The third-generation Chevrolet Camaro was introduced for the 1982 model year by Chevrolet. It continued to use General Motors's F-body platform and produced a "2...More »
The third-generation Chevrolet Camaro was introduced for the 1982 model year by Chevrolet. It continued to use General Motors's F-body platform and produced a "20th Anniversary Commemorative Edition" for 1987 and "25th Anniversary Heritage Edition" for 1992. These were also the first Camaros with factory fuel injection, four-speed automatic transmissions, five-speed manual transmissions, four-cylinder engines, 16-inch wheels, and hatchback bodies. For 1987 a convertible Camaro was reintroduced, converted by ASC in relatively small numbers. The third-generation Camaro continued through the 1992 model year.
The Third-Generation Camaro was released for sale in December, 1981, beginning production on October 12, 1981. The 1982 model introduced the first Camaros with a hatchback body style, and such options as factory fuel injection, and a four-cylinder engine. The Camaro Z28 was Motor Trend magazine's Car of the Year for 1982. Three models were available: Sport Coupe, Berlinetta, and Z28.
The Sport Coupe came standard with the 2.5 L (151 cu in) LQ9 four-cylinder engine. The 2.8 L (173 cu in) LC1 V6. the 5.0 L (305 cu in) LG4 V8 were optional. Dog dish-style hubcaps were standard; full wheel covers were optional as were steel, five-spoke 14x7-inch body-colored rally wheels.
The Berlinetta came with the standard 2.8 LC1 V6 or the optional 5.0 LG4 V8. The Berlinetta came standard with its own unique 14x7-inch finned aluminum wheel with gold accenting and 'Berlinetta' center cap. Its own lower body pin striping, gold 'Berlinetta' badging, and headlamp pockets were painted in an accent color. The taillights got a gold and black horizontal divider bar. The interior came standard with custom cloth interior, a rear storage well cover and additional carpeting on rear wheelhouses. It also came standard with additional body insulation and full instrumentation.
The Z28 came standard with the 5.0 L LG4 4-bbl V8 or the optional LU5 twin TBI 'Cross Fire Injection' 5.0 L (305 cu in). The carbureted engine was available with either a four-speed manual or three-speed 350 lockup automatic transmission and produced 145 hp (108 kW), while the optional Cross Fire Injection 305 was rated at 165 hp (123 kW). The new Camaro received positive reviews for its styling and handling, but was also criticized for the low power ratings for the Camaro Z28.
The Z28s included lightweight fiberglass SMC hoods with functional hood air induction flaps on RPO LU5 cars. The Z28 had a different nose, a three-piece rear spoiler and front, side, and rear lower body valances in silver or gold. Just above the valance was a three-color lower body stripe that encircled the car. Headlamp pockets on the Z28 were black. Standard were new 15x7-inch cast-aluminum five-spoke wheels accented with silver or gold. Z28 badges appeared on the right rear bumper and on the side valances. On early models, if the "Conteur" sport seats were selected as an option, the passenger seat was purposefully a mismatched high-back bucket seat design, due to production shortages of the passenger seat.
The Camaro Z28 was the pace car for the 1982 Indianapolis 500 race, and over 6,000 appearance replicas were sold through Chevrolet dealers. The edition featured special two-tone silver/blue paint and special striping, orange pin-striping on 15-inch (380 mm) Z28 wheels, and a silver/blue interior with six-way Lear-Seigler manually adjustable seating. Engine choices in the pace cars were the same as the regular production Z28. The car that actually paced the event was equipped with a highly modified all aluminum 5.7 L V8 that was not available on the replica cars.
The Z28 engines were changed for 1983: the LU5 Crossfire 305 V8 was supplemented in April 1983 by an all-new 5.0 L L69 4 bbl 190 hp (142 kW) High-Output (HO) V8. This engine was only available with a manual transmission in 1983. Due to its late introduction, 3,223 L69 V8s were sold for the 1983 model year.
Transmissions were upgraded for 1983. A Borg-Warner 5-speed manual transmission replaced the previous 4-speed. A 4-speed automatic transmission with overdrive replaced the 3-speed automatic transmission in the Z28. The TH700-R4 automatic overdrive was also available on the base coupe and Berlinetta, but was not available with the L69 H.O. engine in the Z28 for 1983. Aside from the new transmissions, base coupe and Berlinetta carried on as in 1982 with very little change other than newly available colors.
