2017 Chevrolet COPO Camaro, NHRA Test Car Drag Race Into SEMA

by Heather Platt | Posted on Tuesday, November 1st, 2016

Vintage Camaros ordered with 427 big blocks or other rare options under GM’s Central Office Production Order (COPO) system demand the biggest of bucks at auction these days, so who can blame Chevrolet for trying to get in on some of those big bucks selling new cars? So since 2012 the company has sold small numbers of these drag-racing optimized cars (usually 69 of them, to honor 1969 as the first year of the COPO Camaro option). The hand-built cars are not street-legal. Each gets an NHRA-legal roll cage and other safety equipment along with a race-optimized chassis consisting of struts in front and a live-axle in back. Three or four different engines have been offered every year, each tailored to different drag racing series. Owners also get a large COPO Camaro Build Book with color photo documentation of the build.

2017 Chevrolet COPO Camaro

The 2017 collector COPO Camaro displayed at SEMA, serial number 01 of 69, is shown sporting an LSX Small Block-based 350 engine topped by a Whipple Industries 2.9-liter twin-screw supercharger. The NHRA horsepower rating is 580 with a recommended max engine speed of 8,000 rpm. (Other engine options for 2017 will echo those of 2016: 410-hp 6.2-liter naturally aspirated, and 470-hp 427-cubic-inch naturally aspirated.) The transmission is an ATI Racing Products TH400-style three-speed automatic. Much of this is little changed from 2016, but the show car sports a concept finish called “Titanium Blue Me Away” satin paint. Other production-intent appearance revisions include accessory smoked taillamps, black bowties, and export market lights. The interior is pretty much stock. It will be sold at the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale auction in January 2017, with proceeds to benefit United Way. Interested in purchasing your own 2017 COPO Camaro race car? Register at Chevrolet.com/COPO by December 15, 2016 and hope that yours is among the names chosen at random by an independent third party in the first quarter of 2017.

Alongside the COPO Camaro, Chevy will be showing a development car that aims to replicate what a DIYer might do to a stock Camaro to take it NHRA drag racing with a goal of achieving elapsed times in the 10s. The target power output is 600 horses, and the engine is an LT1-based V-8 sporting production performance upgrade parts including GM Performance Cam and Head kit, performance exhaust, and high-flow induction. Power gets transmitted to a stiffened ZL1 driveshaft via a torque converter with a 30-percent higher stall speed (4,200 rpm) and an eight-speed automatic with “rapid-fire” shifting. Concept parts include a comparatively tall 3.73:1 axle (this year’s COPO three-speed runs 4.57:1 gearing) heavy-duty half-shafts and a heavy-duty “grave digger” rear axle center section. Magnetorheological shocks sport a prototype drag-racing calibration. Extra-tall sidewall Hoosier racing slicks ride on 16-inch Bogart wheels to provide the proper launch grip (the front wheels are 20s), but they demand extra-small brake discs, which are also prototype parts. Expect to find plenty of these parts working their way onto future SEMA concepts with swankier paint jobs in the years to come.

The “show car” is development car number two, and it has made over 100 quarter-mile runs resplendent in swirly prototype camo (even though there’s nothing much new with the bodywork), dressed up with a blackout ring around the fascia extending up the hood, with red accents. To date the best run stopped the clock at 10.685 seconds and 125.73 mph.

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