IROC-Z Camaro Specsby Michael G. Sanchez
During the second half of the 1980s, the IROC-Z was the fastest and most aggressive-looking version of Chevrolet's Camaro. Named for the International Race of Champions -- a prestigious motorsports competition -- the IROC-Z was sold as an options package for the V-8-powered Z-28 model. It added a thorough selection of engine, suspension and appearance upgrades. Due largely to the fact that GM chose not to renew its rights to the IROC name, 1990 was the final model year for this memorable version of Chevy's iconic pony car.
The IROC-Z was available as a hatchback coupe and a convertible. Both models shared the same exterior dimensions. The car was 192.0 inches long long, 72.8 inches wide and 50.3 inches high. Its wheelbase measured 101.0 inches. The Camaro's front seats provided 37.0 inches of headroom and 42.9 inches of legroom. The coupe -- which offered removable "T-top" roof panels as an option, except with the 5.7-liter engine -- weighed 3,107 pounds, while the convertible was a bit heavier at 3,348 pounds. The extra weight was mostly due to structural reinforcements necessary to keep the roofless car's frame from flexing excessively under stress.
The 1990 IROC-Z was powered by either a 5.0-liter V-8 or a 5.7-liter V-8. Both engine were variations on Chevy's long-running small-block design. The base 5.0-liter mill put out 210 horsepower at 4,400 rpm and 285 foot-pounds of torque at 3,200 rpm. Opting for the optional G92 performance package bumped peak horsepower to 230 and peak torque to an even 300. The larger, 5.7-liter engine produced 245 horsepower at 4,400 rpm and 345 foot-pounds of torque at 3,200 rpm. Although those numbers may not sound particularly noteworthy circa the 2010s, back at the dawn of the 1990s they were definitely worth getting excited about. For comparison, the 1990 Ford Mustang GT produced only 225 horsepower and 300 foot-pounds of torque.
The 5.0-liter models came with either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. Somewhat surprising, only the automatic transmission was offered with the 5.7-liter engine. So Camaro enthusiasts who insisted on doing their own shifting had to make do with the lower-displacement, less-muscular V-8. A limited-slip differential came standard on all 1990 IROC-Z models.
Suspension, Chassis & Appearance
The IROC-Z employed a lower, stiffer suspension than the Z-28. It rode on special, five-spoke, 16-by-8-inch aluminum alloy wheels. It also got the same tires as the then-current Corvette: sticky Goodyear Gatorback unidirectionals in a 245/50/VR16 size. The IROC-Z also boasted larger-diameter anti-roll bars, Delco sport shocks and a frame brace called the "wonderbar" that stiffened up the car's front end. Finally, the IROC-Z featured a complete body kit consisting of a front air dam, side skirts and a rear spoiler. Bold graphics and badges were also included. The 1990 model is distinguished by being the only year to feature a bright yellow "IROC-Z" badge on the dashboard.
Its Quick Zip
Smoky burnouts and tire-screeching power-slides were what the IROC-Z was all about. With the 5.7-liter engine under its long, angular hood, the Chevy could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in a quick 5.9 seconds. With the smaller engine, it took about 6.5 seconds.
MPG & Value Used
The 5.0-liter IROC-Z received an EPA fuel economy rating of 15 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway. The 5.7-liter car was rated at 15 to 22. Although some enthusiasts suspect the car has "future classic" written all over it, as of 2014, third-generation Camaro prices remain low. As with any car that's nearly a quarter-century old, condition makes a huge difference. Expect a well-worn but decently preserved IROC-Z to go for around $1,000 to $3,000. A rare, show-ready, meticulously maintained example could go for much more, though.
Michael G. Sanchez has been a professional writer for over 10 years. A lifelong car enthusiast and former senior mechanic, he has written on a wide range of automotive topics. He holds a bachelor's degree in English literature from Castleton State College. Sanchez started writing about cars as a part-time copywriter for a local dealership while still in high school.