Autocross Warrior: Justina's 1989 Camaro RS

January 15, 2019  •  Leave a Comment

Welcome to the first post of this new blog. My main goal here is to provide some much-deserved exposure for unique builds and local shops doing outstanding work. Each month, we will explore a new vehicle or shop and along the way, discuss some of the photographic processes that went into the shoot. First up, we have this stunning ’89 Camaro RS.


When most people think of an autocross build, a third gen F-body probably isn't the first thing to come to mind. Of course, most people also aren't picturing a petite college girl behind the wheel and turning the wrenches. Justina Schwartz is out to change that. She originally got the car as a hand-me-down from her brother, who had in turn got it from his dad, Jeff Schwartz. Jeff is the founder of Schwartz Performance, a high-performance muscle car shop out of Woodstock, IL. He originally bought the car for $1,800 as a dirt-cheap daily driver. By the time it reached Justina, though, the car was past its prime and due for some serious upgrades.


At the time, Justina (then 15 years old) didn't know anything about building cars. Luckily, she had family on hand to show her the way. The original powerplant, a tired 305, was replaced with a 350 which had been bored out to 355ci and paired with a new 700-R4 trans. The engine breathes in through an Edelbrock intake and exhales through a mighty-sounding set of Hooker headers and Magnaflow mufflers. To get the car ready for the rigors of autocross racing, the suspension was replaced with coilovers at all four corners, along with custom Schwartz Performance control arms and panhard bar. BF Goodrich g-Force Rival tires provide the grip, wrapped snuggly around a set of 18" Weld Racing wheels. Rounding out the performance work, the car is stopped by massive 14" Baer rotors with six-piston calipers.

The interior has seen no less work, with the addition of a roll bar to support the 5-point racing harnesses attached to a set of seats from a fourth-gen Camaro. Justina swapped out the original gauges with Dakota Digital and a new Grant steering wheel rounds out the look. Of course, no college student's car would be complete without a stereo upgrade; a Kenwood unit pulled that duty. Outside, a custom blue paint job was accented with a new cowl hood and spoiler upgrade.

I first laid eyes on this car while shooting for the Crystal Lake Car Show last summer and immediately fell in love with the color and the low, aggressive stance. That color lends itself perfectly to a night shoot, so Justina and I agreed to meet one chilly evening for the photos you see here. Each was shot using a technique called light painting, where a small LED light source is passed over the car during a long exposure. This method allows me to light the car far more evenly and really helps the color to pop.

If the amount of effort that went into this car is any indication, the automotive future is in good hands.

Justina's Camaro is sponsored by Dakota Digital, Baer Brakes, Holley Performance, and Weld Racing.






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