AJ’s “Badass Friday” Car of the Day: 1969 Chevrolet “COPO” Camaro Coupe

AJ’s “Badass Friday” Car of the Day: 1969 Chevrolet “COPO” Camaro Coupe

Car: Chevrolet “COPO” Camaro Coupe

Year: 1969

What makes it special: For their 1969 model year, the Chevrolet Division of General Motors offered a wide range of V8’s for the Camaro, the largest and most powerful being the aluminum block 427 cu in V8 known as the ZL1. When stuffed into the pony car, it could easily run circles around most Chevrolet Corvettes on the street. The ZL1 came as per request by Fred Gibb, who needed a more potent option for NHRA Drag Racing. A minimum of 50 such-equipped Camaro’s had to be made to qualify the ZL1 for racing designation, and eventually 69 were ordered. It was intended only for professional drag racers that could recoup its expensive list price for that time period.

What made it famous: The ZL1 was Central Office Production Order ( or just “COPO”) number 9560, that could be specially ordered for an added $4,160 over the base price of a Camaro. This internal fleet order helped to overcome GM’s restrictions on Chevrolet models only offering up to 400 cubic inch displacement in a Camaro. Since COPO was really meant for special paint and options on commercial vehicles, the ZL1’s were not exempt from any warranties and were 100% street legal. The V8 was originally created for the Can-Am Chaparral, using cylinder heads similar to the L88 engine but with an all-aluminum block. It had wet-sump lubrication, a K66 transistorized ignition system and a mechanical fuel pump could be used. It was fed by a single Holley 4-barrel, was the most powerful engine GM offered to the buying public and produced about 500 hp. It was backed-up by a new posi-traction rear with a larger pinion and axle gearing. With stock tires, a ZL1 could run down the quarter-mile in the low 13’s.

Why I would want one: Being these were extremely powerful, low production number offerings, they are not only rare and desirable by collectors, but also command huge prices in today’s collector car market.

Fun fact: The ZL1 Camaro began life as a 396 Super-Sport body, but was fitted with the F41 suspension, ZL2 Cowl-Induction hood, heavy-duty front springs and brakes, and a 4-speed, sometimes ordered with the M21 close-ratio transmission.
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