Camaro History (1982-1985)

Article by Mark Trotta

The third-generation Camaro was a completely new car from the ground up. Smaller, lighter, and shorter than the 1970-1981 models, both four- and six-cylinder engines delivered excellent fuel economy. Although early eighties Chevy V8's were far from inspiring, in just a few short years, Bowtie fans would have plenty to cheer about.

1983 Chevy Camaro

The General Motors F-body platform began with the 1967 Camaro, and the new generation carried on the tradition as a sporty, affordable, rear-wheel-drive car. Aerodynamics played a large factor in the new hatchback body design. Front and rear glass was larger and more angled.


Vastly improved handling was seen as traditional front control arms were upgraded to MacPherson struts. In back, leaf springs were replaced with coil springs and trailing links.

Weighing about 460 pounds lighter than a comparably equipped 1981 model, the 1982 Camaro weighed nearly the same as the original 1967 Camaro. Stopping the 3,400 pound car were front disc/rear drum brakes.

1985 Chevy Camaro

Read: Pony Car History

With production starting on October 12, 1981, the 1982 Camaro was released for sale in December of 1981. Two body styles were offered, hardtop and T-Top. Three models were available; Sport Coupe, Berlinetta, and the performance-oriented Z28. Open-air fans would have to wait another five years for a convertible to be offered.

2.4L Motor

Known as the "Iron Duke", GM's 2.4L four-cylinder engine was first seen in the 1977 Chevy Astre and Pontiac Sunbird subcompact cars. GM also sold these motors to AMC, who fitted them into base-model CJ Jeeps from 1980-1983.

Since it's introduction as an economy motor, many performance improvements were made to the 2.5L, including a redesigned cylinder head and higher compression. In the Camaro, the Iron Duke motor produced an estimated 90 horsepower and 132 lb-ft of torque.

Engine Options

A step above the standard 2.5L four was a 2.8L V6 with an estimated output of 102 horsepower and 142 lb-ft of torque. For the performance minded, two V8 engines were offered, both based on the 305 cubic-inch Chevy small-block. It was at this time that GM began designating engine displacement in metric -- hence the 305 would be called the 5.0L.

LG4 5.0 Engine

Fitted to many GM cars and trucks, the carbureted LG4 5.0L was introduced in 1978 and saw minor improvements throughout it's production. Power output was an uninspiring 145 horsepower and 240 lb-ft of torque.

LU5 5.0 (Cross-Fire Injection)

Starting with a thicker wall version of the LG4 block, the LU5 motor had a unique induction system. Chevrolet's Cross-Fire injection system featured two cross-mounted throttle-bodies, one for each bank of cylinders. A cross-ram intake manifold was designed to quicken the velocity of the air/fuel mixture ratio. Computerized metering helped boost horsepower while at the same time lower emissions.

Read: Corvette Crossfire Maintenance and Diagnosis

Although available in Corvettes as the 350 cubic-inch L83 option, the Cross-Fire injection system was only available on Camaros on the 305ci motor. Regardless, the CFI helped produce 20 more horsepower over the carbureted engine -- an estimated 165 horsepower and 240 lb-ft of torque.

1982 Corvette Crossfire engine

Pictured above is the Cross-fire Injection motor in a 1982 Corvette.

The Cross-Fire Injection system was optional on mid-1982 and 1983 Camaro Z28s only. Just 3,223 consumers ordered this option.

The 1982 Camaro had two transmission choices -- a four-speed manual or three-speed automatic. For emissions reasons, the Cross-Fire V8 was only available with the automatic transmission. Sales for the year totaled 173,000 units; an increase of 50 percent over the previous year. The Camaro Z28 was Motor Trend magazine's Car of the Year for 1982.

1982 Chevy Camaro Indy Pace Car

A special edition Indy 500 pace car sold over 6,000 replicas.

1983 Camaro

Two new transmissions were available in 1983. The 700R four-speed automatic, first offered in the 1982 Corvette, helped achieve quicker acceleration times while delivering better fuel-mileage. A new five-speed manual transmission also debuted.

L69 5.0 Engine

The L69 "high output" motor used the LU5 engine block and cylinder heads, but was fitted with a computer-controlled, 750-cfm Rochester Quadrajet on an aluminum intake manifold. Available in Z28 models only, the 5.0-litre V-8 produced 190 horsepower and 240 lb-ft of torque. Not only was the L69 equipped Z28 the hottest performance Camaro in a over decade, it also had an EPA highway figure of 26/27 mpg.

1984 Camaro

The upscale Berlinetta package included digital dash gauges, adjustable low-back bucket seats, and a roof-mounted operating console. Improvements to the base 2.5L engine included a swirl-port cylinder head. The five-speed manual transmission now had a hydraulic clutch linkage.

The CrossFire Injection V8 was no longer available, which made the carbureted L69 motor the top performing engine -- but not for long.

1985 Camaro

All models sported a new grille, parking lamps, front facia, and air dams. Power output of the LG4 5.0L increased to 155 horsepower, while the L69 V8 remained the same at 190 horsepower.

Chevy TPI

Tuned Port Injection

New for 1985, a 5.0L Tuned Port Injection V8 was added to the option list. Although the 5.7L Corvette version was not yet available in Camaros, the TPI motor (option code LB9) achieved 215 horsepower. The motor was available only on Z28 and IROC-Z models.

Gen3 Camaro image


Named after the International Race Of Champions, the Camaro IROC-Z was a performance package available on Z28 models. Features included upgraded suspension, ground effects body skirts, louvered hood, and 16" cast-alloy wheels. First year IROC's came with a carbureted 305 motor. The Tuned Port Injection V8 was optional.

California IROC

In order to be eligible to be sold in California, a special edition IROC was produced. The California edition was a one-year-only build and did not have the special louvered hood or a rear spoiler. There were no decals or badges affixed to them, except for IROC-Z center caps on the wheels, and the dashboard decal that read "Z28 Tuned Port Injection". About 500 examples were produced.

The Gen3 Camaro would be produced for another seven years, with more handling improvements and more powerful V8 motors.


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