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My 'not a project' 89 IROC build

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Old 10-14-2018, 03:35 PM
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My 'not a project' 89 IROC build

Figured I would start a build thread to help me document what I do to this car as I go. I'm terrible about taking pictures when I get busy working, so maybe this will help me out... I bought this 89 IROC 5 weeks ago on a whim, with plans to make it just a nice street car that could be driven anywhere. The car was already extremely clean, and had what I would consider tasteful mods. Its a 305, 5 speed. The reason I say its not a project; I already have too many of those. My goal is to keep the car driveable, with very little down time between all the stages of the build I have planned. My plan: fix the small interior/exterior/underhood problems or imperfections, 9" rear, upgraded brakes all the way around, 383 speed density swapped miniram/afr headed combo. A t56 swap is planned, but at the extreme bottom of my priority list.

9/4/18, the day I bought it



Remember the part about too many projects? My mustang project got kicked out of the garage, and my GTA is hogging up the other half of my garage.













The first order of business, an unexpected one, the starter had recently been replaced, and the bolt holes were too small for the knurling on the bolts to pass through. It caught my eye as I was going over the car for the first time when I got it home. The threads you see sticking out were all that were holding the starter on. I swapped in a racing mini starter.



Second repair, a new blower motor. Had to be tapped on to work, downright nasty once I got it off. I also cleaned out the hvac box when I had it apart.



The previous owner had removed the fog lights and installed some cold air ducts to the air filters. I imagine it supplied plenty of air to the filters, but I found out that over 65 mph, the car would run hot. I ditched the ducts, found some NOS foglights, and factory radiator ducts from another member here.





I also bought a new dash pad to replace the original cracked one, replaced the outside door handles (springs were broken), and aligned the passenger window as it had an 1/8" gap between it and the weatherstripping.

Last edited by GTA matt; 10-14-2018 at 04:39 PM.
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Old 10-14-2018, 03:57 PM
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Re: My 'not a project' 89 IROC build

With many of the cosmetic and small problems handled, I began the next phase of the build, the rear and the brakes. Rear is a Burkhart fabricated 9" housing, completely overkill for what I have planned, but totally awesome and I just happened to have it laying around lol. Center section is a strange nodular, with an eaton trutrack, 3.70 gears and strange 31 spline axles. Brakes are wilwood dynalites all the way around. While the rear was out, I dropped the gas tank and installed a walbro 255 pump.

I am a perfectionist when it comes to brake lines, I gave this one my best effort.







I build and sell 9" center sections, for some reason, I could not unload this one. I thought for sure someone would want it, as its about the perfect setup for a street car.... so I made it my own...











I guess I failed to mention, Spohn torque arm and LCA's, along with an adjustable panhard bar were also added to my list





Front rotors are 3 piece, cut the ears off the spindle for the original calipers, drill and tap 2 of the original dust shield bolt holes for the new caliper brackets.





I used a Lokar parking brake cable kit, attached it to the original parking brake balance bracket.


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Old 10-14-2018, 04:09 PM
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Re: My 'not a project' 89 IROC build

The tires on the car were 9 years old! Replaced them with some Michelin pilot sport 4s tires. I have to say that these tires feel amazing!!!



Since the axle tubes are substantially larger then the 7.5, and the spring perches sit on top of the tube, the rear of the car would have been raised up at least a half inch, it already had more rake to it then I wanted, so I cut 1 coil off the springs, giving it a half inch of rake, front to rear.

All that brings me up to yesterday, drove the car for the first time to a cars and coffee in Raleigh. Car drove excellent, and it really felt rewarding that all my hard work in a short period of time was successful.











