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Chevrolet COPO Camaro Review: Quickest Camaro Ever Produced!

The original 1969 Chevy ZL-1 COPO Camaro saw the production of 69 cars total, and that was mirrored for 2012 with the assembly of 69 new model high performance custom and special order COPO Camaro drag racers. 2013 will see General Motors adding an additional 69 Chevrolet COPO Camaro modern muscle cars to the Chevy racing fleet. You can buy one of these COPO Camaro's, or you can buy the parts that make up the COPO for your Camaro project from Chevrolet Performance. Read on for details and links...

Video: General Motors Chevrolet COPO Camaro drag race car

This was the 1st new generation Chevrolet COPO Camaro in the 8's on the quarter mile
8.88 seconds @ 142.9 mph - Watch Video released 08-11-2012
Late August 2012 saw the new Chevy COPO Camaro drag cars showing up at drag strips & races
LS7 powered 2012 COPO Camaro testing - Watch video

The 2012 US Nationals was the 1st place to see the new Chevrolet COPO's competitively in Stock Eliminator and Super Stock drag racing.
Note: On the new Chevrolet COPO Camaro there is a build number, but no VIN, so it can't easily be registered, nor was it intended, for "on highway" use. It is a purpose-built, non-street legal muscle car drag racer. Also, the new COPO Camaro was released in 2012, but wasn't officially associated as being a 2012 model; it was simply the COPO Camaro. However, now that 2103 will see General Motors building another 69 COPO Camaro's the future will find the build year associated with the vehicle which for now means 2012 and 2013 COPO Camaro's.
The new 2012 and 2013 COPO Camaro automobile commemorates the original custom Chevy hot-rods and muscle cars of the late 60's or early 70's while at the same time being able to win races against today's competition. A few examples of the competition are the Mopar Challenger V10 Drag Pak and the Ford Mustang Cobra JetNews (10-30-2012): Ford Racing is showing off a new 5.0 Twin Turbo Cobra Jet V-8 using their EcoBoost® technology. 

Picture of the new General Motors Chevrolet COPO Camaro drag racer. This image is taken directly from the rear of the automobile.
Car picture: the Chevy COPO Camaro rear view

[pagebreak] The COPO Camaro drag strip muscle car is also designed to showcase what anyone, with the proper motivation, know-how, tools, and funds, can put together with off the shelf parts from the GM "Chevrolet Performance" division. You can build it street legal, or off-road, the choice is yours. Find out more about building a COPO Camaro, or any Chevy hot rod, on "The Block" by "Chevrolet Performance".

These are good days for the high performance automotive market because the efficiency and environmental related technology has finally caught up with the mandated and self-imposed manufacturing rules and regulations that now allow people to buy or modify their automobiles to greatly exceed the performance limits of the sports cars, hot rods, muscle cars, or any of the high performance vehicles of days gone by, especially those from the speed wars of the 1950's, 1960's, and early 70's; plus, these new modern muscle cars are far safer and more reliable than ever before. For example, it would be a fairly simple task to build a reliable and tractable 750+ horsepower Camaro with off the shelf parts from Chevrolet Performance.

Interior view picture of the new Chevy COPO Camaro factory drag racer viewed from an open drivers side door
Interior view of the new 2012-2013 Chevy COPO Camaro

History: COPO is (was) the abbreviation for “Central Office Production Order”. The Copo group deployed a custom order build system used by Chevrolet in the 1960's which was primarily utilized for fleet and special order vehicles such as trucks and company-owned cars (police cars, taxis, government vehicles, etc.). Fortunately, the "bad to the bone" high-performance 1969 ZL-1 (COPO 9560) Camaro muscle car also became available to the public through this network, via a Chevrolet dealership (Fred Gibb) and their idea on how to custom order cars.

Photocopy of an original 1969 COPO Camaro Drag World advertisement
1969 ZL1 COPO Camaro advertisement

The historic 1969 ZL-1 COPO Camaro (COPO 9560) was a purpose built "street legal" NHRA Super Stock drag-racing specialty car that included the legendary lightweight all aluminum and highly tunable ZL1 427 cu in (7.0 L) big block V-8 which was a street and strip prepped version of the Chaparral Cars Can-Am bred racing engine. This ZL1 motor also had similar specifications to the iron block L88 427, but was about 100 pounds lighter (or 200+ pounds lighter than the L-71 Tri-Power or L-72 4-barrel 427s) and this helped to balance out the traditionally nose-heavy front ends.

