Hiding in Plain Sight - Part 8 COPO's

WE'RE STILL AMAZED

by the number of owners who bring very special cars to shows that remain invisible to the majority of people visiting the show. I recently found these two "incognito" examples. 

#1 - 1966 OLDSMOBILE 442 - W30
As you can see in the picture, it is hiding in plain sight, with the crowd  off in the background.  I never had the opportunity to speak with the owner or check to see if the convertible next to it was another W30 car. Moments after taking this photo, the skies opened up again. When I returned to the spot where they were parked, they were empty, their owners apparently deciding to call it a day.
Why so rare? 
Based on the details included on the show card along with my research there were only 54 cars built. Just enough to meet the requirements of the NHRA. All of them were built in June of 1966 at the Lansing, MI plant. Another 90, or so (I found reports of both 93 and 97 units) were created at the Dealer level using a special "over-the-counter" parts kit.



What's the difference between these two versions?
"Red Line" tires often indicated "High Performance"
Ram air scoops are located in the bumber
The factory built cars began with a lightened version of the body and a fully blueprinted engine done right at the factory. The Dealer installed kit did not include a blueprinted engine. There were 2 versions of the 400 ci motors, one with a single 4 bbl and the other with a tri-power, which added an additional 10 hp as rated by the factory. Oh, and by the way, the factory often "lied" about the "true" power of these engines. (Wait? Car dealers lying? You're kidding, right?) tended to list them far below what they were capable of as a way to keep the competition and the NHRA "in the dark".

I was unable to determine exactly what "light weight platform" meant or if the same modifications were possible when the Dealer installed the "Trak Pack". If you have any details, please share them in the comments. 

The "Trak Pak" W-30 packages, installed by a Dealer, included a high performance cam and valve springs, bumper installed air intakes, big chrome air cleaner, cables and related items to mount the battery in the trunk. The owner could also purchase an L-69 tri-power intake system kit from the parts department if they were so inclined.

#2 - 1969 COPO CAMARO  

753 TOTAL MILES, 1/4 of a MILE at a TIME
Amazing the gauges look this good after 43 years, but they do.
I did have the opportunity to speak with the owner for a few moments, but he was getting things ready to leave the show, so our conversation was brief.

Unlike many of these rare cars, this one is a survivor, an un-restored 1969 COPO Camaro . It's in amazing condition despite zero restoration work.


Race on Sunday 
Those of us who were lucky enough to be around at that time will remember the number of local gas stations with a drag race car parked out front as a way to advertise themselves and the mechanical capabilities of their staff. This was one of those cars. 

I asked the current owner, John Norrell, if it had been campaigned on a National level or held any NHRA records. "It was only run locally, probably no farther than a state or two outside of Georgia, and no I am unaware of it holding any NHRA record."
Again, kind of a shame that such a unique car is just sitting there, getting nothing more than an occasional glance from passers-by.
Sponsor decals that adorn the body say "CRAGAR" but the wheels are "uni-lug" Keystone Classics. A blast from the past cowl mounted tach was common in the day, often accompanied by, or in place of a tach, a fuel pressure gauge.

A cowl induction hood was a standard component of the package. The option list indicates interior and exterior trim packages which would have included wheel opening moldings, drip rail, and belt moldings, all of which would have been deleted when ordering one of the COPO options. 

A close up of the wheel wheel appears to show one of the screws used to hold the wheel opening moldings in place. Blacked out rocker panels, visible in the photos, were a part of these options. The rear spoiler was added by either the Dealer or a previous owner.
Originally ordered from a local Georgia Dealer, it never left the state.  I did a search for Brooks Chevrolet - Buick - Pontiac, but it appears they are no longer in business.

What's a C.O.P.O.?
If you're here, you probably already know what that means, but if you don't, they were specially ordered high performance vehicles built by the factory. Most of the COPO vehicles sold were associated with a small group of Dealers who began selling modified high performance versions under their own names. In an effort to sell more of these high performance versions, they negotiated with GM to create Central Office Production Option units. Much like fleet units, these orders often stretched the limits of the factory, providing Dealers with the ability to order "what they wanted". At the time, GM had declared no vehicles other than than Corvette would ever be produced with an engine displacement over 396 CI.
Technically, this provided every Chevrolet Dealer the ability to sell one of these high performance units, although in practice most of the vehicles went to a select handful. There were 2 COPO option packages available on the 1969 Camaro. The first option package was known as a 4560, which included the 427 ci ZL-1 with an aluminum block and heads, producing well obver 500 HP. A second option package, the 4561, replaced the ZL-1 with an L72 427 CI engine which replaced the high cost aluminum version with a cast iron block and head combination, rated at 425 hp. It was also about half the price of a vehicle with a 4560. The 4560 option alone was $4160. This particular vehicle had a MSRP of $3,844 and is one of the 4561 orders.
The cowl induction hood added a special air cleaner to draw in cold air
I never asked if the engine was number matched, but appears to be bone stock otherwise. Both option packages added additional items, such as disc brakes and special rear axle gear ratios, while deleting certain trim items. The Monroney window label indicates the standard package 4:10 axle ratio was replaced with a 4:56.
The interior option package included the 3-spoke wood grained sport steering wheel, wood grain dash accents, bright trimmed pedals, and no radio. The seats, along with the entire interior, were like new, reflecting the authenticity of the odometer reading. 

So why did Dealers order these cars with extra trim packages? Ironically and despite the current popularity of these vehicles, they didn't always attract buyers in their day. With a price tag of about $7500 (about $48K in today's dollars) the 4160 cars often wound up as "de-tuned", "gussied-up" versions in order to sell them. You can read more about that part of the history of these classics here.

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