Tuesday, September 28, 2021

1969 Corvette "AstroVette" Stingray Apollo-Themed

 

1969 Corvette AstroVette



This Corvette you're looking at was built specifically for the Astronaut Alan L. Bean. There were only two others made just like this for two other Astronauts, Richard Gordan Jr. and Charles "Pete" Gordan Jr. All three men were shipped into orbit on the Apollo 12 Mission in the second Lunar Module to land on the Moon.


NASA and General Motors

In the '60s and early '70s, NASA astronauts were like rock stars in America. Reaching the Moon before Russia was something America did that helped bring a divided country together after the controversial Vietnam War.

GM president, Ed Cole, saw the potential of linking the NASA program to the GM brand for product growth. GM already gave astronaut Alan Shepard, the very first man to break his way into space, a new white 1962 Corvette with a custom space-age interior, and had also done business with astronaut legends like Niel Armstrong, and high-performance enthusiast, Gus Grissom.

1962 Corvette White "Alan Shaperd"



Of course, it's hard to imagine GM giving away Corvettes, but Cole's decision to do so, according to his widow, Dollie (Chairman of the National Corvette Museum and Vice Chairman of the National Air & Space Museum), made sense to Cole. "The astronauts were incredibly visible," she says. "And good publicity is good publicity." But putting astronauts in Corvettes wasn't just for publicity. "Who more worthy than guys who represent our country?" says Dollie. "They were literally risking their lives. Space travel today isn't 'ho hum', but people perceive it that way. There were so many unknowns then. The cars were a way of saying 'Thank you.'"

Executive GM Lease Program For NASA 
Eventually, GM would see big benefits from being affiliated with NASA, so they went ahead and started an executive lease program for NASA employees. If you qualified for the lease program, you could lease a GM vehicle for $1 for one year. According to astronaut Alan Bean, most qualifying employees chose Corvettes, making it an interesting sight to see when you drove past the Space Center and looked in the parking lot. 

1969 Astrovette


Those Who Fly Together, Drive Together
All three astronauts that boarded the Lunar Module for the Apollo 12 Mission were very close and all were car guys in their own respect. They became good friends with Jim Rathman, a Chevrolet and Cadillac dealership owner who was also known for winning the 1960 Indy 500. 


Jim's dealership was located in Melbourne, FL, and its close proximity to the Space Center is what made the friendship to the three astronauts and others in NASA like Niel Armstrong possible. With "Pete" Conrad Jr., Gordan Jr., and Bean successfully completing the Apollo 12 mission, they all decided they should get matching Corvettes with some special visual upgrades to distinctively separate them from the rest of the Corvette owners and lessees.


Rare Riverside Gold Corvette Color
It just so happened, in 1969, Corvette was offering a one-time-only Riverside gold exterior color for the Stingray. The three astronauts joined forces with friend and dealership owner, Jim Rathman, who helped aid in getting all three gold Corvettes to his dealership.

No one really knows where the black "Wings" were painted on the Riverside gold base paint, but it wasn't at the factory and it wasn't at Ratham's dealership. As the story goes, the three astronauts took a lot of time to decide on what design they wanted to go with before settling on the black "Wings." 


Astro-Corvette Riverside Gold

Black Wing 1969 "Astrovette"


Ratham decided to get his friend involved, Alex Tremulis. Tremulis was an industrial designer who held automotive design positions at Cord Automobile, Duesenberg, General Motors, Tucker Car Corporation, and Ford Motor Company before later establishing a consulting firm.

Tremulis and Ratham both did have a hands-on part in the design. Ratham placed the white stripe that separates the black and the gold colors, and Tremulis designed and painted the special red, white, and blue logos on the fender. 

Corvette "Astrovette" Emblem


The Special Red, White, and Blue Emblems and The Meaning
The red, white, and blue emblem represent what you would think - America, the American flag, and NASA. Each emblem had a different set of initials drew out on a certain color of the emblem representing the Corvette owner's rank during the Apollo 12 Mission. Bean’s LMP initials were placed on the blue tag signifying him as the Lunar Module Pilot. Pete’s initials of CDR were on the red tag of the emblem, which stood for Commander, and Dick’s initials of CMP, for Command Module Pilot was drawn on the white tag of the emblem. 

