Chevy Camaro IROC-Z: The 1980s Icon That Redefined Sports Car Performance

When the IROC-Z made its appearance on the market in 1985, three engine choices were available. The base model came with the standard engine option under the hood (a 5.0-liter LB9 unit that only produced around 215 hp and 275 lb-ft of torque); a 155-hp LG4 engine and a 190-hp “High Output” L69 engine were also available. Two years later, in 1987, the IROC-Z’s list of engine options was upgraded with the introduction of two new engines: the 350 L98 used in the Corvette, which produced 225 hp and 330 lb-ft of torque, and the optional, 305 small-block V8 (which produced 190 hp when paired with an automatic transmission and 215 hp when paired with a manual transmission).

The IROC-Z Camaro occupied a peculiar corner of the muscle car landscape of the 1980s. Being geared specifically towards handling rather than raw, straight-line power, the IROC-Z could corner at high speeds with minimal loss of traction, which gave it a competitive edge when it came to navigating tricky corners on a track, but in terms of muscle-car prowess, it was decidedly lacking when compared to some of its competitors. The IROC-Z did not produce the power output that dedicated muscle car fans expected and soon gained a reputation for being more focused on appearance than performance. With its aggressive, angular lines and loud exhaust, the Camaro definitely looked and sounded the part, but when it came to power and acceleration, it didn’t quite deliver the goods.

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