The COPO Camaros of the late 1960’s are some of the most sought after and valuable pieces of Detroit muscle to ever roll out of the factory. The brainchild of Illinois-based Chevrolet dealer Fred Gibb, the COPO Camaro program was started in 1969 in order to make the Chevrolet Camaro more competitive in Stock Eliminator drag racing, which utilized production-based vehicles. Despite the Central Office Production Order process being intended for use with fleet vehicle services, Gibb managed to convince Chevrolet to let him spec some Camaros with the all-aluminum ZL1 427 cubic-inch V8 racing engine. Thanks to its lightweight aluminum components, the ZL1 427 engine weighed around 100 pounds less than the iron-block 396 big block engine offered in the Camaro, all while producing more power. A total of 69 of these factory-built racers were produced in 1969, the same number that Chevrolet has produced during each year since the 2012 reintroduction of COPO Camaro program. Chevy has just announced that orders are now open for the 2020 COPO Camaro.
The teaser photo above is actually just a black and white image of a stock photo of the eCOPO Camaro from last year’s SEMA Show. Recently, the all-electric COPO Camaro attempted to sell at a Russo and Steele auction, but the reserve was not met, and the car was not sold.
Like their historic predecessors, modern COPO cars are built to dominate the drag strip. For the 2019 model year, potential customers had the freedom to spec one of three different engines: an LSX-based 350 cubic-inch V8 with a jackshaft-driven 2.65-liter Magnuson supercharger, a naturally aspirated LT-based 302 cubic-inch V8, or the mighty LSX-based 427 cubic-inch V8 engine that mirrors the original car. The 302 has an NHRA power rating of 360 horsepower, while the 427 is rated at 470 horsepower, and the supercharged 350 comes in at 580 horsepower. But based on the sheer physics of what the COPO Camaro can achieve in terms of drag times, we can smell the obvious underwriting from here.
While that figure seems ludicrously small in the era of hellacious muscle cars, these COPO Camaros put that power to good use. Routed through an exclusive solid rear axle via a beefed-up TH400 automatic transmission, that power allows the COPO Camaro to run an 8.5 second 1/4 mile, more than a whole full faster than the Dodge Demon. However, that type of shove requires serious safety equipment, like a full roll cage, an optional wheelie bar and a parachute package. It should come as no surprise then that the COPO is not road legal, instead it is intended to race in the NHRA Stock and Super Stock classes. We expect the same capabilities from the 2020 COPO Camaro.
If you’ve always dreamed of owning a COPO Camaro of your own but don’t quite have the mountain of cash it takes to pick up a 1969 car, head on over to Chevrolet Performance’s order page here to apply for a 2020 COPO Camaro build slot.