Show and Go Survivor: 1986 Chevrolet Camaro IROC-Z

Chevy’s Camaro was the poster child for the gyrations of America’s muscle car fortunes. In the 1960s, when the Camaro first arrived on the scene, its reception was enthusiastic. While it didn’t beat the Mustang’s sales numbers – which Chevy general manager Pete Estes dearly desired – it still sold well over 200,000 copies a year. In the early 1970s, sales followed horsepower down the drain, thanks to shifting gasoline markets, safety, and emissions regulations. By 1977, American automakers were beginning to innovate their way out of the malaise era, increasing horsepower once again. From then into the 1980s, the Camaro outsold the Mustang for a couple of years and matched its earliest sales records in other years. Still, by the mid-1980s, the beginning of the end of the model was coming into view. The Camaro would last until 2002 in its “old” iteration, limping along with ever-declining production numbers. Here on eBay is a low-mileage 1986 Chevrolet Camaro IROC-Z bid to $23,999, reserve not met. This car is located in Oak Ridge, North Carolina.

The motor is the Tuned Port Injection 5.0 liter V8. This combination was introduced in 1985, generating 215 bhp. But GM responded to new emissions regulations in 1986 by detuning it via a different camshaft. Horsepower dropped to 190, though torque rose 10 lb.-feet. Reviews were scathing. The situation was corrected in 1987 when the 5.7 liter TPI became available, with 225 bhp. These pivots left the 1986 model a desert island in a sea of better Camaros. All IROC-Z TPI cars came only with a four-speed automatic in 1986, another knock on the model – this, despite the availability of a manual transmission for either of the carburetted motors offered. The odometer reads just under 61,000 miles; the AutoCheck report shows five owners who regularly serviced the car.

This car’s interior is clean, with slightly slack fabric to show for all its miles. T-tops give the owner a modest wind-in-the-hair experience. This was the first year of the third brake light requirement; the extra brake light is mounted at the top of the hatch. The speedometer was finally marked up to 145 mph in 1986, removing the annoyance of the old 85 mph maximum reading.

To differentiate it from the Z28, the IROC-Z sported fog lamps; ground-effects rockers and front valance; hood louvers; and 16″ wheels. By now the car’s competitor was the Fox body Mustang with its snappy 5.0 liter V8 and manual transmission. In the collector market, low-mileage third-generation Camaros are finally pulling abreast of Fox body values. While this one hasn’t met reserve yet, and it’s not the lowest mileage IROC-Z out there, it could well sell for a couple of thousand dollars more than the current bid. Any guesses at the reserve?


  1. Dave

    Wow this one is a clean machine, under hood looks almost new. I had a ’89 RS, the hood would buckle starting at 115 like the invisible man was break dancing on it. The only mod I did to it was weld in subframe connectors which these cars desperately need, they transformed the handling dramatically I never went past 120 but I think it might have had a little more in it. I saw one at a drag strip and the whole rubber nose distorts bad at high speed.

    Like 8
  2. Karen Barron

    I had a twin to this car. Loved it. A friend of mine followed me home from work, or tried to, 135 mph, handled like a dream. I did this every day. No tickets. But, one time I was driving it, and got stopped at 30 mph in town. Cop said with the windows up, you couldn’t see who was driving…profiling, I guess. Anyway they were quite surprised that a 40 year old woman was driving when I rolled down the window! The car currently lives 15 miles from my home but he will not sell it back to me although he just let’s it sit and it looks horrible.

    Like 6
    • AndyinMA

      I hate it when people let cars rot like that.

      Like 8
    • Glen

      Unless you had a sail attached to the roof, coupled with a helluva tailwind, there’s no way you got near 135 mph.

      And even if you had, it wouldn’t have “handled like a dream”.

      Even the Z’s with the 5.7’s couldn’t post a 135 mph claim on their best day.

      Thanks for playing, Karen.

