Introduced in 1982, Chevrolet The Camaro Iron Duke is the first model in the third generation Camaro lineup. After the success of the second generation Camaro, muscle car enthusiasts expect the new generation to have increased power and performance. However, the vehicle had an underperforming Iron Duke engine.
The Iron Duke is easy to use. There are no balance shafts, dual valves, cam phasing, or other advanced features. Engineers kept the engine simple by adding a carburetor and non-crossflow head.
At that time there was a shortage of fuel, and car companies were trying to find a solution by making vehicles that could consume less fuel. General Motors thought the answer was Iron Duke; they produced machines from 1977 to 1993.
The reason gearheads hate the Iron Duke is because GM states it’s not a performance engine, even though performance engines like the Camaro and Pontiac Fiero use it.
Despite its good looks, the Duke Camaro has an embarrassing zero to 60 mph time of around 20 seconds. Also, the ride is strong, but the handling is poor.
Let’s find out more about the Duke Camaro and why it failed.
The Reason Why The Iron Duke Failed
The Iron Duke is a 2.5-liter inline-four engine built by Pontiac between 1977 and 1993. General Motors mostly uses gasoline engines in compact cars and commercial vehicles. Pontiac engineers copied pre-existing V6 and V8 designs when building the Iron Duke, and they were considering making the V4 to satisfy consumers.
Pontiac tried using the Chevrolet 2300 engine as a base but found the cast aluminum block too sensitive. However, the Vega 2.3 engine was the perfect match, and the engineers adopted the same principle and built a cast iron inline four-cylinder engine with significantly more displacement. The Iron Duke was one reason why GM switched from aluminum to cast iron.
The Iron Duke had advantages, such as being tough and reliable. However, the machine has more drawbacks, such as cost cutting and minor design errors, which threaten its reliability. The timing gear, which is roughly 80,000 miles, is the biggest culprit; In addition, replacing the timing gear is time consuming and expensive.
The MAP sensor was another cause of Duke’s failure; when ancient sensors fail, the MAP sensor creates a multitude of problems, from jerky idle to sluggish acceleration. The EGR valve is also useless, although the emission components are cheap and easily accessible.
Unfortunately, GM uses the Iron Duke in rear-wheel drive and transverse front-wheel drive variants. The engine replaces the 2.3 Vega in the Pontiac Astre, Pontiac Sunbird, and Pontiac Phoenix. Also, cars like the Chevrolet Monza and Oldsmobile Starfire adopted the engine. The only difference is that Chevrolet engineers made minor changes to the engine, but the motor remains the same across all brands.
Sales of The Iron Duke
Due to false advertising, many Camaro fans purchased a 1982 Chevrolet Camaro Iron Duke. According to “Muscle Car Facts,” GM produced and sold 64,882 units. This is another reason why the car received a lot of hate.
If the Iron Duke had no problems, it would be one of the best machines of the 80s. The 1983 Peugeot 205 T16 produces 197 hp but is efficient. Also, the iconic 1970 Ford Escort RS1600 produces 113 hp from its 4 cylinder engine; this proved Iron Duke had no reason to be so terrible.
The Iron Duke Wasn’t The Only GM Machine To Fail
General Motors is part of the top three automakers in the US. The company has produced some impressive vehicles with amazing engines. However, they also make terrible cars and engines that disappoint a lot of gearheads.
The Iron Duke isn’t the only machine that saves costs which is a costly mistake. In the 70s, GM tried to convert a gasoline engine into a diesel-powered motor to save fuel and named it the Oldsmobile V8. The idea sounded good, but when GM produced the engine, it was disastrous and problematic.
Key problems include hydro-lock caused by a failed head gasket, a faulty fuel pump, and a missing water separator in the fuel system. Also, bulletproof reinforced engine builds have weak head bolts and bend under stress in most cars. All of these problems resulted in a costly class action lawsuit against General Motors.
Another disappointing engine was the 4.4l V8 Small Block made by Chevrolet between 1979 and 1982. This engine was on par with the Iron Duke as the worst engine ever made by GM. The 4.4l is pretty bad and makes around 100hp to 120hp. Also, reliability is low, and the engine struggles to complete a journey of more than 100 miles.