The colors the initials were painted on also represented the color each astronaut used to label their belongings during the Apollo 12 Mission.

427 cu.-in. Corvette engine


Corvette "AstroVette" Spec.

  • 427 CU.-IN. Big Block L36 

  • 4-Speed Manual Transmission

  • 490 Horsepower - 460 lb.-ft. of Torque

  • Four-Barrel Rochester Carbrator

  • Hydraulic Four-Wheel Disc Brakes

  • Fully Independent Suspension

  • Optional Side Exhaust Selected But Not Installed

  • Performance: 0-60 mph 6.0 Seconds; Quarter-Mile 14.3 at 93 MPH

  • One-Year-Only Riverside Gold

  • Special Steel Wheel Covers

  • Curb Weight: 3450 lbs.




Astrovette Interior



Where Are The Iconic "AstroVette" Stingrays Now?

Out of the three 1969 Stingray "AstroVette" Corvettes that were delivered to the Ratham dealership for the crew of the Appollo 12 Mission, only one is known to exist. 

Alan Bean's Corvette is the last AstroVette that is known to exist. It was turned in after the $1, 1-year lease was up. In 1971, it showed up in Austin, TX on a GMAC car lot. It went up for auction, where a space enthusiast by the name of Danny Reed put his bid in. He initially lost the auction, but the original winner could not come up with the money, and Danny eventually won the "AstroVette."

Making the "AstroVette" Perfect
The Stingray "AstroVette" was put on track to be restored to its original state to save its integrity, which meant no full restoration. Danny Reed worked with many Corvette experts throughout the process to get it back to its original look - the way it would have looked when it came right off the assembly line with overspray in the correct spots and everything. 


The National Corvette Restoration Society (NCRS) has given it many awards at some of the most prestigious Corvette car shows in the world. 

It has been on display at NASA events, the National Corvette Museum, the Kansas Cosmosphere, Flordia Space Center, Johnson Space Center, Houston Space Center, in Washinton, and many other worthy places. 

Alan Bean has since been reunited many times with his now-famous "AstroVette." Bean has become a painter since his days of walking on the Moon. A lot of his painting work has to do with space and his moonwalking, as he writes, “Our time on the Moon ended much too quickly and, in the years since then, I have created paintings to try to capture the feeling of our Apollo 12 mission, as well as all the other Apollo missions, too. It’s my hope that these paintings will help other people share in the great adventure." 

Alan Bean Astronaut and Painter


How to Tell If You Found One of The Lost "AstroVette" Stingrays?
Along with all cars that are rare, there are some imposters out there, but there is a way to tell if you found a real "AstroVette." Only these three Corvette's in the lease program were special ordered and registered in the lessee's name. This featured Corvette has a tank sticker that says, “Courtesy car delivered to Alan L. Bean.” The other two if found would have a similar tank stick with the corresponding astronaut's name - Richard Gordan Jr or Charles "Pete" Gordan Jr. All other Corvettes for the NASA excutive lease program were put in the military's name.

Apollo 12 Mission Corvette "AstroVette

 

There is nothing like a little Corvette and NASA history! The $1, 1-year executive lease program for the astronauts ended in 1971. Whether or not it was because the Space Program became less popular and the executive lease program was less worth it from an advertising standpoint, I'm not sure. But there was a time there for a while where being an astronaut was better than being a Hollywood star or a pro-athlete.    

 


 


Saturday, September 18, 2021

TV Tommy Ivo Four-Engine Buick Dragster Heads to Auction

 

TV Tommy Ivo 4 Engine Buick Dragster

Talk about a piece of Motorsports history. Coming from a Buick family makes this wild Buick dragster even cooler to me. With a Buick Riveria front end and a Roadmaster Station Wagon rear body frame, this exhibition dragster host four Buick 401 cu.-in. Nailhead V8 engines. 