      • Melton Mooney

        My bone stock 5.0 tpi hit the rev limiter at 130 (indicated)…in a convertible with the top up. I can’t account for possible speedo error up there, but the tires were original size. It felt like it was on rails the whole time. I had to keep my foot off the floor to keep the automatic from downshifting which kept slowing it down. If it hadn’t had a rev limiter and I could have matted the gas without it downshifting, it might have gone a few mph faster. Either way, I was surprised it went as fast as it did.

        BTW I met a cop as I topped a hill during all this. That’s when the story really starts, but it’s a little long to post here.

    • JoeNYWF64

      He will if you offer him enough money.
      Imagine the cop’s reaction to the side windows on the current & prev gen camaros – even with the windows down you can barely see who’s driving. lol

  3. Brad460 Member

    If this was the camaro sitting new in my dealer’s floor instead of the modern camaro it wouldn’t be even close. Sure the new car has way more power, braking, corning, speed, etc., but the styling is toylike. Huge oversized black wheels with such overdone bodywork it looks like a caricature of older camaros. These Gen 3 Camaros looked like a Camaro, just higher tech and updated for the “hi tech” 80s.

    Just look at that interior! Color!! Not just dark black with everything the same deep black. These gen 3 Camaros even look rather roomy compared to the new ones in which you fall down into a deep hole and peer out of the gunslit windows.

    Ahh time moves on, but I just can’t see the appeal of these newer cars, and looking at sales figures seems to indicate that nobody else can see the appeal either.

    Like 10
    • Melton Mooney

      Lol…You can thank NTSB bureaucrats for uglier, albeit safer cars.

  4. Troy

    I had one in about 1992 long enough to know not to buy this one

    Like 2
  5. Angel_Cadillac_Diva Angel Cadillac Diva Member

    I had a 1984 Camaro Berlinetta, the “Ladies” Camaro. It had the digital dash and that was a nightmare! Seriously spent more time in the shop than on the road. I only had it a year. I hope by 1986 Chevy got their act together on the Camaro.

    Like 3
    • Melton Mooney

      Yes ma’am, they did finally get their act together on the Camaro…in 1998.

  6. Melton Mooney

    The 145mph speedo was fit to cars ordered with z rated tires. Even then, they were speed limited to something around 120-130 depending on how accurate your speedo was up there.

    I like third gens but know that they sorely need upgrades if you want to get much out of one. They’re not for everybody.

    Like 1
  7. Dan Torres

    Regarding the HP difference, it was due to a different camshaft but not for detuning. My understanding is that the 5.0 TPI (LB9) had 190 HP in an automatic… in a manual they subbed the cam from the 5.7 TPI (L98) to bump the HP to 225.

    Like 1
    • jwzg

      Not in 1986. All of them were 190hp. Starting in 1987, they all got the roller cam, and the manual went back to 215hp. The automatic kept the peanut cam.

  8. gaspumpchas

    IROC- Incapable of Racing Other Cars……There’s another one but I’ll leave now.

    Like 3
  9. Ike Onick

    Did GM make folks sign a waiver against any claims made after dropping a cigarette on that sea of plastic and having the interior go up in a flash fire? Fisher-Price made better looking interiors.

    Like 3
  10. Stan

    Buddy had one. Handled like on rails, so stiff and a rattle-can interior. One of the best looking cars from Detroit ever in my opinion.

    Like 4
  11. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    I never liked the look of this generation Camaro. I bought an ’81 right after my first glimpse of what the ’82 was going to look like.

    Skipped this generation and my next Camaro was a ’99 with the LS-1 6 speed.

    Like 2
  12. Bob Buicks

    I own a black 87 irocz.ttop and 5sp built to 383 hp rear wheels dynod.1 of my favorite cars. my 87 grand national is fun allso.just re built 60 over. O boy handed dynod it her. I have a 69 fire bird with a big block 396 with hypo rectangle heads and big cam 4l60 trans.o boy . Just finished 78 Buick Regal turbo coup 4 spd care for grand son.lucky kid

  13. Tamra Grimm

    I own a 91 z28 Camaro love that car i would love to see more of this body stile back

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