Friday, March 1, 2013

Difference Between the Yenko Camaro and the COPO Camaro

A lot of people may know of the Yenko and the COPO Camaro, but not too many people know what the difference is. Of course, if you are a diehard Camaro fan with a lot of knowledge of the first generation Camaros, you probably know some or all of the facts, but just in-case you don't, here is a little bit of education.

In 1967, Don Yenko, owner of Don Yenko Chevrolet, contacted General Motors and ordered 54 Camaros straight from the factory. He then took out the existing 396-cubic-inch engines and placed his own 427 cubic-inch engines in them that produced 423-hp. He also took it upon himself to add other goodies to the cars to make them more drag strip ready. The only problem was that these cars were not allowed to race for Chevy in the IHRA or NHRA stock or super stock classes because they were modified with different motors after they came from the factory.

The process of converting the Camaro into Yenko's was labor extensive, included having the problem of getting rid of the extra 396 cubic-inch motors that originally came with the Camaro. With those problems and the fact that Chevy was not benefiting from the process at the race track, the ideal for the COPO Camaro was born.

COPO stands for (Central Office Production Ordered) and contrary to popular belief the COPO division was not started and or was designated for the Camaro.  COPO actually was formed for specialized ordered taxi cabs, special color fleet cars and low production utility trucks, and if you wanted a special ordered Camaro it fell in that category.

So really the difference between a 1967, 1968 Yenko Camaro and the 1969 COPO Camaro is the name, badges and the fact the upgrades the COPO Camaro received came right from the factory. With Don Yenko's connections to GM and GM's participation, the Yenko Camaro would go down as a very valuable piece of Camaro history and the COPO Camaro would grow to be a Muscle Car Legend.

Letting the Yenko project go also helped Don Yenko by lifting the financial responsibility that he had to his costumers. Since he was altering the cars after they left the factory, the factory warranty would be void and would leave Don Yenko responsible for the financial down-fall of the cars that needed to be repaired. But if the Camaros were built at the factory already with the powerful upgraded parts, the warranty would be honored by GM, and even better, the Camaros would be allowed to race in the IHRA and NHRA classes.  

So in a nutshell - the difference really is only that one was built in a factory while the other was upgraded at the Don Yenko Dealership.