Chevrolet Camaro COPO

The first-generation Chevrolet Camaro appeared on September 26, 1966, for the 1967 model year on an all brand new rear-wheel drive GM F-body platform and would be available as a 2-door, 2+2 seat, coupe or convertible with a choice of six-cylinder and V8 powerplants. The first-gen Camaro would last up through the 1969 model year.

The Camaro's standard drivetrain was a 3.8L straight-6 engine rated at 140 hp and backed by a Saginaw three-speed manual transmission. There were 8 (in 67), 10 (in 68), and 12 (in 69) different engines available in 67-69 Camaros. And there were several transmission options. A four-speed manual was optional, replacing the base three-speed. The two-speed "Powerglide" automatic transmission was a popular option in 1967 and 1968 until the three-speed "Turbo Hydra-Matic 350" automatic became available starting in 1969. The larger Turbo 400 three-speed automatic was an option on SS396 cars.

A GM corporate edict forbade Chevrolet from installing engines larger than 6.6L. Requests from dealers (notably Don Yenko) who were dealer-installing 7.0L engines in the Camaro caused Chevrolet to use an ordering process usually used on fleet and special orders (taxis, trucks, etc.) to offer 427 engines in the Camaro. Two Central Office Production Orders (COPO), numbers 9560 and 9561, were offered in the 1969 model year.

The COPO 9561 used the solid lifter L72 big-block engine, making an underrated 425 hp gross. Yenko ordered 201 of these cars to create the now-legendary Yenko Camaro. Other dealers also became aware of the L72 engine package and ordered it. Around 900-1,000 Camaros were fitted with the L72 engine option.

The COPO 9560 used an all-aluminum 7.0L big-block called the ZL-1 and was designed specifically for drag racing. The package was conceived by drag racer Dick Harrell, and ordered through Fred Gibb Chevrolet in La Harpe, IL, with the intention of entering NHRA Super Stock drag racing. Just 69 ZL-1 Camaros were produced, the engine alone cost over US$4,000 — nearly twice that of a base coupe with a V8. Though rated at 430 hp gross, the ZL-1 made 376 SAE Net HP in its "as installed" state. With exhaust changes and some tuning, the horsepower jumped to over 500.

The ZL1 engines were hand assembled in a process that took 16 hours each, in a room that Corvette Chief Engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov described as "surgically clean". All ZL1 engines were manufactured at the Tonawanda Assembly Plant before being installed in Corvettes, Camaros, or sold over the counter to racers.

This green Camaro is documented with valuable GM of Canada records. This immaculate 1969 COPO 427 Camaro is one of approximately 80 COPO 9561 L72-equipped Camaros exported into Canada and is one of only 4 known COPO cars finished in Rally Green. A complete frame-off nut-and bolt-restoration was performed with extensive use of original and NOS parts, including original XT wheels and Uniroyal Tiger paws. The engine is a correct replacement CE block 427/425 HP unit, mated to an M21 4-speed and 4.10 Positraction rear end; power front disc brakes are also part of the equipment list. This exceptionally rare COPO comes with owner history and has been inspected and certified by Camaro expert Jerry McNeish.

The silver and blue Camaros were featured in a January 2013 Mecum Auction in Kissimmee, Florida.

Source: Mecum Auctions; Russo and Steele as part of the Scottsdale event in January, 2015

Gallery: Chevrolet Camaro COPO