Central Office Production Order. Doesn’t sound like a name that’s going to be attached to any sort of cool car, does it? But without historical context and marketing, neither does Z/28, Trans Am, or Hemi. Like those, COPO points you in the direction of some of the baddest cars of the muscle car area. They’re rare ponies, but this one’s even more unusual. It’s a Canadian COPO. A 1969 Chevrolet Camaro.
The COPO was a way to order a car combination that The General had never intended. Know the right codes, tick the right boxes, and give your dealer the secret handshake, and you could order a car that went above and beyond anything that you were originally supposed to be able to order. It was supposed to be a way to order up a taxi package or a school bus chassis, or something like that. In this case, it was used to pack big blocks into small cars.
The most famous of the special order cars are the aluminum block ZL1 cars. Fewer than 100 were built and they commanded a massive price when new. Slightly more common were cars like this one. The L72.
The L72 was no slouch. It started with a 472 cubic inch (7.0L) iron big block. It boasted a high 11.0:1 compression ratio, plus the pistons and rods from the ZL1. There were massive valves, an aluminum intake, and a special distributor. Keeping it all cool was a bigger four-core radiator.
What did that give the Camaro? 425 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque. That’s 50 hp more than the most powerful SS that Chevrolet wanted your dealer to stock that year.
To help manage that power, the cars got an upgraded suspension with stiffer springs and bigger sway bars. There were also upgraded power disc brakes in the front, though they’re hardly impressive by modern standards.
Just 1,015 of the cars were built. 822 of them with the four-speed manual like this car. And just 75 of them were shipped new to Canadian dealers.
This car was one of them. That makes it a rare car. It comes with documentation including the COPO Connection certificate that verifies it as one of the special order cars.
If you feel like bringing this car back home, bring your cheque book. It’s for sale at Mecum’s Kissimmee auction on January 11th.
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