12.99/$1,299 Update – One man’s junk is another man’s treasure…. by Dennis Pittsenbarger


If you have been keeping up with my 12.99 adventure then you already know that I’m staring directly into the face of a severely damaged L98 block that up until the last few days has been the candidate of some welding and wishing for a sprinkle of hope.


But I’m not one to stop looking for avenues to find not only power to push my ’91 Z28 to 12.99 glory, but do it without pulling my hair out.

Enter a day of thumbing through Instagram and facebook looking at various cars, friend’s updates and cool images of what else…other 3rd-Gen Camaros and what js2apops up – a cool image of my friend Don putting his TPI motor on the dyno. After a “hey how ya doing?” and “what’s the deal with the TPI motor?” he messages me back “I might have some parts that could help you on the 12.99 car”.  Without hesitation I’m in the car and headed to EastCo to peek around and talk shop.


Well, Don’s motor would be the perfect era correct motor to push the 12.99 Camaro well beyond the 12.99 barrier, but it was not that motor that Don was talking about that would prove to be a lifeline of hope to my efforts in the quest for 12.99.  It was the 383 sitting out at the shop in Boring, yes I said Boring as in Boring, Oregon.

See, Don had been selling the 383 with this incredible top end combination of a set of Brodix Dragon Slayer Heads, Holley Stealth Ram and all the hardware, roller lifters, rockers ect. for $4000 as a package, js3and everyone who was looking at it or asking about splitting the items up did not want, need or have any interest in the short block … except ME!

So after some haggling and straight up begging I made a deal … one that is making me sleep better at night for sure. Provide him with a TPI NOS plate and the labor of transporting and then disassembling (plus cleaning) his parts as part of the deal landed me a mystery taco-master short block that just might be the ticket to salvation.  And, for the record neither Don, myself or anyone knows what the condition of the internals are at this point, but they look clean and, above all, not cracked and destroyed like the original mill that came out of the Z28.

Out with the idea of swapping the SDPC lower intake and L31 heads to make power.  Out with just welding the sucker up and hoping it sticks together when we spray the hell out of it – we are going stroker motor.  This does not mean I’m out of the woods yet. No, I still need to find a cam kit without busting the budget and that is a problem.  But, it’s a problem I’d rather have than spending money on welding that old 350 block up.

js4There was a mad scramble to get the parts off the 383 and back to Don since I wanted to get the parts back before he changed his mind.  So, we stripped the parts and got the old motor out of the Camaro and that was a day’s worth of work.  Still, it was fun because my wife tagged along, and she grabbed my shaft repeatedly while we were down at the shop … camshaft that is.  Yes, I know I’m a dork, but ya gotta have some fun while doing this stuff.

So, where does that leave me now? What is the plan? As you can tell, it’s always changing and always liquid, and this entry lands me closer than I thought I would get while looking js6at the broke block and more excited than you can imagine.  Time to start searching for a cam-set and a set of cheap headers and start putting this thing back together after we do the obvious checking, freshening and once over of the current load of parts and pieces.

It’s become clear that the 12.99 Challenge is something that you cannot plan – sure Tony D. says otherwise, and he has it all lined out, but for me it’s constantly changing and metamorphosing with each day … hell by tomorrow I could be hooking up a rickshaw and running the Z28 into the 12’s on foot?

Either way I’m back to hunting down parts and stripping off others … and never, ever giving up – The Janitor…


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