Before getting down to the meat and potatoes of the finale of this engine build, let me tell ya; you guys that live in states where emission laws are not as strict as California’s have it made. Third-generation Camaros are among the most affordable on the market and have great potential for street or track build-ups. These are the salad days for the ’82-92 F-bodies, as salvage yards have no shortage of these cars laying around full of nice parts for the taking.


Like many 3rd-generation Camaro owners, my ’88 IROC-Z is used as a daily-commuting-back-and-forth-to-work grocery getter.


The 305ci throttle body small-block is about as worn as a pair of Wal-Mart underwear, so it has to go. My idea was to replace the 305 with a 383 that can roast the fruity Deutschland road vehicles and the sideways-wearing ball cap owners that drive ’em.


Once the engine was at the dyno facility, Westech Performance in Mira Loma, California, our dyno technicians, Ernie Mena and Steve Brule, went through the paces of hooking up the Accel harness, Accel DFI Thruster EFI engine management system, and Accel dual sync distributor. Even though EFI and engine tuning are new to me, Mena made it look easy. The Accel DFI Thruster program is designed for the entry-level and advanced tuner. The Thruster program differs from some of the previous Accel systems by simplifying the tuning process and eliminating many of the unnecessary screens and maps. This should help prevent a novice tuner like me from continually screwing things up.


I had boldly speculated this engine would produce around 400 horses at the flywheel. In no uncertain terms…I was wrong.  After tuning the engine and a few dyno pulls, the horsepower peaked at 340 @ 4700 rpm and the torque topped out at 462 @ 3,400 rpm. While I was very happy with the torque output, my disappointment over the peak horsepower numbers was hard to deal with. That was until Brule and Mena set me straight. “This engine behaved exactly the way it was supposed too,” said Brule. In order to keep the engine smog-compliant and play by the stringent California smog laws, a C.A.R.B.-approved cam, heads, and intake had to be used.  


The Crane Cams bumpstick (Part# 104224, grind 2032), has a duration, at .050-inch lift, of 214/220 with lift of 452/465 and lobe separation of 112-degrees. This was just about as big as we could go and remain smog-legal. Along with the cam, the Edelbrock Performer cylinder heads were the next step in keeping with the smog laws. After looking at these two factors, my view of the engine changed and I was no longer disappointed. At 2,500 rpm the engine torque is already at 430 ft-lbs. This will ensure snappy throttle response and no problems roasting the hydes, should one desire to do so.