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This 1986 Chevrolet Camaro Is The Basest Of Base…But It’s Got The V8 And A Manual Trans! How Would You Build It?

This 1986 Chevrolet Camaro Is The Basest Of Base…But It’s Got The V8 And A Manual Trans! How Would You Build It?

Third gen Camaros come in three flavors: Z28, IROC-Z, and effectively, “other”. You can tell which version of the 1982-1992 Camaro is the hot one. It’s got the body kits, the spoilers, the fog lights, the cool wheels and the graphics. The term “IROC” is forever linked to the third-gen Camaro much in the same way Trans Am is linked to the Pontiac Firebird…you thought of fast, V8 racing when you pictured either-or when they were new.

Now, about that “other” category. This wasn’t the hot Camaro. Wasn’t even close. This was the Camaro that you bought because you wanted a sporty-looking coupe, managed to make a deal and called it good. Base model…no stripes, no pretty wheels, no sex appeal. And that’s pretty much what we’ve got here, a base-model 1986 Camaro. It’s got the same nose that the third-gen debuted with, so you have the three inlet tracts that cry out “bargain model”, those abhorrent wheels that Chevy tried to use on just about anything they could, and the end. Literally, there isn’t much more left to pick over on this car, right? 2.8 V6, automatic, cheapness that somehow looks good, right? Look over the car again. Three-port nose, check. “CHEVROLET” callout on the rear bumper, check. No side skirts, check. Fifteen inch wheels that need to be cosigned to the scrap heap, check. Interior of the low-rent variety? Check…but note the manual trans shifter. The five speed makes up a little bit for being a base model…

That’s not a 2.8L V6. That would be a 305 with a four-barrel. Not a fire-breather, but suddenly this car gets very interesting from our favorite angle. What to do, what to do…we say nitrous the living hell out of the 305 (it can tolerate quite a bit), get some flow going in the heads, keep everything looking dead-nuts stock, and get the quietest muffler you can find. This suddenly became a lot more fun…

Craigslist Link: 1986 Chevrolet Camaro

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12 thoughts on “This 1986 Chevrolet Camaro Is The Basest Of Base…But It’s Got The V8 And A Manual Trans! How Would You Build It?

  1. geo815

    Mate the subframes, since it’s a leak top body. Make it handle, make it stop, limited slip diff, 16″ steelies and low-pro rubber, dump the smogger for an ls (never thought I’d say that), keep it quiet, keep the stocker trim, then hoon. Expensive starting point, though.

  2. doug gregory

    I knew before I opened this up there would be a comment to ‘slam and LS-swap it’. That’s become as lame as ‘all street rods have a small-block Chevy’. Not nearly as lame as ‘bag and LS-swap it’ though.

    Want to be different….iron duke 4 with a big ole hair dryer. Keep the outside looking relatively stock. Give it some 1LE handling and braking upgrades. Enjoy a balanced car.

  3. Matt Cramer

    I’m seeing some prime sleeper material here – something that looks clean but not too clean, and looks like a car the owner might think is fast but isn’t, at least in stock trim.

    Those wheels aren’t pretty, but they’re made of steel, so it should be easy to weld a wider rim on them and keep them looking stock. And those miles of vacuum lines, black valve covers, and rusty air cleaner would make the perfect camouflage for a wicked stroker small block build.

  4. Jeepster

    leave it alone & drive it gentle. Bone stock units are getting hard to find. PLUS
    the roofline crack failure is coming it is just a matter of time. Even the hardtops crack eventually, the more you run them hard.

    go get a bubbafied ratted one to butcher out, there are plenty of them kind here in the South.

  5. RK - no relation

    Iron Duke Four, really? I’d like to see that performance. My sister had one of those factory stock, less than five years old and what a turd. When you stepped on the gas it just made more noise.

    Great sleeper though. I’d go for the hidden improvements and keep it looking close to stock

  6. Singapore Hot Rod

    All aluminum 632, Big Chief heads, EFI, Lenco. Leave the rest as is.

    Ultimate WTF reaction from folks!

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