Third Generation Chevy Camaro 1982 - 1992: Street Performance and Race Mods


Description and history of the Third Generation 1982-1992 Camaros:

The "Third Generation" of the Chevrolet Camaro F-car was introduced in 1982 and had a production run which lasted an entire decade to 1992. The "Third Gen Camaro" went through various trim, facia, suspension and wheel changes as well as engine options. All were of a steel unibody, hatchback design. Various models included the Berlinetta, RS (Rally Sport), Z28 and IROC. If it wasn't for it's ubiquity, it would have been more of a head turner, with it's aerodynamic, Italian supercar inspired lines. It's sister car, the Pontiac Firebird / Trans Am shared the same platform and components with it's own unique body panels and styling.

All Third Generation Camaros came with a pushrod-actuated valves, a cast iron block engine, front disk brakes and rear wheel drive. The front "subframe" of the older second generation Camaro was now part of the integrated unibody in the third generation Camaro. Rear leaf springs were dropped in favor of coil springs. The rear was controlled by a long torque arm, a sway bar, a panhard rod, two trailing links, coil springs and shocks. The front suspension used a MacPherson strut design with a lower A-arm and coil spring. The V-8 horsepower grew from a 145 hp 305 cid (5.0 L) in 1982 to a 270 hp 350 cid (5.7 L) by 1992. It is the ease of engine swaps which makes the Third Generation Camaro superior to the fourth generation for the backyard hot rodder. The third gen Camaro engine is removed by removing the hood and radiator and lifting the engine up and over the engine compartment while the fourth gen swap requires lowering the engine from a raised vehicle.

The Third Generation Camaros were manufactured in Norwood Ohio ('82-'87) and in Van Nuys California ('82-'92) and resulted in a production run of over 800,000 cars.

The six generations of Camaros are as follows:

First Generation Camaro
First Generation Camaro
Second Generation Camaro
Second Generation Camaro
Third Generation Camaro

interior 360 photosphere

Third Generation Camaro
Fourth Generation Camaro
Fourth Generation Camaro
Fifth Generation Camaro
(2010 - 2015)
Fifth Generation Camaro
Sixth Generation Camaro
(2016 - ?)

interior 360 photosphere

Sixth Generation Camaro

Third-Gen History:

1982 Chevrolet Camaro:

The Third Generation Camaro was introduced and chosen to be the Indy 500 pace car. It was available with a 4 (1982 only), 6 and 8 (305 cid) cylinder cast iron engine with a 4 speed Borg Warner manual transmission or 3 speed (and later 4 speed) automatic. The Z28 package included a aluminum 15x7 inch wheels, a SMC (Sheet Molded Compound) hood, ground effects / lower body valances which ran the full circumference of the vehicle and a rear spoiler. The Camaro became Motor Trend magazine's Car of the Year for 1982. It was also the Indianapolis 500, 1982 pace car. Six thousand pace car replicas were sold.
Three models were available:
  • Camaro Sport Coupe:
    • 2.5L 151 cid LQ9 4 cyl
    • 2.8L 173 LC1 V-6
    • 5.0L 305 LG4 V-8
  • Camaro Berlinetta:
    • 2.8L LC1 V-6
    • 5.0L 305 LG4 V-8
  • Camaro Z28:
    • 5.0L 305 LG4 V-8 4bbl 145 hp
    • 5.0L 305 LU5 twin TBI "Cross Fire Injection" 165 hp
      Available only with the automatic transmission.

Decoding the 1982 Camaro VIN

The Chevy TV commercial for the 1982 Z28

1983 Chevrolet Camaro:

GM introduces a higher horsepower engine (5.0L L69 4bbl 190 horse High-Output "HO") [3223 sold], a 3.73 rear axle ration and a 5 speed manual transmission or the 4 speed 700R4 automatic.

Decoding the 1983 Camaro VIN

1984 Chevrolet Camaro:

A hydraulic clutch is introduced on all manual transmission vehicles. An electronic Berlinetta dash was introduced including a bar-graph tachometer and digital speedometer.