Over the next few weeks I'll be assembling the engine, getting the wire harness ready and working on a tune so that the engine swap will be a simple out and in process, although I'll probably take some time to clean and paint everything under the hood.
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Old 10-14-2018, 08:46 PM
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Re: My 'not a project' 89 IROC build

Nice car I love these TPI/ manual cars. That rear end is impressive. I've never seen that body kit on a Camaro
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Old 10-15-2018, 09:35 AM
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Re: My 'not a project' 89 IROC build

Good looking car. I get so sick of seeing chrome Irocís on every other vehicle. They still look great on 3rd gens though, one of the best looking wheels.
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Old 10-15-2018, 04:55 PM
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Re: My 'not a project' 89 IROC build

That's a good looking car!
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Old 10-18-2018, 05:01 PM
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Re: My 'not a project' 89 IROC build

Thats clean AF. The only thing I don't like it the way you have the tail lights tinted... looks like an after thought. A full red set of grids would look perfect. Otherwise I love everything about it.
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Old 10-18-2018, 08:16 PM
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Re: My 'not a project' 89 IROC build

Originally Posted by MeenZ28 View Post
Thats clean AF. The only thing I don't like it the way you have the tail lights tinted... looks like an after thought. A full red set of grids would look perfect. Otherwise I love everything about it.
I'm not a fan of the tail lights either. They were like that when I bought it. Not high on my priority list, but if I run across a good set, I'll scoop them up.
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Old 10-18-2018, 09:13 PM
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Re: My 'not a project' 89 IROC build

Taking a good car and making it better.. I like it!
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Old 10-18-2018, 11:47 PM
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Re: My 'not a project' 89 IROC build

Nice work thus far! ....I think I saw that car kickin around the local classifieds. Nice!
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Old 10-20-2018, 07:08 PM
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Re: My 'not a project' 89 IROC build

I like that car! I love the black trim around the bottom of the ground effects.....it looks like it's almost SUPPOSED to be there. All I'd change is the tail lights and paint the rear spoiler red, but that's just me. Great car man!
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Old 10-20-2018, 09:04 PM
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Re: My 'not a project' 89 IROC build

I've been putting it off since I bought the car, I noticed it had a small coolant leak at the corner of the intake gaskets. Was just a small trail, not a big deal, but the more I've been driving it, the worst it has got. I'm taking the car on a 500 mile trip next weekend and would sure hate for it to cause a problem, so I went ahead and knocked it out today. It's almost comical, all my parts have been ordered for the new engine, this one won't be in the car in another 2-3 weeks.... I've had a small change of plans, mostly on the engine management side. The engine will be an 11:1 383, forged rods/crank/pistons, AFR 195's, comp 292/300 cam, miniram intake, dyno Don headers. I was originally planning on swapping in my '730 ecm and harness I've got sitting on my shelf, I still have all my moates chip burning stuff, but I instead decided to go with an efi connection 24x setup, with a fitech LS ecu. Overall it will be an easier and cleaner install, with better tuning, sequential injector firing and individual coils. Really interested to see how this will work out.

Coolant leak, fairly certain the gaskets were original, they do NOT want to come off the head, identical to my gta gaskets I fondly remember doing 15 years ago...





Inside of engine was surprisingly clean. I really didn't know what to expect since the car has barely been driven over the past ~10 years.



New gaskets, a trip to the parts store and all back together in 5 hours. I'm a little out of practice on them, but it all came back to me pretty quickly



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Old 10-24-2018, 02:20 PM
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Re: My 'not a project' 89 IROC build

More progress, parts are actually coming in faster then I was really prepared for. Block, rotating assembly, cam and efi connection 24x setup came. Block is a .030 4 bolt main summit block. I'd heard mostly good things about it and figured I would give it a shot. Looks great, and all clearances are spot on. I measured deck height and ordered the appropriate head gaskets, assembled the pistons and rods and began gapping the rings. Its going to be a very boring next few nights in the garage, filing the rings is extremely time consuming and tedious.








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Old 10-27-2018, 08:06 PM
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Re: My 'not a project' 89 IROC build

My weekend road trip plans got canceled due to the weather, which gave me time to get this engine together. I got the long block together and measured for pushrod length, which are now on order. Engine details, for anyone curious or following, 383, AFR 195 heads, comp xfi 292 cam, LS7 lifters, comp gold rockers, eagle forged crank, eagle forged 6" rods, mahle forged pistons. Compression works out to 10.9:1.









Checked PTV clearance, over .100 on intake and exhaust





I popped the valve covers on to keep any dust out, checked the fitment of the intake. I polished the intake 10 years ago when I had it on my GTA. Sitting on the shelf for the past few years wasn't kind to it so I'm taking it back down and polishing it up again.



