What's a COPO, you ask? Back in the heyday of American muscle cars, COPO was an acronym for Central Office Production Order, which was, for all intents and purposes, a way for Chevrolet and its enterprising dealer network to sneak high-performance option packages and oversize engines past the bigwigs at General Motors and into the waiting hands of automotive enthusiasts.

With ancient history out of the way, what's COPO mean in 2011? Well, it still means performance, but there's certainly no way Chevy is going to bypass the powers-that-be at GM HQ, especially not with a Camaro proof-of-concept that's destined to live out its life at the drag strip in NHRA Stock Eliminator drag racing competition.

According to Jim Campbell, GM U.S. vice president of Performance Vehicles and Motorsports, the COPO Camaro that is debuting this week at SEMA "is a clear indication that Chevrolet intends to homologate the Camaro for sportsman drag racing." Seems pretty clear to us, too – in lieu of the standard independent rear suspension setup is a straight axle that's perfectly suited to straight-line racing. Plus, there's a full roll cage for safety.

Buyers of the COPO Camaro, if and when it becomes available, will be able to fit one of two suggested engine packages: one 427-cubic-inch naturally aspirated V8 (7.9 liters for A Stock racing) and one 327-cubic-inch supercharged V8 (5.3 liters for for AA Stock racing). The car you see in our live images is powered by a prototype version of the supercharged 327.

Check out all the details in the press release after the break.
Show full PR text
Chevrolet Introduces New 'COPO' Camaro
Concept evokes the spirit of special-order models for Stock Eliminator competition


2011-10-31

LAS VEGAS – The COPO Camaro is back at Chevrolet, as a concept designed to the specifications for NHRA Stock Eliminator drag racing competition.

"The COPO Camaro is a proof of concept for what a Chevrolet Stock Eliminator entry could look like," said Jim Campbell, GM U.S. vice president of Performance Vehicles and Motorsports. "And it is a clear indication that Chevrolet intends to homologate the Camaro for sportsman drag racing."

The COPO concept vehicle is designed to accommodate more than one engine option, including a naturally aspirated 427 engine (7.0L) – the same displacement as the original COPO Camaros from 1969 – and a supercharged 327 (5.3L) engine. Among the many racing-specific features and equipment is a conversion from the Camaro's standard independent rear axle to a solid axle, as well as a full chrome moly roll cage.

The basic content for the COPO Camaro Concept includes:

Provisions for two engine configurations (see below for details)
Provisions for a Powerglide two-speed automatic transmission, a three-speed automatic or a five-speed manual
High-rise cowl-induction hood
Custom Aeromotive fuel system, with a fuel cell and integral high-pressure fuel pump
Full, chrome moly roll cage
Coil-over front suspension with Strange Engineering adjustable struts
Custom rear suspension, based on NHRA requirements, with Strange Engineering shocks, Panhard bar and stabilizer bar
Strange Engineering S-9 solid rear axle with aluminum third member, 35-spline spool, 35-spline axles and 4.10 gear set
Lightweight, COPO-specific racing wheels
29x9-inch rear radial racing slicks and 4.5x28x15-inch front tires
Manual steering system
Strange Engineering lightweight racing brakes system with standard line lock.

The interior is all business, with most sound deadening and power accessories deleted. Instead, there is pair of racing bucket seats (and no rear seat), a safety harness for the driver, a competition floor shifter and Chevrolet Performance gauges by Auto Meter.

The engines

Intended for NHRA's various Stock Eliminator classes, the COPO Camaro concept has provisions for two distinct engine packages – each built to conform to class guidelines. The details below outline the core specifications of each engine and their intended classes.

427

327/2.9

Suggested class

A Stock

AA Stock

Cubic inches

427(7.0L)

327 (5.3L)

Block

LS7

LS9

Block material

aluminum

aluminum

Crank

forged steel

forged steel

Rods

H-beam

H-beam

Pistons

forged dome

forged dome

Compression ratio

TBD

10.2:1

Heads

LS7

LS7

Rocker arms

LS7 1.8-ratio

LS7 1.8-ratio

Induction

natural aspiration

boosted

Intake

Holley

supercharger

Camshaft type

hydraulic roller

hydraulic roller

Cam duration (deg.)

233/276 @ .50-in.

244/255 @ .50-in.

Cam lift (inch)

.595

.650



The concept vehicle is powered by a prototype version of the supercharged 327 engine, featuring an LSX cylinder block.

