By on March 5, 2018

1989 Chevrolet Camaro RS in Colorado wrecking yard, LH view - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThird-generation Camaros are so plentiful in wrecking yards (and on the street) that I don’t pay much attention to them unless I see something special. Say, Iron Duke power with an automatic transmission, resulting in the slowest Camaro of all time… or a lovingly customized example, covered with unique airbrush work, as we see in today’s Colorado Junkyard Find.

1989 Chevrolet Camaro RS in Colorado wrecking yard, airbrush mural - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe hood mural has suffered extensive weathering, but we can still make out the muscular horned demon having his way with a supine redhead. You can practically hear the Slayer cranking out of the swap-meet Sparkomatic stereo, circa 1991.

1989 Chevrolet Camaro RS in Colorado wrecking yard, gearshift - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsLook, it’s got a five-speed! That’s metal.

1989 Chevrolet Camaro RS in Colorado wrecking yard, T-tops - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsT-top roof as well. Also metal.

1989 Chevrolet Camaro RS in Colorado wrecking yard, airbrush mural - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsHowever, things sort of fall apart for this car when you take a close look at the details. First of all, the Rally Sport trim level was the cheapest one in 1989 — not something to brag about.

1989 Chevrolet Camaro RS in Colorado wrecking yard, engine - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe second (and most important) problem becomes apparent when you look in the engine compartment. That’s the 2.8-liter V6 there, the base engine in 1989 (the Iron Duke was discontinued as the F-Body’s base engine after the 1986 model year). It was a perfectly good engine, pretty reliable after a rocky start earlier in the decade, but it made just 135 horsepower.


The use of a Pro Mod Camaro in this “Heartbeat of America” TV advertisement should have been outlawed as cruel and unusual punishment for those stuck with the 2.8 Camaros.

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54 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1989 Chevrolet Camaro RS...”


  • avatar
    dividebytube

    In HS there was a senior – mustache and power mullet – who had an Iron Duke powered Camaro. He still managed to get chicks with it – and by chicks I mean freshmen girls. Rumor, given that he began attending our school in his senior year, was that he was actually an undercover cop trying to find out who all the tokers were buying from.

    The “fake” Camaro didn’t help to dispel this notion.

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      I once had a crazy notion about buying a then-new Iron Duke Camaro (with five-speed) to replace my 5-speed ’76 Vega GT. That notion came and went pretty fast.

      • 0 avatar
        MRF 95 T-Bird

        In the early 90’s I was at a shop waiting to have something taken care of. The mechanic was wrenching on a Iron Duke Camaro, a base model with dog dish bow tie caps, manual transmission and not much else. There was so much room under the hood you could just bolt a turbo or supercharger on the side and have room to spare.

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      If he was picking up 15 year old girls I dearly hope that the undercover cop rumor truly was just a rumor. Even narcs shouldn’t be that skeevy.

  • avatar
    tylanner

    I feel terribly sorry for people who where forced to lust after cars between 1979 and 1989.

    • 0 avatar
      Roberto Esponja

      Horrid times, let me tell ya…even worse was having your dad work at a full-line GM dealer and witnessing first hand the dreck that “The General” pumped out during that period. Very, very depressing.

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      Oh dear, no need.

      We had plenty to choose from. I am 42 and wager that most on this forum my age had one of two things on his wall: Countach in Red, White, or Black or Testarossa in the same color scheme.

      Then we had the more pedestrian awesomeness; 5.0’s available in T-Top (until 86 or 87) both fastback and notchback body styles and an amazing array of F-Body Camaro & Firebird options with 4, 6, & 8 mills with two options; 305 or 350.

      Making things even more fun, was muscle cars from the 60’s & 70’s were still reasonably common on the streets and not reserved for cars n’ coffee.

      Lets not get started on the Porsche offerings. I truly believe it was the best time to be a gearhead. Sure, the HP that exists now was not available but we had a plethora of interesting to look at rides that for the most part all were proper RWD.

      My apologies for the rant. Have a nice day!

      • 0 avatar
        Featherston

        +1, 87 Morgan – It actually was a good time to be an enthusiast. Something to emphasize is that the industry arrow was pointed up between ’79 and ’89, primarily because (1) handling got better and (2) the widespread implementation of EFI was a win/win/win in terms of power, economy, and reliability. (Yes, I know there are carburetor loyalists out there, and I don’t begrudge them the hobby of fiddling with carburetors and old cars.)

