Third-generation Chevrolet Camaro
From Camaro Wiki
The Third-Generation Camaro made its debut in the fall of 1981 for the 1982 Model Year. General Motors designers worked at finding ways to reduce the mass of their entire product lineup, and the Camaro was no exception. The 1982 models hit the dealerships with 500 pounds less mass than their second-generation predecessor. Not only that, but nearly every component was re-designed. The Camaro Z28 offered an even greater lineup of engine choices that ranged from a carburetor equipped (option code LQ8) or fuel-injected Iron Duke 2.5L four cylinder (LQ9), to a V6 (LC1), to two models of the 305 V8 - a 145hp carburated version (LG4) and a 165hp Throttle Body Injection (TBI, also known as “crossfire”) EFI version (LU5). A lightweight factory fiberglass hood with functional cold-air induction was available to further lighten the car.
There were 3 models of the new Camaro – the Sport Coupe, Berlinetta and Z28. The Sport Coupe was the base model, and came with the LQ9 as standard (replaced with the LQ8 in Canada and overseas markets). The LC1 V-6 and LG4 V-8 were optional. The Berlinetta was Chevrolet’s “luxury” model, designed to provide a “European” feel. It had a luxury interior and came standard with the LC1 V-6 (LG4 optional). It also came with gold accented 14”x7” alloy wheels and a unique nose with vents at the front. The Z28 was the performance model – it came as standard with the LG4 V-8, the LU5 being an option. The Z28s also had a unique hood, molded in plastic and with functional air extractor vents. The Z28 had 15”x7” aluminum 5 spoke wheels
The 1982 Camaro was distinctive enough to be chosen to pace the 1982 Indianapolis 500, and 6,360 replicas were sold at dealerships nationwide. These were silver with blue accents, 4 color lower body striping, Indy 500 decals on the doors, a custom two tone blue cloth/silver vinyl interior and red pinstripes on the standard alloy wheels.
The 1982 Camaro was a commercial success, selling nearly 190,000 units (78,761 Sport Coupe, 39,744 Berlinetta and 71,242 Z28s).
In 1983, General Motors began addressing the complaints of customers and reviewers who observed that although the new platform had excellent handling and road manners, its less-than stellar performance needed serious help. GM answered by introducing a mid-year option (introduced March 1, 1983) called the L69. This option provided a 305ci (5.0L) High Output V-8 which came with a recalibrated Quadrajet carburetor and which included features such as improved exhaust, dual-snorkel air cleaner, revised camshaft profile, more aggressive timing profile, knock sensor, and even optional 3.73 gearing. The new engine option pushed the 305 power levels up to 195hp, a 30hp increase over the previous model year.
Quarter-mile times of 15.1 to 15.4 seconds at 91 mph were typical for the new engine platform, which was only available with a 4-speed manual transmission.
Chevrolet also changed the Z28’s hood from plastic to steel, unless the LU5 option was chosen (this was an air induction hood). It was the final year for this hood, which came with functional vents. From 1983 onwards, the 4-speed 700R4 was the only automatic transmissions available, replacing the 3-speed automatic from 1982.
Production for the 1983 model year reached nearly 155,000 units (63,806 Sports Coupe, 27,925 Berlinetta and 62,650 Z28).
For 1984, General Motors did some minor redesign on the interior of the Camaro, and further worked to refine the handling prowess of their car. The 700R4 four-speed automatic transmission saw an update in the latter half of the year that increased the number of splines on the input shaft in a bid to increase durability. During this year, production numbers increased to over 261,000 with more than 100,000 of them being the top level Z28. Curiously, the success of the Z28 stressed the production capability of the GM suppliers of the factory Borg Warner limited slip differential. It was towards the end of the year that GM began to run short of differential carriers, and the decision was made to borrow an unspecified number of Eaton Guv-lock differentials from the neighboring S10 truck lineup. Though undocumented, many F-body owners have been startled to find factory installed Guv-lock differentials in their 1984 models, especially in vehicles that were built during the summer of 1984.
The interior was also different for 1984, as Chevrolet designed a new dashboard to respond to complaints about design quality and appearance. The Z28 steering wheel also changed, and the Berlinetta gained electronic instrumentation, which included a bar-graph tachometer, digital speedometer, stalk-mounted cassette/radio, fingertip steering wheel side pod mounted controls, cruise control buttons in the steering wheel, and an overhead console (although this was “manual”.
The LU5 Cross-Fire engine was discontinued, leaving the L69 as the only performance option. However, it became possible to order this engine with the 700R4 4-speed automatic.
A special edition version of the Sport Coupe debuted to represent the “Special Olympics”. This was an appearance option only, available in white and featured a blue/orange stripe around the bottom of the car, pin-striping along the upper body line, and an "Olympic" style decal on the sail panels.