Decoding the 1984 Camaro VIN

1985 Chevrolet Camaro:

New rounded (and better looking) front and rear bumpers were introduced. The lower body ground valances were also rounded and more prominent. The 16x8 inch aluminum rims, P245/50ZR-16 Z Rated Goodyear Gatorback tires, IROC suspension and markings got the Camaro noticed one again. A beefier rear end unit was also introduced. I can personally testify to the wimpyness of the older rear end unit. A high horsepower (215hp) TPI (Tuned Port Injection) V8 was introduced but only available with an automatic. It was the final year for the 4 cyl engine.

Decoding the 1985 Camaro VIN

1986 Chevrolet Camaro:

Who could forget the introduction of the center high mounted stop light in the rear hatchback glass. A special edition (no A/C) IROC-Z with a L98 5.7 L 350 TPI engine was sold, but not to the general public. Only 1000 with this engine were believed to be sold.

Decoding the 1986 Camaro VIN

1987 Chevrolet Camaro:

The middle tail light moves to the spoiler. The V-6 RS is introduced as well as the Z28 and IROC-Z convertible and J65 four wheel disc brakes. Engine upgrades to the V8 included roller lifters and improved sealing center bolt valve covers. The 350 TPI B2L received a KC4 engine oil cooler as well. The Borg-Warner HD 7.75 inch, 9 bolt rear end was available from GMs Australian unit and employed tapered roller bearings and a cone posi clutch. The rear brakes were upgraded to the J65 disk brake unit. The rear brake light was moved to the rear spoiler, the speedometer range was increased to 145 mph (IROC-Z and Z28), a convertible was optional.

Decoding the 1987 Camaro VIN

1988 Chevrolet Camaro:

The Z28 and IROC-Z become one car, the IROC Z28. The Z28 ground effects were now standard on all Camaros. The serpentine engine accessories belt and TPI were introduced.

Decoding the 1988 Camaro VIN

1989 Chevrolet Camaro:

Rear seats now have shoulder belts and the electronically coded ignition keys put an end to the rampant loss of Camaro's to theft. The rear wheel disk brake (J65) rotor diameter is increased and the rear aluminum PBR calipers are introduced. The 1LE option is introduced and includes and aluminum drive shaft (JG1), dual cats (N10), aluminum spare (N64), front 1LE spindles (part #'s 18016737 / 18016738) and Girlock or PBR Australian built HD front dual piston aluminum calipers (part #'s 10132827 / 10132828) with larger 11.86 inch rotors. The base Camaro model is called the RS. The highest horsepower option is the TPI 350 with 240 hp.

Decoding the 1989 Camaro VIN

1990 Chevrolet Camaro:

The IROC name is dropped mid year. Driver side air bag is standard.

Decoding the 1990 Camaro VIN

1991 / 1992 Chevrolet Camaro:

The lower body valances and rear bumper is re-styled. The side lower body valances now have a fake air scoop in front of each wheel. The middle tail light moves one again to the inside of the hatchback glass. The B4C "Special Service" package was offered to law enforcement agencies (600 sold).
  • 350 TP (245 hp @4400rpm and 345 ft·lbs @3200 rpm)
  • 305 TPI (235 hp @4200 rpm and 300 ft·lb @3200 rpm)

Decoding the 1991 Camaro VIN
Decoding the 1992 Camaro VIN

Third gen Camaro production numbers:

Berlinetta RS RS
1982 189,747 64,882
6,360 Pace Car
1983 154,831 62,650   27,925    
1984 261,591 100,899   33,400    
1985 180,018 68,403   21,177    
1986 192,219 88,132   49,585    
1987 137,760 52,863 Z28
3,452 IROC
1988 96,275 24,050
4 1LE
1989 110,739 20,067
111 1LE
3,940   83,487 3,245
1990 34,896 4,213
62 1LE
1,294   28,750 729
1991 100,838 12,452
478 1LE
592 B4C
3,203   79,854 5,329
1992 70,007 5,197
705 1LE
589 B4C
1,254   60,994 2,562

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