Infrared Camaro, steve aguilar, 1971 camaro RS, NFR RED

Infrared Camaro – Steve Aguilar’s Second-Gen Gem

An early second-generation Camaro offers an automotive artist a wide array of options: restored stock, ground-pounding Trans Am replica, Pro Street cruiser, autocross demon, and more. To make this if-you-can-dream-it you-can-built-it project a reality, the aftermarket provides just about everything you need to complement the metal-fabrication work.

Infrared Camaro, steve aguilar, 1971 camaro RS, NFR RED

Steve Aguilar’s ’71 “Infrared Camaro” combines all the elements to produce a stunning example of what can accomplished. To see what he and his team built, start at the front that began life an as RS model. The original turn signals located between the headlights and grille were removed. Below the painted and recessed split bumpers, combo turn signals and air intakes were fabricated and located where the signals would be in a full-width bumper model. And, the grille is a one-off billet creation.

Infrared Camaro, steve aguilar, 1971 camaro RS, NFR RED

Infrared Camaro, steve aguilar, 1971 camaro RS, NFR RED

Other modifications continue the creative approach: rocker panels extended 2-inches; body lines heightened and sharpened; stock rear spoiler sharpened and extended to flow better with the body lines; rear bumper cut, sectioned and tucked into the body; exhaust exiting through the rear valance. For a project that was supposed to be a simple suspension upgrade, the Infrared Camaro turned into a major build with the help of Sean Smith Designs, Stone’s Metal Shop, Showtime Paint, Gabe’s Custom Interiors and an all-star list of suppliers.

Infrared Camaro, steve aguilar, 1971 camaro RS, NFR RED

Front and rear suspension is courtesy of Detroit Speed: hydroformed subframe, steering, and a mini-tubbed rear suspension that includes a GM 12-bolt rearend with 4.11 gears. Baer 14-inch brakes reside on all four corners. HRE Wheels – 19×9 in the front, 20×12 in the rear – are wrapped in Michelin tires.


Infrared Camaro, steve aguilar, 1971 camaro RS, NFR RED


Resting under the hood is a 454c.i. LSX engine from L&R Engines that puts 600 horsepower to the rear wheels through a Bowler-prepped Tremec transmission. Exhaust gases are handled by 3-inch pipes with Borla mufflers.

Infrared Camaro, steve aguilar, 1971 camaro RS, NFR RED

Infrared Camaro, steve aguilar, 1971 camaro RS, NFR RED

The interior was designed by Sean Smith Designs and executed by Gabe’s Custom Interiors. The leather-covered seats are from an Audi TT. The Sparc Industries-supplied dash is filled with Classic Instruments gauges. A Sparc steering wheel and column, as well as Lokar pedals and shifter, complete the interior package.

Infrared Camaro, steve aguilar, 1971 camaro RS, NFR RED

Infrared Camaro, steve aguilar, 1971 camaro RS, NFR RED

What began as a suspension upgrade to a good survivor Camaro gave birth to a car that can dominate on the show floor or an autocross course. But it’s also a great highway cruiser.

Infrared Camaro, steve aguilar, 1971 camaro RS, NFR RED

“The most memorable experience was taking my son on the maiden drive,” Steve says. “We took a chance and drove it from Fullerton to Costa Mesa for the 2019 Labor Day Cruise. It made it there and got us home without incident.”

Photos by John Jackson

Dave Doucette is a long-time Goodguys member with a career in newspaper, magazine and website journalism. He was one of the founding editors of USA TODAY, editor of two daily newspapers and co-owner of a magazine publishing and trade show company. He owns and operates Real Auto Media. His first car was a 1947 Ford; he has owned Camaros, Firebirds, El Caminos and a 1956 Chevy that was entered in shows from California to Florida before being sold last year. He was one of the original Goodguys Rodders Reps and served as president of two classic Chevy clubs. Doucette grew up in South Florida, avidly following the racing exploits of local hero Ollie Olsen and, of course, Don Garlits. He remembers riding his bicycle to Briggs Cunningham’s West Palm Beach factory to peak through the fence at his Sebring and LeMans racers.