The new dashboard and controls were smaller with better quality and appearance. In the Berlinetta, the standard instrument cluster was replaced by electronic readouts, including a bar-graph tachometer and digital speedometer. The new dash came with an overhead console and pod-mounted controls for turn signals, cruise-control, HVAC, windshield wiper, and headlights. The radio was mounted inside a pod on the console that could swivel toward the driver or passenger.
Drivetrain changes included the discontinuation of the LU5 305 Cross Fire V8, and the addition of a hydraulic clutch linkage on manual transmission cars. The L69 H.O. Z28 became available with an automatic transmission for the first time.
The Z28's body and features remained mostly unchanged, except the fiberglass SMC hood was replaced with a steel version.
Road & Track selected the 1984 Camaro/Firebird as one of twelve best cars in the world and in the Best Sports GT category in the $11,000 to $14,000 range. Car and Driver picked the 1984 Camaro Z28 as the best handling car built in the United States.
For 1985, Chevrolet introduced the IROC-Z version that was named after the International Race of Champions. Offered as an option package on the Z28, the Camaro IROC-Z featured an upgraded suspension, lowered ride height, specially valved Delco-Bilstein shocks, larger diameter sway bars, a steering/frame brace known as the "wonder bar", a special decal package, and an optional Tuned Port Injection system taken from the Corvette. It also shared the Corvette's Goodyear "Gatorback" unidirectional tires in a 245/50/VR16 size vs. the Corvette's 255/50/VR16 size, and received unique new aluminum 5-spoke 16 by 8 inch wheels. The new wheels were designed with different offsets front and rear, resulting in the words "Front" or "Rear" cast into the face of the wheels to distinguish which wheel went where.
The Camaro IROC-Z was on Car and Driver magazine's Ten Best list for 1985. The 305 c.i. 5.0-liter TPI LB9 was rated at 215 hp (160 kW), with the 4-bbl 305 LG4 at 155 hp, and the 4-bbl High Output 305 L69 at 190 hp (142 kW). A total of 2,497 L69 IROC-Z models were made for 1985. The LB9 was available only on the Z28 and the IROC-Z model with the TH700-R4 automatic transmission. Two hundred five 1985 IROC-Zs equipped with the LB9 305 were made with the G92 (Performance Axle Ratio) option. The G92 option upgraded the rear axle gear ratio from 3.23 to 3.42.
Also new for 1985, all Camaros featured refreshed noses, and new deeper valances and front spoiler for the Z28 and the newly introduced IROC-Z. The speedometers no longer had the unique double-pointed needle that simultaneously read mph and km/h: they were replaced by conventional single-pointer 85 mph (137 km/h) units.
For 1985 a (1C5) RPO California IROC-Z was also made, Chevrolet's California Marketing Group came up with the idea and it was for sale in California only. A total of 100 black and 400 red examples were produced. They were all equipped with the 5.0 TPI LB9 engine and TH700-R4 automatic transmission. All came equipped with the IROC-Z fog lights, wheels and ground effects, but with the base Camaro's hood (no louvers), rear decklid (no spoiler), and no exterior decals.
A newly required Center High Mounted Stop Lamp (CHMSL) was installed on the Camaro. 1986 was the only year to see this attached to the hatchback glass on base model Sport Coupes, Z28s and IROC-Zs. In following years it was incorporated into the rear decklid spoiler, except for 1987 base models that did not have a spoiler. This was the final year for the L69 5.0 305 HO 4-bbl option, of which 63 were built for racing as Canadian Player's cars and 11 for public sale, making a total of 74. The 2.8 L V6 was now the standard engine in the base model, replacing the 2.5 L I-4 model. The 305 TPI LB9 horsepower rating dropped from 215 hp (160 kW) to 190 hp (142 kW) in the IROC-Z models. All V8 engines received a new one-piece rear main seal. In June of 1986, a few 5.7 L TPI equipped IROC-Zs were released before the switchover to the 1987 model year production.
