The Rad movement has seen an assortment of previously neglected cars and trucks finally get their moment with collectors, and perhaps no model later than the third-generation Chevrolet Camaro. Overshadowed by the famous first- and second-generation muscle engines that ran from the late 60s to early 80s, and later passed down by the high-horsepower fourth generation cars that appeared in the 1990s, the 3rd gen Camaro has long been the middle child. family.
Viewed objectively, however, the 1982-1992 Chevrolet Camaro IROC-Z and Z28 coupe are poised to make a comeback. Featuring owner-friendly fuel injection, usable horsepower and torque, and an ultra-deep aftermarket for mods thanks to the presence of Chevy’s famous small block V8, the third-generation Camaro is perfect for anyone looking for a classic that can be enjoyed every day with a little complexity.
All New, All Improved
When the completely redesigned Chevrolet Camaro appeared in 1982, it offered a dramatic break from the coupes that had come before it.
Everything about the new Camaro with its shorter wheelbase—its sophisticated coil-spring suspension, lighter unibody platform, and improved aerodynamics of its streamlined styling—are an upgrade from a car that had been used in the late 1970s in a downward spiral. lower. show.
Although the spirit of the times required the Camaro to be offered with a choice of four cylinders and a V6 to meet the company’s average fuel economy needs, GM made a statement by also providing a choice of V8 engines in Chevrolet.
Of these 5.0L units, the fuel-injected (and often troublesome) ‘Cross-Fire’ version is the most powerful, with 165hp and 240 lb-ft of torque giving it a 20-pound increase over the carburetor model. Transmission options include a four-speed manual and a three-speed automatic.
Both V8 engines are available with the Z28 package. The sportiest of the early 3rd generation cars, the Camaro Z28 offers more aggressive styling cues along with somewhat more focused suspension tuning. The following year the Z28 added a four-speed autobox and five-speed manual to its list of options, along with the exclusive HO version 5.0 V8 which boosted output to a healthy 190hp.
In 1984, the Cross-Fire system was gone, and a digital dash is now available on the short-lived ‘premium’ Berlinetta trim.
Chevrolet completely changed the axis of the Camaro in the middle of this decade. The 1985 Camaro IROC-Z arrives to celebrate the car’s participation in the International Race of Champions series, which pits racers from a variety of different motorsports against each other in a stock version of the nearing stock Chevrolet muscle car.
The IROC-Z, which is the package of choice for the Z28, features a lower suspension that gives it a bit more power in the corners than before. It also came with an aero body kit and a 215 horsepower 5.0L V8 option (along with two other 305 cubic-inch engine options) that utilized a GM tuned port fuel injection system to help produce 275 lb-ft of torque. Oddly enough, the new ’86 camshaft dropped 25 horsepower from the most powerful IROC-Z motor, but this was somewhat offset by a barely-known order code that netted a handful of Camaros that matched the L98 5.7L V8 found in the Chevrolet Corvette, tuned to 220hp.
In 1987, the Camaro made the L98 available to anyone who wanted to fit it into a Z28 or IROC-Z, and it delivered a healthy 225hp and 330 lb-ft of torque — enough attitude to take on a revamped Ford Mustang. 5.0 the same year. A convertible also stepped in for the first time since 1969.
The following year Chevrolet dropped the Z28 badge and propelled the IROC-Z as the most powerful Camaro, making it the only trim level other than ‘basic’. Chevy makes up for the herd with a bewildering array of package options, including the 1LE which grafts a full road racing suspension under the car, borrowed from SCCA’s stock racing showroom where the Camaro is regularly campaigned. The Camaro 1LE version also comes with a number of cooling and drivetrain updates that make it a legitimate contender on winding roads.
Towards the end of its life, the third generation Chevrolet Camaro diversified its offering without straying too far from its established formula. The 1LE package continued as a stealth option until the end of the line in 1992, while the 5.0L V8 jumped to 230hp in 1989 thanks to a revised exhaust system (nearly catching 240 horses, 5.7L motor).
IROC-Z left the stage after 1990 due to the expiration of GM’s sponsorship agreement with the racing series, but 1991 revived the Z28 to replace it, while also introducing the B4C Special Services package. This model is intended for law enforcement but is available to Camaro buyers looking for a heavy-duty model that incorporates pieces from the IROC-Z, Z28, and 1LE spare parts bin. The final year of production saw the 1992 car get a 25th Anniversary model, which is easily recognizable by its double stripe.
Wide Collector Appeal
There’s no shortage of interesting targets out there for muscle car collectors curious about the third-generation Chevrolet Camaro. It’s easy to point to rare models like the 1984 Sarajevo Winter Olympics pack, the track star 1LE, or the convertible version of the IROC-Z, but there’s honestly a lot to like about most V8-powered Camaros once you get past the middle. of decades. Whether you prefer the Z28’s less flashy look or the IROC-Z’s eye-catching personality, the cars offer a lot of personality that evolves over time through a steady stream of styling changes that last well into their final year in showrooms. .
It’s been argued that the next-model third-generation Camaro was better built, as GM began introducing new production techniques in the 1990s that removed many of the bad practices that had plagued the Detroit-based automaker throughout the previous decade. It’s best to avoid Cross-Fire cars too, so focusing on anything built after 1985 is a winning strategy.
There’s also no need to get too hung up on factory horsepower figures for the various 5.0L and 5.7L engines offered by this era of Camaro. Given its roots as a small-block Chevrolet engine, it’s relatively easy to get the power you want for your ride regardless of how it initially left the assembly line. Suspension, braking and of course tire upgrades are also available to complement the Camaro and make it a more effective package, even if you can’t find a 1LE car.
Chevrolet produces over 800,000 third-generation Camaros, which means you should have no trouble finding the car you want. Condition is another matter: these vehicles are often abused as they make their way through the used car ecosystem and end up in high school parking lots a decade after they were built, Rust and interior condition are also a concern, especially given the laid back attitude. GM showcased plastic and vinyl components in the 80s. Due diligence is required, but the affordable 3rd generation Camaro is a fun way to relive the glory of a muscle machine while enjoying modern reliability and better comfort than the 1960s on the road.