The freshly redesigned sixth-generation 2019 Chevrolet Camaro was unveiled today alongside the welcomed news of a 1LE track package for the 2.0-liter turbo engine. In order to counter this good example of a four-cylinder Camaro, the worst example of the third-generation 1982 car with the infamous Iron Duke engine, could be looked at.
The new 1LE Turbo package of the 2019 Chevrolet Camaro is a promising lower-tier muscle car, considering that it comes with a four-cylinder. It is only available with a six-speed manual transmission and gets the suspension upgrades, wide summer tires, Brembo brakes, “Sport” and “Track” drive modes, and “nearly” 50-50 weight distribution. The new Camaro 1LE Turbo possesses 275 horsepower or roughly three times the 90 HP “Iron Duke” engine of the first four-cylinder Camaro introduced in the year 1981.
The new third-gen Camaro introduced for the 1982 model year, still allegedly intended to be defined as a muscle car, possessed an engine option with a double-digit horsepower figure. The Iron Duke engine purely was a product of the Malaise Era scramble to sacrifice the performance for fuel economy and to meet the government emissions standards following fuel crisis and the influx of Japanese competition. Its result was one of the worst-performing Camaros ever sold.
The infamous Pontiac-built Iron Duke engine was a 2.5-liter fuel-injected pushrod straight-four that essentially was just one cylinder bank from a contemporary Pontiac V8. The production of the Iron Duke started in the year 1977 and continued until the year 1993, landing in cars across all General Motors brand except for Cadillac, including the third-gen Camaros.
The GM never intended for the Iron Duke to be a performance engine, in spite of it showing up in seemingly-performance-oriented models such as the third-gen Pontiac Fiero and Camaro. The Duke’d Camaro possessed an embarrassing 0 to 60 MPH time of somewhere about 20 seconds. It even had a reasonable 132 lb-ft of torque to go along its measly 90 HP figure. Yet there was a big disconnect in the refreshed sporty and aerodynamic look of the then-new four-cylinder Camaro and how actually it drove.
The Iron Duke only was available in the base “Sport Coupe” Camaro trim, and the engine received a boost to 92 HP for the 1983 model year. It originally was available with a four-speed manual as standard, with a three-speed automatic available at extra price.
In the year 1984, the transmission choices were upgraded to a five-speed manual, with a four-speed auto. The V6 option only was a 250 dollars premium and replaced the Iron Duke as the standard option for the Camaro in the year 1986.
The GM Parts Center described the Iron Duke Camaro as: “If you were to do a quick Google search for “The Worst Cars Of All Time,” the 1982 “Iron Duke” Camaro would inevitably be named. Remember that up to that point, the Camaro was a legendary and successful sports car. But when the newly designed 1982 “Iron Duke” Camaro made its debut, the 90 hp engine left something to be desired. In the book Automotive Atrocities: The Cars We Love to Hate, author Eric Peters said that its drivers were forced to go through “the humiliation of being left in the dust by K-car station wagons.”
The Iron Duke Camaro was ranked at number 36 by Time on a list of the 50 worst cars ever built, it was at number 2 on Complex’s list of the 50 worst cars of the 1980s, and as reported, Chevrolet did not sell many of them.