The 305 4 bbl carb engine and 305 TPI with 5-speed manual transmission, were available for the first time on the IROC-Z28. The new 350 (RPO code L98) was only available in the IROC-Z with an automatic transmission. The TPI 350 motor was visually distinguishable from the TPI 305, as the bumper cover decal had "5.7L" added to the "Tuned Port Injection" decal. It can also be determined by checking the VIN (8th character, F=305, 8=350). The 305 TPI equipped with automatic transmission came with 190 hp, while the Manual 305 TPI got a 215 hp (160 kW) rating. The 350 L98 gave a boost to 225 hp @ 4400 and 330ftlb @ 2800. All V8 engines received hydraulic roller lifters and new valve cover/head design. Valve covers featured new sealing and center bolts in the valve covers. Heads featured new raised lip for improved valve cover sealing and the two center intake bolts were changed from 90-degree orientation to 72 degrees. G92 and L98 cars got the Borg-Warner HD 7.75-inch (197 mm) four pinion rear end, produced for GM Holden's Limited of Australia (Firebird WS6 cars went to this unit in 1986). These units can be identified by their 9 bolt (rather than 10) differential cover that has a rubber drain plug. The Borg-Warner logo is also cast into the bottom of the differential case. This rear axle came with tapered rather than straight roller bearings and a cone-clutch rather than disc-clutch limited slip unit. These units came painted black from the factory while most others were bare metal. All 1987 350 TPI L98 IROC-Z's required 3.27 gears, J65 rear disc brakes, G80 limited slip differential, and KC4 engine oil cooler.
The largest visual change this year was the CHMSL (third brake light) was now mounted inside the rear spoiler instead of on top of the rear hatch (except the base coupe without the spoiler option - on those cars it remained on top of the hatch like the previous year). The Berlinetta was no longer available this year, replaced with a new LT model, while the base Camaro and Z28 continued as before. 145 mph (233 km/h) speedometers became standard in the IROC-Zs and Z28s with tuned port injected engines while the carbureated Camaro models and 2.8 liter v-6 retained the 85 m.p.h.speedometer.
Other big Camaro news was a Camaro convertible that was introduced for the first time since 1969 as a regular production option. Available on the Sport Coupe, LT and IROC-Z, the conversion was performed on t-top equipped Camaros by ASC American Sunroof Company. A total 1,007 were produced in the first year of production. 1987 marked the 20th anniversary of the Camaro and the convertibles were considered the anniversary editions and were signified by a special dash badge that read "20th Anniversary Commemorative Edition". Some 1987 T-Top models were made into convertibles by ASC after the customer took delivery. This is why there are some convertibles with the body VIN code of 2, meaning they were coupes, not convertibles (which have a body VIN code of 3). This was also the last year of production at GM's Norwood, OH facility as sales continued to decline therefore resulting in production reduced to the Van Nuys car assembly plant located in Southern California.
The Camaro line was greatly simplified this year, starting with discontinuing the slow-selling LT model, and dropping the base Z28. The IROC-Z package proved popular and the package became standard on all Z28s. This resulted with two models remaining, the base coupe and the IROC-Z. Without the Z28 to bridge the gap between the base Camaro and the flagship IROC-Z, the previously standard aluminum 16-inch 5-spoke wheels were now an option - "base" IROCs now got the previous year Z28's aluminum 15" 5-spoke wheels (which also became standard on the base coupes) and P215/65-15 tires. Also the old Z28's ground effects and spoilers were now standard issue on the base Camaro coupes. Base models received a new raised spoiler for the first half production year.
All engines were fuel-injected this year; the 2.8 (173) running 135 HP at 4900 rpm and 160 lb.ft at 3900 rpm, the 5.0L 305 cid V8 gained throttle-body injection, bringing net horsepower to 170; the 305 TPI manual transmission models were rated at 220 HP @ 4400 and 290 @ 3200, Automatic at 195 HP @ 4000 and 295 @ 2800 and the 350 TPI got a small boost to 230 HP @ 4400 and 330 @ 3200. G92 (performance axle ratio) available only on IROC-Z with 5.0 TPI (LB9). All 1987 350 TPI L98 IROC-Z's came standard with the 3.27 BW rear end and everything that was included with G92 but did not have the G92 RPO code because it was not mandatory; this changed in 1988 however when a 2.77 rear was standard and G92 had to be specified to get the 3.27's. The IROC-Z also treated to some small cosmetic changes. The "Z28" logos on the ground effects below the doors and on the rear bumper changed to read "IROC-Z". The large IROC-Z call-outs on the door moved from the front of the doors to the back, to put some space between the logos. Option code DX3 offered buyers the option of deleting the IROC-Z's door decals and stripes for a $60.00 credit. Optional 16" aluminum wheels were redesigned with two lines instead of one large line in each spoke, and center caps backgrounds changed from a black to silver. Dash badges on the IROC still read "Z28" on top and "IROC-Z" below. The vin code 8 is the engine code for a real TPI 5.7L IROC.