The rare all-wheel-drive dragster originally raced by the famous "TV Tommy Ivo" will be auctioned off in January at the Mecum auto auction in Kissimmee during an eight-day event. 

The history behind the "Wagonmaster" and "Tommy Ivo" is vast. Before Tommy Ivo sold the, what was then called the "Showboat" dragster to Tom McCourry, it looked like just a regular slingshot dragster with four engines.  

Showboat Dragster - TV Tommy Ivo


To keep the exhibition interest alive for the Buick dragster, McCourry had the hand-crafted Buick body fitted for the slingshot and called it the "Masterwagon". Eventually, it was sold back to TV Tommy so he could take it on its last stretch of exhibition work that ended in 1996 at the Good Guys Hot Rod Nationals in Indianapolis. 




TV Tommy's name had a reason behind it, he was actually a TV star, movie star, singer, dancer, and radio personality. When told by his producers, he had to stop the racing and focus on his entertainment career, TV Tommy chose "Racing" instead. 

  Some of "TV Tommy Ivo" Great Racing Accomplishments

  • First to Succeed With Buick Power
  • First to Succeed With Dual Engines - Record Breaker of 170 MPH, 175 MPH, 180 MPH
  • First to Succeed With Quad Engines
  • First to Brake the 9-Second Barrier With Dual Engines
  • First to Break Into The 7-Second and 5-Second 1/4-Mile Barrier
  • With Other Racers - Brought Drag Racing to England in a Six Event Exhibition
  • Joined The Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2005


TV Tommy

Masterwagon Car Facts (Mecum)

  • This is the original Showboat slingshot dragster
  • Built by TV Tommy Ivo
  • The Showboat debuted on July 23, 1961, at San Fernando Drag Strip
  • The Showboat was converted to the Wagonmaster in 1981
  • 30th Anniversary and Final Tour car for 1982
  • Last competitive run at the 1982 World Finals at Orange County Raceway
  • Vintage run at the July 1996 Goodguys Nostalgia National at Indianapolis Raceway Park
  • Four Buick Nailhead 401 CI V-8 engines
  • The Nailhead V-8s essentially form two V-16 engines
  • Over 1,500 cubic inches and over 2,000 horsepower
  • 4-wheel drive
  • Two engines drive the front wheels
  • Two engines drive the rear wheels
  • Black/Orange/Red exterior
  • Black interior
  • Roll cage
  • Chrome side exhaust stacks
  • Parachute
  • Luggage rack
  • First-ever escape hatch
  • Two specially chromed front wheels
  • Cragar rear wheels
  • Formerly owned by Norm Day
  • Centerfold car in the September 2012 issue of Hot Rod Deluxe magazine
  • Sold on a Bill of Sale

The "Masterwagon" will be sold on the eighth day (last day) with over 300 other consignments at the Mecum auction event. The "Master Wagon" is the original "Showboat" slingshot dragster and is authenticated with an autograph by TV Tommy himself, including his quote to the future owner, "Take Care of My Baby."

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Pontiac GTO: Years 2004-2005-2006

 

'70 GTO, Pontiac GTO



Muscle Car Pontiac GTOs of the '60s and '70s

When car enthusiasts hear the name Pontiac GTO, they most likely think of the GTOs from back in the '60s and '70s. You know, back when the cars had heavy steel bodies and big cubic-inch motors. 

It stands to reason why that is, for many years the GTOs were some of the most popular muscles cars that were being purchased in the '60s and '70s. But like with all of the other muscle cars of that time, the Pontiac GTO received the ax for more fuel-efficient vehicles. 

1971 was the last year for the Pontiac GTO Judge, and 1972 was the last you could buy a GTO with a real classic muscle car look. Although by 1971, GM had already started detuning their cars and running them as unleaded vehicles to comply with emissions, they still had the muscles car look until '73. 


