response from the foot. MSD intake, powered by a Holley Dominator ECU that keeps it all revving and injectors firing and telling it what to do.”
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The LS7 is destroked, according to McNeill, down from 427 cubic inches to 388 cubic inches, and is an absolute terror wherever it goes. It also has a dry sump to keep things lubricated, and a big radiator to keep it all cool. Detroit Speed has a few bits of their own in the engine bay, like the strut tower brace and caster-camber plates for easy suspension adjustments without needing a couple of ramps and chocks.
“The rear suspension here is a rear four-bar that we call Quadralink for a third-gen,” said McNeil. “We adapt the brackets on a Ford 9-inch rear end to fit in here… The bar will actually swivel… it’ll spin all the way around so the suspension doesn’t bind.”
What Detroit Speed doesn’t have on this Camaro is the torque arm, due to how fragile they are in general. There is a track bar to keep the rear stable, and when paired with an anti-roll bar, the DSE-Z makes every corner a straight. Completing the underside is a custom exhaust with chambered mufflers, an aluminum driveshaft, and a beefed-up Tremec T56 six-speed manual. All in all, this is one badass build.