1989 Chevrolet Camaro IROC-Z: No Respect

1989 Chevrolet Camaro IROC-Z

This is perhaps one of the most unloved muscle cars of the last 30 years. The third-generation Camaro didn’t come onto the scene with the greatest reputation, as the performance models from the Big 3 of this era were known for being poor imitations of the models from the ’60s and ’70s that gave these cars their beastly reputations. While the power was certainly down and raw numbers weren’t up to the levels of its ancestors, I’d still rock the T-tops and take a chance on an IROC-Z like this 1989 example listed here on eBay for $4,500.

1989 Chevrolet Camaro Interior

Looking back, the 350 L98 motor that this car is equipped with really was no slouch. 225 bhp and 330 ft. lbs. of torque are decent numbers even today, though in this example it’s bolted to a fun-sapping automatic transmission. Other enhancements as part of the IROC-Z package included firmer suspension components, a lowered stance, staggered wheels and tires, bigger sway bars and the obvious logos and body graphics. Though there were a handful of limited production models like the 1LE that made the overall package quite a competent handler, those rarely pop up for grabs. The next best thing is a clean, stock Z28 like this example.

1989 Chevrolet Camaro Back Seats

The seller doesn’t offer up much information, and mentions that the car has been passed between his children. This seems like a risky car to give to new drivers, but it appears to have survived unscathed. From the pictures, I think the low-mileage claim of only 109K holds up, as the body work appears clean and the interior is adequately worn for its age. I’d want to find a stock steering wheel along with speakers in the correct size so the grills can be re-installed. The carpet may come back to life with a cleaning, but the driver’s seat definitely has a tear on the bolster that will need addressing if you’re a perfectionist.

1989 Camaro IROC-Z

There are days when I really want to add a cheap muscle car to the stable. I don’t really get too hung up on the speed factor; more important to me is a manual transmission and some suspension upgrades to eliminate unsightly wheel gap. My preference would still be a notchback Fox Body Mustang, but I’d take its Bowtie counterpart in a pinch. This car appears to have survived incredibly well for having two younger drivers at the wheel, but an in-person inspection would still be prudent. Would you consider this Camaro IROC-Z to fulfil your muscle car fantasies?


  1. The Chucker

    I still can’t look at one of these without expecting to see a 4 pack of wine coolers, a Bon Jovi cassette, and a bottle of Polo in the back seat.

  2. seth

    Is that car up on a lift in his yard? If so this is a serious car person

  3. jim s

    i think the most interesting part of the listing is that it looks like the seller has an outdoor lift at their house. as for the car it would make a great daily driver if you could live with the automatic.

  4. Bobsmyuncle

    I agree the lift IS the most interesting. Not only outside but from what I can see I’ve never seen one like it. I assume it bodes well for the condition of the vehicle mechanically.

  5. Tirefriar

    You can safely put the 3rd generation Camaros and Firebirds on your watch list. These models can still be had at a very reasonable sub $10k category, of course the closer to $10k you come, the better the car will be. I would not hesitate to buy one of these if I was looking for some cheap thrills. They do creak and rattle a lot, fit and finish was what really did these cars in. I remember looking at a Formula Firebird at the LA auto show and seeing burred edges of plastic pieces and saying to myself: “this is worse than a Revell kit car”…

    • Jeff Lavery

      Agreed. Along with Fox Bodies, I really expect the tide to rise on these once-derelict cars – especially ones equipped decently from the factory.

  6. Larry

    I’ll never understand why some sellers don’t bother to clean up the cars they’re selling. He doesn’t seem overly knowledgeable about the car either (“as far as I know it is the original steering wheel”). At least he’s upfront about the car having cycled through two teenage drivers – many sellers wouldn’t readily put that out there.

    Despite being all kinds of plasticy, like many high school kids in the 80’s, I wanted one. A lot. An IROC-Z or Trans-Am was pretty much the height of cool. Now, not so much.

  7. The Walrus

    So, the owner seems like somewhat of a car guy… having his kids in a more than respectably conditioned 25 year old car in Rhode Island and for having some sort of outdoor lift at his disposal. But for anyone to think that’s the original steering wheel? That raises a ton of questions!

  8. Jeff Lavery

    I didn’t even notice this was practically down the street from me! Hmmm, maybe a weekend inspection is in order.

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