While most concept cars never reach real-life proportions, every once in a while, a concept car with real-life possibilities tours the auto-show circuit. The Chevrolet California IROC Camaro concept car, built for the 1989 show audience, ranked as one of the most promising concept cars. During its debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show in January of that year, it attracted plenty of attention from Californians and visitors alike.
And why not? The Chevrolet California IROC Camaro was a curvaceously fluid vision of tomorrow, bound to excite both long-standing Camaro fans and people who had never experienced the rush of exhilaration a sporty 2+2 coupe can deliver.
Just a glance at the amount of glass revealed the car's California influence and the attempt to lure the eyes of western-state motorists, in particular. No surprise, then, that the design emerged from the General Motors Advanced Design Concept Center at Newbury Park, California. Center director John Schinella described the Chevrolet California IROC Camaro's form as "smooth, rounded-yet aggressive" and ready to "take in the California sunshine." You had to look pretty hard to find any angles or sharp edges in the shapely profile, which rode a wheelbase some three inches longer than the contemporary Camaro, though it was almost half a foot shorter from stem to stern.
Most striking of the design features -- beyond the dramatically flamboyant glass, which wrapped around most of the roof -- was the aggressively pointy (if rounded) dip-down nose. Viewed in conjunction with the elongated headlight housings, the wide air intake slot above the integrated bumper made Camaro's front end look like the grin of a hungry, yet patient, fish. The sloping hood swooped into a sharply raked windshield, creating a streamlined look that almost made the attractive contemporary Camaro seem stodgy by comparison.
Tall, rounded wheel wells surrounded the front and rear tires, while the inwardly-curved, lower bodysides rode close to the ground. Flush-mounted side glass and mirrors hovering at the end of elongated, integrated nacelles completed the startling aero appearance. Even though the side pillars weren't exactly tiny, they were barely noticed because of the fluidity of the Chevrolet California IROC Camaro's packaging.
While the car displayed a distinct forward rake, the back end wasn't as tall as some -- it didn't look like it was about to dive head first into the ground. Slimly tapered tail lamps and a sliver of spoiler blended neatly into the rear flanks. The glass hatchback opened fully, all the way down to the bulky, integrated bumper, revealing a sizable luggage compartment.
Keep reading for more information on the design of the 1989 Chevrolet California IROC Camaro concept car.