73 GTO


The 1973 Pontiac GTO (above) brought about a new body style that just did not look good and wasn't popular back then and or now. Pontiac tried to revamp the old look for 1974 (below), but by then the muscle car era was over and so was the GTO vibe. 


1974 Pontiac GTO



21st Generation GTO

21st GTO














The Pontiac GTO was one of the lucky few muscle cars that got a chance to be reborn in the 21st century. For the years 2004, 2005, and 2006, Pontiac brought back the muscle car legend. With LS1 technology, a roomy interior, and a sporty exterior just like the old GTO, the new GTO was a great tribute to what the Pontiac GTO was and is still all about.

2005 Pontiac GTO

LS1 GTO Engine Bay

In 2004, the Pontiac GTO came with a 5.7-liter LS1 V8 rated at 350 horsepower and 365 ft.-lb. of torque. You could either order one with a 6-speed manual or a four-speed automatic. These days, being happy with a quarter-mile time of 14.3-14.0 flat doesn't sound too impressive, but 17 years ago, that was pretty good for a sedan. 


2005-2006 Pontiac GTO

2006 Pontiac GTO


For 2005 and 2006, the Pontiac GTO would keep the transmission options the same but get an engine upgrade. GM decided on putting a 
6.0-liter LS2 motor in the new-generation GOAT that produced 400 horsepower and 400 ft.-lb. of torque. This new setup managed to cut off about half of a second in quarter-mile time and even more if you had some aftermarket performance parts bolted on. Some mostly stock GTOs seen times slips that dropped into the low-13 second range. 


Lack Luster GTO Suspension

Poor 2004, 2005, and 2006 Pontiac GTO Suspension


Unfortunately, the 2004 Pontiac GTO suspension performance was found to be a little less than impressive. They had sluggish reflexes, excessive body roll, and weak brakes. When the sports sedan received the LS2 for the 2005-2006 models, the brakes got upgraded, but the GTO still suffered from a weak suspension. The good news is there are plenty of aftermarket bolt-on suspension parts that can easily be installed in your driveway over a weekend to help fix many of the suspension problems.


The GTO: A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing


Front-End Ram Air Pontiac GTO

With the various amount of cool colors to shop for, an optional ram air hood that could have been ordered, 15 or 16-inch rims, and a standard retro-looking Pontiac split front grill, the GTO is a good-looking sedan that some might not even recognize as a modern muscle car. 


There is one downfall that turned many consumers off, and that was the price tag. Unfortunately, you could buy a Trans Am, Camaro Z28, or Mustang for the price of a brand new Pontiac GTO. 

Fifth Generation GTO vs Trans Am


One of the nice things about the Pontiac GTO is that if you are looking to buy one now, you should be able to find one for a good price. I've priced them anywhere from around $9,500-$20,000 - depending on mileage and shape - a far cry from the 30k price tag they originally came with. 


On the low end of the price range, most of the Pontiac GTOs had high mileage, but I would not let that deter anyone. Cars these days, if taken care of properly can last for a long time.

In the end, the 2004-2006 Pontiac GTO is a great buy for car enthusiasts that really like the technology of the LS1/LS2 motor. With all of the performance capabilities and aftermarket parts for LS engine setups, the GTO is a perfect car for someone who is looking for something that can be fast, but at the same time, reasonable and practical.


Saturday, August 7, 2021

The Legend of The Chevelle (A Quick Overview)

 

1970 Chevelle


Chevrolet Chevelle the Legend


The Chevelle was one of the few muscle cars that Chevrolet put into production between 1964 and 1973. Outside of the '73 Chevelle, the muscle car enjoyed some great success through its strong run and still continues to be celebrated by all kinds of car enthusiasts. From drag strips to car shows and car auctions, you'd be hard-pressed to go to any car event and not see a few awesome-looking examples.    

Most Chevelles hold their value very well, mostly because they look great stock and when customized. Read on to learn a little more about the Chevelle and what it offered to the muscle car era. 


