The Legend and the Return of The COPO Camaro – Automotive History Comes Full Circle

The 1969 COPO Camaro is the stuff of legend. One of the most sought-after muscle cars in the world, collectors pay big money for genuine COPO Camaros (over $100k for a genuine COPO with documentation, according to

These original COPO Camaros are treasured because of their rarity and their incredible power – COPOs (which stands for “Central Office Production Order”) were built to unique specifications, with oversized engines and unique transmissions that weren’t otherwise available to regular Camaro buyers.

In many ways, these original COPOs were more like race cars than production vehicles, and they showed as much at the track in their day, COPO Camaros were fast.

The 2013 Chevrolet COPO Camaro.
The 2013 Chevrolet COPO Camaro.

Understandably, when Chevy announced a limited production run of a modern COPO Camaro in 2012, the excitement levels among Camaro fans were off the charts.

The 1969 COPO Camaro

Three different orders were available for 1969 COPO Camaros: the #9560 featured an all-aluminum ZL-1 engine, the #9561 featured an iron engine, and #9730 was a sports car conversion available with either engine type.  The 1969 COPO Camaro earned its reputation as king of the drag strip by running the quarter mile in 12 seconds… an excellent time in any era.

The total number of COPO Camaros produced and sold in 1969 is unknown, but it is rumored to be somewhere between 500 and 1,000 cars in total, making an original COPO car a rarity.

Whats more, since many of the COPO Camaros produced in the late 1960s were sold exclusively to race teams, most of them have likely been destroyed at the drag strip. Thus, the legend of the COPO – a 12-second car thats incredibly rare – is born.

2012 COPO Camaro

Chevy vowed to not disappoint enthusiasts with the 2012 release of the COPO. Determined to produce the fastest Camaro ever, GM produced a total of 69 cars in 2012. There were engine options available, all specifically designed to NHRA’s class rules:

  • A 5.3-liter LSX-Based 327 with a 2.9-liter Supercharger, rated at 550 horsepower
  • A 5.3-liter LSX-Based 327 with a 4.0-liter Supercharger, rated at 500 horsepower
  • A naturally aspirated 7.0-liter LS7-Based 427, rated at 427 Horsepower

For the 2012 COPO, Chevy removed the back seat, all sound-deadening materials and all power accessories in an attempt to save weight. Finally, while the body is the same as the standard Camaro SS body, it features a solid axle and chrome-molly roll cage.

Unlike the original, the 2012 version of the COPO is designed solely for competitive NHRA racing and is not street legal.  It cannot be registered, titled or licensed on public roads and highways. Still, the power is impressive. Equipped with the 4-liter supercharger, a 5.3-liter 2012 COPO Camaro has run the quarter-mile in 8.88 seconds. Thats 3 seconds faster than the fastest recorded quarter-mile run back in 1969.

In other words, the modern COPO has lived up to the name.

A 2013 COPO Camaro?

Chevy originally intended to release just 69 of the 2012 COPO Camaro to match the original 1969 ZL-1 COPO production. However, when more than 3,000 buyers expressed interest in owning a genuine COPO, Chevy announced a second production line for 2013.

So, if you haven’t had a chance to buy a new COPO Camaro for yourself yet, the window hasn’t completely closed.

Of course, you could always skip the modern car and buy a classic instead. Depending on condition, original ZL-1 COPO Camaros have sold for as little as $84,000 and as much $1.1 million. All it takes is money, right?

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