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SEMA 2018: 2019 Chevrolet COPO Camaro marks 50th anniversary

By Chris Thompson, 01 Nov 2018 News

SEMA 2018: 2019 Chevrolet COPO Camaro marks 50th anniversary

Fred Gibb’s super Camaro creation lives on half a century later

The Chevrolet COPO Camaro is one of GM’s most recognisable super-muscle cars, built to beat the rest when it showed up to the dragstrip.

It’s been 50 years since the original was created, so Chevrolet has honoured its legacy with a new version – though COPOs have been brought back and built in limited runs throughout the last half-century.

SEMA 2018: All the news here

The 2019 version features styling intended to mimic the original, with a run of only 69 of the drag cars also a reference to the original COPO’s limited availability.

2019 Chevrolet COPO Camaro rear

For this version, a ‘50th Anniversary Engine Appearance Package’ is available to be installed on the LSX-based 7.0-litre race engine, which “emulates the look of vintage Chevy performance engines.”

Also available to run the COPO Camaro for 2019 is a 5.7-litre LSX-based engine, with a 2.65-litre Magnuson supercharger, or a 4.9-litre (302ci) small block.

Electric eCOPO Camaro revealed at SEMA

“Chevrolet is proud to celebrate 50 years of the COPO Camaro legacy,” says Chevrolet VP of performance and motorsports Jim Campbell.

Chevrolet COPO Camaros and eCOPO Camaro

“It’s one of the most enduring legacies in drag racing, with a powerful past and fast future.” 

Chevrolet’s official history of the COPO has the story starting with Illinois-based Chevrolet dealer Fred Gibb using GM’s Central Office Production Order (COPO) system to order ZL1 427 engines for Camaros rather than using the system for ordering “special paint or truck equipment” as it usually was.

The engine was lighter and more powerful than the Camaro’s normal big block, so it became a popular choice for drag racing… but 50 examples had to be sold for it to be NHRA-eligible.

1969 Chevrolet COPO Camaro

“Gibb ordered them, but knew he’d have a hard time selling the pricey muscle cars, which were essentially twice the cost of a standard Camaro. He sold 13 and the remaining 37 were redistributed to other dealers,” Chevrolet says.

“In the meantime, more dealers found out about the ultimate performance COPO Camaro models and ordered their own. When the clutch dust settled, 69 COPO Camaro models with the ZL1 engine were built.”