Updated: Oct 20
An enthusiast hits ponycar paydirt with a street-legal gem boasting go-fast performance upgrades along with widebody fabrication.
In all forms, gold is an enticing and desirable object. Beyond the bullion and bars, the color alone is enough to get folks dreaming.
Such is the case of a 1998 Camaro Z/28 painted in alluring Sport Gold Metallic. The shimmering shade was a one-year-only option and a definite draw for owners looking to stand out.
The car was sold new in the north Chicago suburbs, at Rockenbock Chevrolet in Grayslake, Illinois. That original owner purchased it in April of 1998 and enjoyed their vehicle thoroughly before later passing it to another local enthusiast, Jeff Juran.
That sharp color was alluring to him, too, and Jeff soon set to work, dialing up the Camaro’s performance capabilities. Jeff had the skillset, being a GM repair tech for Al Piemonte Buick GMC, just south of the famed O’Hare Airport.
Panning for Performance
The modifications he made included adding C5 Corvette Z06 disc brakes with four piston calipers and cross-drilled rotors. They were tucked behind new iForged Formula three-piece wheels with satin black center sections with 18x10s in the front and 18x12s in the rear. They’re wrapped in BFGoodrich g-Force T/A Drag Radial tires.
Jef retained the Camaro’s stock LS1 5.7L all-aluminum V-8 but added an LS6 intake manifold, a Hawks Motorsports ‘Sinister’ 4-inch exhaust system with electric cut-outs and a Nitrous Outlet system, with controls tucked away in the center console and in the front ashtray. To handle that kind of power, Jef built a Level 7 Finish Line transmission and mounted a Strange 12 bolt rear end.
The suspension was upgraded with components from UMI Performance including a Stage 2 SL1 Front End kit featuring a dual tube K-member, a competition panhard bar lowering and leveling kit, single adjustable lower control arms and panhard bar kit, a shock tower brace, a front 35mm sway bar, a rear drag sway bar, a torque arm kit with driveshaft loop and 3-point bolt-in subframe connectors.
A front bump steer adjuster kit was also added along with lowering springs, dropping the car 1.25-inches in the front and 1.5-inches in the rear. Put in use at local dragstrips, ETs in the low 11 seconds were common given the amount of traction.
Other new additions included GP Thunder headlamps (with black backgrounds), clear turn signal housings, a dark window tint, and a heritage front grille insert.
Hitting Pay Dirt
After years of tinkering and high-octane enjoyment, in June of 2019 Jef sold the vehicle to his friend, Dan Carlson. Like those before him, it was that sparkling factory hue that had him interested in becoming the car’s next owner – even with over 350,000 miles showing on the odometer.
“What turned me on to the car was the striking paint color,’ recalls Dan. “The Sport Gold Metallic sparked me wanting the car.”
That color, ordered under RPO code 63U, was applied to just 373 Z28s in 1998, 301 of which were coupes. “Knowing how rare it was, I wanted to retain it even after all of the body modifications,’ said Dan. “I wasn’t about to change it.”
Gold Paint Code
Z28 Coupe (Total Cars)
Z28 Convertible (Total Cars)
A Bonanza of Bodywork
With Jef having tackled the heavy lifting on polishing up the Camaro’s powertrain and suspension, in the fall of 2019 Dan set to work on his area of expertise: bodywork fabrication. Dan does that full-time at Roman Performance, in Addison, Illinois, and knew he wanted to take his Camaro over the top in the looks department.
A big priority was retaining the backseat, but Dan still wanted to shoehorn a much larger tire onto the rear axle. To that end, Dan grafted on Hawks widebody quarter panels to add several inches to the Camaro’s rear haunches.
All the body panels came off in the process with Dan spending upwards of 500 hours dialing in the look and fitment. Other exterior additions included a large, high back ‘Super Car’ three-piece spoiler (sourced from IROC Motorsports), a new VFN cowl induction hood and a Super Car front bumper cover from Magg Performance.
To add visual interest, carbon fiber overlays were added as profile stripes and to the rearview mirror caps, the hood cowl, the T-top hoop and across the rear taillight panel.
A add a bit of contrast, local painter Rich Keylard, of Airephix, in Roselle, Illinois, hand-applied red accents and custom lettering to the hood, calling out Dan’s future plans for even more power.
From there, painter Nick Spencer (of Roman Performance) sprayed a shiny new coat of Sport Gold Metallic. “It’s a laborious and multi-step process but adding the carbon fiber gives it real depth and a 3D look,’ said Dan. “I’m very happy with how it turned out.”
During the process, the interior was also gone through and gutted, making room for a six-point roll cage, fabricated in-house by Roman Performance. Dan took advantage of the timing to make another big change: swapping the upholstery.
“It was tan and after all those miles, starting to show some serious wear,’ recalls the craftsman. “It needed to be replaced so I swapped it to black which pairs better with the gold.”
Dan also added black SPARCO R700 Tuner race seats and a MOMO competition steering wheel, leaving the factory Monsoon stereo with cassette and factory-installed 12-disc CD changer in place and operational.
Mining for More
With his recent round of intense fabrication and painting complete, Dan already has plans in the works for the Midwest winter months ahead. He’s having a 418ci V-8 custom-built, based on a 6.2L aluminum block, and will be installing it just in time to have the car back on the road for Spring.
“The goal is to have 600 horsepower at the rear wheels and be chasing nine-second quarter mile times,’ explains Dan. “The car is set up to handle that kind of power and I’m excited to keep pushing the limits and see how far we can go.”
While the treasured car sure is pretty to look at it, lead foot Dan is deadest on staking his claim in making sure that show-stopping nature is backed up with serious head-turning performance.
With how this wild and wonderful Camaro is coming together it’s clear he’s struck it rich receiving loads of satisfaction.
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