509 V8! 1969 Chevrolet Camaro COPO Tribute

COPO – sounds like some kind of a secret society or something, you know, like Certified Odd People Order. Well it’s not, it’s for Chevrolet/GM’s Central Office Production Order system, a way for dealerships to order cars equipped in ways that they were not available to the average Joe. One of the more common COPO models was offered on the 1969 Chevrolet Camaro and today, for your review, we have a clone of a COPO Camaro. It is located in Aiken, South Carolina and available, here on eBay for a current bid of $39,000, reserve not yet met. There is a BIN price of  $61,750 available as an option too.

I’m no expert on the COPO system but I do know that Chevrolet Dealerships like Yenko, Nickey, Baldwin, Berger, and Fred Gibbs used it to acquire cars, generally equipped with engines that were not on the order sheet. The most common process was Don Yenko buying Camaros in 1967 and ’68 and swapping their assembly line installed 396 CI engines for a parts department acquired 427 CI, 425 HP engine, known as RPO L72. In 1969, it was discovered that Chevrolet would build the car as such if it was ordered via the COPO process as opposed to the conventional RPO means. My understanding is that a fleet of cars had to be ordered, however, but I don’t know the minimum size. Such a process was also used on performance-oriented Chevelles, and some Novas as well, but it was primarily reserved for large fleet buyers like police departments that wanted something a little different than standard protocol for their cruisers. As for Camaros, the COPO designation was 9561 AA for manual transmission outfitted cars and 9561 BA for automatics. According to Super Chevy, “Exactly 822 9561 AA and 193 BA COPOs were built. Of this 1,015 total, orders for 201 were made by Yenko Chevrolet (who initiated the package with Chevrolet), 50 by Berger Chevrolet, and smaller amounts dispersed to other Chevrolet performance dealers“.

So what do we have here? The VIN is not reported correctly, it’s missing a digit, but if one makes an interpretation, it appears that this Camaro originated life as a six-cylinder model built at the Norwood, Ohio plant. It looks great! It is, as the seller suggests, in possession of an arrow-straight body. It’s finished off in a very deep Hugger Orange hue and certainly looks the part. The only immediate and obvious error is the “427” callout on the front fenders. COPO versions, that weren’t duded-up by Don Yenko, went incognito with no discernable engine identification. The steel wheel/doggie bowl hubcap arrangement was standard fare and the ZL2, cowl induction hood was an option.

Under the hood is a more recent engine in the form of a 509 Bowtie, which I guess means a 509 CI big-block Chevy powerplant. It resembles an L72 427 motor but the exterior appearance of any big-block, like a small-block, is easy to duplicate. The seller opens his listing with, “Not much to say…” One thing that he could have said is to give us an idea of how this uber Camaro runs and drives. Sure, it should go like a scalded dog but how is it at idle, slow acceleration, wide-open throttle; how easily does it start when cold, things of that nature. I find the column-shifted Turbo-Hydramatic 400 transmission to be unusual, not the Turbo, the column shift. I wasn’t able to determine if a COPO car was available that way or found with the more traditional “horseshoe” floor selector shift. The seller claims that this transmission option was not available with the column selector. Interesting to note is the chambered pipe exhaust system in place of the traditional, transverse-mounted muffler. The Super Chevy article states that this is correct. I recall reading somewhere that Chevrolet had to ultimately knock that one off as its conspicuous tone wouldn’t comply with certain noise ordinances.

The interior looks just as it is supposed to. There isn’t a lot to differentiate a performance interior from a standard model interior, and this is a standard interior with non RS door panels and no auxiliary gauges due to its lack of a center console. This is also a no radio optioned Camaro. It is a simple, sterile environment but very clean and original looking.

I take no issue with his Camaro being a clone, or clones in general when they are presented as such. A genuine COPO Camaro is out of financial reach for most mortal men, not to mention the concerns over actually driving it on public roads. While still expensive, this is a viable alternative though it too seems too nice to actually drive. So, what do you think, would you consider acquiring a “tribute” car or insist on holding out for the real thing?

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Comments

  1. Mitchell Gildea Member

    This runs anything like my 95 Monte Carlo, look out

    Like 4
    • Mark

      Hahaha, I doubt it runs like your 95 fwd Monte Carlo.

      Like 10
  2. Steve Clinton

    ‘Tribute’ means ‘fake’, IMHO.

    Like 20
    • Terry

      Pretty impressive, if expensive fake anyway.

      Like 3
    • Mountainwoodie

      A fke COPO!! Must be worth more than an ordinary fake. Just nuts!

      Like 1
  3. JoeNYWF64

    Since this is a tribute, i’m surprised the very kewl horseshoe shifter wasn’t added.
    Even with a 6 cyl, a GM car with that floor shifter IMO is a lot more fun to drive & you feel more “in control”. Then again, i guess maybe the point here was as few options as possible & a sleeper image.
    Maybe this was a very basic 6 cyl car to start with?, tho with column shift, i would have gotten the bench seat – for the drive-in.
    I wonder if that blue RS next to it is for sale – with a more ’67-8 camaro type nose.

    Like 3
  4. John S

    I like the car! Although I owned one in mid seventies, I’m certainly no COPO expert. But I thought power brakes were mandatory equipment. The workmanship looks good to me. And as for the debate about a “tribute” COPO, I would have no problem owning the car.

