This past November the world was introduced to the new COPO Camaro as the Chevy Performance division unveiled the concept car at the 2011 SEMA Show. The white prototype race car is designed to carry on the legend of one of Chevy’s most sought-after muscle cars from the late ’60s. The intent is to go toe-to-toe with the Ford Mustang Cobra Jet and Dodge Challenger Drag Pak in the grassroots drag racing ranks of NHRA Stock Eliminator. The handcrafted Camaro will be a race car to its core, with a drivetrain that has little resemblance to its street car brethren outside of being an LS-based engine. But we are getting ahead of ourselves, and Dr. Jamie Meyer, Chevy Performance Marketing and Motorsport manager, says the car is still considered a prototype.
“The concept of a Camaro in NHRA Stock Eliminator existed well before the Camaro ever hit the streets as a production car,” Meyer says. He went on to tell us that the COPO concept was built in order to gauge reaction from the community. He said the response and acceptance by the Stock Eliminator community as well as enthusiasts from all corners of the hobby has been a resounding success. We can only hope that the brass at Chevy hears us and gives the COPO Camaro program the green light. Reviving the name COPO certainly conjures up winning emotions as the original cars still hold records in NHRA’s historic category. For those new to the world of go-fast Bow Tie cars, COPO stands for central office production order and was a loophole that dealers took advantage of in order to get production Camaros with one of two 427 Corvette engines.
The final fate of COPO has yet to be decided but the concept car looks to be really close to what an actual production vehicle will offer. Instantly the car is all drag race, as evident by the big ’n’ little wheels from Bogart and massive cowl- induction hood. The only COPO Camaro in existence is white with blue graphics. We, however, instantly think of the awesome color potential Chevy has with these cars—orange with white graphics, blue with white graphics, black with white graphics, and we couldn’t leave red with white graphics off the list. Gray could also substitute the white graphics on the red and black body colors, and we wouldn’t complain. We’ve played out the color combinations in our mind and each combo could be fantastic. Kudos to the design team for leaving ample room on the doors for car names, sponsors, and/or contingency stickers.
The first sensory perception that Chevy tickled us with during the unveiling was our hearing as the LS small-block was fired to life before emerging from the giant crate in the SEMA parking lot. The crackle of open headers began playing a symphony to the tune of a 1,000-rpm idle and a few free-revs showed the COPO means serious business. This prototype model is equipped with one of the two proposed engine packages. It is a supercharged 327ci powerplant that has been based inside an LSX engine block and utilizes a pair of LS7 cylinder heads. An intercooled Whipple 2.9L supercharger sits on top of the 327ci bullet and the camshaft checks in at 0.650-inch lift and is a hydraulic roller. The other option is a 427ci naturally aspirated engine that sounds like a pumped-up Z06 engine with a snazzy Holley tunnel-ram intake manifold as its induction.