        Conversely, I think I’d rather have my pick of as-new 2008 cars over 2018 cars or of 1969 cars over 1979 cars.

        • 0 avatar
          Featherston

          Addendum: I’ll also add corrosion protection as a 3rd reason why the arrow pointed up between ’79 and ’89. I’m generalizing, but with the exception of Mercedes and Volvo resistance to rust ranged from terrible to abysmal in the mid-’70s market. Things improved markedly over the course of ’79-’89.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        BMWs. Volvo and Saab Turbos. Audis and some of the best Mercedes ever. Porsches that mere mortals could almost afford. Peugeots and Fiats and Alfas. Even the Japanese had some interesting cars. And no f’ing CUVs. American cars were nearly universally dreck, but the rest of the world was a different story.

        I agree, a golden era and I sure wish I was the age I am now in the mid-late 90s. What a garage I would have!

        • 0 avatar

          Agreed. We had a Volvo Turbo (the 240 based car). It didn’t go on boost as much as it got angry…way faster than you’d think. Also had a 900T, fast, and my Callaway turbo-ed Scirocco. Mom had a 325is. We were in heaven on that one..

      • 0 avatar

        We have a Jalpa pending in the Rare Rides hopper. How do ya feel about that one?

        (It’s red.)

    • 0 avatar
      ttacgreg

      I would beg to differ, having been there and done that. The really depressing time was 1970-80. Bigger motors, less HP, baroque boredello disco styling, motors that ran like shit due to slapdash primitive emission controls systems. That decade was, with a few exceptions, sort of a dark age to my mind.
      80-90 was a Renaissance bu contrast. Technology progress nicely. Emissions systems got sorted out, carburetors died out. Multi valve motors and turbos were on the increase. Performance made a come back. Styling trends went from chrome plated rhinoceros to sleek and understated. Bumpers began to blend in to the body form. Suspensions were getting more sophisticated. Interior space vs exterior size was becoming more rational I could go on and on . . .

      To this day this generation of Camaro is my favorite in terms of styling.

    • 0 avatar
      dividebytube

      I like a lot of cars from the 80s – as platforms for cheap and easy speed. The already mentioned Mustang 5.0.

      And the Grand National T-Type, the much slower Monte Carlo SS and Olds Cutlass 442 (both which could easily take a better engine swap), and even GM’s B-Body. I still have dreams of finding a 2-door Impala and putting a big block in it.

    • 0 avatar
      stingray65

      What most of us did during the bad years (which started about 1973) was lust after old Detroit iron from the 1950s to early 70s, or some of the better imports. There were lots of first generation Mustangs and Camaros (and other assorted 1960s muscle/pony cars) in my late 1970s high school parking lot, although many were rusty and blowing blue smoke they were still cooler than an anemic Mustang II or late generation 2 Camaro. Late model VW Siroccos, Audi Foxes, Datsun Zs, Toyota Celicas, and BMW 3 series were also lusted after, but much more seldom seen (not many super rich at my high school).

      • 0 avatar
        CobraJet

        We bought a new 85 Firebird with the V6 and T-tops. The tops were glass on this model and stored in a pouch in the hatch. The V6 was multi-port fuel injected while the available V8 was still carbureted. Not much different in power output as I found out. The car was fairly reliable but we got rid of it well before 100,000 miles. The doors always rattled in it which was annoying. Still, it was fast enough to peg the speedometer… oh wait, that was 85 mph.

        • 0 avatar
          ttacgreg

          As much as I like Camaro’s styling, the Firebird was and still is a knockout, with the Corvetty split front grille and then non-wrap around tail lights.
          One of my all time favorites.

    • 0 avatar
      05lgt

      Don’t feel too bad. I found we could buy, build and register cars from 67 – 72 that did wheelies on the street for less money than a turbo civic that failed emissions cost another 15 years later.

