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93-94 Camaro


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#1 CmpFreak88

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Posted 11 December 2006 - 06:20 PM

Alright guys, this is my first car and I want the right one! Right now I'm looking into two Camaros... I figured I want something fast, and a stick shift, and I loved the idea of a Corvette engine with a 6-speed in my price range <$5k. I found one '94 Camaro with 136,000 miles and a short-throw shift kit already installed for $3,950, and this is the one I like best and then another '93 Camaro with 68,000 miles and I'm trying to get a hold of the owner if it's a standard or auto, and this one's going for $4,495. So basically I was just wondering what to look for in these cars when I go and look at them. I know pretty much generally what to do when looking at a car, checking lines on the body and paint panels and checking underneath for rust or covered up pieces which may indicate damage or rust, and most of that. I was also wondering if there's any other suggestions you guys might have for a car in this price range. I may be able to budge a bit and have parents help out but, I'm not sure.

I was also looking into the '93-'95 BMW 325 iS's and 318iS's, but most had problems in this price range and even without problems from the start, they will eventually break and are costly to repair, even if I do the labor myself, from what I've heard. Oh, and the fact that the inline 6 just can't match the numbers an LT1 puts out. :)

Thanks in advance!
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#2 bigred

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Posted 12 December 2006 - 07:13 AM

with a vehicle of that type / age and driving style owners of that class of car are prone to... I'd say you BETTER have a 3rd party master mechanic look at it. odds are the transmissions and other various parts of the drive train are messed up pretty badly or at least worn down. especially since it's a GM transmission (yuck).

if it's bought off a dealership / broker demand an inspection with warranty on the items inspected. or if it's from a private owner YOU pick the mechanic to take it to for an inspection. don't just take his word of "it's good, my guy already checked it out".


I'd also not recomend this as a first car. based on what I said in the first few lines there they are maintinance nightmares. remember that a used car is a used set of problems. and since you've never had to make payments on insurance and fuel... you'll be in for a rude awakening when you see how much those will cost for that type of car. V8's and newer drivers are just money pits.
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#3 94Camaro

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Posted 12 December 2006 - 12:26 PM

Yeah...I'm gonna have to go ahead and disagree with bigred on the transmission issue...the t-56 (6 speed) used in these cars is capable of some pretty high power and are "virtually" indestructable on a fairly stock car. The 4160E's (auto) (the 93 would just have a 4l60) are a bit of a different story. While fine for stock power and street tires, when you start getting some power you'd better get a built tranny.

The big thing to look for on these cars is rear end noise. Mildly modded m6's on sticky tires have been known to grenade the rear.

Ask if the opti-spark has ever been replaced. LT1's suffered from an issue where a water pump leak would leak down on the opti-spark ignition system and the moisture would kill it. Once it's been done once, you're generally pretty safe, but if it hasn't been you can plan on needing to do it sometime. Replacing it isn't cheap.

These cars are generally driven very hard, so you do need to do as bigred suggested and get it thoroughly checked out.
He's also right that these are bad cars for a new(er) driver.

It would be good if Puck weighs in, as he's probably more knowledgable of LT1's than I am.

Edited by 94Camaro, 12 December 2006 - 12:27 PM.

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#4 bigred

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Posted 12 December 2006 - 12:57 PM

heard the same line about the ford C6. "absolutely unbreakable"... "that's why ford used em for nearly 40 years"... let me tell you something about statements like that... YEAH RIGHT. I've mangled enough of high end transmissions to know it's not the case. I'd still get it checked out.


if it was on something like a minivan.... or station wagon I'd say no worries. but any time peformance or heavy duty is a status the vehicle carries it WILL be abused.


now please don't take what I'm saying as "don't buy it". I'm just suggesting you make sure your investment is a wise one. I don't like seeing people buy a used car that breaks down on them before they're able to enjoy it.
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#5 94Camaro

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Posted 12 December 2006 - 01:11 PM

Oh, don't get me wrong. I don't mean to suggest that the t-56 is bulletproof and he shouldn't get it checked, but in general, these cars are more likely to have rear end problems before transmission problem. GM dropped the ball on the f-bodies by putting a 10-bolt back there after putting such a great engine up front.