The 1989 model year signified the return of the RS designation (last used in 1987 on a limited edition California only model). The Rally Sport was now the base model featuring body ground effects mimicking the IROC and the previous Z28 but with the 2.8 V6 fuel-injected motor as standard with the 305 as an option. The raised rear spoiler that became available in 1988 on the base coupes was short-lived and done away with for this year. The engine ratings carried over from '88 with the addition of IROC-Z Coupes had a new dual catalytic converter exhaust option N10 that was standard with the G92 option only available on the 305 TPI motor with a manual transmission and the 350 TPI only available with the TH700-R4 automatic.
Power ratings also varied in the 305 from 170 hp (standard RPO L03) to 230 hp (RPO LB9 with manual transmission and dual exhaust) and boost to 240 hp for the 350 with dual exhaust.
IROC-Zs with the TPI 350 had the 2.77 rear axle ratio as in the previous year, but the optional RPO G92 Performance Axle package modified the ratio to 3.27 for the TPI 350, and 3.45 for the TPI 305 with manual transmission. RPO G92 also included the aforementioned dual-converter exhaust; 4-wheel disc brakes (RPO J65); engine oil cooler; P245/50ZR16 Goodyear Eagle unidirectional tires; a 145 mph (233 km/h) speedometer; and a tachometer with a 5,500 rpm redline. A total of 1,426 IROC-Z coupes were equipped with the Performance Axle package in 1989.
To take an IROC-Z coupe to the maximum performance extreme in 1989, when G92 Performance Axle was ordered with no air conditioning (C41), RPO code 1LE was automatically triggered. This included extra equipment intended to make the IROC-Z more competitive in SCCA Showroom Stock road racing events: larger 11.65-inch (296 mm) rotors with 2-piston aluminium calipers from PBR; an aluminum driveshaft; a special baffled fuel tank; specific shock absorbers; and stiffer suspension bushings. The fog lamps were also deleted. The 1LE was simply an option combination, not a separate package or model that dealers were aware of the existence of, resulting in 111 cars built with 1LE equipment in 1989.
The 1990 model year finished the lowest production to date (35,048), due to a truncated 1990 model run followed by the early introduction of the facelifted 1991 models. 1990 also marked the final year for the IROC-Z. Chevrolet had decided not to renew their contract with the International Race of Champions, which was later renewed by Chrysler's Dodge Daytona.
This year was the first year for an airbag to be offered in any F-body. The new airbag came alone with a new "half-moon" gauge cluster, that was offered only in 1990-1992 Camaros. The sharp edges on the dash surfaces were rounded. Lettering on gauges was yellow instead of white. 1990 was thus a distinguishable model year as it was the only 3rd gen Camaro that didn't feature the "aero" GFX but did have the newer interior/dash features. The 2.8 L V6 was upgraded to the 3.1 L V6.
The RPO code 1LE was again available in 1990, triggered as in the previous year by RPO G92 Performance Axle combined with no air conditioning on the IROC-Z coupe. Only 62 Camaros were built with 1LE equipment in 1990.
Camaros in IROC-Z trim that were equipped with the 5.7 TPI Motor received a slight horsepower increase to 245 @ 4400 rpm and torque numbers also rose to 345 @ 3200 rpm.
