December Camaro of the Month: Brandon Pursley's 1991 Camaro Z28
Each month, TorqueNews works with the folks who run the Camaros Unlimited Facebook page to pick the Camaro of the Month. To be more specific, each month, the members of Camaros Unlimited nominate their 5 (or 6, in the event of a tie) favorite Camaros owned by other members of the page, followed by a vote to pick the top car for that month.
Well, the members just finished up voting for the December 2016 Camaro of the Month and their favorite car from the group was the 1991 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 owned by Brandon Pursley. I reached out to Brandon for more information on his gorgeous GM muscle car, and below you will find a detailed history on the car, why he bought this particular car and what he has done since then. There is also a heavily detailed modification list, which is really the best way to examine everything that he has done with this Camaro over the years.
December Camaro of the Month
Here is the story of Brandon Pursley’s 1991 Camaro Z28:
My car is 1991 Camaro Z28 that I bought almost 17 years ago, just after graduating high school. When I tell people that this is my dream car they typically laugh (insert third gen joke), but it actually is. I first saw this car while participating in a high school drag racing event in 1998 at Bandimere Speedway outside Denver, and I even took pics of it then. From that point, I knew that I wanted a black 91-92 Z28 with grey leather and a 5spd.
A couple of years later while traveling to a job interview I found this car sitting lonely in a parking lot on a corner with a for sale sign on it. I thought that this couldn't be the same car, but it had the teal Heritage Edition stripes and accents and after a closer look – I confirmed that it had the grey leather, the tint, the everything. I called the owner, went to the bank and paid him the asking price. It was my dream car. This decision literally shaped the direction of my life and career from that day forward.
The car started life as 305 TPI, 5spd. I added 17x8 billet wheels just weeks after purchase, then proceeded to attend my first autocross and I was hooked. From there it got lowering springs and 17x9.5 Corvette Zr1 replicas painted in grand sport fashion (which at the time 2001ish was not a popular look, but black wheels would prevail). I soon found that the challenge of making my car corner was much more exciting to me than trying beat my friends’ dad’s wallets at the drag strip, so I focused on that as a primary direction with the car.
I got bit by the car show bug in 2003, and began to focus on improvements that had to look as good as they performed, and if it didn't visually appeal, it must be modified to do so. So many years of showing, racing, and general young guy showing off for girls abuse, has resulted in many upgrades, and many "do-overs" in the design. The one thing always out of reach was a new engine.
I started a new life with my wife Danielle and started our family with my son Braxton. After getting our bills paid, I felt like I could start to keep an eye out for an engine for the car and it had to be an LS. After buying a donor LS1 powered 1998 Z28 I found out I was having twin babies, so project came to screeching halt.
I parted that donor car out and somehow made much more money than I paid for the car. Some time later, a 2001 Trans Am t56 car came up for sale, and I was able to purchase it for a bargain, but still yet did not have the time with the growing family at home to put the swap together. So during this time I planned, bought small parts, and slowly came to a point where I pulled the driveline from the T/A. I sent the motor to my friends at Lloyds Machine Service for stock bottom end rebuild (except ARP fastners), and ran across a deal on the 243 heads off of a low mile Z06. I sent the heads to Advance Inductions for their 243 226cc CNC head package, was subsequently sold on using a complete head and cam package. I put the motor together and let it sit for almost a year before I was able to get approval from the wife to burn some midnight oil and complete the LS swap.
I had come up with the idea that shaving various areas on the under hood area could really help make the engine bay stand out and remove some the cheap stamped 80's look. Well, I might have gone too far, or just right. I plated (shaved) the firewall, the fender side openings, battery trays, then welded them all in, and started filling holes. I sunk the radiator under the core support (so twin air intake would fit) with a custom sized champion radiator with dual Spal electric fans, then welded 1/4 rod stock to front core to give the front edge a radius and keep it from looking sharp where all other areas had been smoothed. I welded in pop up motorcycle fuel tank bungs in the battery tray area to use to access the washer, and coolant bottles mounted below. I painted it all my self using PPG base/clear. I hadn't really painted anything in almost 16 years! I rolled it outside my shop bay door in the open air to spray it (don't tell), then color sanded and polished it all. Took all my effort to get the motor in without scratching anything.
I was able to get the car running and driveable 2 days before the Optima USCA Pike Peak International Raceway. This was a huge accomplishment for me as I was burning the candle at both ends. I promised my wife the engine swap would take as little of family time as possible, and I kept that promise as close as I could by doing all of the above work by going into work at 3-4am, working on my lunch breaks, and sneaking out at night after the kids had been tucked in and working through the night during the weekend.
It took me 4 months and 6 days from running TPI to RACING LS1. When it came time to get the car to the track I drove the car all through the night back and forth into Wyoming to Denver to put enough miles on the fresh motor to be able to feel confident enough to "break it in" with two days of track abuse on the fresh build. With an oil change, and nut and bolt check I washed the car, and loaded it onto my trailer and drove it to the track. The car ran great with some small tuning issues that needed sorting, and some ride height adjustments made in between sessions, but all and all the late nights and mad thrash worked out.
