AJ’s Car of the Day: 1981 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 Coupe

AJ’s Car of the Day: 1981 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 Coupe

Car: Chevrolet Camaro Z28 Coupe

Year: 1981

What makes it special: The second-generation Chevrolet Camaro was produced from 1970 through the 1981 model years. It was introduced in the spring of 1970. Build information was released to the assembly plants in February of that same year. It was longer, lower, and wider than the first generation Camaro. A convertible body-type was no longer available. GM engineers have said the second generation is much more of “A Driver’s Car” than its predecessor.

What made it famous: The 1981 model was nearly unchanged from 1980 and would be the last model year for the second-generation Camaro. The Z28 was still powered by a 350 cu in V8, however due to new emissions regulations the engine was now equipped with a Computer Command Control unit for the first time. This predecessor to modern engine control modules had an oxygen sensor, an electronically controlled carburetor, a throttle position sensor, coolant sensors, a barometric pressure sensor, a Manifold Absolute Pressure sensor, and a check engine light on the dash. The transmission was now equipped with a lockup torque converter, controlled by the CCC as well. The CCC could also be used as a self-diagnostic tool. However, as the goal of this change was strictly emissions reduction, horsepower dropped to 175 hp. This engine was now only available with an automatic transmission, while the 4-speed manual versions had the 165 hp, 305 cu in, which was the only engine offered in Z28’s sold in California. RS models were dropped this year, but the RS designation would reappear in 1989. Total production had dropped down to 126,139 from a high of 282,571 in 1979.

Why I would want one: Graduating High School in 1980, the second-generation Camaro Z28 was the stuff of dreams.

Fun fact: Canadian models could still get the 350 and 4-speed combination, and were not equipped with a CCC. Canadian 1981 Camaros were more dentical to the 1980 US model.

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