Junkyard Gem: 1987 Chevrolet Camaro IROC-Z


If you were a North American listening to Sammy Hagar (pre-faux-Van Halen, of course) and Y&T while doing burnouts in the Circle K parking lot on a near-daily basis in 1987, only one new car would do: a genuine Chevy Camaro IROC-Z! These cars held their value long past the demise of most Iron Duke- and 2.8-powered third-gen Camaros, and even longer than your typical third-gen Z28… but, eventually, The Crusher summons every car. Here’s a Bright Blue Metallic 1987 IROC-Z, found in a Silicon Valley car graveyard last year.

The IROC-Z Camaro was made for the 1985 through 1990 model years (after that, Chrysler sold IROC Daytonas for a couple of years in the early 1990s), and every one of these cars came equipped with a V8 engine, the same kind of Goodyear tires that went on the C4 Corvette, and a bunch of tasty suspension upgrades. These cars may not have been quite as quick in a straight line as some of the big-block Camaros that preceded them, but they could corner and stop better than any production Camaros the world had ever seen.

In 1987, IROC-Z buyers could get the base carbureted 305-cubic-inch (5.0-liter) small-block V8 making 170 horses, a fuel-injected version of the 5.0 rated at 215 (manual transmission) or 190 (automatic transmission), or a 350-cubic-inch (5.7-liter) small-block with 225 horsepower (automatic transmission only). Someone pried off the engine-displacement badges before I got to this car.

However, the build tag says it came from the Van Nuys assembly plant with the fuel-injected 305 installed. We’ll never know what engine was here when the car took its final tow-truck ride to this place, because some junkyard shopper grabbed it.

The shifter tells us that the car had the four-speed automatic transmission with overdrive top gear, which means this was a mid-grade IROC-Z with 190 horsepower.

These cars aren’t worth very much with slushboxes and in rough condition, but it’s still sad to see one being treated like a dime-a-dozen entry-level ’87 Camaro with the 125hp V6.

I like to bring old film cameras to my favorite yards, and so I brought a late-1930s Argus A 35mm to document that day’s trip.

The Crusher is always hungry. By the time you read this, today’s Junkyard Gem will have been crushed, shredded, poured into a ship at the Port of Oakland, and shipped across the Pacific to a Chinese foundry. Perhaps it has been reborn as a Geely Coolray.

It’s all Z28, only meaner. Dig those massive 16″ wheels! For what it’s worth, even the Toyota Yaris rolls on 16s today.

IROC-and-roll!

Here’s how your friendly Chevy salesman learned about the ’87 Camaros.





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