Chevrolet Camaro COPO 427/430 ZL1 Coupe 1969

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Camaro COPO 427/430 ZL1 Coupe 1969





A GM corporate edict forbade Chevrolet from installing engines larger than 400 cu in (6.6 l). Requests from dealers (notably Don Yenko) who were dealer-installing 427 cu in (7.0 l) engines in the Camaro caused Chevrolet to use an ordering process usually used on fleet and special orders (taxis, trucks, etc.) to offer 427 engines in the Camaro. Two Central Office Production Orders (COPO), numbers 9560 and 9561, were offered in the 1969 model year.

The COPO 9561 used the solid-lifter L72 big-block engine, making an underrated 425 hp (317 kW) gross. Yenko ordered 201 of these cars to create the now-legendary Yenko Camaro. Other dealers also became aware of the L72 engine package and ordered it. Around 900-1,000 Camaros were fitted with the L72 engine option.

The COPO 9560 used an all-aluminum 427 cu in (7.0 L) big-block called the ZL-1 and was designed specifically for drag racing. The package was conceived by drag racer Dick Harrell, and ordered through Fred Gibb Chevrolet in La Harpe, IL, with the intention of entering NHRA Super Stock drag racing. Just 69 ZL-1 Camaros were produced. The engine alone cost over US$4,000—more than the cost of a base V8 coupe. Though rated at 430 hp (321 kW) gross, the ZL-1 made 376 SAE Net HP in its "as installed" state. With exhaust changes and some tuning, the horsepower jumped to over 500.

The ZL1 engines were hand assembled in a process that took 16 hours each, in a room that Corvette Chief Engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov described as "surgically clean." All ZL1 engines were manufactured at the Tonawanda Assembly Plant before being installed in Corvettes and Camaros, or sold over the counter to racers.

The first two Dusk Blue ZL-1 Camaros (COPO 9560) were delivered to Gibb December 31, 1968. They were exactly as specified. 48 more ZL1s were delivered in March of 1969. However, there was a major problem. The sticker price was not $4,900, but rather a startling $7,269, nearly doubling the price of a cast-iron 427ci Camaro (COPO 9561).

The high cost was due to a new GM policy, which stated that instead of the auto manufacturer absorbing most of research and development cost associated with specialty vehicles, it was to be passed on to the cost of the vehicle. This drove up the cost of the COPO 9560 option from an estimated $400 to $4,000.

Fred Gibb was able to sell 13 of the ZL-1 Camaros. Eventually an additional 19 ZL-1’s were built and sold by other dealers, resulting in a total production run of 69 ZL-1 Camaros, with the possibility of two engineering prototypes.

Of the 71 total ZL1 Camaros produced there are approximately 54 which are accounted for and only approximately 48 of those car are known to exist today. Many of the 48 are project cars or cars which have been "rebodied" or rebuilt from race car or rusted carcases, having very little if any originality remaining

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