In 1980 the second last year of the 2nd gen Camaro, Chevrolet would build 152,005 examples in two plants- Van Nuys California and Norwood Ohio. Of these there were 45,137 Z28’s built, the third largest number produced at the time behind the 84,877 produced in 1979 and the 54,907 in 1978. Engine choices for the Z28 were limited to the 190hp LM1 350ci V8 for all markets except California which got the smaller 155hp LG4 305ci V8. A 4 speed manual or automatic could be had with the 350 but only the automatic was available for the California option.
New for 1980 the Z28 received a functional rear facing hood scoop that opened up under full acceleration to deliver fresh outside air to the carburetor. Also added were functional side fender ports to exhaust under hood hot air. A full size spare would be the last year offered in the Camaro but all Z28’s got the smaller space saver tire. The base price for the Z28 was $7,121.32.
The Z28 package included a special string wrapped steering wheel, special steel styled body coloured wheels, special shocks, dual resonator tailpipes, special front and rear stabilizer bars, special instrumentation, a 3.08 rear axle ratio for the 4 speed and a 3.42 for the automatic. The 350 engine produced 190hp and 280 ft/lbs of torque with a compression ratio of 8.2 to 1 and a 5,000rpm redline. This was the most powerful engine since 1974. In the gas conscious early 80’s the speedometer topped out at 85 mph or 140 kph, well below the potential top speed of 120 mph.
Popular options for the Camaro included Soft Ray tinted glass, air conditioning, power brakes, cruise control, automatic transmission, tilt steering, rally wheels and power door locks. Rare options included an AM-FM stereo radio with a CB (491 installed at a whopping $525.00), AM-FM stereo radio with digital clock (just 307 units at $353.00) and limited slip rear axle performance ratio (2,228 at $19.00). A four speed transmission was installed in 12,237 Camaros or just 8 percent of the total built that year making it somewhat rare to have a manual transmission. The bargain of the day was an upgrade to cloth seats instead of vinyl on any model for a mere $25.
Dark blue paint was the most popular colour followed by black, white and bright blue. The two least popular paint colours were lime green and bright yellow. Cloth and vinyl seats could be had in a variety of colours depending on the exterior choice and included Oyster, Black, Blue, Tan and Carmine.
The number of Camaros imported to Canada for the 1980 model year were 21,672 and of this number 9,718 were Z28’s or 44.8% of the total. It is interesting to note that the total Z28’s built for 1980 were 45,137 or 29% of the total so Canadians liked their Camaros Z28 style. It is also interesting to note that 4 speed transmissions were put into 3,200 Canadian cars out of a total of 21,672 cars imported to Canada or 15% of the total. This is almost double the global rate. Canadians not only liked to have their cars look and go fast but they liked to shift them as well.
Our featured car was built in the Norwood Ohio plant in June 1980 for export to Canada. It came equipped with the 350ci V8 and a 4 speed transmission, black deluxe cloth interior and white exterior. This will be the last year American customers can get the 350 with a 4 speed (only Canadian customers will be able to get a 4 speed and a 350 in 1981). Options included CC1 Removable Roof Panels($695), G80 Positraction ($68.00), C49 Electric Rear Window Defogger ($107.00), A01 Tinted Glass ($68.00) and TR9 Auxiliary Lighting Group ($40.00). The car is completely original, never seen winter and has been driven just 25,000kms. It was ordered by the customer on May 23, 1980, built on July 3 and delivered to Jack McGee Chev Olds in Peterborough Ontario shortly thereafter. Total cost was $9,853.00 plus tax and the customer traded in a low mileage 1977 Trans Am valued at $5,300.
When you first approach the car you can’t help but notice the fairly large doors. They are heavy and swing wide to allow easy access into the cabin. The seats are firm and provide some good back and lateral support. The string wrapped steering wheel has a nice cushiony feel to it and provides a nice firm grip. I think it is one of the better feeling wheels GM has ever produced. The interior is fine for two adults in the front but limited for anyone bigger than small children in the rear.
Firing up the engine is easy and the exhaust goes through a single catalytic converter followed by dual resonators out back that provide a nice low rumble. The clutch is firm and takes up quite easily with plenty of engine torque to give you a quick start. At speed the car rides smoothly and the steering is very responsive and tight. It is certainly nothing like the cars of today but it is also a vast improvement over the sloppy feel of the 1st gen. Upshifting from 4th to 3rd and mashing the gas pedal activates the hood scoop and the resulting rush of air as the engine speed revs up brings a loud whooshing sound. This is not a speed demon and acceleration is modest to say the least.
According to Car and Driver in their April 1980 road test saw the quarter mile pass in 16.4 seconds at 86 MPH for the 4 speed and 16.09 seconds at 84.6 MPH for the automatic. Hi Performance Cars in their May 1980 edition had the 350 engine go through the traps at 16.2 seconds for the quarter mile at 93 MPH and 0-60 was a blistering 7.3 seconds. Acceleration is linear and smooth all the way up to the 5,000 rpm redline.
Given the large number of Z28’s produced in the final four years of the 2nd gen version, there are lots of excellent examples available. Prices have started to climb from their bottom of a few years ago and are now moving increasingly higher as the youth of the day, now in their 40’s and 50’s are looking to own the car of their dreams. Prices for pristine examples are well in excess of $25,000 and moving higher. Many of these cars are now starting to be restored and pristine examples are appearing at local cruise nights and car shows.
This exceptional example of a nearly new 1980 Camaro Z28 is one of the cars available to our sponsors or patrons for promotional purposes.
Please contact us to find out how you can have it at your Dealership, Automobile Show or Special Event.