In the 1960s two of the big three, Chevrolet
, each had
their own secret weapons in the form of racecar drivers turned muscle car
builders. Ford had the recently
deceased Carroll Shelby
modifying Mustangs for SCCA use and sale,
whereas Chevy had the late Don Yenko modifying a wide array of their muscle
cars, the most popular being the Camaro. Yenko also ran multiple Chevy
dealerships where the bulk of his creations were sold.
In 1967 and 1968, Yenko was dropping 427 cubic-inch monsters
from Corvettes into Camaro
and creating some of the most powerful Camaros of the era. One of Yenko’s
crowning achievements came in 1969 when Yenko was tired of selling Camaros with
limited warranties because of his modifications and convinced Chevy to add a
427-equipped Camaro to its special equipment ordering system, known as COPO.
This addition of the 427-equipped Camaro to COPO made it
possible for Yenko to sell these cars with the GM-standard 5-year or
50,000-mile warranty. Yenko ordered a grand total of 198 of the Camaro 427s
available from COPO. The total number of COPO Camaros produced and sold is
unknown, but has been rumored as anywhere from 500 to 1,000.
With exception of the 427 jammed into the engine
compartment, the Camaro 427s came from COPO with almost nothing identifying
them as a special model; they even came with the old dog dish hubcaps on steel
wheels. Yenko made sure to order his from COPO with 15-inch rally wheels, a
front stabilizer bar, and a 140 mph speedometer. The rest of the customization
was all Yenko’s doing.
Transmission: Muncie M21 rock crusher four-speed
Horsepower @ RPM: 450 @ 5600
Quarter Mile time: 13.5 sec.
Quarter Mile speed: 105 mph
This particular Yenko Camaro came straight from COPO bearing
only its LeMans Blue paint, 15-inch rally wheels, and the other bare essentials
that the base-level Camaro featured. Yenko primarily just added some badges and
decals to the exterior of the COPO Camaro to make it stand out.
Yenko began by slapping a pair of white racing stripes down
the reversed hood scoop on the Camaro’s hood. He also added an “sYc” decal to
the front of the hood, which stands for “Yenko Super Car.” Down the side of the
Camaro is a thin white pinstripe that gets thicker on the rear quarter panel
and has “Yenko/SC” stamped into the thicker part of it.
On the front fenders you have the standard “Camaro” badge.
Just below this badge you have the Yenko emblem that pretty much tells all of
the competition that this Camaro is not to be messed with.
At the back end, you have a roughly 6-inch lip spoiler. Near
the center of the black taillight panel you’ll see one of the few “427” badges
on this Camaro, as well as the Yenko emblem. Below the chrome bumper sets your
basic dual exhaust system, which is just as simple as you’d expect from a
muscle car of the `60s.
The entire exterior has been through a complete restoration
and appears to be in top condition. All you need to do is take it to shows!
The interior of the COPO-ordered 1969 Yenko Camaro was
basically the exact same as the standard 1969 Camaro. It featured a
plastic-rimmed, two-post steering wheel, faux leather seats, an AM radio, and
obligatory chrome strips throughout. The standard Camaro also features basic
instrumentation, like speedometer, clock, and fuel gauge.
Where the Yenko Camaro differed was the addition of a large
tachometer mounted on the steering column, three gauges just below the radio
and “sYc” embroidered on each headrest on the front seats.
Just like the exterior, the interior has been 100 percent
restored to its original factory specifications. That is just about it on the
interior, as Yenko planned these cars for racing, not amenities.
Now to the place where Yenko pretty much lived, under the
hood. When Don Yenko first received the 427-equipped Camaro’s from Chevy, they
pumped out a respectable 425 horsepower. Yenko added in a set of headers and
freer flowing exhaust, which was good for pumping this 427 engine up to 450
horsepower at 5,600 rpm and 460 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm. Sitting atop
this big-block V-8 is a single four-barrel carburetor.
On the inside, this 427 cubic-inch engine was built for
power. The solid lifters limited the peak rpm, but can take a near limitless
amount of power without compromising their structural integrity. The 11.0-to-1
compression ratio is massively high, which means this engine requires
high-octane fuel or a lead substitute.
Connected to the engine’s flywheel is a Muncie M21 rock
crusher four-speed transmission, which gets its name from the loud grinding
noise it makes between shifts. The transmission throws the engine power into a
4.10-to-1 posi-traction rear end, which makes this car about unbearable on the
highway, but a screamer on the track.
All of this muscle develops into a respectable 5.4-second
0-to-60 mph time. It also zips this Yenko Camaro through a quarter-mile track
in just 13.5 seconds at 105 mph.
The front suspension, as expected, is an independent system.
However, in order to handle the additional weight of the 427 engine, Chevy
fitted the COPO Camaro with the heavy-duty Z/28 front coil springs. There is
also an anti-roll bar keeping the front end tidy and straight under hard
cornering. At each corner of the Camaro you have Goodyear Polyglass tires, the
standard tires on nearly every classic restoration.
The rear suspension on the COPO Camaro is a
standard-for-the-era inverted coil spring system with shock absorbers.
The front brakes on the 1969 Yenko Camaro were of the disc
variety and were power assisted to help slow this pig down. The rear brakes
were you run-of-the-mill drums, but they did feature power assist.
Just as you would expect from a 1-of-198 car, it is
expensive. Legendary Motorcar Company had this COPO-ordered 1969 Yenko Camaro
up for sale on Ebay for 220,000. That’s actually a very fair price, considering
NADA has its value pegged at $285,000 at high retail. Given this car only has
10,803 miles on its ticker that $285K price tag is about the range of this car.
There really is no competition for this COPO-ordered 1969
Yenko Camaro. Not even the `69 Shelby
and GT500 could stand up to it, in term of rarity and value.
YOU ARE NOT JUST BUYING PARTS – YOU ARE GETTING OUR CAMARO EXPERTISE
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