1980 Chevrolet Camaro Z28

I saw a white 1980 or 1981 Z28 with blue graphics (I believe the only way you can tell them apart is to get close enough to see the length of the VIN) out driving today, not once but twice. It wasn’t quite in show condition, but it still looked pretty sharp, and you so rarely see these cars on the road in 2014. We’ll go with the 1980 version for this post because it had slightly more horsepower.

“The Maximum Camaro.”

For 1980, the aging second-generation Chevrolet Camaro (the title of Car and Driver‘s road test for the 1980 Z28 was a cruel “A medieval warrior on the path to a rocking chair“) received some updates, including exterior styling changes and a more powerful engine for the Z28. Not much could be done about the general lack of space efficiency, the high weight, and the fairly primitive technology.

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment included in the $7,121 base price of the Z28 (about $20,500 in today’s dollars) included heavy duty shocks and springs, sport mirrors, a front air dam, a rear spoiler, body-colored wheels, and white-lettered radial tires. Inside, power steering, full gauges, center console, cut-pile carpeting, and vinyl bucket seats were standard.

The standard (and only) Z28 powertrain for states other than California was the LM1 5.7 liter V8 with 4-barrel Rochester carburetor and 8.2:1 compression matched with a four speed manual transmission. At 190 bhp, this engine had the most horsepower that had been seen in a Camaro since 1974 (sigh). For 1980, a solenoid-driven air intake was added to the back of the redesigned hood scoop. Car and Driver managed to get the 3,660 pound Z28 from 0-60 in 8.5 seconds with a top speed of 120 mph. Fuel mileage was predictably bad—14 city/21 highway by the standards of the day.

External options included 15 x 7 aluminum wheels ($184) and removable glass roof panels ($695). Inside, you could add air conditioning ($566), cruise control ($112), power windows ($143), and an AM/FM stereo radio ($192).

Z28 page from the 1980 Camaro brochure, linked from the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochures section.

Long neglected by the collector market and with most now used up, late second-generation Z28s in good or great shape are starting to get interesting numbers at auctions. A red 1980 Z28 went for $13,000 at Mecum’s January 2014 auction in Kissimmee. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for an 1980 Z28 in #1 condition is $26,800. A more normal #3 condition version is valued at $13,100.

Make mine red, I think. Surprisingly, the most popular color in 1980 was dark blue.

1986 Chevrolet Camaro Berlinetta

“Elegance With a Technical Touch.”

1986 was the last year for the Berlinetta semi-luxury version of Chevrolet’s Camaro and they were by far the rarest of the three Camaros. With only 4,579 Berlinettas built in 1986, Chevrolet sold more than eleven times as many IROC-Zs alone.

The base power combination for the Berlinetta was the 135 bhp LB8 2.8 liter multi-port fuel injected V6 with a five speed manual transmission. Optional power was the $750 155 bhp LG4 5.0 liter V8 with 4-barrel carburetor which was paired with a $465 four speed automatic transmission (the five speed manual was not available with the V8 on the Berlinetta). Fuel economy with base power combination was 17 city/26 highway by the standards of the day (15/24 by modern standards). Moving up to the V8 dropped mileage ratings only slightly—to 17/25.

Your $11,902 base price (about $25,500 in today’s dollars) bought standard mechanical and exterior equipment including power brakes, power steering, dual horns, and Berlinetta-specific wheel covers. Inside, a custom interior, intermittent windshield wipers, a roof console, a locking rear storage cover, and an AM/FM stereo radio with clock and four speakers were included.

Camaro Berlinetta print advertisement.
Camaro Berlinetta print advertisement.

Of course the notable interior component for the Berlinetta was the “Welcome aboard Starship Camaro.” (yes, that was a real advertisement) cluster with dual adjustable control pods, a vacuum-florescent digital speedometer, and a bar graph tachometer. To an aspiring young audiophile, the killer feature of this interior was the optional (an extra $242) AM/FM stereo on a swivel with a “proper” upright (no slot) cassette deck and a five band graphic equalizer. For 1986 only, the stereo had substantially improved backlighting.

Exterior and mechanical options included four wheel disc brakes ($179), t-tops ($846—ouch!), a rear spoiler ($69), halogen headlamps ($25), rear window defogger ($145), and nice looking Berlinetta-specific aluminum finned wheels ($225). Inside, you could add cruise control ($175) and Berlinetta-specific electronically-controlled air conditioning ($750).

According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for an 1986 Berlinetta in (rare) #1 condition is $13,400, with a more normal #3 condition car going for $6,200. In general, third-generation Camaros have good club support and are often available in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds, but Berlinettas of any year are rarely seen. Make mine Black, please.

1985 Chevrolet Camaro IROC-Z

“Make the earth move.”

In 1985, Chevrolet kicked the third-generation Camaro up a notch (or more) with the release of the IROC-Z, inspired by the International Race Of Champions race series. The IROC-Z was an option package (B4Z) for the Z28 and cost $695.

Suspension upgrades specific to the IROC-Z were Delco/Bilstein shock absorbers for the rear wheels and 16-inch wheels all around with Goodyear Eagle GT P245/50VR16 tires—big for the day.

The IROC-Z also included louvered hood inserts and more aggressive ground effects and spoilers than the Z28. Finally, it was lowered half an inch compared to the Z28.

1985 Chevrolet Camaro IROC-Z, courtesy of M62 from the Wikimedia Commons.

Three engines were available in 1985 for the IROC-Z, all 305 cubic inches: standard was the LG4 carbureted motor at 155 bhp. The optional engines available depended on transmission—if you chose the 5-speed manual you could get the High Output carbureted L69 with 190 bhp (not available on the garden variety Z28) while if you went with the 4-speed automatic you could choose the Tuned Port Injection LB9 at 215 bhp.

If you cared (and I think most of the target market did not), mileage wasn’t great: the EPA  ratings of the day were 16 city/22 highway for the LG4, 15/24 for the L69, and 16/22 for the LB9.

According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for an 1985 IROC-Z in #1 condition is $19,400. IROC-Zs make regular appearances in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds. As I write this in November 2013, there’s a red 1986 with 89,000 miles for sale for $8,000. Please make mine Blaze Red, with the optional and expensive when new ($821) t-tops. I know they often leak, but I like the look.

Interestingly, Hemmings also has a white 1985 IROC-Z for sale. It has 765 miles and the seller wants $50,000 for it. At first this seems ridiculous, but then this particular IROC has special provenance: it is one of the two Live Aid cars from July 1985, with almost 100 signatures of folks such as Mick Jagger, Bette Midler, and Jimmy Page preserved in clear coat.