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#6 CmpFreak88

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Posted 13 December 2006 - 08:20 PM

Alright... a big concern as I'm looking in this price range is the mileage. The mileage is on average, about 130k miles, so my question now is how much can I expect out of these cars? I know a lot depends on how the car was treated and such, but what can you typically expect? A couple of the cars for sale look nice until I call for the mileage and the owners tell me numbers as high as 230k miles. Thanks for all the help so far!

Oh... and just out of curiosity... what the heck is Optispark? I've checked forums and googled it, but the only thing I find are problems complaining about how terrible it is and how unreliable it is, but nothing that says what it is!
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#7 LoArmistead

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Posted 13 December 2006 - 08:26 PM

I'd definitely make sure the car was well maintained (test drive it, check for any strange noises at high speeds and high throttle). Those 350's are great blocks, but 130,000 miles is a lot, and if they skipped out on any oil changes, or drove it rough, the signs will definitely start to manifest at 130k if they haven't already.

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#8 Andrewr05

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Posted 13 December 2006 - 08:39 PM

Oh... and just out of curiosity... what the heck is Optispark?

It is the name of the type of distributor...

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#9 94Camaro

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Posted 13 December 2006 - 09:15 PM

Opti-Spark is the "optical spark" distributor system LT1s used. It's driven directly off the front of the camshaft, so it sits back under the water pump. Basically it uses optical sensors to determine engine speed and spark timing. Overall, it's a pretty good concept, and works well, it's just placed in a crappy environment.

If I found one with 100k give or take 10k that was well maintained for a good price, I don't think I would hesitate to buy it. I'd definitely get a compression check done.
The thing you have to remember is that you're looking at a 12 or 13 year old car that has probably been driven hard most of it's life. There are absolutely no guarantees on how it will last. Like you said, some of them have mileage into the 200k range, so the potential is there, just no guarantee.
My best advice for you is to avoid cars with any sort of aftermarket modification, except maybe exhaust or a shifter, as it just indicates how the car has been treated.

And take you time to find a car; there's no hurry. There's not really a shortage of Camaros. Yet.

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#10 Puck

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Posted 15 December 2006 - 01:48 PM

Around 100k miles for an f-bod lt1 is nothing...its aluminum heads and an iron block, and reverse cooled to cool the heads *before* the block to run high compression wihout detonating. I have a 93 with waaayyy too many mods, and more always on the way, and I'll list all the pros and cons I can think of to try to help you out as much as possible...

Pros:
Fast - Depending on the altutude and weather of your area high 13s are common bone stock. Mine ran 13.9 as an auto with just an intake. Top speed hovers right around 160mph. Acceleration is crazy.

Torque - Peak torque is very low in the rpm range for an lt1 - 330 foot pounds at the flywheel under 3k rpm is nothing to underestimate. That makes it very fun to drive, and honestly they feel faster then they actually are usually(can be a con depending on how you look at it).

Looks - The Lt1 "raccon face" looks more aggressive then the newer ls1 "catfish fash", but thats all up to personal preferance. They are both great looking cars though.

Sounds - LT1 is one of the best sounding engines ever. Period.

Strength - The iron block doesnt play...bone stock the engine can take 125 shots of nitrous safely, and more with the proper setup. I personally know people who spray 150 wet shots on the stock block with the proper precations. A fellow member of a forum I frequent tore down his 160k mile LT1 for a rebuild and it showed virtually no cylinder wear. They use similar blocks in NYC taxi cabs that go 200K+ miles with only basic maintanence.

Price - Good condition LT1s range from around 4k-6k depending on your area. Price to performance ratio is just about untouched at the track. Takes more to get to same speed as their "bigger brothers"(actually 4 cubes smaller) LS1 engines, but also significantly less initial cost.