Numbers built were 131,014 (Sports Coupe), 33,400 (Berlinetta) and 100,899 (Z28).
1985 was the start of a real improvement in muscle for the Camaro as it heralded the introduction of the IROC package (International Race of Challengers). The biggest news was the new Tuned Port Injection 305ci (5.0L) engine (option code LB9) which pumped out 215hp and which was later (in 1987) to be made available as a 350ci (5.7L) with option code L98.
A number of design and cosmetic improvements applied across the range, including a new nose style. Additionally, the Z28 received a new, deeper, front spoiler and valence, and the previously used hood ducts were replaced with simulated (i.e. non-functional) hood louvers. The tail lights on the Z28 were changed to a “grid” pattern and the body striping changed. Chevrolet also redesigned the wheels for the Sport Coupe and Berlinetta.
Chevrolet’s commitment to increased performance was immediately visible in the new IROC Z which was an option on the standard Z28. As a package, it came with a number of improvements over the Z28 including new 16”x8” aluminum wheels (available on the IROC only) with P245/50ZR16 Z-rated Goodyear Gatorback tires, lowered ride height with new front struts, Delco-Bilstein rear shock absorbers and increased spring rates, a front frame-rail stiffener (known as the “Wonder Bar”) and a larger rear stabilizer bar.
There were also cosmetic changes including body colored ground effects, a new grill, and large IROC-Z decals on the doors.
A new LB8 multi-point fuel injection (MPFI) V-6 was introduced to replace the carbureted LC1 V-6.
The Z28 and IROC-Z were available with the LB9 TPI engine, which mandated the 700R4 automatic. The L69 HO engine was only available in the IROC-Z and only with a 5-speed T-5 transmission. Another changed was the replacement of the previously-used 7.5-in rear end with a new 7 5/8-in rear across the Camaro range, with a G92 performance axle option available only on the IROC-Z.
Production topped 180,000 for the 1985 model year, broken down between Sport Coupe (97.966), Berlinetta (13,649), Z28 (68,403) and IROC-Z (21.177).
There were 2 main changes to the Camaro for 1986 – the paint was changed to a 2-stage base coat/clear coat, and some of the engines were detuned as a result of a change of camshaft.
The Berlinetta model was discontinued early in the model year, leaving only the Sport Coupe, Z28 and IROC-Z.
As a result of regulation, all models received a center high mounted stop light (CHMSL) which was fixed to the leading edge of the hatchback glass. This was a one-year-only location as it was relocated in 1987.
There were a number of minor changes in both appearance and specification across all models in the range. The Sport Coupe gained the F41 suspension option as standard and there were also changes in the body striping as well as black headlamp recesses, black mirrors and silver 15”x7” steel wheels which replaced the 14”x7” “Rally” wheel used previously. The Sport Coupe also received the same style tail-lights as used on the 1985 Z28. Fog lights became available on both the Sport Coupe and Berlinetta and the Z28 gained as an option the fog lamp/grille from the IROC-Z.
During 1986, GM changed the paint for most of it’s models, moving to a base-coat/clear-coat process. This caused a number of problems subsequently as the paint tended not to stick too well.
The 1986 V-8 was detuned, reducing hp by 25 due to a change in the camshaft used, although torque increased from 275 to 285bhp. All TPI cars came with the 700R4 automatic (manual transmissions were not available with TPI) and the L69 5.0L HO engine was discontinued, with records showing that only 74 were built.
Other options included the G92 performance axle (only available on the Z28 and IROC-Z).
One interesting possibility is that a number of L98 IROC-Zs were built in 1986 (records possibly state around 50) and used for testing, although this has not been confirmed. None of these were released for public sale in 1986 though – this would come with the 1987 Model Year.
Production for the 1986 model year was 192,219 (99,608 Sport Coupe, 4,479 Berlinette, 88,132 Z28 and 49,585 IROC-Z.
The 1987 Model Year saw a number of major changes to the Camaro, including new models (the LT and RS), introduction of the first convertible Camaro to be offered since 1969, and availability of the L98 350ci V-8 engine. It was also the last year for Camaros to be manufactured at the Norwood, Ohio plant.
Dropping of the Berlinetta during 1986 had left the Camaro range without a “luxury” model, and this was rectified during 1987 with the introduction of the “LT”, which was an option available only on the Sports Coupe. Another hole in the range was plugged with the new “RS” model, which was introduced for the Californian market only, and which looked like a Z28 but with the V6 powerplant from the Sports Coupe.
In terms of trim and styling, a number of changes were made. The Sport Coupe received restyled alloy wheels, which were unique for 1987, different lower body stripes and headlamp recesses which were painted argent (silver). The LT was basically a Sport Coupe optioned with all of the equipment previously on the Berlinetta with the exception of the electronic instrumentation. The RS was very similar externally to the Z28, with Z28-style ground effects and Z28 wheels, painted body color, and was only available in black, white or red.
