Camaro Design Through The Years: Third Generation10
Chevrolet will soon debut the sixth-generation Camaro at the New York International Auto Show and as a result, is reflecting on the exterior styling of the five model generations that preceded it. To analyze the styling of the third-generation model, Chevy called upon current executive director of Chevrolet global car design and former owner of a third-gen Camaro 1LE racecar, John Cafaro.
Cafaro says the third-generation Camaro, which appeared dramatically more modern than the second-gen car, “will always be a cultural symbol of the 1980s because its design epitomized the era’s high-tech cultural trends.” He also noted the Camaro “grew into more of a serious sports car,” in moving to the third-gen model, with a chassis “designed for a new level of function.”
The first and second generations of the Camaro were quite clearly inspired by European grand touring cars, however the third car was “a uniquely American design with a form developed for function,” Cafaro says. It had a sporty and distinctly American front end which was deemed as being too aggressive by some employees within GM, and rectangular taillights which were representative of high-tech ambience of the time period.
This “high tech ambience” was present in multiple spots on the third-gen Camaro, not just in its multi-colored tail lamps. The rectangular front headlights were meant to further enhance its modern appearance, while a hatchback tailgate, offered for the first time on a Camaro, was “de rigueur in the 1980s,” Cafaro says. The third-gen Z/28, which was named Motor Trend’s Car of the Year in 1982, appeared even more modern thanks to an aerodynamics kit inspired by Formula 1 racecars.
“Perhaps more than any other generation, the third-generation Camaro was a car of its time,” Cafaro explains. “You can see that influence in every detail of the car, from the aerodynamic details of the exterior, such as the ground effects on the Z28, to the introduction of digital instruments on the interior.”
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Thanks for the these Camaro design pieces. I’m enjoying them. It may be worth noting (even though not related to the styling subject of these articles) that the ’82 – 85′ Camaro’s had a 4 cylinder as their base engine – a Pontiac designed one at that. Just food for thought when considering a precedent for offering a 4 cylinder in the 6th gen.
Thankfully, today’s Ecotec is miles away from the Iron Duke in terms of build quality, reliability, and performance (hp, tq, and mpg). In this regard, I don’t think the inclusion of today’s 4’s in a 6th gen would be a detriment to the Camaro nameplate; the 4’s are better than they’ve ever been.
Thanks! Glad you like them. It will definitely be interesting to see what Chevrolet does in regards to a four-cylidner Camaro going forward, and some may need reminding the sixth-gen isn’t the first Camaro with a four-cylinder if that does turn out to be the case.
1985-89 Camaro Iroc-Z is the best looking Camaro ever
Regards from Spain
That’s probably why the 3rd gen photo at the top of the page is an IROC-Z!
I owned a 1970, 80 and then a 84 Z28 H.O. [“High Output”] Camaro, the 84 was significantly better then the previous generations but only had 190 HP and was very slow, although it did look good at the time.
I currently have a 1987 Iroc-Z with 350 Tpi, T-Top car, it’s not showroom peice it has a few scratches here and there, but it will still turn heads, these cars were nice looking cars anybody that has a 1982-1992 keep it regardless of the condition hopefully these cars will go up in value someday, email me a picture of your 82-92 Camaro if you have one
87 camero trying to find a price to sell my firsr car
Definitely like the article and appreciate. Keep up the good work.
I have a 91RS purchased new May of 1990. Almost 400,000 miles as a daily driver for 25 years. The RS proved to be super reliable with the 305 TBI engine. The car handled well but was slow until the LS swap & restoration. I think these are fantastic cars even in 2018, still love the styling.
contact me if ur interested…. ill give u a great deal. cars really nice. wired for sound has push start its good. its rebuilt from original.