COPO Camaro. COPO a load of this! Tony runs the rule over a very special find at the annual Chryslers at Brooklands event in Surrey – a rare, collectable and valuable special order Camaro, newly arrived in the UK…
One the best venues for an American car show has to be the legendary Brooklands Museum in Surrey. It was the first purpose-built motor racing circuit and opened in 1907, closing in 1939 as the Second World War began. The concrete surfaced banked track has only survived in small sections, the complete 2.75-mile track sadly lost to the hands of developers and poor town planning decisions.
Putting that aside, the museum trust is highly active in the old car hobby and handles major aviation projects with a varied and busy event schedule throughout the year. The annual Chryslers at Brooklands event is always full of surprises and this year’s bash provided a jaw-dropping humdinger of a muscle car that stopped me and many others dead in their tracks. There, parked on the newly renovated start/finish line, basking in the May sunshine sat a 1969 COPO Camaro finished in glorious black paint.
For those not familiar with this model the COPO is the ultimate, all-time collector dream car, as it had to be specially ordered and hence not many were produced. Factor in a 427cu in V8 and you have one of the hottest factory option muscle cars on the planet.
COPO is an abbreviation for Central Office Production Order, a process that General Motors used in the Sixties for fleet managers to order unusual combinations of options on their cars, mostly used for taxis, local government vehicles and other oddball groupings. However to order the mother of all Camaros, COPO options 9560, 9561 and 9737 gave you the 400cu in plus V8-motivated Chevrolets.
The 9560 and 9561 were basically the same kind of Camaro except the 9561 gave you an all-aluminium, butt-kicking solid lifter ZL1 427cu in V8. Making a conservative 425 horses, in reality it was the most powerful Chevrolet engine of the time, the 9560 427cu in powered engine still came with a cast iron block. The third COPO available was 9737 which could combine the other two versions with either engines, a 140mph speedometer and 15″x 7″ rally wheels; this became known as the Sports Car Conversion model. All COPO cars came with the full GM warranty, were emissions certified and road legal. Only 1015 of the 9561 models were built, with 201 orders from Don Yenko Chevrolet and 75 shipped to Canada and two were sent to racing legend Bob Jane of Australia, who raced the cars in the Australian Touring Car championship.
Back to the car seen here: this 1969 COPO Camaro is a fresh import into the UK and is simply stunning. The owner, Steve Henry from Wokingham, Berkshire, found the car in Brussels, Belgium where a deal was struck.
The Camaro began life at the General Motors assembly plant in Norwood, Ohio when in November 1969 it was completed and shipped to Gates Chevrolet, South Bend, Indiana where the first owner, Kevin Gray of Pennsylvania, held on to it until 1978. The next owner, Terry Edgar from the same state, sold it in 1985 to another Pennsylvanian and the car had a complete restoration from 2012 to 2016 by Larry Lap.
The Camaro then moved on to Brussels. Its specifications are truly awesome – the options list reads like a muscle car lover’s dream.
The numbers-matching 427cu in V8, L72, 425bhp high-performance motor is backed up by a Muncie four-speed close ratio transmission and the power to the ground is adequately handled by a 12-bolt heavy duty limited slip rear end. The stock steel dog dish wheels were clad with F70 x 14″ red line performance series tyres, while stopping duties are taken care of by factory power front disc-brakes.
Finished in Tuxedo Black with a black vinyl trim, the car has soft ray tinted glass all round with strato bucket seats, head restraints and front shoulder belts. A 140mph speedometer came as standard and the cushioned rim tilt steering wheel was an option, while the odometer shows a genuine 33,000 miles. Total cost for the 1969 Camaro came out at around $6200, back in the day a huge amount; however, over $3000 was for the engine alone – performance always comes at a price. The car is absolutely faultless and a fabulous example of a very scarce breed. Check this baby out if it visits a show you are attending as it definitely does not disappoint!
Mighty 427cu in motor. Muncie 4-speed “box does shifting duties.