There were a number of new interior additions, as a leather interior was optional for the first time, available for all Camaro models, and a Delco-Bose sound system was also introduced. The centre high-mounted stop light (CHMSL) moved from the hatchback glass to the rear spoiler for cars so equipped.
Possibly the biggest changes was the introduction of the Camaro Convertible, available on all models except the RS. However, it was only available with the V-6 and 305ci V-8 engines. The convertible was not “manufactured” by Chevrolet - it was created via conversions of T-top equipped standard Camaros by ASC, the reason being that the T-top cars had extra bracing fitted. Only 1007 convertibles were produced for the 1987 Model Year and all were treated as “Anniversary” cars by Chevrolet, 1987 being the 20th anniversary of the Camaro. All convertibles therefore received a special dash badge which read “20th Anniversary Commemorative Edition”. The convertibles also had a specific CHMSL and fairings which extended onto the top edge of the doors.
1987 was the first year for public availability of the L98 350-ci V-8, which was available in the IROC-Z and Z28 and only with the 700R4 4-speed automatic. It was virtually impossible to tell the 305 and 350 TPI engines apart, the only obvious ways being to check the VIN and service parts identification list. Also, the tachometer in the 350 cars redlined at 5500rpm.
All of the 350-ci V-8 cars came as standard with the Borg-Warner 9-bolt rear end fitted with 3.27 gearing. Horsepower for the 305ci TPI engine with the 5-speed manual transmission was 215 with 295 lb ft of torque; the automatic engine had a smaller cam producing only 190hp. The 350ci / 4-speed auto combination produced 225hp.
Production was down from FY1986 at 137,760 (83,890 Sport Coupe, 263 Sport Coupe Convertible, 794 LT, 6,618 RS, 52,863 Z28, 38,889 IROC-Z and 744 Z28/IROC-Z Convertibles.
The 1988 Model Year saw consolidation of the Camaro range, with the LT being dropped and the Z28 and IROC being combined into a single model, the IROC-Z28. Sales were drastically down from 1987 also, with 96,275 cars sold. Changes were also minor, with one exception…
The Z28 & IROC-Z were so similar that it made sense to combine them, and hence the IROC-Z28 debuted for MY88. There were some changes to the new model – the 16” wheels from the IROC-Z were restyled and became an option on the IROC-Z28, the standard wheel becoming the 15”x7” wheel previously used on the Z28 (this also became the standard wheel for the Sport Coupe). The IROC-Z details which were previously on the front of the doors were moved rearwards and the body striping changed; the door decals and striping could be deleted if required (option DX3).
The Sport Coupe also received some styling changes and took on the appearance of what was the Z28 – but with “Camaro” instead of “Z28” badges, body color headlamp recesses, and a standard hood without louvers. This was to be the last year for the Sport Coupe.
The RS model became more widely available – in addition to California it became available for Texas and Florida, still with the V-6 engine only.
One important change was that the old LG4 carburetted V-8 was replaced with a new LO3 TBI 305ci V-8. All of the TPI engines were rated at 5hp more than in 1987 due to a change in camshafts and a few internal changes.
The most interesting addition for 1988 was the 1LE showroom-stock racing option. This does not appear to have been marketed and it appears that only 4 were produced… It had a number of performance options including uprated suspension and brakes.
As mentioned, production was down to 96,275 (66,605 Sport Coupe, 1,859 Sport Coupe Convertible, 7,038 RS, 24,050 IROC-Z28, 3,761 Z28/IROC-Z convertible and 4 1LE).
Changes for 1989 were again detail rather than anything major. The Sport Coupe was discontinued, it’s place being taken by the RS, which was now available with the LO3 V-8. Security was improved with the adoption of the PASS-KEY system from the Corvette – this used an ignition key with a computer chip in it.
Detail changes included the TPI engines which received new, better performing fuel injectors, and a slightly redesigned plenum.
The 1LE package become more readily available during FY1989, although it still sold in extremely limited numbers. To order the package required that the following options also be ordered:-
- Level 1 IROC-Z28 with 5.0L TPI engine with 5 speed or 5.7L TPI engine;
- Optional axle ratio (G92);
- Air conditioning delete (C41)
The 1LE performance package itself consisted of the following options:-
- Fog lamp delete;
- Aluminum driveshaft (JG1);
- Performance exhaust system (N10) (dual catalytic converters);
- Aluminum spare wheel with smaller spare tire (N64);
- Larger (11.86 inch) front rotors with Girlock or PBR Australian built HD front dual piston aluminum calipers;
- Special swinging fuel pickup in gas tank and special 18 gallon baffled fuel tank;
- 16”x8” light alloy mesh wheels (XWL) – these were not fitted to all 1LE cars
Production numbers increased over FY1988 to 110,739 (83,487 RS, 3,245 RS Convertible, 20,067 IROC-Z28, 3,940 IROC-Z28 Convertible and 111 1LE).
