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The Car That Put Yenko Chevrolet On The Map

Yenko Stinger Chevrolet Corvair Performance Muscle Car
Yenko Stinger-Mecum Glendale 2021

Pretty much everyone and their auntie knows what’s up when it comes to Don Yenko’s super fabulous Camaro performance cars. Those with a little more dedication will dish hot takes on the Chevelle and Nova muscle cars that rolled out of the Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, dealership. But almost no one is talking about these rare Chevrolet Corvair-based Yenko Stinger performance cars.

The Yenko Stinger was born from Don Yenko’s frustration on the race track. He was getting trounced by Mark Donohue and his famous Mustang, and the only way he could stay loyal to the Chevrolet brand and win races was to build his own car.

Yenko Stinger-Mecum Glendale 2021

In fact, the run of 100 Corvair-based Stingers that Yenko and crew quickly built during December 1965 to meet SCCA homologation requirements is where the legendary COPO manipulator got his start.

Through GM’s Central Office Production Order (COPO) system, Yenko ordered 100 Ermine White Chevrolet Corvair Corsa two-door sport coupes with 4-speed manual transmissions, Positraction, 3.55 rear end gears, and upgraded suspension and steering kit.

Yenko Stinger-Mecum Glendale 2021

Once the cars reached Yenko’s shop the cars were torn apart and built back up. The rear seats were removed, sail panels were installed over the quarter glass to change the car’s profile, and a blue triple racing stripe was laid over the white paint. A new fiberglass decklid was added, complete with an integrated spoiler and adjustable air scoops, and all the Chevrolet badging was replaced with Yenko Stinger decals.

In order to turn the Yenko Stinger into a proper race car, it needed a new suspension. Yenko modified the chassis, adding stiffer rear springs with Monroe double-action shocks, and a Cadillac dual master-cylinder was added to beef up the braking performance.

Yenko Stinger-Mecum Glendale 2021

Mechanically the cars were offered in four states of tune. The base-level brought a 20-hp bump over the factory’s 140-hp rating thanks to some mild fettling of the four factory-installed Rochester carburetors, new Moraine conrods and bearings, hardening the crankshaft, adding a fan belt tensioner, and installing a larger seven-quart oil pan.

Stage II bumped power to 190 hp courtesy of a high-performance camshaft, heavy-duty valve springs, modified pistons with notched crowns, a polished crankshaft, a bump in compression to 10.0:1, and a lightweight flywheel.

Stage III yielded 220 hp, and brought an even higher compression ratio of 10.5:1, plus ported and polished cylinder heads, forged pistons, and a high-performance distributor. Stage IV stretched things out to 240 hp and was strictly for the track. When completed, each car would get a Yenko Stinger serial number plate.

Yenko Performance Stinger Chevrolet Corvair
Yenko Stinger-Mecum Glendale 2021

This Yenko Stinger Chevrolet Corvair wears Yenko Serial No. YS-050 and is the 50th of the first 100 cars built in December ‘65. The car was built with the Stage II tune and it’s already undergone a full mechanical and cosmetic restoration.

It will be crossing the auction block with no reserve during Mecum’s Glendale 2021 auction which will run from March 18-21.

Written by Michael Accardi

Michael refuses to sit still, he's held multiple hands-on automotive jobs throughout his career. Along with being an investigative writer and accomplished photographer, Michael works for several motorsports organizations.

He was part of the Ford GT program at Multimatic, oversaw a fleet of Audi TCR race cars, has ziptied Lamborghini Super Trofeo cars back together, been over the wall in the Rolex 24, and worked in the cut-throat world of IndyCar.

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