The third-generation Chevrolet Camaro was a huge leap into the modern era for the bowtie brand, at least in terms of its styling. The new wedgy looks stood in marked contrast to the outgoing second-generation model, which had “Coke bottle” flanks, a long nose, and an interior that looked more like something out of the 1960s.
The new car brought a number of advancements into Chevy showrooms, including a huge glass hatchback that gave the car an airier feel inside. Underhood, though, it took bypassing the base 4-cylinder and mid-level V6 engine options to open up anything resembling decent performance. Even then, the maximum of 165 horsepower offered by the cross-fire fuel-injected version of the 5.0-liter small-block V8 was a slap in the face to anyone seeking classic muscle car acceleration.
Chevy once again used the Z28 moniker to denote the rortiest version of its coupe. It had its own styling with a composite nose not shared with lesser ‘maros, and it had a fiberglass hood with functional intakes. Its alloy wheels were a wide-for-the-time 7 inches.
Not surprisingly, one was selected to set the pace at the 1982 Indianapolis 500. Given its modest 165-horsepower output, the Camaro certainly would have needed a good bit of the Brickyard’s pavement to get up to speed. Still, unlike the heavily-modified turbocharged Buick Regal that lapped the famous track the year prior, at least spectators could walk into Chevy dealers across the country and take one home that looked just like that driven by Jim Rathmann on Memorial Day.
Emphasis on looked. The actual pace car used a 5.7-liter V8 certainly massaged to well over 165 hp.
More than 6,000 1982 Camaro Z28 pace car replicas eventually made their way into showrooms. While most were probably driven and enjoyed, a handful were of course tucked away. Here’s one showing less than 1,000 miles on its odometer that still looks factory fresh. The silver with blue stripes — and red accents — was surprisingly modern for 1982, when it seemed like just about every car in showrooms was one of 50 shades of brown.
Inside, it takes the same theme perhaps a little too far. Silver vinyl with blue piping works better on a ski boat. Otherwise, at least it’s a fantastic drive down 1980s memory lane, from the black dash festooned with actual screws (something automakers would soon try their hardest to hide), a nifty single-needle speedometer combining mph and km/h readouts, and of course those glorious T-tops. Find a Chevrolet Camaro for sale