Still waiting on a few odds and ends, gotta get if off the engine stand so I can get the rear main adapter on it, bolt the oil pan on, flywheel, clutch, etc.
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Old 11-01-2018, 10:41 PM
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Re: My 'not a project' 89 IROC build

More progress, went to a local cars and coffee sunday morning, pulled the 305 out last night, removed the factory wiring harness, plopped the 383 in tonight. The engine harness and part of the body harness are one unit, so I have to take it apart and separate what I need and reinstall it so it looks factory. I need to re-pin the fitech ecm connector for my firing order, lengthen a few wires and swap a few terminals on some of the sensors. Overall it is coming together nicely.





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Old 11-02-2018, 01:18 PM
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Re: My 'not a project' 89 IROC build

any info on the added black ground effects added?id like that on my car
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Old 11-08-2018, 01:20 PM
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Re: My 'not a project' 89 IROC build

Originally Posted by amlv20 View Post
any info on the added black ground effects added?id like that on my car
Its garage door weatherstripping. I never would have thought of it myself, but it looks pretty nice and the previous owner did a good job putting it on.
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Old 11-08-2018, 01:48 PM
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Re: My 'not a project' 89 IROC build

Still coming along, a few hours after work at a time. Engine harness is ran, swapped pins on the injectors and coils for 2,3,4 and 7. If I had of thought about it beforehand, I would have got a cam ground with the LS firing order. ECM is in the stock location under the dash. Shortened the injector wires for cylinders 1,2,5 and 6 to fit my fuel rails, extended the ckp wire and changed the wire locations from the LS to the L31 crank sensor. Same with the cam sensor, reference voltage, ground and signal return are on different terminals. The actual connectors are the same. Changed the TPS and IAC connectors over to the TPI connectors. Ran all the wires under the intake. The engine bays are pretty busy on these things, especially the passenger side, but I'm doing my best to keep it looking clean. I'm using 96-97 LT1 knock sensors, located in the block drains, where the stock sensors would go, extended a 5.3 knock sensor harness to reach.





I think I have 2-3 hours in trying to figure out where I wanted the coils. I did not want them on the valve covers. I ended up with michigan motorsports relocation brackets, mounted the drivers side to a threaded boss on the block behind the P/S pump and the passenger side is bolted to the frame rail. Used an msd LT1 custom plug wire kit, since the terminals are the same between an optispark and LS coils. Wires are ran under the headers, I just need to figure out some heat protection for them. Wondering how many people will mistake it for a LT1.....







Hoping to possibly start it tonight, but still have some work to do. The stock body harness is separated from the engine harness, it needs to be wrapped up and routed, fans need to be wired and the AC needs to be wired
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Old 11-08-2018, 04:58 PM
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Re: My 'not a project' 89 IROC build

Awesome work so far.
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Old 11-08-2018, 08:30 PM
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Re: My 'not a project' 89 IROC build

Impressive how fast you're knocking this out, kudos to you man
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Old 11-09-2018, 07:12 AM
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Re: My 'not a project' 89 IROC build

Scary things going on in the garage last night 🤣🤣

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Old 11-09-2018, 09:32 AM
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Re: My 'not a project' 89 IROC build

I wish I had your energy and enthusiasm! You have got a lot done fast.
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Old 11-10-2018, 05:21 PM
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Re: My 'not a project' 89 IROC build

Originally Posted by dmccain View Post
I wish I had your energy and enthusiasm! You have got a lot done fast.
It's starting to wear on me to be honest, but it runs! Fired up with no hiccups on the first try, sounds great. I've still got some wiring and tidying up to do, but I wanted to get it running. I'll post a video once I get it all done. Again, it feels great to see all my work come together successfully. My billet underdrive pulleys that I forgot that I had on order came in. I plan on getting the accessory brackets powdercoated this winter, which was why I didn't bother cleaning them up. I also need to get the black alternator back that I loaned to a buddy... There is a slight misalignment with the header collectors and the lead pipes, causing a leak, which I imagine is from the raised exhaust ports on the heads. I'll have to cut and weld the pipe, which isn't a big deal, but I'm hoping my dyno don's headers will show up before I get to that point. Thanks for all the positive feedback, I think we all know how difficult these cars can be to work on, it seems that not a lot goes smoothly or just as planned....
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Old 11-11-2018, 11:01 AM
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Re: My 'not a project' 89 IROC build