The Fred Gibb Chevrolet and Dick Harrell speed shop teamwork on the 1969 COPO 9560 (aluminum block ZL-1 427) Camaro factory race-car creation wasn't the only bad-ass first (1st) generation, 427 powered, tuner style Camaro muscle car being offered by Chevy dealers to terrorize the streets during the famed muscle-car wars of the late 60's/ early 70's. There was Nickey (with a backwards K) Chevrolet and Bill Thomas Camaro supercars which could be custom ordered and optioned all the way up to bad as hell. Then there was Berger Chevrolet, 2nd only to Yenko Chevrolet in the sales of COPO 9561 (heavier and less costly iron block L-72 427) Camaro's. A dealership named Dana Chevrolet also offered Camaro hot-rods which could be ordered with 427's, open headers, or anything else available at the time. Baldwin Chevrolet or Baldwin-Motion was a Chevrolet dealership who preferred to start with the L-88 427's w/ high flow aluminum heads. Dick Harrell Chevrolet also sold many modified Camaro's but was probably best remembered for his many wins racing the  #1 ZL-1 Fred Gibb COPO Camaro. Don't forget the ultra-rare Black Panther Camaro from Canadian Gorries Chevrolet which was also available with the 427.

General Motors also built an improved and modernized limited edition replica of the 1969 aluminum big block ZL1 muscle car engine called the "Anniversary Edition 427" (part #19166392) that is a hand-built, reinforced, high-performance crate engine tuned for todays no/ low lead fuels. Today's modern lightweight LS7 (Z06 Corvette) 427 (7.0L) small block (part #19211710) is also available as a crate motor. The LSA 6.2L supercharged (ZL1) rated @ 556 HP, and the LS9 6.2L supercharged (ZR1) rated @ 638 HP are available too. Also, don't forget about the racing model LSX454R crate or replacement engine which is 454 cubic inches and rated at 750+ HP and 680 lb.-ft. of torque. These are just the base engines which can be built upon: some of the more radical ones are tested to 2,500 HP. "Chevrolet Performance" (GM Performance Parts) is the high performance parts outlet for General Motors that sells all these high output engines, along with many others, and the full line of related Chevy automotive parts.

[pagebreak] Hot find: If you're interested in the history of Chevrolet, the GM Heritage Center offers some excellent free and interesting online GM Historical pamphlets and books.

Picture of the Chevrolet L88 recreated as the ZZ427/480 (480 horsepower). Like the original, it features an iron block, forged steel crankshaft and high-flow aluminum cylinder heads.
The ZZ427 (480-hp) is a recreation of the 1967-69 L88 motor available from Chevrolet Performance Parts. It features and iron block w/ aluminum heads.
Image of the GM Performance Parts aka Chevrolet Performance Parts 427 Anniversary Big Block Crate Engine
Chevrolet Performance ZL-1 motor replica - "427 Anniversary Big Block crate engine". It features aluminum block and heads. Limited to 427 units total.

Official historic 427 muscle car engine replicas or recreations made by Chevrolet (General Motors)

Anyhow, the new COPO Camaro muscle car  was clearly conceived with the same drag racing intentions as the nearly half a century old 69 COPO, in the Stock Eliminator and Super Stock NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) classes, and the new COPO is also available with the modern lightweight, and hand-built and naturally aspirated LS7 427 (7.0 L) small block, made famous by the Z06 Corvette, as one of the three power option choices.

The NHRA classes the COPO was designed to compete in generally run times in the nine second range, or better, on the quarter-mile today.

Full side view of the General Motors Chevrolet COPO Camaro

COPO specs: Also, the new Chevy COPO Camaro, or Camaro Stock Eliminator project, was in development before the new 2010 5th Generation Camaro even hit the highways. The new 3,175 to 3,250 lb COPO Camaro uses a production Camaro SS body (with the majority painted in white or black), has a standard solid Strange Engineering S-9 rear end unit with aluminum third member, 35-spline spool and 35-spline axles, 4.10:1 or 4.29:1 rear gearing, manual brakes and steering, full chrome-moly roll cage, lightweight semi-stripped interior, Hoosier racing tires (9.0/30.0R - 15 94.0 inch rear radial racing slicks with 4.5/28.0 - 15 inch fronts) with Bogart racing wheels (15 x 10 inch rear and 15 x 3.5 inch front), and a Hurst "Quarterstick"  operated a 2-spd. automatic ATI "Pro Glide" automatic transmission and torque converter designed for the strip.