'64 Chevrolet Chevelle

1964 - 1967 Chevelle

In 1963, when the Chevelle made its way into production for the first time as a '64, there were a couple different motors to choose from. The largest and the most powerful of them all was a 300 horsepower 327 cubic inch small block. This really didn't hit the nail on the head for consumers for it was a little underpowered for the power to weight ratio. 


'67 Chevelle SS

In 1965, Chevelle upped the ante with a 396 cubic-inch motor that produced the type of power that the public was waiting for. The new Z16, 396 V8 produced 375 horsepower and could go 0-60 mph in 6.0 seconds and drop a quarter-mile time of 14.66 @ 99.8mph. 

The 1966 Chevelle would see some body modification and although the power rating stayed the same the times at the track would be cut from a 14.66 down to a 14.40 quarter-mile time. This was due to a solid lifter cam and bigger values given to the 396 cubic inch motor. 

In 1967, Chevrolet would stick with the same body style for the muscle car but would make some major changes. Front-wheel disc brakes were factory installed to help stop the wider tires and new 14 inch rims. A new reworked bumper and blacked-out rear panel were also part of the new features the '67 had to offer. Unfortunately, because of GM curb weight standards, it would experience less power and slower times at the track. The biggest engine offered was the L34 396 that only produces 350 horsepower and did 0-60 mph in 6.5 seconds with a quarter-mile time of 15.3 @ 94mph.


1968 Chevelle


1968-1969 Chevelle

For 1968, Chevrolet would try something new with the Chevelle. A new body style would make its way off the production lines. This new look brought about a shorter wheelbase, a longer front-end, and a shorten rear-deck lid giving it a fastback look. Although the 1968 Chevelle got a new look, it received the same power sources as the previous year. 

The Chevelle's suspension would still be a sore spot with lots of body roll, and slow shifting from the Muncie four-speed left a lot of complaints from consumers. But the one thing that did change was the rear-end. The axle ratios ranged from 2.73:1 to a dealer-installed 4.88:1 drag Cogs gear ratio.

With consumers still having complaints about power, Chevrolet would up the ante again for the '69 Chevelle. Although the badges and the build sheets would say the Chevelle was built with a 396 cubic-inch motor that produced 375 horsepower, it was well known that the motors were bored out to 402 cubic inches. The deceit was mainly to meet emissions standards and to gain a horsepower edge. This plan really paved the way for what was to come in 1970.


454 LS6


1970 Chevelle 

In 1970, Chevelle would see the most sufficient changes towards being a major contender in the muscle car world. Cosmetic changes included the first functioning cowl induction hood with racing hood pins. A newly styled front-end would be implicated along with some new style rally five-spoke wheels. 

But the biggest change came in the size of the motor. General Motors lifted the band against producing any motors over 400 cubic inches, giving Chevrolet the green light to build and produce a Chevelle with what would become one of the most popular motors ever made, the LS6 454. Along with the functioning cowl induction hood, the huge motor also came with much better performing engine components that help produce 450 horsepower and left plenty of room for upgrades.


71-72 Chevelle


1971-1972 Chevelle 

Unfortunately, for 1971-72, the Chevelle would see some extremely harsh decreases in power. In response to GM's new rules that all engines must run on unleaded fuel and meet every EPA restrictive emission standards, the muscle car era was starting to become a thing of the past. There was one good thing about the years of '71-'72. Although the big 454 motor's power was lowered due to EPA emissions standards, you still could order them, and if you knew what you were doing, you could take that motor and fix it up to get the power out of it that it once had in 1970.


1973 Chevelle


For the last year of the Chevelle's existence, it got a completely new body style and the motors had even less power. These cars would be the least liked among the 9-year production run, and even to this day are not a big hit at drag strips, car shows, or auctions.



1969 COPO Chevelle


1969 COPO Chevelle 

In 1969, Chevrolet offered one of the rarest Chevelles to date, the '69 COPO. The COPO was designed pacifically for the drag strip. It came with a 427 cubic-inch motor powerplant that produced 425 horsepower and was capable of producing numbers like 0-60 mph in 5.1 seconds and a quarter-mile time of 13.3 @ 108mph. The COPO Chevelle was undoubtedly the fastest production Chevelle that Chevrolet ever produced. This muscle car wasn't only the fastest Chevelle produced, but with only 323 made for sale, it still holds today as one of the rarest.


