By on November 5, 2020

The last (and only) time Rare Rides covered a Camaro, it was a heavily altered Callaway SuperNatural from the Nineties. While that Camaro was all about performance, today’s Camaro takes a different tack.

It’s a Berlinetta, the Cadillac of Camaros (probably).

General Motors stuck with its second generation Camaro for quite some time, stretching the life of its sub-Corvette sports car from 1970 to 1981. During that time, the Camaro was fettled and updated, and made consistently uglier until it was past due for replacement. Enter another F-body!

New for 1982, the Camaro and its Firebird sibling continued in the F-body tradition. GM went with a major redesign for the Eighties, and focused on bringing the exterior design up to date for both models. There were also efforts to add lightness to the platform for the sake of handling, and curb weight for the third gen Camaro dropped by about 300 pounds, to 3,086 for the lightest versions.

Other important changes for the new, modern Camaro included a hatchback where a trunk was found previously, available fuel injection, and a four-cylinder engine. Speaking of power, engines ranged in displacement from 2.5 to 5.7 liters. There was a singular 2.5-liter I-4, three different V6 mills depending on model year, and two different V8s. The smaller V8 was a 5.0-liter (305), with a 5.7 (350) at the top of the range. Transmissions were three- or four-speed if automatic, and four- or five-speeds if manual.

Carried over from its 1979 introduction on the old Camaro was the Berlinetta trim. A luxury specification, its base engine was a 2.8-liter V6, though spendy fancy people opted for the 5.0 instead. Exterior features found only on Berlinetta included the gold Berlinetta badges, headlamp insets painted in a contrast color to the body, and a unique finned alloy wheel design with gold tone and Berlinetta center caps. Gold effects continued at the rear, with a glistening horizontal trim bar across the lamp assembly.

Inside, there was an upscale cloth interior of high style, more Berlinetta badges, a complete instrument package as standard, carpeted rear wheel arches, and a storage well cover for parcels and your choice of monogrammed beige luggage. Unseen by consumers was additional sound insulation, for a more serene ride.

Luxury Camaro customers would have to move on from Camaro after 1986, as GM saw fit to replace Berlinetta with LT for 1987. This change coincided with the closure of the Norwood, Ohio plant, and left production solely at Van Nuys, California. The third-generation Camaro lived on through the model year 1992 before its replacement by the swoopy fourth-gen seen at the link above.

Today’s Rare Ride Berlinetta is an absolute peach in beige, gold, brown, and tan with stripes. With the 2.8 V6, an automatic, and 22,000 miles, it asks $12,900 in Ohio.

[Images: seller]

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52 Comments on “Rare Rides: The 1984 Chevrolet Camaro Berlinetta, a Sports Car for Luxurious People...”


  • avatar
    JimC2

    “My folks drove it up here from the Bahamas.”

  • avatar
    SPPPP

    Beautiful car! I really like that interior color and pattern. The shame of it is, those cars were so … dog …. slow … with that V6. I know a lot of things were slow back then, but that engine was seriously mismatched with the sporty style of this car.

    • 0 avatar
      N8iveVA

      A friend had a manual trans in hers and it was quite fun for the time.

      • 0 avatar
        SPPPP

        Hmm, OK, that seems plausible. I sampled the automatic version, which was surely responsible for some of the sluggishness.

      • 0 avatar
        tonycd

        Key word there is “hers.” It was pretty well understood at the time that this trim was aimed at women—all style and no performance. An indelicate way of putting it in those days was to call it a “secretary’s car.”

        I don’t remember if these actually had a softer than normal suspension, but it’s possible.

    • 0 avatar
      spookiness

      I was about 13 when we were visiting family I didn’t know in NY state. Cousin had a new Firebird with the V-6 and 5-speed. We went for a ride, with the “Top Gun” soundtrack on cassette at full blast. It seemed fast at the time, but I’m sure it as mostly noise. You want slow, drive an Iron Duke with an automatic.

    • 0 avatar
      Imagefont

      Am I correct that the 2.8V6 in this car was still carbureted and made just 102HP? That’s kind of depressing, although HP is not everything. TBI would have been nice and it was right there on the horizon.
      12k is a lot. I can just imagine the rot you can’t see if these pictures. And despite the pictures, it’s a good looking car and a time machine, I know that all the rubber is rotting. These were not well made vehicles. Not at the time. Still – I like it and I want it.

