1989 IROC-Z, Mike Kamimoto, Fuel Curve

Back to the 80s! Mike’s Road Ripping 1989 IROC-Z

The epitome of nineties muscle cars happened before the decade even started — Chevy’s 1989 IROC-Z is everything the ‘90s should have been. This is a car that was far ahead of its time in every way.

1989 IROC-Z, Mike Kamimoto, Fuel Curve

After spending quite some time looking for a non-T-top car, Mike Kamimoto of Campbell Auto Restoration bought this Camaro new in ’89. He has immaculately maintained the car while still driving it as it was meant to be (fast). The car has been to plenty of AutoCross events and recently tore up the tarmac at Thunderhill Raceway in Northern California with Mike behind the wheel.

1989 IROC-Z, Mike Kamimoto, Fuel Curve

1989 IROC-Z, Mike Kamimoto, Fuel CurveBefore we get into the performance of the machine, let’s take a moment to take in the glorious eighties aesthetic minus the Oingo Boingo soundtrack. The angular bodylines, the retro-futuristic sharp shapes of the dash, the Recaros re-stitched with the proper period-correct, timeless grey material. The paint is all original, too — a time machine to any early nineties GM dealership floor.

1989 IROC-Z, Mike Kamimoto, Fuel Curve

Even better than all of this is the fact that these details are exactly in the same condition, if not somehow even better, as when the car rolled off the showroom floor nearly 30 years ago. This is no small feat, and great care has been taken to keep the car in this shape. There are also 4-point belts and an extinguisher hiding inside — they practically look like factory options with Mike’s setup.

1989 IROC-Z, Mike Kamimoto, Fuel Curve

Moving on to what makes the car go fast, we’ll start by taking a look under the hood. Mike ended up with a 383 using Trick Flow heads, an Accel cam and SLP intake runners and headers; definitely a good combo for a healthy chunk of power. Mike also painted the motor and engine compartment before calling it good up front.

1989 IROC-Z, Mike Kamimoto, Fuel CurveOf course, none of that does any good at the track unless you’ve got the brakes and tires to back it up. Falken Azenis 650K tires ride on XXR 526 wheels measuring 18×9 inches in the front and an impressive 18×10.5” out back.

1989 IROC-Z, Mike Kamimoto, Fuel CurveUnderneath that boxy body Mike immediately replaced the suspension with lowering springs and spindles from Bell Tech. Years later, all of these components were replaced with QA1 shocks, an upgraded rear sway and Detroit Speed LCAs and Global West torque arms. Definitely a good list of parts from companies with a solid history in making cars like these handle the apexes.

Mike also built a 10-bolt rear axle with Moser big bearing housing ends, beefy Mark Williams axles and a Gleason Torsen posi-traction unit. For some adjustability, mounts were fabricated for Eibach coil springs so that the driver can tune the spring rate and ride height for different conditions.

1989 IROC-Z, Mike Kamimoto, Fuel CurveThis all comes in handy at the track, and Mike is eager to get back out to push the car that little bit further. Just like the drag strip it’s an addiction! A car like this is likely a handful on a road course but with all of the work Mike has done it’s much more manageable.

1989 IROC-Z, Mike Kamimoto, Fuel CurveAs the sun went down we chatted about future plans for the car and other projects Mike has going. We learned that we needed to head out to Campbell Auto Restoration the next chance we get to get a closer look at what’s happening there. In the meantime, enjoy this timeless classic; Mike certainly is.

Trevor Ryan is a track day photographer from Northern California. He has experience in many different areas of photography but always comes back to automotive work in the end. To him, nothing is more rewarding than creating an amazing image of a car. Having purchased a ’66 Mustang almost six years ago, he had no choice but to end up immersed in car culture sooner or later. He also owns a ’99 Miata that he takes to the track. He has love for every part of car culture and besides track days often makes it to drift events, Cars and Coffee, tuner shows, and anything else he can find.