    • 0 avatar
      scott25

      I wasn’t even alive during those years and those are the main cars I lust after, and not the desirable ones

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      There were plenty of lust-worthy cars in that era. But none of them were American.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      tylanner, toward the end of the 1980s several Japanese manufacturers were selling light weight RWD coupes that had a lot of performance potential. I remember the Mitsubishi Starion widebody and the Toyota Supra. The Fox Body Mustang was also getting interesting at the end of the 1980s. These were relatively inexpensive lightweight RWD cars that even a young guy could buy assuming he could afford the insurance cost. There are no equivalent cars today with that combination of low starting price, light weight, and potential for much faster acceleration than the average car of its time when modified.

    • 0 avatar
      Carlson Fan

      “I feel terribly sorry for people who where forced to lust after cars between 1979 and 1989.”

      Don’t!

      I’d love to have my ’79 Trans Am back. 400 Poncho/4sp, T-roofs, deluxe cloth hobnail interior, & those sexy 8″ snowflake wheels the came w/WS6 equipped cars. Even today those cars drive amazing.

      • 0 avatar
        tylanner

        Gave me a lot to chew on, thanks B&B.

        I’d picked the 1990 NSX as the turning point…but fair to say I forgot many euros and even some american classics.

    • 0 avatar
      Mike-NB

      Not to pile on, but I had an ’83 Mustang GT that I bought in 1986. I lusted after the GT since the redesign in ’79 and when I had a chance to buy a lightly used ’83 I jumped at it. 175HP and 245lb-ft of torque in a 3000lb car was pretty fun.

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    Normally I’d say “all show and no go” but this POS doesn’t even have the ‘show’. This is so sad, so very sad.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    I am of the opposite belief. This thing is awesome.

    Someone with some talent put the time in to tattoo their Camaro. Other than the MT and TT, the car was not awesome, so why not demonstrate ones artistic talent? Though, based on the wheel selection I am thinking this is an early to mid 00’s ‘build’.

    Either way, what a great first car for someone. I bet some serious fun was had in it.

  • avatar
    mikey

    I love it ! A V6 with a stick and T roofs, very cool. Not that one, but a nice one with some suspension work, and some sticky tires, such a blast to drive. Give me a windy twisty road, and I’d be in my glory.

    IMHO I prefer driving a slow car fast, than a fast car slow.

  • avatar
    CaddyDaddy

    Someone with an MG is lusting over this drivetrain.

  • avatar
    linkpin

    Back in 1982 when the 3rd generation Camaro first launched, it really was something special to look it. It’s easy to dismiss it 36 years later with the benefit of hindsight. I was 16 at the time and my mom was so taken with the new design that she went straight down to the Chevy dealer and bought a brand-new one. And yep, it was the 2.8 V6 and had a 4-speed. It really was pretty to look at but man that 2.8 was wheezy and weak. It died in 1987 when my younger brother drove it off a bridge after a night of partying. By some miracle he survived, though you’d never have guessed from looking at the wreckage.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    “Wyld Stalions Rule!”

    “Most Excellent Ted.”

    Sorry, I’m getting total “Bill and Ted” vibes from this ride.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    That hood mural. I am in awe.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Someone should let Freiburger and Finnegan know about this one. I sense another Roadkill episode in the works.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    RS was the lowest trim level? Wasn’t the Sport Coupe still around? That was usually the lowest.

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      For some reason I thought the ‘Berlinetta’ was the low end Camaro.

      In my mind the RS was below the IROC-Z. Which, what fool would walk past a blue Iroc with rear louvres and say I’ll take the RS?

      • 0 avatar
        MRF 95 T-Bird

        The Berlinetta was the mid-range luxury model with its own trim and styled aluminum wheels. I remember riding in one where it had its own digital dash with a unique stereo and cassette setup that pivoted.
        By the late 80’s the RS was the entry model that replaced the Sport Coupe.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    You really should have bought the hood, to hang on the wall.

  • avatar
    ernest

    ’79-’89? I had a ’87 IROC Convert, a ’89 IROC coupe with a 5.7, and a ’91 RS Coupe with T-Tops and a 5.0/5 spd. Plenty of entertainment available, at prices that didn’t require a second mortgage. I actually lost interest in the F-Bodies after this Gen phased out.

    American cars were all junk? Buick Grand National came out during that era, the GMC Typhoon, and Corvettes were starting to get their HP back if the optispark hung together.