The COPO legacy

Since 1955, NHRA Stock Eliminator has been a straight-line proving ground for the quickest cars to come out of Detroit. Within Stock Eliminator, there are many classes, all defined by the ratio of vehicle shipping weight and the assigned horsepower factor. Because of this tightly monitored set of rules and historically brutal competition, Stock Eliminator is the ultimate test for factory muscle cars.

From the "Fuelie" '57 Bel Air to the '62 409 Impala and countless muscle cars that came later, Chevrolet has enjoyed a long, dominant position in this sportsman drag racing category. None of the cars, however, have dominated both the track and muscle car folklore like the legendary COPO Camaros produced in 1969.

In the Sixties, COPO was the acronym for Central Office Production Order, within Chevrolet's vehicle special-order program. Although normally used for fleet orders of trucks and company-owned cars, it was manipulated by a few performance-minded dealers to order vehicles with larger engines than were available in regular-production models – mostly with the intent of getting them to Stock Eliminator racers.

By pushing Chevrolet's Central Office Production Order special-order program to its limit, a number of dealers were able to get 427-cubic-inch big-block engines installed in a handful of Camaros, when the largest official engine available was a 396. Two versions of the 427 engine were wrangled out of the factory: COPO 9561 was the Corvette-based L-72 edition with an iron cylinder block and COPO 9560 was the racing-designed ZL1 engine with a lighter aluminum cylinder block.

The COPO Camaros opened up the NHRA rulebook to some exciting combinations for Camaro, helping keep Chevrolet at the top of the ultra-competitive form of motorsports. In fact, they were not only competitive in NHRA Stock Eliminator when new, but still hold the national ET and MPH records in several classes.

Racing enthusiasts who are interested in more information can go to www.gmperformanceparts.com to sign up for COPO Camaro concept updates.

