Everything You Need To Know About The Chevy Camaro IROC-Z - SUV VEHICLE

Everything You Need To Know About The Chevy Camaro IROC-Z



  • The IROC-Z was born out of a racing series, making it a unique Camaro trim level with Corvette DNA.
  • The IROC-Z had a variety of low-power engines, making it somewhat fuel efficient, while it also boasted superb handling.
  • Produced for five years, the IROC-Z is a collectible car due to low production numbers, with some models fetching over $100k.

The 1980s was not a great time for muscle cars. Most became gas-efficient daily drivers or high-performance cars meant for long-distance tracks. That included the long line of Chevy Camaros that had been a threat on every street across the nation in the earlier decades. In 1984, one such Camaro was designed and built for the ’85 model year.

The Chevrolet Camaro IROC-Z came out of the ashes to the adoration of Chevy fans. A unique style and look, with the highest performance 305 V-8 that the carmaker could get away with, and a style that was like no other. Let’s jump in and discuss a few things that every car lover should know about the IROC-Z.

UPDATE: 2024/03/31

This article about the Camaro IROC-Z has been updated to include information about current prices in the used car market. It also offers advice about the best IROC-Z model years to go for if you desire one of Chevy’s iconic 1980s models.

In order to give you the most up-to-date and accurate information possible, the data used to compile this article was sourced from Chevrolet and other authoritative sources such as Car And Driver.

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The International Race Of Champions Birthed The IROC-Z

A little history must be discussed to understand why the IROC-Z was created. In 1973, the best of the best of all the racing circuits began to compete against each other in the International Race Of Champions. The drivers raced the same cars, so the driver’s skills won or lost the races.

The first car they used was the Porsche Carrera RSR, but due to the cost of racing them in ’75, the drivers switched to the Camaro Z28. The races shut down for a few years, but when it came back in 1984, Chevy decided to make a commemorative edition to celebrate the races. Hence, the Chevy Camaro Z28 IROC-Z was born.

The IROC-Z Was A Trim Level Of The Z28

Until 1988, when Chevy dropped the production of the Z28, the IROC-Z was an upgraded trim level of the Z28 car. It was a check in the box on the order form that could be checked off if the consumer wanted to spend the extra cash for the upgrade. It came with the same 305 that the Z28 came with for the first few years, with another option being added to the mix in 1987. In that year, the Chevy IROC-Z could be ordered with the 350 TPI that was then used under the hood of the Chevy Corvette.

“A Camaro That Thinks It’s A Corvette”

The Camaro had some of the same designers as the Corvette, so it is safe to say that some of the components of the IROC-Z were from the ‘Vette, which is why the car could perform so well. When the consumer ordered the Camaro, they could upgrade to the IROC-Z, which included the TPI V-8 from the Corvette, upgraded suspension and sway bars, and high-performance shocks. If any of this sounds familiar, it is because the Corvette had similar features, which is why the IROC-Z was indeed a “Camaro That Thinks It’s a Corvette.”

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Regulations Hampered The IROC-Z’s Performance

A parked 1988 Chevy Camaro Iroc-Z engine
Mecum Auctions

It is not fair to compare the ’80s IROC-Z to the newer Camaros with the most innovative technologies of the decade. Keeping that in mind, one of the reasons that the IROC-Z was not a popular seller is that it was not one of the fastest Camaros that money could buy. The average quarter-mile times it could put up was only 15 seconds, while the Camaros of the previous decade could shoot down the same track in under 13 seconds. This may not be fair to say, since the ’80s version of every car was slower, but if speed was a priority, the ’85 to ’90 Iroc-Z was not in contention.

Chevy Offered A Variety Of Low-Powered Engines

Because of the time period, the small block V-8 engines offered by Chevy could not put out the power and torque gearheads expected from a Camaro. The base model came with a 305 engine that only put out around 215 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque.

The biggest engine that the car received was the 350 that was used in the Corvette, which could produce 225 horsepower and 330 pound-feet of torque. The 350 V-8 in the final IROC-Z model year made 245 horsepower and 345 pound-feet of torque.

