In the mid to late ’60s, Chevrolet had an internal directive that no engine larger than 400 cubic inches would be installed in a production car. Drag racing was a big deal in those days, and the Chevy brand was at risk of falling behind in the horsepower wars at the hands of Chrysler’s mighty Hemi. Like Chrysler, Ford also had no self imposed limit on engine size, so they too were getting in on the big block action.
A few days ago I wrote about a pair of Yenko Camaro’s that were on display at the Toronto Auto Show. What made these cars so special was the big 427 cubic inch V-8 that had been installed at Yenko Chevrolet. The only problem with the Yenko cars was that the cars were not eligible to race as part of the Chevy team because they were not actually produced by Chevy.
That internal limit still existed, so the Chevrolet boys bent their own rules by working with a little known model designation in 1969. The Central Office Production Order was released to create a small number of Camaros that had an L-72 V-8 installed on the production line. The order also included disc brakes, a limited slip 4.10 rear end, thicker front sway bar and a 4 core racing radiator. Buyers had a choice between a 4 speed manual or automatic transmission. Records show that 201 COPO Camaros were built in ’69, with only 30 of them being equipped with the automatic tranny.
The car in the pictures is one of those 30 cars. It was actually shipped to Sweden in the early Seventies and has only changed hands a few times. The car was even driven in the Midnight Sun Rally in Sweden.
At first glance, this car is far from being a show car, but looks can be deceiving, as it is one seriously complete and original machine. The black interior is all original, which is apparently somewhat of a rarity given the number of these cars that were raced. The entire drivetrain, right down to the COPO wheels are original. The engine has been rebuilt at some point, but the original block has been retained. It even comes with a spare radiator and carb, both of which are correct COPO pieces.
Perhaps it is the economy, perhaps it is the rather shabby looking exterior, but this is another car that did poorly at the Auctions America event in Fort Lauderdale. It was expected that this original COPO Camaro would sell for over $100,000 but it ended up selling for just $75,900.
Many folks in the car collecting hobby actually buy on speculation. Whoever bought this COPO got a great deal and when the market rebounds, they will likely come close to doubling their investment.