Early in 1990, the 1991 Camaros debuted. Big changes occurred, as all Camaros received a facelift in the form of a ground effects package for both the RS and Z28 models, while the IROC-Z was no longer offered. The Z28 also featured a high rise spoiler and non-functional hood "blisters". The 1991 Z28 also received a new wheel design to accent the new body. The B4C "Special Service" option was made available to law enforcement, the government, and military agencies. The B4C amounted to little more than a Z28 powertrain and suspension in the RS. (Car Craft Magazine refers to the B4C as a 1LE equipped with air conditioning; although this is slightly erroneous because in 1991, the large brakes with PBR calipers from the 1LE package were not included with B4C.) Just under 600 B4C Camaros were sold for 1991. Power ratings on the 350 TPI were as follows; 245 hp (183 kW) at 4400 rpm and 340 lb·ft (461 N·m) at 3200 rpm. Power rating on the 305 TPI motor were as follows; 230 hp (172 kW) at 4200 rpm and 300 lb·ft (407 N·m) @3200 rpm. Power rating on the 305 tbi stayed same at 170 hp(127 kW) at 4000 rpm and 255 lb•ft(346 N•m) at 2400 rpm. Rumors say that these numbers were slightly underrated by GM, but this has not been investigated.
Beginning with the 1991 model year, GM pioneered some modified assembly techniques with the F-body Camaro and Firebird which were carried forward into the fourth generation. Different seam sealers, structural adhesives and body assembly techniques were employed in key areas, in an effort to reduce squeaks and rattles and improve the perception of quality.
The SCCA Showroom-Stock-ready 1LE package continued with similar equipment to previous years, and was again triggered automatically by the G92 Performance Axle option combined with C41 basic ventilation system (no air conditioning) on the Z28 coupe. Enthusiasts and dealers were becoming more aware of the 1LE, as production increased to 478 units.
1992 was the final year of the third generation Camaro. A "25th Anniversary Heritage Edition" option had been planned with Corvette aluminum cylinder heads, tubular exhaust headers, and 6-speed manual transmission, but this was scrapped in favor of a "Heritage Package" option (RPO Z03) which amounted to nothing more than a graphics package of badges and rally stripes. All 1992 Camaros received a "25th Anniversary" badge on the dashboard. The 1992 version of the Camaro B4C (Special Service Package) got the addition of 1LE brakes, making it perhaps the best stopping third generation Camaro available with air conditioning. A total of 589 B4Cs were sold. The B4C option was also deemed popular enough to be carried on to the fourth generation model.
Some TPI 1992 Camaros received some of the "leftovers" from its Corvette cousin, which switched from Tuned Port Injection to the new LT1 engine series in 1992. They received the rough texture, cast aluminum style, intake runners from the TPI Corvette instead of the regular Camaro smooth tube ones. In some cases they were built with black painted valve covers instead of the normal silver valve covers. Some also received a blank throttlebody plate, like the LT1, instead of the normal plate with "Tuned Port Injection" script. The change was purely cosmetic, performance remained identical to the previous year.
The RPO 1LE option combination, identical to the previous year in specification and option requirements, had its highest production year of the third generation Camaro, with 705 cars so equipped. As mentioned, the 1LE brakes were included with B4C in 1992, accounting for 589 of the 705 built. This means that only 116 "true" 1LE-only cars (A/C delete, non-Special Service Package) were built for the year.
It should be noted that the vast majority of the 1LE cars built during the 1989-1992 period were very sparsely equipped vehicles. Since they were intended for racing, where extra weight is a disadvantage and interiors are often gutted after purchase, most were very lightly optioned. The majority of 1LE Camaros had the base interior, with no power options, cruise control, or even floor mats. Some were even built without radios (201 cars were built as "radio delete" in 1992). An unusual Camaro equipped with a combination of both RPO 1LE and luxury or appearance options, such as a deluxe leather interior or the Z03 Heritage Package, could therefore be a potentially rare and collectible vehicle.
This was also the last year of production at the assembly plant in Van Nuys, California (and the United States as a whole). The last third-generation Camaro produced was a red Z28 coupe on August 27, 1992 that features signatures of the assembly line workers and is privately owned.
1982-1985: 2.5 L (151 cid) LQ8 / LQ9 Iron Duke I4
1982-1984: 2.8 L (173 cid) LC1 V6
1985-1989: 2.8 L (173 cid) LB8 V6
1990-1992: 3.1 L (191 cid) LH0 V6
1982-1983: 5.0 L (305 cid) LU5 Small-Block V8
1982-1987: 5.0 L (305 cid) LG4 Small-Block V8
1983-1986: 5.0 L (305 cid) L69 Small-Block V8
1988-1992: 5.0 L (305 cid) LO3 Small-Block V8
1985-1992: 5.0 L (305 cid) LB9 Small-Block V8
1987-1992: 5.7 L (350 cid) L98 Small-Block V8
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