Car looks amazing. Well done. Any close ups of the garage door ground fx models? Also, do you commercially sell fabricated 9 inch rear ends?
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Old 11-14-2018, 09:34 PM
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Re: My 'not a project' 89 IROC build

Originally Posted by ShiftyCapone View Post
Car looks amazing. Well done. Any close ups of the garage door ground fx models? Also, do you commercially sell fabricated 9 inch rear ends?
I'll get some pictures tomorrow. I only build center sections, not entire housings.
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Old 11-14-2018, 09:57 PM
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Re: My 'not a project' 89 IROC build

Nothing ever goes smoothly....

I thought I had the oil pan clearanced enough, but I should have never put the thing on this engine. When its running, I could just barely hear and feel the #7 rod touching the oil pan where it turns in near the oil filter. I gave up on trying to persuade the pan to move for me and ordered a new pan. Since I've gone overkill for no reason on everything else, the same went for the oil pan. Sometimes I question my sanity. I got a Canton road race pan made specifically for third gens. Its a good looking piece, trap doors and all sorts of gizmos inside that I don't need. I tried pulling the old pan in the car, if it was an auto, it would have come right out, however, I need another half inch of clearance that just isn't there due to the bellhousing. I'm hoping that if I separate the transmission, I'll be able to get it up high enough with the cherry picker without taking too much off of the engine.

I've deleted the hot water valve, it was just plain ugly sitting on the valve cover. If it turns into an issue with the ac next summer, I'll come up with an alternative. Shortened pretty much all of the body harness and main power wires trying to clean up how busy it looks under the hood.







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Old 11-15-2018, 10:35 AM
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Re: My 'not a project' 89 IROC build

In all seriousness... when you're done with this car, I'll buy it from you. Just let me know. Even if its years down the road. ;-)
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Old 11-15-2018, 10:52 PM
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Re: My 'not a project' 89 IROC build

Originally Posted by MeenZ28 View Post
In all seriousness... when you're done with this car, I'll buy it from you. Just let me know. Even if its years down the road. ;-)
If you had been hanging around in the garage with me earlier, I may have given the thing away For anybody googling 'can you remove the oil pan from a 5 speed camaro in the car?', well, you can, but it requires a certain amount of skill, determination and patience. I removed the upper motor mounts from the block, took the bellhousing bolts out and installed longer bolts from my engine stand. Raised the engine as high as I could, separated the engine and trans, and then had to raise the transmission. The good news is that the Canton pan went in much much easier due to its design. I still have to bolt the mounts back up and reinstall the drivers side header (yeah, thats gotta come out too), but we're on the homeward stretch.



All because of that little guy...


With any luck, I should be able to button it up tomorrow, swap the pulleys, finish up some final wiring and get it out of the garage. Not sure if I mentioned it, but I have an Intellitronix gauge cluster to install to. Along with that comes removing the speedo cable and some additional wiring.
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Old 11-16-2018, 09:31 AM
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Re: My 'not a project' 89 IROC build

These cars are a pain to work on to begin with. Hate you had that trouble everything was going too perfect I guess. Never does for me.. For about a span of 8-9 years I had G-bodys and old 80s era Chevy trucks because they were so much easier to fool with and I never lost $ on them. Something about these third gens always pulls me back in though I love driving them, they are fun.
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Old 11-17-2018, 06:36 PM
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Re: My 'not a project' 89 IROC build

So it just keeps getting better. Get it alllll back together. Had to cut and re-weld the exhaust in 2 spots to clear the kickouts on the oil pan and for both lead pipes to align properly. When installing the billet pullies, the water pump had just enough play in the shaft to make me want to change it. It was rough looking anyhow. So I painted and installed a new pump. All of that is pretty normal and routine. I primed the oil system again so I wouldn't risk a dry start, and when turning the engine over by hand, I can here something scraping in the oil pan. I can only imagine it's a crank counterweight or a rod hitting the crank scraper. I didnt crank the engine over after installing the pan since the engine and trans were out of alignment. I also didn't think it would have an issue.... I'll drop the pan sometime this week and address the problem. One silver lining here, the new oil pan wont require near the headache to get out....
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