"Strange Engineering" played a significant role in the performance parts selection

An picture of the LSX based 327 cubic inch 5.3-liter cast iron V8 COPO Camaro racing engine is available with either a 2.9-liter or 4.0-liter supercharger. There is also the naturally aspirated, or no supercharger, aluminum LS7 427 cubic inch 7-liter naturally aspirated engine option.
The 327 cubic inch LSX-based supercharged engine

COPO Camaro engines: These are the 3 high-performance engines to choose from. Published horsepower ratings for these COPO engines are, as is tradition, grossly underrated. The new COPO Camaro engines have a maximum recommended rpm of 7,500, and the NHRA horsepower rating is 550 hp for 4.0-liter supercharged 327, 500 hp for the 2.9-liter supercharged 327, and 425 hp for the LS7 427.

  • "A Stock" aluminum LS7-based (Holley) naturally aspirated 427 (7.0L) V-8 small block. Same displacement as the original 1969 427 COPO Camaro big block.
  • "AA Stock" cast iron supercharged, LSX-based 327 (5.3L) V-8 featuring a 2.9L twin-screw Whipple supercharger
  • "A Super Stock" cast iron supercharged, LSX-based 327 (5.3L) V-8 featuring a 4.0L twin-screw Whipple supercharger

[pagebreak]Items that all three 2012 COPO Camaro engines have in common (2 blown LSX 327's and the naturally aspirated LS7 427): Callies 4340 H-beam Ultra rods, Callies crank shafts, Clevite H-Series heat-treated tri-metal rod and main bearings, Mahle 2618 alloy forged domed pistons, Mahle .043" x .043" x 3mm piston rings, Chevrolet Performance "Ceramic Ball" high-rpm hydraulic roller tappets, 3/8" diameter LS7 pushrods, 1.8:1 ratio LS7 rocker arms with roller trunions, PSI "Max Life" beehive valve springs, Hardened steel spring seats, Fully CNC'ed aluminum cylinder heads based on LS7, 275 cc nominal intake port volume, 89 cc nominal exhaust port volume, 70 cc nominal combustion chamber volume, Del West titanium intake valves, Lightweight sodium-filled exhaust valves, Fel-Pro Performance multi-layer steel head gaskets with raised cylinder sealing bead, Internal wet sump oil pump, Deep-sump cast aluminum oil pan w/ 6-quart capacity, and 304 stainless steel headers with 2" x 30" primary with 30" merge collectors. 

Image of an LSX cast iron short block (bare block) used in the COPO Camaro
Cast Iron and bullet proof Chevrolet LSX iron V8 engine block

The 2012 version Chevrolet COPO Camaro comes with five color options (not including the Inferno Orange Metallic charity auction car): Black, Summit White, Victory Red, Silver Ice Metallic or Ashen Gray Metallic, and also includes the COPO graphics package.

Pricing: How much does the new COPO Camaro cost? Pricing for the 2012 run of 69 units started at around $89,000 USD (€72,000) (R736 000) for the 427 naturally aspirated version. Add around $10,000 USD for the big blower (4-liter) 327 engine option. There is also a help build your own engine option which adds 5 or 6 thousand USD.

Also, there is a special COPO Camaro "Collector’s Package" which offers the purchase of the automobile with all three engine options included; two crate engines and one installed in the vehicle at delivery, with all numbers matching.

The COPO Camaro is offered as performance part number (P/N) 20129562. The body shell alone is also available under Chevrolet Performance part number 19243374. Deliveries started in the summer of 2012.

Interesting individual specs for the new 2012 COPO Camaro's (The first years 2012 special assembly run of 69 Chevy COPO Camaro racers included the following unique specs):

  • 1 COPO Camaro was painted in the Inferno Orange Metallic color (a convertible)
  • 2 were painted the Silver Ice Metallic color
  • 2 COPO's used the Ashen Grey Metallic paint color
  • 12 of the 2012 COPO's were purchased with the Victory Red color
  • 20 of the 2012 COPO Camaro's were painted Black
  • 32 COPO's were painted in Summit White (this included Chevrolets original show car seen in the picture gallery)
  • 12 cars were ordered without the COPO Camaro graphics package
  • 67 2012 built COPO Camaro's were coupes and the other 2 were convertibles
  • 8 COPO Camaro modern muscle cars were ordered with the Collector’s Package which included 1 of each of the 3 engine options. The 3 included COPO Camaro engines were number matched to the vehicle.
  • 43 cars were sold with the naturally aspirated 427 cubic inch 7-liter engine option
  • 20 COPO's included the 327 cubic inch engine with a 4.0-liter supercharger
  • 6 of the new COPO Camaro's were built with the 327 cubic inch 2.9-liter supercharger option
This is COPO Camaro number 69 which is the last Chevy COPO Camaro for 2012. Number 68 and 69 were the only convertibles made out of 69 total units. 2013 will see another 69 COPO Camaro's. This picture is of the front passenger side of the COPO Camaro drag racer with the soft top down and stowed. The convertible top is fully functional
Front passenger side view of 2012 factory COPO Camaro convertible dragster.