You could also get the IROC-Z with a tepid L69 V-8 that made 190 horsepower. Just to give a comparison, let’s look at a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro RS ZL-1. It could produce over 500 horses and could pound out 450 pound-feet of torque. Quite a difference, especially when thinking that a newer model should have better numbers.

Chevrolet Camaro IROC-Z Engine Specifications


5.0-liter L69 V-8

5.0-liter TPI 305 LB9 V-8

5.7-Liter TP1 350 L98 V-8


190 horsepower

215 horsepower

245 horsepower


240 pound-feet

275 pound-feet

345 pound-feet


Five-speed manual

Four-speed automatic

Four-speed automatic





(Specs: Chevrolet)

The one great thing the Camaro IROC-Z had going for itself was its fuel economy, even with a more powerful motor than some other cars on the road. The average MPG of cars in the ’80s was between 15 and 17 MPG in town, which the Chevy Camaro could match. Obviously, if the car was driven the way it was meant to be, the fuel mileage would go down a little. However, it was still a car that could be driven daily without draining the entire pocketbook.

Weight Was Too Much

The added unique front fascia and the upgraded suspension and sway bars made the car heavier by 52 pounds. This may not seem like a lot of weight, and in today’s generation, it is not. Back when engines had already lost power, any added weight could make the difference between a 15-second quarter mile and a 14-second one. The Chevy Camaro IROC-Z was not one of the slowest cars on the road by any means, but adding the performance package to the car added weight that the vehicle could not have if the driver wanted to race down the strip.

America’s Best Handling Car

The Chevy Camaro IROC-Z was built with one purpose in mind: to give drivers America’s best-handling performance car. The IROC-Z was produced to compete on a track that was more about skill than raw power.

The car could corner at high speeds without losing traction and get up to speed fast (0 to 60 in under seven seconds). Still, off-the-line speed was not what the ’80s Camaros were designed for, especially the IROC-Z. A comparison test by Car And Driver found that the IROC-Z handled and performed better on track compared to its biggest competitor, the Ford Mustang LX 5.0.

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Collectible Only Because Of Low Production Numbers

A gloss-black 1988 Chevrolet Camaro IROC-Z Coupe

The idea behind a collectible car can have different meanings for people, but the one thing consistent across the board is that if a vehicle has low production numbers, the car will be more highly prized. That is simply because a collector will not want to buy a car for top dollar that every other person on their block can own.

The rarer it is, the more collectors wish to own it, which is the only reason the IROC-Z is a prized collector’s car. The production numbers were low due to a lack of sales, which is not as important as the fact that it is hard to find one that is restorable and drivable.

Offered For Five Years To The Public

It would be thought that, since the Camaro is loved by so many muscle car lovers, the best upgrade that could be had for the decade would have been sold like hot cakes. Unfortunately, the Chevy IROC-Z was offered during the ’80s, when consumers switched to more fuel-efficient vehicles.

Even then, Chevy continued to produce the cars until 1989, when the IROC racing series became sponsored by Dodge, leading to the IROC-Z being officially retired. The 1990 model years that can be found were the ones produced during 1989 for the following model year.


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You Can Buy One For Around $25,700

Three quarter shot of parked blue Chevy Camaro IROC-Z
Photo by Brad Killen on Unsplash

Despite its relatively low production numbers, the Camaro IROC-Z doesn’t make the list of the rarest Camaros ever produced. That’s good news if you desire one, as there are plenty of examples in the market for you to choose from. According to classic.com, you can get one for around $25,700.

A 1990 Camaro IROC-Z Sold For Over $100,000

The priciest IROC-Z recorded on classic.com went for over $100,000. It had only done 557 miles, and was a convertible version, which probably explains why it fetched such a high price. Considering which model year is best, we suggest that you opt for the 1988 model and above. From 1988 to the IROC-Z’s discontinuation, Chevrolet offered it as an independent model.

The automaker had previously offered IROC-Z as a package on the Z28 variant. Riding on the success of the package, Chevy offered the IROC-Z variant from the 1988 model year onwards.


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