Cons(here they come...):
Pain to work on - If you are not mechanically inclined, or know someone who is, I would be hesitant. The engine is squeezed tightly into the car, with a big part of it actually under the windshield. Clearance sucks everywhere. With stock manifolds put at the very least 2 hours aside just to change sparkplugs.

Can be problematic - If you drive hard be ready for surprise expenses. Oil leaks are more common then I'd like to say - luckily its usually the rear intake manifold and is a pretty simple and cheap fix. Sometimes the rear main will go, or the oil pan gasket. I have had all three, and none are fun...engine is cradled in the k-member so changing the pan gasket needs the engine to be lifted slightly and the k-member lowered. Another thing is that dang opti. Instead of a traditional rear mounted mechanical distributer it determines crank position by a slotted disk and an optical sensor. Great idea in theory, but the sensor is sensitive to moistiure, and its in the front of the engine under the water pump. If the water pump leaks or goes, opti usually does too. Its an expensive part but usually only changed once during the life of the car.

Interior - To be frank, it sucks. The drivers seat is comfortable, but thats about it. Very low to the ground so getting in/out is annoying, passenger side has an annoying bump on the floor from where the cat is(most people remove it anyway, but the bump is still there), back seats are just about useless, trunk is shaped funny, and there is one dang cup holder for the whole car (that last one frustrates me!) >.<. Also, the top dashboard pad gets brittle and cracked ones are common(costs around 80 bucks to replace).

Accident prone - Lots of lowend torque makes it a nuisance to drive in the rain, and if modded even on fresh dry blacktop traction is still a problem. Low visibility, lots of blind spots, cant see where the front stops because it is raked down. Tends to make you speed by accident. The car itself makes ricers constantly annoy you and try to get you to race(resist! they arent worth the risk or even the gas money). 93 has no traction control available - I seriously recommend against that if you are a new driver...these cars are seriously dangerous in the rain to people who arent experienced.

10-bolt - Curse this thing! Wheelhop and torque murders the weak stock rearend. Even if you dont ever plan on racing I suggest you get at least aftermarket lower control arms to reduce wheelhop and prolong your rearend life. Not as much of a problem in a manual where you arent dumping the clutch from high rpms, but still a problem. If you have a manual do not run slicks or drag radials unless you are financially able to repair or replace it if/when it goes.

Thats about all I can think of for now. Any other questions and I'll be glad to help...If I had a chance to go back to when I purchsed mine I would do it all again in a hearbeat. They are best for people who know how to wrench, or arent scared to learn :). 93's are a pretty different beast from the other years, I'll be glad to help you out with the differences if you want.

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#11 CmpFreak88

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Posted 20 December 2006 - 09:47 PM

Hey guys, you've been a great help so far. I'm going to look locally at a '95 Camaro with 90k miles. Owner says it's in good shape and recently took it to get serviced and says he has all reciepts and among the things he told me were fixed were the water pump and distributor. I took this as a big positive for the car. He did say though that there was a small problem with the car. He says that he can start the car and run it but then he says it just kinda stops and you have to let it sit a while... He said it was the fuel pump and he had it priced around $175 for the pump and $300 for labor... Does this sound right?

My dad knows a lot about about cars and he's going to be going to look at it with me, but I'm sure any leads in the right direction for what to look for would help! My dad seems adament that these cars are unreliable and that this problem means it's just going to be a big money hole and that I'm going to be wasting money replacing everything to figure out what it is.

Other than that though this sounds like a great car for the price, '95 Black z28 Camaro with T-Tops and the 6-speed and only 90k miles for just under $5k. To me this sounds like the car I've been looking for! Thanks again for all the help!
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#12 sdy284

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Posted 20 December 2006 - 09:51 PM

Other than that though this sounds like a great car for the price, '95 Black z28 Camaro with T-Tops and the 6-speed and only 90k miles for just under $5k. To me this sounds like the car I've been looking for! Thanks again for all the help!


I don't know about those LT1 camaro's...but most older cars with T-tops tend to end up with the T-top leaking. Does anyone know if this is a problem with this gen camaro?