350-Equipped: 1982 Chevrolet Camaro Z20 Indy Pace Car

On nine occasions, the Chevrolet Camaro has been afforded the honor of serving as the Pace Car for the Indianapolis 500. These have included the 1982 event where they used their newly-unveiled Third Generation Z28 model. As has been the case for decades, Chevrolet released a limited edition production run of Indy Pace Car replicas, including our feature car. Ours is a tidy survivor that a previous owner treated to an engine upgrade. The Z28 is located in Lumberton, North Carolina, and the owner has listed it for sale here on eBay. Bidding has already scorched past the reserve and currently sits at $5,200.

Chevrolet offered the Indy Pace Car in a distinctive combination of Metallic Silver and Blue. Our feature car presents well for a vehicle of this age. It isn’t clear whether any of its owners have performed any restoration work, but it’s something that I wouldn’t rule out entirely. Silver of this vintage can develop a matte or patchy appearance, but there are none of those issues in evidence on this Z28. The paint holds a deep shine, with no significant blemishes or flaws. The panels are equally impressive. There are no dings or dents and no signs of rust. The graphics and decals look crisp, while the alloy wheels are spotless. I can’t spot any faults with the glass, and there are no indications that the T-Top seals have ever leaked. The plastic is in good order, and the initial impression is nothing but positive.

If this Camaro has a low point, that award probably falls to the interior. There’s nothing horrendous, and if considered purely as an unrestored survivor, it remains very serviceable. However, when we dig deeper, a few issues leave it well short of perfection. The dash pad has a couple of noticeable cracks, and I’m not convinced that the next owner could repair them. If I were to buy this car, I would probably investigate that further as a preferred option because a new pad leaves little change out of $650. The plastic trim in the rear passenger area is also developing the type of appearance typical of plastic of this era, and I have doubts about its viability for restoration. You can add wear on the driver’s seat and floppy carpet on the passenger door trim to the tally of flaws. The seat bolsters look like they would benefit from a professional clean due to the discoloration they currently display. On the plus side of the equation, Chevrolet produced 6,360 examples of the Pace Car, and you can be sure that a few have found their way to a Pick-A-Part. It would be worth scouring those locations if the budget is a bit tight. It’s also worth remembering that most of the interior plastics are shared across the entire Camaro range, so a non-Pace Car could still provide the parts the buyer requires. Otherwise, the buyer will find themselves with a car that features air conditioning, power windows, a rear defroster, power mirrors, an AM/FM radio and cassette player, and a tilt wheel.

When we lift this Z28’s hood, we reach the point that could gladden the hearts of performance enthusiasts but disappoint the purists amongst you. The Z28 would’ve rolled off the line with a 305ci V8 that produced 165hp. The rest of the drivetrain includes a three-speed TH200 automatic transmission, power steering, and power brakes. By today’s standards, the ¼-mile ET of 16.5 seconds doesn’t look particularly flash. In 1982, that was a good number. Anyhow, that is now largely irrelevant because this isn’t a numbers-matching classic. A previous owner pulled that 305, and its place has been taken by a 350ci small-block. The specifications of this new motor are unclear, but I would expect that it should pack more punch than the 305. The owner supplies no information on how well the Camaro runs or drives, but the overall tidy state of the engine bay gives us cause to be cautiously optimistic.

This 1982 Camaro Z28 Indy Pace Car isn’t perfect, but its exterior presentation is pretty tidy for a vehicle of this age. The interior needs some work, but it is serviceable. The next owner could choose to drive the car as-is while scouring online auction sites and Pick-A-Parts for the pieces required to make it pop once again. The vehicle isn’t numbers-matching, and that could negatively impact its potential value. However, that engine change should also offer livelier performance, which seems like a reasonable trade-off. I wouldn’t be surprised if all of those factors see this classic struggling to top $10,000 before the hammer falls. If that is the case, it makes it a tempting proposition that is worth monitoring closely.


  1. That 80's Guy The Tower

    These ’82 Pace Cars are really starting to bring the money, mediocre powertrain and all. I think it’s a handsome package that still looks today. It would be a great candidate for an LS/T56 swap, if it wouldn’t kill the value.

    I’ll be curious to see what kind dough this brings at the end.

    Like 7
    • Mikefromthehammer

      The current 350 is not the original engine, so a swap likely would not harm the value. It is all moot now however as the listing has been pulled (dealer probably found a local buyer).

      Like 2
    • joenywf64

      Don’t forget to completely change the rear(unless maybe it’s got the Aussie one), with that engine swap.

      Like 1
  2. Motorcityman

    Gone! That was fast!

    Like 2
  3. Mikefromthehammer

    Typo in the title: Should be Z28 not Z20.

    Like 3
  4. JOEY V

    Not “a tidy survivor” with an engine transplant.

    Like 1
  5. Mark

    There’s one up for sale south of Dayton Ohio right now.

    Like 0
  6. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    Seller pulled the auction – “Item is no longer available”

    I remember when I saw these for the first time, it was still ’81 and I thought they looked hideous.
    Thank goodness I still had time to order an ’81.

    Like 0

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