Rear drivers side picture of the last 2012 Chevrolet COPO Camaro drag racer built for 2012, number 69 of 69, has a 327 cubic inch engine with a 4.0L supercharger and is the only Inferno Orange Metallic painted COPO Camaro out of this first run of 69 units. It was also the only COPO Camaro built with a Turbo 400 three-speed automatic transmission in the new Chevy COPO's first year since 1969. Lastly, it is one of only two COPO Camaro convertibles made for 2012. 2013 will see another run of 69 new Chevrolet COPO Camaros.
Inferno Orange Metallic 2012 Chevy COPO Camaro convertible factory drag racer.
This car was number 69 of 69 and was the last COPO built for 2012.

[pagebreak]COPO Camaro convertible dragster: The COPO Camaro convertible pictured above was one of two COPO Camaro convertibles built during the first years (2012) run of 69 total units, and yes, the convertible tops are fully functional. This (#69) convertible muscle car is powered by the Chevy 327 cubic inch engine with a 4.0-liter supercharger and was the only COPO Camaro equipped with a a Turbo 400 three-speed automatic transmission, and also the only 2012 car painted in Inferno Orange Metallic. It was built for auction to help the American Heart Association. The two 2012 convertibles were production number 68 and 69. Black COPO Camaro convertible number 68 was set aside by Chevrolet for the "GM Heritage Center" collection. Number 69 (pictured above) was the final 2012 COPO Camaro. The 69 2013's COPO Camaro's are on the way.

Note: What kind of times is the COPO Camaro running in the quarter mile?

We'll post and compare official quarter mile time's right here as the new COPO Camaro's hit the track. Stay tuned...

COPO Camaro Quarter miles times (402 meters)
Where: Who: Engine: Date: Time: @ speed:
  Black COPO Camaro car #3 327 (5.3-liter) V8 w/ 4.0L Whipple-charger August 2012 8.88 seconds*1 142.9 mph
Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, OH Lingenfelter Performance Engineering #19   September
159.12 mph
 41st Annual Dutch Classic, Maple Grove, PA COPO Camaro #3
Paul Cambria
327 (5.3-liter) V8 w/ 4.0L Whipple-charger October
12, 2012
161.44 mph

*1 First ever public run with the new gen COPO Camaro (car #3). Claims are #1 was a prototype and #2 is a museum piece
*2 Lingenfelter COPO Camaro #19 shakedown run of their new car . Factory stock except LNC-2000 two step, shock settings and a raised rev limiter 

The COPO Camaro's first competitive drag racing public appearances were in Indianapolis, IN, USA at the 58th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Auto-Plus on Aug. 29-Sept. 3, 2012. Results are posted on the NHRA site.

2012 COPO Camaro videos: Following is video footage of the new 2012 COPO Camaro drag racers as they show up on the strips. There are a total of 69 2012 COPO Camaro's. Information is accurate to the best of our knowledge.

2013 COPO Camaro videos: This area is reserved for the 2013 run of another 69 Chevrolet COPO Camaro drag racers.

  • COPO #01: coming soon...
  • COPO....

Also, as mentioned previously, don't forget to check out "Chevrolet Performance" ("GM Performance Parts" is now known as "Chevrolet Performance"), they stock high performance engines and parts. We also have a wallpaper quality Flickr picture slide-show, featuring GM Performance Parts drag racing driver Warren Johnson, demonstrating a few of the Flickr icon Chevrolet Performance aka GM Performance Parts.

Review a bit of Chevy Camaro history on the gen 1, gen 2, gen 3,  and gen 4 Camaro's on our blog. Generation 5 Camaro models, and up, will generally be covered on this web site. We also have a Camaro historical photo index.

Most information for this article was gathered from various GM news sources. Please inform "The Company" of any typos, data errors, or relevant information which would correct, upgrade, or improve upon any article. Note: most images are generally © General Motors. Also, our articles are constantly updated with new, or updated, material so check back often!

Don't forget the 2012 COPO Camaro wallpaper quality Picture Gallery


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