Chevelle hood pins


The Reasons for Chevelle's Popularity 

What makes the Chevelle so popular among consumers and muscle car fans? The price, the size, the style, and the power. As a mid-size car, you could put your whole family in one and head to the grocery store, go shopping, come home, drop the family and the grocery off, and then head to the drag strip for some race time. You can do all this, for what at the time, was a very reasonable price.

Gilmore Muscle Car Musume

Saying Good-Bye to the Chevelle and Many Other Muscle Cars

Although the Chevelle was canceled after 1973, it was not the only muscle car that got the ax. The GTO, Oldsmobile 422, the Plymouth Roadrunner, and many other muscle cars would see the same fate right around the same era due to the pursuit to find more fuel-efficient and economy-friendly cars. But the Chevelle and all of its muscle car brothers and sisters still to this day are extremely popular among car enthusiasts.

Sunday, August 1, 2021

1970-72 Corvette ZR1: The Rarest Small-Block Corvettes Ever Produced

 

1971 Corvette ZR1

'70-'72 Corvette ZR1


Out of all the years the C3 Corvettes were produced, it's usually the '68 and '69 L88 big blocks that tend to grab the attention of the muscle car enthusiast. But the truth is that reaching for a 1970-72 ZR1 would be a much better Corvette to reach for if you're an enthusiast looking for that ultimate muscle/sports car

From 1970 to '72, the ZR1 was a limited-edition Corvette that was produced pacifically for the racing world. Only 53 were built: 25 for 1970, 8 for 1971, and 20 for 1972. These Corvettes are great investment cars, definitely poised for growth, especially the ones from 1970 when their horsepower was at its highest.



So what did you get with this Corvette Limited-Edition ZR1?



  • LT1 350ci. 370HP-suffix CTV-1970, CGY-1971, CKY-1972
  • J-56 heavy-duty brake package with dual pin front brake calipers
  • F-41 heavy-duty suspension package, 7-leaf rear spring, heavy-duty shock absorbers, heavy-duty 5/8 front sway bar, and heavy-duty spindle struts
  • Large aluminum radiator w/expansion tank (only LT1 to come with one so far)
  • Steel fan shroud
  • No radio, air condition, power windows, power steering, alarm system, rear window defrost, no special trim options.
  • And all the specialty options that were found on the L88s that were retired the previous year.

Designed to Race

Much like the COPO Camaro, the 70-72 LT1 Corvette was a rare rugged sports/muscle car designed to produce numbers at the track. Although one was designed to produce at the drag strip and one was designed to produce on road courses, they were both designed to race.


For a car collector who wants to make a good investment, the '70-'72 Corvette ZR1 LT1 is the way to go. The limited numbers produced, the most powerful Corvette of  '70-'72, and well, it's a Corvette makes it a great choice. Also, low options make for low maintenance: power steering, power windows, air condition, etc., can't go bad if you don't have them.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

1966 Corvette 427 Big-Block "Muscle Car Era" Begins (Opinion)

Corvette 427 Cu-in

Corvette 427 Big-Block

Back in 1966, Chevrolet decided to get innovated and give the public something they have been craving – a small sports car with a huge motor. The Corvette was elected to introduce the upgrade that started a revolution of cars that would be labeled "Muscle Cars." 


Making the 396 Bigger 

Chevrolet created a feasible 427 cu.-in. motor for the Vette by taking the already powerful Chevrolet 396 cu.-in. motors and machining the bore and stretching the stroke of the block to a larger 427 cu.-in. This is the same way the legendary Chevrolet 327 cu.-in. engine came about. The Corvette's original 289 block was bored and stroked to a 327. 



