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Chevrolet debuts the latest COPO Camaro

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2017 Chevrolet COPO Camaro, serial number 01 of 69. Photos courtesy Chevrolet.

One can’t simply walk into a Chevrolet dealer and order up part number 20179562 from the bowtie brand’s performance catalog, but if it were possible, the net result would be a nearly ready-to-race Chevrolet COPO Camaro, built specifically to compete in the NHRA’s Stock Eliminator class. As Chevrolet announced at the 2016 SEMA Show, the COPO Camaro will return for 2017, and once again just 69 customers will have the opportunity to purchase the off-highway-use only race car.

The idea of reviving the COPO name was tested by Chevrolet at the 2011 SEMA Show, when the automaker displayed a concept Camaro to rave reviews. With demand for such a limited-production model apparent, Chevrolet agreed to build a quantity of 69 cars, the same number of COPO Camaros originally constructed in 1969. Then, the COPO Camaros came only with the ZL-1 V-8, but the modern equivalent comes with a range of normally aspirated or supercharged engines, each designed to meet specific NHRA rules.

The car revealed at the 2016 SEMA Show is chassis 01 of the 2017 production run, and it’s finished in a special “anodized” Hyper Blue Metallic with Black livery, offset by “350 Supercharged” graphics. As one would logically conclude, this particular example, which will be auctioned off by Barrett-Jackson in Scottsdale in January (with proceeds benefitting the United Way), comes powered by a supercharged V-8, producing an NHRA-rated 580 horsepower. It wears custom Weld Racing wheels, too, but otherwise is identical to the COPO Camaros that selected customers will be ordering in early 2017.

2017 Chevrolet COPO Camaro

Other engine choices for 2017 COPO Camaros include a normally aspirated V-8, rated at 470 horsepower and a normally aspirated V-8 with direct injection, good for 410 horsepower. All engines come mated to a TH400 three-speed automatic transmission equipped with a Hurst Quarterstick shifter, and all send power to the ground via a Strange Engineering nine-inch solid rear axle, instead of the independent rear suspension found on road-legal new Camaros.

All COPO Camaros are based upon production bodies in white, but that’s largely where the similarities end. As the COPO models are intended for racing only, niceties such as sound deadening, underbody sealant, carpeting and a rear seat are eliminated, swapped out for a chrome-moly tubing roll cage (NHRA approved for as fast as 8.5 second ETs), racing front seats with five-point harnesses, a full set of bowtie-labeled Autometer gauges, a center stack switch panel and a window net.

Those looking to buy a 2017 COPO Camaro must register before December 15, 2016, at Buyers selected (at random, by a third-party agency) will receive notification during the first quarter of 2017, at which time the engine, options (such as a parachute system, dual batteries and a trunk-mounted weight box) and paint can be specified, including the Hyper Blue with Black scheme seen here (which Chevrolet describes as a “collector” livery, since most racers will opt for solid colors).

Chevrolet has yet to announce pricing, but earlier COPO Camaros have been priced from around $90,000. Last year’s SEMA Show car, also auctioned off by Barrett-Jackson for the United Way, sold for $300,000, but even this pales in comparison to the $400,000 paid for a 2013 COPO Camaro convertible, sold in Scottsdale for charity in 2013. The 2016 COPO Camaro lottery drew over 5,500 entries, so expect similar odds for 2017.