BY MATT AVERY
PUBLISHED BY CARTECH BOOKS & MANUALS - 2018 ©
The COPO Camaros, Chevelles, and Novas of the 1960s and early 1970s were the ultimate high-performance GM muscle cars.
While few knew about this back channel program at the time, it is now recognized as the origin of GM's top muscle cars. Dedicated Chevy racers and car owners were determined to compete head-to-head with Mopar and Ford at the racetrack and on the street. But in order to do so, they needed to circumvent the corporate ban on racing and resolve the restriction of 400-ci engines in intermediate vehicles.
Don Yenko and some other creative individuals recognized the loophole in the COPO (Central Office Production Order) system at General Motors. The COPO program was designated for fleet vehicles such as taxicabs, but at the peak of the muscle car wars, it was used to build the ultimate high-performance Chevy muscle cars. Some horrific on-track accidents compelled General Motors to drop out of racing, yet GM did not want to allow Chrysler and Ford to steal the glory on Sundays while they stood on the sidelines.
As a result, GM inconspicuously ran the Chevy racing and high-performance program through back channels, and COPO was an integral part of the program. Don Yenko became the COPO muscle car program chief architect and champion. He ordered the Corvair through the COPO program and created the Corvair Stinger to mount an SCCA road race campaign. From these humble beginnings, the roadmap for creating the ultimate Camaros, Chevelles, and Novas was established.
Factory Camaro V-8s came equipped with the 350 small-block or 396 big-block, which had to compete with the Mustang Cobra Jets and Mopar Wedge and Hemi cars. In response, building the big-block Camaro through the COPO program was devised.
At the factory, Camaros were fitted with the 396 engines and shipped to dealers where the 427s were installed in the cars. From 1967 to 1969, the factory and dealers installed eight different 427 engines, including the all-aluminum ZL1 427. Later on, others used the roadmap to build COPO Novas and Chevelles to similar specs, with similar results.
The COPO performance car program did not end with these muscle cars. Yenko even ordered several hundred Vegas through the COPO program so they could be fitted with turbochargers and raced in SCCA competition.
Author and automotive historian Matt Avery retraces the history of the COPO program and the creation of these premier muscle cars. He has scoured archives and tracked down owners and personnel involved in the program to deliver a comprehensive story and complete guide to the COPO cars. He has also delivered completely original and never-before-seen colorful photography of these legendary cars.
The COPO muscle car and racing program produced a storied and remarkable journey, and author Matt Avery captures all these facets in this entertaining and revealing history.
The book won a 2019 Silver Journalism Award Winner from the Automotive Heritage Awards.
Author MATT AVERY
204 PAGES | HARD COVER | RETAIL: $44.95 - RELEASE DATE: SEPT 2018
Matt's dedication to capturing the essence of these iconic cars is evident in the high-quality, detailed photographs featured in the book. He has carefully selected and photographed the best examples of each COPO muscle vehicle, showcasing the beauty and power of these legendary classic cars.
From the sleek lines of the Camaro to the raw muscle of the Chevelle and Nova, every angle and detail is expertly captured, making this book a must-have for any muscle car enthusiast. Matt's passion for these vehicles shines through in every image, and readers will be transported back in time to the heyday of American muscle cars.
Hear Matt's interview with Midlife Classic Cars discussing how he assemebled the COPO book and a tease of what's in store his latest project, Camaro Special Editions.