The first car show (still wearing the Optima signage) the car was able to take 1st place 82-92 Camaro at the Denver Super Chevy Show. Better yet is it put a big smile on my wifes face when going for the first ride with the new drivetrain. The old drivetrain has found a home between the fenders of another Camaro reminiscent of my first car (85 Camaro Sport Coupe), that will be mildly built so the entire family can participate in future events!
Engine: 5.7L LS1 with freshly rebuilt, Advance Inductions 243 226cc CNC ported head package with BTR 650 lift dual springs and TI retainers. Comp trunion upgraded stock rockers, LS7 lifters, AI 229/233 620 lift 113 LSA cam, AI spec Chromoly push rods, LS2 chains, Melling oil pump, Racing innovations windage tray. Profesional products 25% underdriven balancer, Shaved/Ported LS6 intake with 85MM Vulture Motorsports throttle body, 42lb injectors on Holley Performace billet rails. Topped off with Pro-form tall valve covers. Custom twin air intake tube with LS7 MAF conversion, made using Spectre Performance parts, Cera-coated high temp, then topped with gloss black powdercoat. AFE dry flow cone air filters at each end. Holley performance products Engine mount system and heat protection shields. Engine is painted in 2k satin black paint from the valve covers down. the Valve covers and intake are painted in a 2k Gloss black. Mike Norris Motorsports Billet Catch can
Exhaust: Hooker Blackheart 1 7/8" long tube headers, Cera-coated in their high temp satin black. Hooker Blackheart true dual 2.5" over axle stainless exhaust system with polished Hooker mufflers and twin style tips- TOP NOTCH!!!
Transmission: Fbody T56 with GM Performance part LS7 clutch assembly, Tick Adjustable Master cylinder, and Hurst Billet shifter. Ring Brothers Clutch fluid reservoir. Holley performance products transmission mount system. Transmission was painted in same 2k satin black paint.
Rear End: Narrowed Moser Ford 9" housing, Strange center section with Hoosier posi set up. Moser 31 spline axles. 3.89:1 ratio. We added tow hooks and LCARBS, before sending out for powdercoat in gloss black.
Suspension: Ground Control weight jack set with 1150F, 275R spring rate, Koni Adjustable shocks/struts. Spohn Billet strut mounts, Baer tracker bump steer kit, Spohn Tubular adjustable LCA, Spohn adj PBH, Spohn adj Wonderbar, Spohn SFC's, and Founders Adj torque arm, Agr performance steering box, Walter Racecraft Steering shaft, pro-thane poly bushing kit, powdercoated factory a-arms with moog ball joints.
Brakes: Baer Extreme plus Polished (I stripped, sanded, polished these) 6S mono-block calipers with matching teal "Baer" inlay w/ 14" two piece rotors front, and Baer Extreme rear kit with polished PBR calipers 13" rotors. Earls braided brake line kits, Wilwood master cylinder (leaking and trying find a solution for this right now), and Baer adjustable proportioning valve.
Wheels/Tires: Forgeline FF3 Heritage series 3piece wheels in 18x10F and 18x11R The wheels have gloss black powder coat centers, with satin black barrels, and polished outer hoops, and hidden hardware. Currently BFG KDW2 275/35F and 295/35R, with plans to up to a 295f and 315r with the next purchase of tires.
Body/Exterior: Gloss black paint with GM Bright Aqua Metallic heritage stripes and side accents. Shaved nose emblem. Custom billet emblems, Custom front turn signal delete using functional brake cooling ducts from t/s housing I made. Carbon fiber front grill (real), Carbon vinyl wrapped t-tops, 15% window tint. Underhood is fully shaved from struts caps, battery trays, bottle mounts, firewall including drivers side, core support is shaved and radiused to match radiator cap opening, filler panels on fender openings, washer and coolant reservoirs relocated under battery tray area with flush pop up caps. I hand laid a carbon fiber nose filler panel. Various polished stainless fastners with billet washers from Eddies Motorsports. Custom made billet hood hinges (only set in exsistance, and the design the guys at Eddies Motorsport used for their hinges they have since quit production on), Fesler billet door jamb vents, and door strikers. Skinnyboy lighting provided the only (at the time) set of quad Morimoto Mini D2S *square projector HID headlight conversions with 55wt 5k bulbs,amber switchback demon eye, and halo lights for turn signal. All other exterior bulbs have been converted to LED
Interior: ACC carpet, Sparco Sprint racing seats, Shutt tuning steering wheel, Mr.Mikes custom leather rear seats and door panels. MBA Billet pedals and shift knob. Autometer Tachometer. Pioneer Premier head unit. JBL amps for mids/highs, and JBL 1000K amp for the JL Audio 12" subwoofers. Infinity Kappa series 4x6 & 6x9s for remaining speakers. Full dynomat treatment front to rear. DEI Heat Shield on trans tunnel, inside and out. Relocated Deka EXT 30L battery to trunk, with jumper posts through body.
Congratulations to Brandon Pursley for winning the TorqueNews/Camaros Unlimited Camaro of the Month for December 2016. If you would like to participate in the Camaro of the Month program with your Chevy muscle car, click here to join Camaros Unlimited