  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    Does anyone have an explanation for pre-2010 Detroit’s obsession with giant overhangs and giant fender gaps? It’s like stylists were *trying* to make everything look awful. Was it some kind of cost thing, or did people legitimately think this made cars look good?

    • 0 avatar
      iNeon

      Has it really been so long since cars had actual suspension travel?

      This ‘wheel gap’ is a good thing.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Wheel gap has to do with GM design rules about being able to put chains on tires and needing to be able to run over a given height obstacle with zero damage to the car.

        When Lutz became VP at GM that was one of the rules that he promptly set alight.

        • 0 avatar
          Kenn

          Oh, and another rule: Drivers must be able to have outward visibility to the front, rear, and sides. That became obsolete, as well.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            @Kenn – well you can say many bad things about my first car (1982 Chevrolet Celebrity) but the one good thing I can say is that it was easy to see all four corners of the vehicle from the drivers seat.

      • 0 avatar
        PeriSoft

        “Has it really been so long since cars had actual suspension travel?

        This ‘wheel gap’ is a good thing.”

        My current car has very little wheel gap and is as smooth as butter. You don’t need a fender you can crawl into and set up shop for a usable suspension.

    • 0 avatar
      N8iveVA

      I might argue that longer front and rear overhangs on older cars looks normal and that the proliferation of transverse engine cars ruined that.

      • 0 avatar
        JimC2

        Me too. Wheels-pushed-way-out-to-the-corners makes for a ridiculously large turn circle. I might argue that when form defeats function like that then minimum overhang makes for a pretty ugly car.

    • 0 avatar
      celica0774

      One of the trumpeted virtues of the small cars of the 70s was the short wheelbase and smaller turning circle. That thinking receded slowly – the short wheelbase and long overhangs limited the next generation of Cambird/Firemaro until the end in 2002.

      • 0 avatar
        iNeon

        People have tried to school me and school me about a PT Cruiser’s humongous turning circle, but I’d always thought the larger internal footprint more than made up for the big-car steering.

        Christssakes– it’s a PT Cruiser. They’re not that hard to drive.

    • 0 avatar
      geo

      GM cars were usually designed with reasonable overhangs. When the vehicles were updated, the hood and trunk area were often extended while the wheelbase stayed the same. The Camaro is a good example of this.

      Sometimes, a small car platform was used to create a larger car (eg. Celebrity). So of course long overhangs resulted.

      Pre-2010 GM used the same basic platforms for decades, so they were notorious for this.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      It’s not a good look. It’s a great look! You don’t think movies like “Bullit” sold a lot of Mustangs, Chargers and similar? Burt Reynolds (RIP) was given a new Trans Am by GM every year for life.

      Power, style and lots of suspension travel were the essentials in car chases on TV and movies, going over curbs, grass medians, taking dirt roads at high speed, etc.

      It doesn’t look fast or sporty if you have to slow to a crawl for dips.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    80S HAIR PEOPLE: When I think luxury, I think Camaro.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Meanwhile Stelaris won’t build us a Cordoba on based on the Challenger…

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Dress it up all you want I just remember this era of Camaro/Firebird as being pretty junkie and slow. Since Camaros/Firebirds were no longer fast I guess they thought fancy would move a few units. This car has only 22K miles, because more then likely it spent years in the shop :(

    This one looks to be in exceptional condition, one of the few that didn’t spend it’s later years up on blocks next to a single-wide trailer

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I must admit, I like that particular Camaro. And I’m not a GM or Camaro fan.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    I seem to recall those switch-pods beside the steering wheel were typical GM junk that failed often and were shockingly expensive. I also recall finding a source that rebuilt them for cheap, and that made customers nearly weep with joy.

  • avatar
    celica0774

    Is that a factory interior? It looks great, except for the slurp of black that is the dash and steering wheel.

  • avatar
    Mike Beranek

    You forgot to mention the swivelling audio control pod!

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      That flat radio on a stalk was pretty funky. The Berlinneta also got quasi digital gauges. Futuristic!

