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.
Before 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.
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.
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.
Of 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.
Underneath 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.
This 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.
As 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.