I’ve shot a lot of cars for this site, and a large number of those have been American cars strewn around the Finnish small-town landscape. Again, wintertime snow humps are receding, and the stateside-born metal is revealed, either by people bringing out their priced V8 behemoths or the melting snow just showing you what it has hidden for months.
This 1988 Camaro IROC-Z belongs to the latter camp. A friend remarked he has seen the dreamy red T-Top beast buried in snow for the whole winter long, and now you can see it in its perfect ’80s glory. And it doesn’t even seem that much worse for wear.
The IROC-Z is pretty much the essential third-gen Camaro, with a meaner front lip and chunky five-spoke wheels declaring its might, while the handling department is beefed up by suspension upgrades. You got Bilstein shock absorbers, stronger sway bars, a steering brace, you name it: they really wanted the IROC-Z to appeal to international champions looking for some Camaro kicks.
And the package worked wonders, to the extent that in ’88 you could choose between two Camaros: the IROC-Z or not. The other option was just the base car with no frills, and all Z28:s got the IROC-Z goodies thrown in.
And it’s a really ridiculously good-looking car, isn’t it? There’s something about the ’80s Camaro that deserves to be cherished, not in an ironic eye-rolling way or with an arsenal of mullet jokes in your back pocket. The dimensions work, the creases are sharp, the entire car declares it’s got potential.
And with the 305 TPI engine developing all of 220hp, it wasn’t exactly post-malaise era slow at its worst. Granted, the automatic ones were rated at only 195hp. You could also have the IROC-Z with a 5.7-litre 350 TPI, and the ’89 ones with that engine and dual exhausts put out 240hp, but this ’88 car is just the five point oh.
IROC-Z cars also got Goodyear Gatorback rubber, but this one has been rolling on Cooper Cobra for a while now.
And as a little reminder of some 3rd gen Camaro screentime, here’s a clip from the 1994 TV adaptation of Stephen King’s The Stand.
[Images: Copyright 2015 Redusernab/Antti Kautonen]