About Chevrolet

Founded in Detroit in 1911, Chevrolet celebrates its centennial as a global automotive brand with annual sales of about 4.25 million vehicles in more than 140 countries. Chevrolet provides consumers with fuel-efficient, safe and reliable vehicles that deliver high quality, expressive design, spirited performance and value. The Chevrolet portfolio includes iconic performance cars such as Corvette and Camaro; dependable, long-lasting pickups and SUVs such as Silverado and Suburban; and award-winning passenger cars and crossovers such as Sonic, Cruze, Malibu, Equinox and Traverse. Chevrolet also offers "gas-friendly" solutions including Cruze Eco and Volt. Cruze Eco offers 42 mpg highway while Volt offers 35 miles of electric, gasoline-free driving and an additional 344 miles of extended gasoline range, according to EPA estimates. Most new Chevrolet models offer OnStar safety, security and convenience technologies including OnStar Hands-Free Calling, Automatic Crash Response and Stolen Vehicle Slowdown. More information regarding Chevrolet models, fuel solutions and OnStar availability can be found at www.chevrolet.com.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 29 Comments
      Dave
      • 3 Years Ago
      427 cid is 7.0L.
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        Eric Grez
        • 3 Years Ago
        Yes the 7.9 is a typo, if you read the actual press release it says 7.0
      CWT092079
      • 3 Years Ago
      The '69 COPO Camaro is the rarest baddest Camaro that ever existed. I think there are only two remaining. They ran mid 11s in the quarter mile stock with the ZL-1 V8. They were the 2nd fastest production cars ever made at the time after the L88 Corvette.
        ngiotta
        • 3 Years Ago
        @CWT092079
        Interesting that you think they were the fastest production cars at the time, since the L88 Corvette was only good for 12.80's and the COPO was only good for 13.10's. Conversely, the Ford Thunderbolt ran 11.50's all day long and the Shelby Cobra ran 12.70's (so did the Cobra Jet Mustangs). I guess maybe they were the fastest GM production cars made at the time?.
          CWT092079
          • 3 Years Ago
          @ngiotta
          The L88 Corvette with a manual trans and 4:56 gears would consistently run low 11s on crappy stock tires. Of course the auto trans and 3:27 gear setup, which I believe was the "worst" setup you could get, wouldn't be nearly as fast.
          Rotation
          • 3 Years Ago
          @ngiotta
          ngiotta, I'm pretty sure the COPO was faster than that. But anyway, who would put a Cobra on the strip? That car was made for the track.
      budwsr25
      • 3 Years Ago
      The camaro is already outdated and the build quality is garbage. Why are people still salivating over this car?
        Elmo
        • 3 Years Ago
        @budwsr25
        Where's your proof that there it has bad build quality? One more question... Why do you continue to troll?
      Tupalov144
      • 3 Years Ago
      cobra jet rules
      gfviperman
      • 3 Years Ago
      No match for the Challenger ....
        Elmo
        • 3 Years Ago
        @gfviperman
        Geez, a whole lot of you are claiming the Cobra Jet and Challenge Drag Pak are all better. Yet, Chevy has posted absolutely ZERO times on this car.
          Georgie Porgie
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Elmo
          True but they are also failing to mention under what criteria. In the looks department, I have to admit the Ford and Mopar enteries do look a bit sexier. But in performance, its stupid to speculate until we see some times.
          threefortyduster
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Elmo
          In NHRA Stock, all classes are indexed. The classes are set by NHRA rated HP and weight of car. Even with the indexes, the cars will run much quicker than their indexes for purposes of qualifying and the actual eliminations, where you are able to dial in a time that's quicker than your index. What that means, if you want to see the slowest these things will run from the factory, go look up the NHRA index for A/S (manual) and A/SA (auto) for the 427. Then AA/S and AA/SA for the 327
      breakfastburrito
      • 3 Years Ago
      Racing in a straight line is a contest of "who's inferiority complex is bigger". It's a pissing match, and has very little to do with enjoyment of the act of driving. Heel-toe downshifting, left foot braking, hitting the apex, throttle steer, controlled oversteer, smoothing transitions -- none of these skills are involved.
        Danaon
        • 3 Years Ago
        @breakfastburrito
        "STOP LIKING WHAT I DON'T LIKE!" Seriously, that is what you just said. Look up "no true scotsman".
        flubadub
        • 11 Months Ago
        @breakfastburrito
        You already have a bunch of thumbs down, so I didn't add one. But Danaon's comment is worthy of your consideration. I don't happen to have much interest in drag racing, but I've experienced the rush of fast acceleration in lesser vehicles, and I can at least sympathize with those who choose that experience as their primary thrill. I'm actually more in your camp in terms of the aesthetics of the driving experience.
      Edward
      • 3 Years Ago
      Ancient pushrod 2 valve engine loses to better breathing, higher revving 4 valve OHC designs.
      SteveM
      • 3 Years Ago
      Interesting to see the 327 here... I'm wondering if we aren't getting a peek at some of the new Corvette technology for the upcoming new model. Personally I'd like to see a return to a smaller displacement engine with a lot of suds. With current tech the engineers should have no problems hitting 400hp with this size engine.
        Alex
        • 3 Years Ago
        @SteveM
        Its an LSX (cast iron) block, and the only reason its a 327 (5.3) is for the rules of the class. It says so right in the article.
        72CJ5driver
        • 3 Years Ago
        @SteveM
        The 5.3 has been sold in GM half ton trucks and suv's for years. And Aluminum block versions made their way into the impala and some other cars. I doubt this car has the upcoming next-generation small block.
          Danaon
          • 3 Years Ago
          @72CJ5driver
          Displacement is going to go down for the Gen V small blocks. The addition of DI will mean they can get the same power from smaller displacement engines. Not exactly sure why you are worried about the displacement of an OHV engine though, because it rarely means anything. Even the Z06 can break 30 mph highway with some careful driving, and that's with a 7.0L.
          SteveM
          • 3 Years Ago
          @72CJ5driver
          Thanks - I actually have a Silverado with this engine... I just meant in this application it's interesting. I have a Corvette with the 5.7 LT1 and it's a blast to have a nice revving small block. I'd personally like to see the Corvette go back to some extent to the smaller displacement engines.
      muskrat
      • 2 Years Ago
      FINALLY after EYARS and YEARS of making the sos, dd they came up with a REAL wininer engien that features all the INTERNALS that EURO ENGINEs have had since the 70's. THis new CHEV has OIL SPRAY JETS and VARIABLE cam postions. WOWEE and NOW it is ALSO a blown engine! THere is NOTHING even CLOSE to resembling the original 327 engine that was more like a water cooled lawn mower. BAD heads, bad breathing. But the NUMBER 327 has stuck in every ones HEADS since the 70's> FINALLY they are using HYPER EUTECTIC pistons from MAHLE, and a REALLY updated BLOCK and CAMS and HEADS. YEAH!! I applaud CHEVY for doing so. HOW L:ONG will those high out put engines LAST do you think???
      Rotation
      • 3 Years Ago
      Looks like a solid offering. Yeah, it's a JC Whitney special, but it's not alone in that and it looks like a decent one.
      JCG-500-PLUS
      • 2 Years Ago
      Can I buy one without motor and tranny, i know a few years back you could buy a mustang just for drag racing,with no vin #
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