Related image
Big Block Hood












427 Big-Block Engines Were Available in Two Versions: 

  • L36 390 horsepower  
  • L72 425 horsepower 

Both engines were available choices given to consumers when ordering a Vette, and both engines performed sensationally depending on what kind of fun you were looking to have. 

The Extra Cost for the 427 Big-Block

  • The lower output L36: $185.00 Extra 
  • The higher output L72: $350.00 Extra



What Came With The High Output L72

The extra cost for the L72 would get you a better-structured motor that included: 

  • Four-bolt mains
  • Larger oil fitting ports 
  • Impact-extruded aluminum pistons (11.0:1) compression 
  • More aggressive solid lifter camshaft
  • Larger rectangular port cylinder heads 
  • Aluminum intake
  • Holly 780 CFM carburetor
  • Free-flowing exhaust manifolds
  • And a K66 transistorized ignition to help complement the other higher output parts. 

Although the L72 was rated at a massive 425-hp, it was a well-known fact the actual horsepower output was well above that publicized rating. The reason for Chevrolet's deception on horsepower numbers was to avoid unwanted backlash from the safety legislation. 

A Pleasing Power-to-Weight Ratio 

The 427 big-block Chevrolet motors were a tight fit for the Corvette, but the power-to-weight ratio was very pleasing for speed freaks. Plus, the much cooler big-block hood that came with the Corvette to make room for clearance, told people what was under the hood. Chevrolet would spend about six more years using a big-block powerplant with balls as an option for Corvette consumers. 


All Good Things Must Come to an End!

After 1972, the change to bring about more fuel-efficient cars would change what kind of powerplants all muscle cars would receive. This new change would eventually spawn the end of an era, the "Muscle Car" era. 


Cross Fire Injection Corvette



Small-block 350s de-tuned and ready to do poor performance was what the American car enthusiast would have to put up with for power through the '70s and '80s. In the late '80s and early '90s, change for more power started up again, and since then, there hasn't been much reason to complain. 


LS1 5.7-liter


The scary acronym EFI (Electronic Fuel Injection) has become a household name for all vehicle enthusiasts alike. And boosted and nitrous applications seem to run much better turned by a computer rather than by backyard mechanic techniques. 



Sunday, July 4, 2021

2021 Z28 Camaro Died on the Vine

New Camaro Z28

Brand New Z28 - Nope


There was a Z28 Camaro in the making practically ready to give the Camaro world what they deserved. Unfortunately, General Motors has officially called the program off. Chevy planned to slam the 5.5-liter flat-crank naturally-aspired 600-hp Z06 engine into the Camaro and call it a Z28. There were even plans of bringing a manual option to the table since there isn't going to be a manual option for the (production delayed) Corvette Z06 due to transaxle complications. 

Flat-Crank Chevy Engine


It may not be the end for the Camaro, but it sure seems like it's getting close. This news of the Camaro Z28 cancelation comes after other Camaro packages for 2021 were canceled, and the news of the cancelation for a 55th Anniversary Edition Camaro for 2022.

What's the problem? 

It's simple, low sales. In fact, first-quarter sales for the Camaro in 2021 were lower than they've been in a decade. Last year the Camaro didn't even sell 30,000 units, and at the rate they are selling now, it's not likely they will sell over 20,000 for '21.

2021 Camaro



Does the Camaro Suck That Bad?

Not really! Performance-wise, when lined up against its competition, they do quite well. But this proves that performance isn't everything in the sports car market. 

Most experts say the exterior styling just isn't as appealing to consumers, and the interior materials and design are not that exciting and low-quality for a better lack of words. Add that in with complaints of low visibility in the cabin and high prices, and you get a low-selling Camaro. 

What's the Future Look Like for Camaro?

Well, there is no official word as of now what will happen to the Camaro. Chevy has kept a pretty tight lip on future plans like they always do. Who can blame them? 

But one thing that everyone does know is GM is dumping all their money into their EV success, or as I call it, "keeping up with the Jones." 

