In the 1960s two of the big three, Chevrolet and Ford , each had their own secret weapons in the form of racecar drivers turned muscle car builders. Ford had the recently deceased Carroll Shelby modifying Mustangs for SCCA use and sale, whereas Chevy had the late Don Yenko modifying a wide array of their muscle cars, the most popular being the Camaro. Yenko also ran multiple Chevy dealerships where the bulk of his creations were sold.
In 1967 and 1968, Yenko was dropping 427 cubic-inch monsters from Corvettes into Camaro bodies and creating some of the most powerful Camaros of the era. One of Yenko’s crowning achievements came in 1969 when Yenko was tired of selling Camaros with limited warranties because of his modifications and convinced Chevy to add a 427-equipped Camaro to its special equipment ordering system, known as COPO.
This addition of the 427-equipped Camaro to COPO made it possible for Yenko to sell these cars with the GM-standard 5-year or 50,000-mile warranty. Yenko ordered a grand total of 198 of the Camaro 427s available from COPO. The total number of COPO Camaros produced and sold is unknown, but has been rumored as anywhere from 500 to 1,000.
With exception of the 427 jammed into the engine compartment, the Camaro 427s came from COPO with almost nothing identifying them as a special model; they even came with the old dog dish hubcaps on steel wheels. Yenko made sure to order his from COPO with 15-inch rally wheels, a front stabilizer bar, and a 140 mph speedometer. The rest of the customization was all Yenko’s doing.
Needless to say, these COPO-ordered 1969 Yenko Camaros are tough to come by, but Legendary Motorcar Company got its hands on one and had it up for auction on Ebay.
Click past the jump to read more about this COPO-ordered 1969 Yenko Camaro.
This particular Yenko Camaro came straight from COPO bearing only its LeMans Blue paint, 15-inch rally wheels, and the other bare essentials that the base-level Camaro featured. Yenko primarily just added some badges and decals to the exterior of the COPO Camaro to make it stand out.
Yenko began by slapping a pair of white racing stripes down the reversed hood scoop on the Camaro’s hood. He also added an “sYc” decal to the front of the hood, which stands for “Yenko Super Car.” Down the side of the Camaro is a thin white pinstripe that gets thicker on the rear quarter panel and has “Yenko/SC” stamped into the thicker part of it.
On the front fenders you have the standard “Camaro” badge. Just below this badge you have the Yenko emblem that pretty much tells all of the competition that this Camaro is not to be messed with.
At the back end, you have a roughly 6-inch lip spoiler. Near the center of the black taillight panel you’ll see one of the few “427” badges on this Camaro, as well as the Yenko emblem. Below the chrome bumper sets your basic dual exhaust system, which is just as simple as you’d expect from a muscle car of the `60s.
The entire exterior has been through a complete restoration and appears to be in top condition. All you need to do is take it to shows!
The interior of the COPO-ordered 1969 Yenko Camaro was basically the exact same as the standard 1969 Camaro. It featured a plastic-rimmed, two-post steering wheel, faux leather seats, an AM radio, and obligatory chrome strips throughout. The standard Camaro also features basic instrumentation, like speedometer, clock, and fuel gauge.
Where the Yenko Camaro differed was the addition of a large tachometer mounted on the steering column, three gauges just below the radio and “sYc” embroidered on each headrest on the front seats.
Just like the exterior, the interior has been 100 percent restored to its original factory specifications. That is just about it on the interior, as Yenko planned these cars for racing, not amenities.
Engine and Drivetrain
Now to the place where Yenko pretty much lived, under the hood. When Don Yenko first received the 427-equipped Camaro’s from Chevy, they pumped out a respectable 425 horsepower. Yenko added in a set of headers and freer flowing exhaust, which was good for pumping this 427 engine up to 450 horsepower at 5,600 rpm and 460 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm. Sitting atop this big-block V-8 is a single four-barrel carburetor.
On the inside, this 427 cubic-inch engine was built for power. The solid lifters limited the peak rpm, but can take a near limitless amount of power without compromising their structural integrity. The 11.0-to-1 compression ratio is massively high, which means this engine requires high-octane fuel or a lead substitute.
Connected to the engine’s flywheel is a Muncie M21 rock crusher four-speed transmission, which gets its name from the loud grinding noise it makes between shifts. The transmission throws the engine power into a 4.10-to-1 posi-traction rear end, which makes this car about unbearable on the highway, but a screamer on the track.
All of this muscle develops into a respectable 5.4-second 0-to-60 mph time. It also zips this Yenko Camaro through a quarter-mile track in just 13.5 seconds at 105 mph.
Handling and Braking
The front suspension, as expected, is an independent system. However, in order to handle the additional weight of the 427 engine, Chevy fitted the COPO Camaro with the heavy-duty Z/28 front coil springs. There is also an anti-roll bar keeping the front end tidy and straight under hard cornering. At each corner of the Camaro you have Goodyear Polyglass tires, the standard tires on nearly every classic restoration.
The rear suspension on the COPO Camaro is a standard-for-the-era inverted coil spring system with shock absorbers.
The front brakes on the 1969 Yenko Camaro were of the disc variety and were power assisted to help slow this pig down. The rear brakes were you run-of-the-mill drums, but they did feature power assist.
Just as you would expect from a 1-of-198 car, it is expensive. Legendary Motorcar Company had this COPO-ordered 1969 Yenko Camaro up for sale on Ebay for 220,000. That’s actually a very fair price, considering NADA has its value pegged at $285,000 at high retail. Given this car only has 10,803 miles on its ticker that $285K price tag is about the range of this car.
There really is no competition for this COPO-ordered 1969 Yenko Camaro. Not even the `69 Shelby GT350 and GT500 could stand up to it, in term of rarity and value.
First off, you are getting one of the rarest Yenko models available. Secondly, it is in mint condition and ready to be displayed. Third, this car is going to go nowhere but up in value over the years. Lastly, you have upwards of $60,000 in equity in the car by paying the asking price.
We don’t know how to make it much clearer, but if you have the extra $225,000 to snag up this historic Yenko model, this is the one for you! We say buy it now and buy it quickly before someone else grabs it (UPDATE: Someone else already did). Keep in mind, this is pre-negotiation value too, there is still a little haggling to be done.
- Beautifully restored
- Very reasonable price
- Ultra-low mileage
- We can’t afford it
- We can’t drive it
- We can’t even sit in it.