    • 0 avatar
      MRF 95 T-Bird

      A company I was employed for in the 80’s had a Berlinetta like this in black as a lease car. They also had a loaded Cimmaron that actually wasn’t bad. Just not worthy of the Cadillac badge. The swiveling audio control pod was kind of neat. High tech for the era but I always thought that GM created it and their other systems like the one in the Sunbird to keep people from going to Crutchfield or your local auto stereo shop for upgrades.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    A pretty sharp looking car but it should have the 5.0 liter LG4 V8 for far better performance. Thats a bit too much for a carbureted 2.8 car.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I had the same thoughts, a bit high. My guess is its clean and still in a period where a swap isn’t too difficult, so someone will roll over for the 350 or LS2 F-body of their dreams.

    • 0 avatar
      Imagefont

      I rebuilt quite a few 305’s from the 80’s. They were a thinner casting and warped badly when they got hot. In particular the crank journal bores were not concentric. You’d see engines from the factory with odd sizes bearings on the crank in various positions to try and correct for the misaligned bores. 12/10,000’s on top and a different size bearing on the bottom of the same journal. Otherwise they leaked oil out of the front or rear main seals. Just embarrassing for GM, that alone would make you never want to own one of their fine products.
      Curious what the after market can do with that old 2.8 V6, if anything.

  • avatar
    18726543

    The first car I bought when I was 17 (in 1999) was a 1987 Camaro IROC-Z. I didn’t know anything of speed or quality at the time, and coming from the 3.8L Taurus I inherited from my mom as my first car, it felt like a rocket ship. Once I replaced it with a 1998 Camaro Z28 I could see the stark difference between the old TPI engine and the LS1, but prior to that I enjoyed my blissful ignorance. The IROC had just about every option you could get…Bose radio, auto-close trunk (which amazingly, never failed during my 4-year ownership), t-tops with leather t-top bag, auto-dim rear view mirror, the 5.7/4-speed auto. I got it for $4200 bucks from a guy who was in the middle of a divorce. It was red over red and man did I love that car.

    I always thought the Berlinetta was the stripper version because after becoming familiar with how the later Z28’s and IROCs looked with hood louvers, body kits, raucous badging, etc… the Berlinettas of just a few year prior looked so bland. Personally I think the body kits do wonders for the way these cars look. The natural bow of the doors makes it look like the car sits too high in my opinion. I think the body kits really make them look a lot sportier.

  • avatar

    Camaro in Russian means “Mosquito”. And it looks like one.

  • avatar
    65corvair

    I test drove a mid ’80’s Camaro with the 350 V8. A very disappointing car. Surprisingly slow. Not slow for a big V8, but just plain slow for a car. A piece of interior trim was incredibly mis aligned. I remember touching it with my finger and the salesperson seeing me do it. I didn’t say anything and neither did he. After the drive he asked me how I liked it, and I said I wasn’t interested. He didn’t say anything and I left.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    1984: My friend’s dad recruited several of us as drivers to pick up loaner convertibles from a few local dealers for use with homecoming court. (For context, our daily drivers averaged out to ~1970 vintage.)

    One guy got a brand-new Mustang, one got a dealer’s immaculate personal 60’s Buick Electra, the dad drove the Eldorado, you get the picture. I was handed the keys to a 1984 Z28 with 60 miles on the odometer. Good times.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    I’m partial to the screaming chicken.

    Camaros in my family have always been referred to as mullet-mobiles. I know the Trans Am and Camaro are effectively the same car, but the minor styling differences, and Smokey and the Bandit (obviously), leads my preference here.

  • avatar
    427Cobra

    I miss velour… comfortable and durable. As for lowered cars & long overhangs… they are the bane of my existence. The front overhang on my Focus ST is such that I have to enter & exit my driveway at a severe angle. On my Z06, even the frame rails scrape backing out, so it doesn’t get driven much.

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      I was thinking the same thing. While I never had the issue when I had my Focus ST, I remember barking the chin on my 2006 Grand Prix exiting pretty normal looking driveways.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Yes the price is crack pipe, but after the Coyote swap… oh yeah there’s the base brakes/suspension/steering/body/wheels/etc. Might as well start with the IROCz. It’s 2X the money maybe, but 4 or 5X the car.

  • avatar

    When these were new, they were the joke car that an over coiffed wife of a prosperous local merchant would buy, or a secretary with her first job (in an economy where that job paid enough).

    Pass. Period. Not even a decent example…the 2.8 with an automatic ? Even back in the day there were a hundred better choices.

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