Camaro History 1986-1989
Article by Mark Trotta
By the mid-eighties, the Chevy Camaro was delivering better performance, lower emissions, and better fuel economy than ever before. All of this was due to advances in fuel injection and on-board computers.
The Berlinetta model was dropped from the lineup, leaving just two models available; the Sport Coupe and the Z28. Consumers who wanted the upscale interior of the Berlinetta could now order it with the base Sport Coupe. The 2.5L 4-cylinder engine was also dropped, base engine was now the 2.8L V6 with 135 horsepower.
LB9 5.0 Engine
Due to emission reasons, the LB9 tuned-port-injection engine dropped in power, from 215 hp to 190 hp. The lost 25 horsepower was offset by a gain of 10 ft/lbs of torque.
Third Brake Light
New U.S. safety regulations required a third brake light mounted on the back of passenger cars and light trucks. For the 1986 Camaro, the new brake light was located on the exterior of the upper center area of the back hatch glass. On 1987 and later models, it would be mounted inside the upper hatch glass, or integrated into a rear spoiler if so equipped.
A fitting a time as any, the 20th anniversary of the Camaro saw a convertible back in the lineup. All convertible models featured a special "20th Anniversary Commemorative Edition" leather map pocket.
LB9 5.0 Engine
When ordered with an automatic transmission, the 5.0L TPI motor produced an estimated 190 horsepower. Output for manual transmission cars was higher at 215 horsepower.
L98 5.7 Engine
The long awaited 350 Corvette motor was finally available, but only in Z28 and IROC-Z models. The 350 cubic-inch V8 was rated at an estimated 225 horsepower and 330 ft/lbs of torque. Consumers who selected this motor were limited to automatic transmission.
The IROC-Z package proved so popular that the Z28 platform was renamed "IROC-Z28". The slow-selling LT model was discontinued, resulted in two models remaining, the base coupe and the IROC-Z.
Ground effects and spoilers seen on earlier Z28's were now standard on the base Camaro coupes. Previously standard on IROC-Z, 16" alloy wheels were now optional on other models.
The LG4 5.0 was discontinued; in its place, a new LO3 V8 producing 170 horsepower. Ratings for the LB9 5.0 were 195 (automatic) and 220 (manual). The 5.7L saw a 5hp increase (230hp).
Replacing the Sport Coupe as base model, the Camaro Rally Sport featured body ground effects made popular on the IROC and the earlier Z28 models. Standard engine was the fuel-injected 2.8 V6, with a choice of optional V8 motors.
Dual Cat Exhaust
Boosting performance in a big way, a new dual exhaust system with twin catalytic converters was added to the IROC-Z options list. When ordered, power output of the (manual transmission only) LB9 5.0 engine increased to 230 horsepower. When the (automatic transmission only) L98 350 was ordered with dual cats, output increased to 240 horsepower, along with an impressive 345 ft/lbs of torque.
The third-generation Camaro continued through the 1992 model year. With higher horsepower engines and chassis improvements, some enthusiasts believe the best years were yet to come.
Chevy Small-Block V8 History