A Not-Old Barn Find: 1986 Chevrolet Camaro IROC-Z

Think back on the trajectory we’ve come along such that a 1986 model Chevrolet Camaro is now a treasured barn find. Way back when, that status was reserved for cars of the 1960s. Then suddenly everyone had to have a 1970s Trans Am. Next on the classic market came pristine third-gen (1982-92) Camaros. Now here we are, dragging a neglected 1986 IROC-Z Camaro out of its slumber. (Thanks for this, tipster TJ.) This car, available here on craigslist, is waiting in Ellicottville, NY for a potential new owner with $22,000 to spend.

The IROC-Z was named after the International Race of Champions, a racing series run most years between 1974-2006. IROC took the best drivers from a variety of racing series and put them into identically prepared race versions of popular street cars. IROC series champions ranged from AJ Foyt and Mario Andretti to Mark Martin and Tony Stewart. From the series’ second year (1975) to its thirteenth (1989), the IROC car was a Chevy Camaro. The third-generation street Camaro, like the car presented here, was offered as an IROC-Z model from 1985-1990.

In 1986, the IROC-Z package consisted of appearance and suspension upgrades, as in the 1985 model year. In addition, this car was given the tuned-port injection 305 V8, as was the case in 1985. This sounds good as it goes but, according to one source, this mill was the “armpit of the entire run” because a revised camshaft dumped the power output from the prior year’s 215hp to 190hp. (For comparison’s sake, a 5.0-liter Mustang had 200hp). That’s a long time ago, though, and anybody knows that a modern Mustang or Camaro (and more) could kick the booty of almost any 80s offering, so you don’t buy this era of collectible for power alone. Anyway, this car should be fun to drive due to its handling characteristics, or just to stand next to at the local burger joint cruise-in and pretend that you’re the villain in an ‘80s Brat Pack movie. (They had villains, right?)

Before you call the seller’s landline and make an offer, note that this IROC-Z has its mix of ups and downs. The current owner has begun the IROC’s recommissioning as a driver with a change of fluids, tune-up, new tires, and exhaust work. So what’s left to do? Under-hood looks a bit of a fright with surface rust on bolts and fasteners and some accessories (like the alternator) in need of a bead-blast cabinet, if you’re interested in presenting the car for show. It’s hard to tell the condition of the black paint as photographed in direct sunlight, but the hood looks to have imperfections in the paint and has lost color on the louvers. The front bumper cover (and possibly the rear) also appears in need of attention, a common fault of these cars. The gearshift knob, shifter handle, and console all suffer from dirt and age and need to be removed, cleaned/restored, and reinstalled. The  good news is that this is all work that can be performed with patience after you’ve put in some time behind the wheel, so if the low 38,000-mile number attracts you, you could grab up this offering, drive it around all summer, and find a barn—or a garage—of your own to stash it back in for some cold-weather fixing up.


  1. RoughDiamond Member

    Black is always stunning on these IROC-Zs. These are great performers especially behind a T5 transmission.

    Like 3
    • Ken Haughton

      I have no idea why but in the late 70s early 80s I thought that IROC meant, and my apologies please, Italian rejects out cruising. Then I saw that most the Italians in our very large neighborhood had one of these amazing “chick magnets” Jealousy right?

  2. Shawn

    I’ve always loved the IROC-Z cars. That look of styling was just perfect for the late 80s. As you mentioned, performance is laughable these days, since a modern 4 door Toyota Corolla could gap you by large amounts in almost every scenario, but it was great for its day. This price might be a bit high, but who knows, maybe the seller will get it. I’d say the biggest let down in this particular car is that it’s an automatic.

    Like 7
  3. Rw

    Good luck on removing fuel tank for a cleaning or replacement,they are really fun to do to all of you out there that have not done one.

    Like 6
  4. Steve Clinton

    “Waiting in Ellicottville, NY for a potential new owner with $22,000 to spend.”
    He’s in for a looong wait.

    Like 22
  5. Troy

    Had a two tone Gray and black one, long enough to know I don’t want or need another one

    Like 6
  6. John W Kriegshauser

    Asking $22k for this? I’ll pass, thanks.

    Like 14
  7. Michael

    Nope and I think the seller will have that car for a long time lol

    Like 3
  8. Jimbosidecar

    Could be my memory, but this looks like the 350 cu in with the automatic. I thought the intake looked different with the 305 cu in and 5 speed. I raced a couple in the IMSA Firehawk series from 1985-1989.

    Like 5
  9. Russ Ashley

    I have a 96 Chevy Z71 pickup truck that was ordered with every available option. I have a declared value with my insurance company of $20K, and I got a letter from them suggesting I raise it to $27K. Prices have increased a lot lately. I don’t know what a car like this normally brings as I’ve never been interested in buying one, but this one is a low mileage one that just appears to need a good detailing. It will probably need other things too due to having been sitting for a long time in less than ideal storage, but there could be someone who has been looking for a ride just like this. If that person has been shopping for a while the price on this one might not be too high considering the prices I’ve seen lately. First gen Camaros have been expensive for a long time so maybe these later ones are beginning to appreciate. GLWTS

    Like 1
  10. CaCarDude

    Back in the late 90’s I drove an ’86 Camaro Berlinetta, had all the bells and whistles, T -Top and a blue on black color. Very nice cruiser back then and handled great on short road trips to the Sierras. I sold it after a couple years and replaced with a newer Silverado pick up, but often think I would like to have that nice driver back today. I also believe this listed IROC is going to be with the current owner for a long time at his asking price.

    Like 1
  11. Pete

    THAT 305 is the KOD in my world. A 350 would have been a better choice as a proven work horse GM motor. Throw all that IROC stuff on it and it would have been a better machine. Heck I would rather have the V-6 than the 305. One thing I think you have overlooked about this car is it is a low mileage and low rust in the rust belt. That thing is super rare just for that. He might get that much in NY. You gotta understand them guys from NJ & NY. are ambitious people. They buy rust buckets with good Vins and Body tags along with 5 gallons of bondo and turn it back into pretty cars from almost nothing. This IROC will take them a couple of days to turn into a pristine example given what they have to work with.

  12. Big C

    The rock band Aerosmith had a tune back in the 70’s, that I think describes Cletus’ desire for $22k for this thing. Dream On.

    Like 1
  13. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    After killing several of these in stoplight drags in my ’86 GLH-T back in the day, I will never see the attraction of these slugs.

  14. Gray Wolf

    I believe around that era of Camaro would have a problem with the shift cable would corrode and freeze up. The ground cable to the engine would be missing or not connected.

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.


Keep me in the conversation via email. Or subscribe without commenting.