    ’73-’79 was much worse, I think, from an enthusiasts viewpoint.

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      For sure 73-79 was the toughest time for any manufacturer. 73′ brought the catalytic converter I believe, and the originals were the size of a Smart car today. Then you had to add in the emission plumbing which seemingly was a spaghetti like set up vacuum tubes that may or may not have done anything of value.

      This was about the only time period Cadillac could produce a 500 CID engine that could not break the 150 HP mark, truly the dark ages of motoring. On the upside this era was the catalyst (see what I did there) for cleaner cars, fuel injection and for some the most favorite….the common use of power adders via turbo or blower.

  • avatar
    craiger

    I had an 89 RS with the 305 and automatic. I just read that it was in 89 that the Sport Coupe was dropped as the base model and replaced with the RS. (I had an 84 Sport Coupe too).

    I wanted the IROC but it was I think over $4,000 more than the RS. Insurance cost me $4,700 a year for the RS, I have to imagine it would have been more for the IROC.

    I loved the RS. Since then I’ve owned European cars with inline 5s, inline 6s, and even a flat 6 :-) but the Camaro has been my only V8 car. I still remember that lovely sound.

  • avatar
    Aron9000

    I feel bad for this poor car. As its something its 1st or 2nd owner really loved, enough to get all that custom paintwork done on it. Since its a 1989 model, I’d imagine that guy wore out that Pantera “Cowboys from Hell” tape. That tape, along with this car is a stone cold classic IMO.

    Granted it isn’t the more desirable IROC car with the TPI 305 or 350 V8, but these are great cars for engine swaps, good chassis, great suspension setup, great feeling power assisted rack and pinion steering, light weight, tons of room under the hood, easy to work on, lots of aftermarket, decent stock brakes on higher trim level cars but also easy to swap in bigger brakes, easy to swap in much wider tires on bigger wheels, easy to swap parts with other cars. 3rd gen Camaro is a very under-rated platform IMO, both for straight line speed and doing road course/autocross work.

    • 0 avatar
      2000ChevyImpalaLS

      As a child of the 80s, I don’t remember having any trouble finding cars or trucks that caught my interest. Some fortunate soul in my hometown had a black Lamborghini Countach, and I bragged to my school friends that I had gotten to SEE it. I remember spotting cars while waiting to be picked up from school, and admiring the ’87 Thunderbird as one rolled in. A buddy’s parents bought a new Tempo (remember those?) that I liked at the time, and another’s dad drove a Subaru BRAT pickup. My parents had a ’67 Mustang and a ’76 Monte Carlo when I was very young. But by the time I was in high school, my mom bought an ’85 IROC-Z from my cousin. Black with gold trim and gold wheels, black cloth interior, 5-speed manual, and rear window louvers. The thing was a beast. I used to “spot” my mom backing it out of the garage, just so I could listen to that rumble. It was also the first manual car I ever tried to drive.

      My father bought an 86 Chevy Custom Deluxe 4×4 brand new. It was my first car buying experience, Christmas Eve 1985. He had that truck for 11 years before it was lost in a near fatal accident, and he replaced it with an ’86 Chevy Silverado 4×4 that he drives to this day.

      Maybe I’m a little partial, but I don’t think the 80s were particularly dark times, nor were the cars and trucks of the time all that terrible.

    • 0 avatar
      NoGoYo

      I’d love to take a Primal Concrete Sledge to this pile of crap…

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    The first year of the catalytic converter was 1975. I had a 73 Chevelle with a 350 2 barrel that had more than enough get up and go–I could do a burnout in it. My 77 Monte Carlo was a great looking car but it had a 305 with a 2 barrel with small carb jets and a catalytic converter that greatly reduced the performance. I wouldn’t mind having that 73 Chevelle now. Not all American cars from the 70’s were bad just depends on which car. Some of the Caprice Classics from 77 on were nice running cars especially when they had 350 4 barrels.

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    It’s just bursting with Rally Sportness!!

  • avatar
    N8iveVA

    A friend of mine had one of these. Slightly used. Same 2.8 V6 and a stick. She came over to show me and handed me the keys. First thing I did was rev the engine, pop the clutch, and lay down two patches of rubber. She was all smiles surprised the car would do that. They really weren’t bad cars at the time.

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