MY1990 saw the end of the IROC as a model – Chevrolet chose not to renew the contract with the International Race of Champions (IROC) and could thus no longer legally use the IROC name. As a result, no IROC-Z28’s were produced after 31 December 1989. As a result, the 1990 Model Year was a short one, with the 1991 Camaros being introduced early, during what would have been the last half of the 1990 Model Year.
1990 saw some ongoing changes, the interior being substantially revised for the first time. This included new drivers side airbag, a redesigned instrument panel and more “user friendly” controls.
Engine lineup also changed, with the LB8 2.8L V-6 being replaced by a new 3.1L V-6 used across the GM range. The base engine for the IROC-Z28 became the LB9 305ci TPI instead of the base LO3 V-8 engine – however option G92 had to be specified in order to get the higher output LB9 (which now came with 230 hp). Horsepower for the 350ci L-98 V-8 also increased, to 240 hp, this being courtesy of new lighter pistons. Another quite major change was that the TPI engined cars changed from a Mass Air Flow (MAF) engine air metering system to a new Mass Air Pressure (MAP) system.
1LE cars continued to be built, but in smaller quantity than 1989 due to the shortened model year. Production for MY1990 was 34,896 (28,750 RS, 729 RS Convertible, 4,213 IROC-Z28, 1,294 IROC-Z28 Convertible and 62 1LE).
More model shuffling occurred during the 1991 Model Year, mainly due Chevrolet discontinuing use of the “IROC” name. As a result, the Z28 returned as the sole performance model, the range now being RS and IROC only.
1991 saw a body restyling across the Camaro range, with new lower skirts with scoops in front of the wheels. The reintroduced Z28 received a large rear wing (similar to that used on the Ferrari F40) and “power blisters” on the hood in place of the louvers previously used. A new 16” wheel design debuted for the Z28, with P235/55R16 tires as standard. P245/50ZR16 tires were optional, but were standard with the 350ci V-8 engined Z28 coupe and convertible.
The 1LE option continued, with 289 305ci Z28’s and 175 350ci Z28’s so optioned.
A brand new option for 1991 was the B4C “Special Service” police package, which was made available only to law enforcement agencies. This comprised all the best and heavy-duty options from the Camaro parts bin. The basic car was an RS coupe with wither the 305ci or 350ci TPI engine and Z28 transmission. 16” wheels and P245/50ZR16 tires were standard, as was an engine oil cooler, rear disk brakes and a limited slip rear axle. Part-way through the year, the 1LE option became available for cars with the B4C package, thus adding uprated front brakes and heavy duty calipers. Some 592 B4C Camaros were built in total.
Overall production for the 1991 Model Year was 100,838 (although this was for an extended model year). The breakdown was 79,854 RS, 5,329 RS Convertible, 12,452 Z28, 3,203 Z28 Convertible, 478 1LE and 592 B4C.
The biggest news for the 1992 Model Year was the 25th Anniversary of the Camaro, although it was also the final year for the 3rd Generation car being produced at the Van Nuys plant. To celebrate, a “Heritage Edition” package was made available on all 1992 Camaros, comprising hood and rear deck stripes (similar to those used on the 1st and early 2nd Generation Z28), body colored grille, black headlamp recesses, and 25th Anniversary badging. The package was available as a white car with red stripes, black with red stripes or red with black stripes. Mid-year, additional colors were added – either polo green with gold stripes or purple haze with silver stripes.
One detail change of interest was that the valve covers on the TPI engines changed from silver to black – this was the same as on the LO3 option V-8. Another change was that the TPI plenums changed from a smooth style to a rough style, similar to the Corvette.
The B4C package was upgraded, with the 1LE option becoming part of the B4C package.
Chevrolet planned an even more special vehicle to celebrate 25 years of the Camaro – this was to be the “25th Anniversary Collector’s Edition”, although only 2 prototypes were completed and the vehicle never made production. The plan was for 602 vehicles to be produced (as this was the number of 1967 Camaro Z/28’s built) and the vehicle was to be built as an RS in white with the Heritage Endition package (with black stripes). The B4C police package was to be added, fitted with the L98 350ci V-8 taken straight from the Corvette, complete with aluminum heads and tubular headers, bringing horsepower up to 270. It was to have been built with a ZF 6-speed gearbox and black 16”x8” wheels from the Pontiac Trans Am GTA – this would have made the vehicle the ultimate 3rd Generation Camaro. Of the 2 prototypes built, one is regularly seen at shows, being owned by GM.
Production was down from 1991 with 70,007 vehicles built (60,994 RS, 2,562 RS Convertible, 5,917 Z28, 1,254 Z28 Convertible, 705 1LE and 589 B4C).