Hummer EV at Car  Show



It just seems to me that if there are plans on keeping the iconic Camaro around for the future, Chevy is going in the wrong direction. I think, instead of going out quietly and soft, which is the way it looks right now, why not end the Camaro with a bang. There would be a lot of Camaro fans that would love to see a last-generation Z28 Camaro with a thumping flat-crank 5.5-liter, 6-speed manual in it.   

Sunday, June 27, 2021

IROC-Z Camaro: Chevrolet's 1980s Road Course Legend

 

Camaro IROC-Z



IROC-Z Camaro History 

Back in 1984, Chevrolet wanted to produce a Camaro that would closely mimic the Camaros that were being used to race in the IROC (International Race of Championship) Racing Series. 

The good idea was pushed forward when Chevrolet signed on to be the official sponsor of the IROC Racing Series. This move gave Chevrolet permission to use the name IROC on their Camaros, which in turn spawn the birth of the road course king, "IROC-Z Camaro".


The IROC-Z Start

Starting in 1985, the new IROC-Z became available to the public and would go on to be produced as a Camaro performance option until 1990. The turn of the decade brought up the end of the licensing agreement with the IROC Racing Series. Chevrolet had other plans for the future of the Camaro and decided not to renew the sponsorship with the race series and dropped the IROC-Z from production.

For those years that the IROC-Z was in production, they became such a staple in the Camaro lineup, Chevrolet would drop the Z-28 from production for the years of '88, '89, and '90. The IROC-Z would become your primary choice if you wanted a performance-based Camaro. 

When Chevrolet halted production for the IROC-Z because of their licensing agreement end with the IROC Racing Series, they also had to drop the IROC-Z nameplate. After a few years on hiatus, the Z28 performance package was brought back for 1991.  


The IROC-Z: A Better Camaro

What mostly stood out about the IROC-Z is its 5.7-liter (350-cu.-in.) Tune-Port Injection (TPI) engine which was bigger than its sister motor, the 5.0. 

5.7 Liter Camaro Engine



The 350 TPI came with a four-speed 700R4 automatic transmission and a special suspension package better known as the 1LE package that included: 
  • 4 wheel disk brakes
  • 3.42 positraction rear-end 
  • An aluminum driveshaft
  • Large 12" front rotors
  • Aluminum calipers
  • Engine oil cooler
  • Gas tank baffles 
  • Larger anti-roll bars
  • Specially valved Delco-Bilstein shocks
  • Larger diameter sway bars
  • Steering/frame brace known as the "wonder bar" and
  • More aggressive springs that lowed the Camaro by .05 inches.


1989 IROC-Z Camaro



The special Camaro would also get 16-inch rims, an upgrade from the smaller 15-inch rims, more aggressive side-skirts for the body kit, large IROC-Z decals on the doors, and special trim.

Although throughout the years the IROC-Z was released from the factory with a few different trim options and setups like t-tops, controvertible, and even a 5-speed transmission, the most common trim options are mentioned above. 

Important? It should be noted that although the 5.7-liter IROC-Z Camaros are the most common and sought-after Camaros of all the IROCs, if you're looking to buy an '85, you can find them with the bigger 5.7-liter engines, but they will not be original. In '85, they only came available with the smaller 5.0-liter engine.

5.0-Liter Camaro Engine



Unfortunately for the IROC-Z, it was produced in a time when power was not a priority, and the horsepower and torque numbers it boasted in the mid-to-late '80s sucked in comparison to today's sports cars. But the reason why the IROC-Z is a collector car and will stay a collector car is not because of its power outputs, but because of its connection to the IROC Racing Series and its road course capabilities. 

Shopping for an IROC-Z Camaro

If you're searching for an IROC-Z, you must be careful for there are a lot of impostors out there. A lot of the exterior IROC-Z options such as the vented hood, front spoiler, and ground effects options were available for order on regular Camaros, Z28s, and can be bought as aftermarket pieces. So check the VIN numbers and do some research via. some reputable sources before you go laying down big money.

Red IROC-Z



If you already own one, I would suggest saving it and passing it on to someone in your family, because in time they will be just as valuable as a Camaro from the Muscle Car era.