SEMA 2012: Chevrolet 2012 COPO Camaro

The 1960s were unquestionably the golden era of muscle cars. Federal Crash Test Standards and the Oil Crisis of 1973 had not yet rained on everyone’s parade, and the Big 3 American automakers (Ford, GM, and Chrysler) were engaged in a horsepower war with each company trying to one-up each other.

During this time car manufacturers were basically selling full-on race cars to the public. The Plymouth Hemi Cuda, Dodge Charger R/T, Plymouth Superbird, Pontiac GTO “Judge”, Oldsmobile 442, Camaro ZL1/Z-28/SS, Shelby GT500KR, and the Ford Torino Talladega all packed monsterous engines that were often underrated in terms of true power output.

One muscle car from this era that is not often mentioned is the Central Office Production Order Camaro, or “COPO Camaro.”

The COPO Camaro was limited to a production run of just 69 units in the year 1969. They were special ordered by dealerships as a way to skirt the GM’s restriction on engine size in certain cars. They were essentially factory built drag racers that passed emissions and came with warranties.

Very few of these original ’69 COPO Camaros have survived, making them extremely desirable to collectors. They regularly cross the six figure mark at auction, with one selling for $319,000 at Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale in 2009. Other stories I read while researching this post claim sales of $819,000 and $1.1 million have taken place for COPO Camaros, but I was unable to verify these claims.

After spending the last 43 years in retirement, Chevrolet has dusted off the COPO nameplate for the 2012 Camaro. Following in their own footsteps, GM has built just 69 examples of the current Zeta-platform Camaro with this special package. The last one, serial number 69, is shown here at the 2012 SEMA show. This one features extra special touches not found on the other 68 COPO Camaros.

For example, car #69 features Inferno Orange paint and interior accents, and it’s a one of only two convertibles (car #68 will not be sold to the public). Each COPO Camaro comes with an NHRA-certified chrome moly roll cage, a 5-point racing harness, and AutoMeter gauges.Under the hood is a COPO 327 engine with a 4.0L Supercharger producing 550 HP. This is mated to a floor-mounted heavy duty TH400-based 3-speed automatic transmission. As if that weren’t enough, the car also includes a multi-link rear suspension, panhard bar, and anti-roll bar from Strange Engineering. Meanwhile, a solid rear axle and heavy duty prop shaft round out the drivetrain.

The car also features a cowl induction hood and 29 x 9 radial drag slicks in the rear. It is pretty clear that this car was built with one purpose in mind: to haul ass down the drag strip.

The cars are built to race in the NHRA Super Stock and Eliminator series and start at just $89,000 – which seems like a bargain to me considering how fast they are. How fast are we talking about, here? Let me direct you to this YouTube video which shows a stock 2012 COPO Camaro laying down an 8.49 second time at 161 mph!

That’s two full seconds faster than a new Lamborghini Aventador, which runs the quarter mile in 10.4 seconds at 136 mph costs $397,500 MSRP. For the price of an Aventador, you could buy the COPO Camaro and have enough left over to buy yourself a $308,500 house! Of course, the COPO Camaro is not street-legal.

This particular car will be auctioned off for charity at Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale in January 2013 with the proceeds going to the American Heart Association. We’ll be watching to see what this future collectible goes for at auction!