Chevrolet Camaro Yenko S/C Sport Coupe
Donald Frank Yenko was a Chevrolet dealer in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, about twenty-five miles south of Pittsburgh. He was a man interested in performance. A big-time Chevy racer, he earned four SCCA national titles including 1962 and 1963 while driving a Corvette in the SCCA B/production class. He began his foray into specially-modified Chevrolets to bear his name in 1965 with the formation of Yenko Sports Cars. He set about building 200 Yenko Stingers, specially-modified and prepared Chevrolet Corvairs. The effort was so successful that one Stinger with Jerry Thompson as driver went on to win the 1966 National Championship in SCCA D/Production class. Ralph Nader did not comment.
Chevrolet introduced its sporty Camaro “pony car” in 1967, at long last giving the division a competitor to the incredibly popular Ford Mustang. The biggest available engine in the new F-body was the L-78 396/375-hp Turbo Jet V-8. Yet it was neither big enough nor powerful enough for Don Yenko. Always looking for a solution to his quest for more performance, Yenko took delivery of a new Camaro in 1967, pulling out the 350 cid V-8 and dropping in a Corvette L-72 427 cid V-8. His racing connections gave him access to the legendary Zora Arkus-Duntov and the new Mark IV L-72 engine. On the other hand, the engine swap was not as easy as it might seem. The troublesome transplant took place in Yenko’s own shops. After adding a bit of additional heavy-duty hardware and some image enhancements, one of the supercars of muscle cars was born. Fifty-four of the new 425 hp/427 cid Mark IV V-8s found their way into the engine bays of Camaros that first year, a remarkably high number considering the complicated conversion process and the high retail price. Word quickly spread that the Yenko Camaros were fast, and their desirability meant more customers. Another 64 were sold in 1968, this time using an SS396 Camaro as the donor – a process made much easier as the external dimensions of the 396 and 427 cid motors were the same.
Under the hood, COPO number 9561 supplied Yenko Sports Cars with iron-block 427 Camaros, thereby making Yenko’s job much easier – no more pesky transplants. Cars began arriving at Yenko’s Canonsburg shop in January of 1969. The COPO 9561 Camaros were delivered with a standard 4.10 Code BE 12-bolt live rear axle and heavy duty suspension, J52 power disc/rear drum brakes and 14x7-inch stamped steel wheels with dog dish hubcaps. Also included was the ZL2 cowl induction hood, dual rear exhausts, Code 711 black vinyl bucket seat interior, and a 140-mph speedometer. Yenko’s shop would install the distinctive graphics in 3M black or white vinyl (reportedly local youths were paid $5 per car to install the graphics), a D80 front spoiler (and optional Z/28 rear spoiler), 427 and Yenko exterior emblems, Stewart-Warner auxiliary gauges and a 7,000-rpm tachometer, a center-mounted fuel gauge and Code YH 15x7 Rally Wheels or optional Atlas 5-spoke mags on which were mounted E70x15 Goodyear bias ply tires. Optional was a black vinyl roof. The car (and secret) was literally . . . out the door for about $4,700 before extras.
This Yenko Camaro remains a remarkable time capsule example. All body panels appear to be original to the car with no reproduction or replacement metal to be found anywhere on the car. All factory spot welds and braze marks are intact. With the exception of the hood, the car appears to have its original Fathom Green “Magic Mirror” lacquer finish. While there is no evidence of bodywork to the hood, the Yenko decal is painted on. There is evidence of checking to the original side decals, which are in extraordinary condition. The same is true for the exterior paint finish at various locations. In addition, there are typical surface scratches and rub marks indicative of its age and not unlike what is to be expected of an over 40-year-old vehicle. Amazingly, it still has its original quarter panels which are stenciled inside with “SYC” in yellow.
This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in November of 2010 at the Robson Estate, Gainesville, Georgia.
450 hp, 427 cid OHV V-8 engine, Muncie M-21 four-speed manual transmission with Positraction rear axle, J52 power-assisted front disc/rear drum brakes, heavy-duty front and rear suspension with leaf springs and live rear axle. Wheelbase: 108.1"
Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Aaron Summerfield and Darin Schnabel