Mike Ciero began his email by saying, “I enjoy your featured articles and thought you might enjoy seeing another home-built hero.” He is correct, I really do enjoy seeing all of the rides you guys have. Anyway, I thought you guys would also enjoy seeing more of his second-gen Camaro Z/28.
The project began when Mike found this car while searching an online auction. It only had 49,500 miles on the odometer and had no rust or damage. It did receive a repaint at some point but looked like it was a very well-done job.
“I have always loved second gens,” says Mike. “Years ago, I regrettably sold my ‘79 Z/28 that I purchased new in 1979. I sold it to a friend’s son in 2000. To replace it, I’ve been building this ’81 Camaro Z/28 for the last 11 years.”
Mike says the engine is a scratch-built 350 that uses a Chevrolet Performance four-bolt block. Inside is an Eagle forged crankshaft and rods supporting JE pistons. It’s a full roller motor with an Edelbrock aluminum top end. Behind the engine is a Turbo 400 transmission that leads to a Strange rearend with 3.70 gears and 35-spline axles.
“With the exception of the long block and transmission build, I did all the work myself,” Mike states. “I worked with a local engine builder, Opel Engineering, in Streamwood IL. I knew what I wanted in the engine, and we walked through the build. I provided the parts and then he machined, assembled, and broke the engine in and tuned it on the dyno.”
Mike realized that giving his second-gen a serious amount of horsepower meant it needed a serious set of brakes to bring it all to a halt. That’s why a set of four-piston Wilwood brakes grab the rear discs while six-piston versions hold the fronts.
When it comes to the suspension, Detroit Speed suspension parts and a pair of Heidt’s subframe connectors make sure the car handles as best it can.
“Everything I did was done in my garage,” Mike affirms. I don’t have a lift, so I was working off the floor. That’s a little tough, as I am 64 years old. It took quite a long time to build the car because I wouldn’t compromise on the quality of parts. If I couldn’t afford something, I waited until I could. If I couldn’t do it the right way, I wouldn’t do it. I added fuse panels, relays, weather-tight connectors, and other upgrades to improve reliability.”
Mike also told me he added C4 Corvette power seats inside and a pair of power mirrors from a C6 Corvette. Inside, Mike had help but did some of the interior work himself (he left the seats to a professional).
Building a car is no easy task, and Mike Ciero shows that with a little patience and a lot of determination, you can realize a completed dream without compromising standards.
Do you want to read about more Home-Built Heroes? All you need to do is click here. I want to see those reader’s rides. If you would like to share yours, I want to hear about it. Since I’ve started this series, I have received more than a few candidates, but I still want to see more — I can never get enough. If you want to see more cars built by you the readers, send a few pictures of your car showing the engine, interior, and exterior, along with all of the pertinent information, and I’ll make you internet famous. You can send your submissions to [email protected].