    Like 3
    • Bernie

      I lived not far from Yenko Chevrolet in Canonsberg, Pa, back in the day.
      I remember all the great cars in the showroom during the 60’s

      Like 2
  5. Frank Armstrong

    John S: I agree, they might should have “tributed” some power disc brakes. If this ride still has drum brakes, it’s going to be a hand full on the road.

    Like 5
  6. Troy s

    Built for speed, only speed, and more speed. Baldwin/Motion was also in on it,, the more cash you handed them the crazier the engine. Even the L88 427, clear up to race track only. It’s funny to me that these are always represented with plain wheels, I figure most wound up with a mixture of aftermarket wheels in various configurations. Like my favorite Camaro.. the black wanted poster 427 Baldwin Motion street racer.
    Fake or not, the acceleration isn’t fake by a long shot. Nobody in their right mind is going to have fun driving an original mega dollar COPO Camaro, unless of course they stole it for a joy ride. They’re museum pieces.

    Like 2
  7. Lynn Dockey Member

    Im not sure the 6 cycl cars had staggered rear shocks, I know the solid lifter cars did. I wonder if the builder changed them. One other thing, u wont be sneaking around the neighborhood with the chambered pipe exhaust. That setup is (was) loud and the cowl induction hood helps

    Like 1
    • JoeNYWF64

      I seen a ’68 RS camaro 6 cyl 250 with staggered shocks! – possibly to simplify assembly at the factory.
      The RS gave you a std 3:07 rear even on 6’s, but i’m pretty sure non RS 6’s got the staggered shocks too in ’68.
      & i would assume the same is true for ’69s. & i bet 2nd gen camaros with the 250 – 6 got staggered shocks too.
      Not sure about ’67’s tho.
      I wonder if ’68-79 novas have staggered shocks in back with the 6 cyl. Or even the ’68-9 with the 4 cylinder! lol
      Can anybody here with a ’67-’81 camaro 6 cyl
      or ’68-’79 Nova 6 cyl take a peek underneath?
      Maybe even on 4 door Novas?!

      That looks like a disc brake mast cylinder.

  8. Terry

    I would think it’s a safe assumption this car is a little faster than it was when it had the six-cylnder.

    Like 1
  9. Ron Johnson

    Berger Chevrolet only ordered 1 car. It was a yellow car and number 3 of the 69 COPO 9560 cars built.
    Fred Gibb ordered 50 of them but could not sell all of them so some were dispersed among other dealers.
    69 in total of the aluminum block 427s.

    Like 3
  10. Troy s

    Does anyone out there remember Dana Chevrolet? They had a few 427 Camaros come out of their lot as well, at least that’s what I read years ago. But rarely mentioned.

    Like 1
    • Dynaflowdeuce

      Yup! I was gonna mention Dana, you got there first.

      Like 1
  11. Paul Jackson Member

    Nice looking car! How much would a real COPO Chevy be worth?

  12. Keith

    First time I saw the actual number of Camaro’s built with the 427. Makes my 69 Biscayne with the same motor really rare at 1 of 77. Wish I could get Camaro money out of it .

    Like 1
  13. Tom

    We’v gotten to the point where clones are becoming so expensive they probably won’t get driven much. I personally don’t have a problem with clones if they’re done right and are affordable, but when they get silly expensive I’m out. I guess it’s just gotten to the point where it costs serious money to build a car. And at $60K someone’s probably losing money.
    The only thing I don’t like about this one other than the price is the manual brakes. Seriously? Yikes!!
    Beautiful car!

    Like 1
    • Keith

      No COPO car had manual brakes . Power front disc were mandatory.

  14. Rick Rothermel

    I did some magazine articles on a series of official GM- and Yenko estate- licensed COPO tribute Camaros a decade ago, they were impressive cars built to standards far exceeding the 1969 assembly norm. Were I a Camaro groupie wanting a car I could actually DRIVE, I’d chase one of those or something like this one.

  15. Johnny

    427 with SKINNY TIRES-GET REAL. Just another OVERPRICED CAR with CHEAP CHINA MADE PARTS-NEXT. If it has wheels and runs——drive it. Its what it was made for. Besides you can get descent gas at your gas station to run in this thing. Maybe at the air port and who wants to pay $8 a gallon for a gas hog to enjoy a ride in. Can the big v-8. Put in a small block and bench seat and really have some fun. For awhile. Of course on down the road it might cost more.For diapers and such.Why build a fast car and have SKINNY TIRES on it? You are defeating your own purpose.

  16. Hot Rod Lincoln

    I am working on a 6 cylinder ’71 Nova with 3 on the tree and it has staggered shocks.

    Like 1
    • Mark

      Hey Hot Rod, if that Move the one that was on this website a little while back? That guy never contacted me back. Is yours black and a 4 door?

  17. James Bishop

    Camaro info — All 1967 camaro’s did NOT have staggered shocks , GM went to staggered shocks in 1968, and ASTRO ventilation. Also in any SS,Z/28 or COPO ,ZL1- all had mandatory disc brakes. . 1967-1968 W/RS option had electric operated motors for the headlights , while 1969 used a vacuum to run the headlight doors.1968 also had outside side marker lights front and rear . NO vent windows ,slightly different interior, gauges, shifter,console,different style seats covers,either standard interior or houndstooth, no rear seat arm rest. while both 67and 68’s are alot alike these are the most notable ones, and in 1967 in my opinion is the best looking .Alot of cars get these parts mixed matched and not correct for the right year, so be aware of non – correct door panels, seats and most everything above , they may fit but not correct for year of car !

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