2016 COPO Camaro: A Rare Car With a Cool Story
Anything you can do I can do better, right? The famous duet from Annie Get Your Gun was performed at the 2015 SEMA Show, but Ethel Merman and Ray Middleton weren’t anywhere to be found; instead, the lead roles starred Ford and Chevrolet as each company unveiled its turnkey drag car to the public.
Both the Cobra Jet and COPO Camaro debuted for the first time on their respective sixth generation platforms. With its new aggressive exterior and 575 horsepower supercharged 5.0-liter V8 engine, the Cobra Jet created quite a stir at SEMA. While Ford seemed destined to steal the show, the 2016 COPO Camaro designed in conjunction with NHRA champion Courtney Force looked to one-up its biggest pony car rival by offering three different powertrain options.
Whether your preference is forced induction or naturally aspirated power, the COPO Camaro has it covered. The first powertrain option is a 5.7-liter supercharged V8 engine from the LS family. Performance specifications have yet to be released, but this engine appears to be a carryover from last year packing an impressive 530 horsepower.
The second powertrain option is for drag racers who don’t believe forced induction has any place at the drag strip. They want to feel the instantaneous power and raw torque of Chevy’s renowned small-block V8 — the 7.0-liter 427. Found under the hood of past Corvette Z06 models and the fifth generation Camaro Z28, this aluminum naturally aspirated engine had an output of 430 horsepower in the 2015 COPO Camaro.
The third powertrain option will likely be the most powerful, and the one we’re the most excited about. Derived from the next generation LT-based Chevrolet small block V8, a new 6.2-liter supercharged engine will also be available. If it’s anything like the monster lurking beneath the hood of the current Chevrolet Corvette Z06, expect output to be similar to the C7’s 650-horsepower rating.
All powertrain options will be backed by a performance-built Turbo 400 three-speed transmission. Sound familiar? That’s probably because someone you knew had one mated to a big-block V8 in his or her Camaro back in the 1970s. Some things never change.
That LT engine should give the COPO a leg up on the Cobra Jet, especially considering the Mustang no longer has a significant weight advantage with the Camaro’s transition to the Alpha chassis. According to a press release from Chevrolet, the 2016 COPO is 133 pounds lighter than the outgoing 2015 model while it’s structural rigidity has been increased by 28%.
Like its rival Cobra Jet, the COPO Camaro is not street legal and can only be driven at the racetrack. That’s a good thing too, as we would have feared for the endangered soul who got caught in a rainstorm with the COPO’s massive Goodyear drag slick tires. Yeah, if you thought driving on ice was dangerous…
The COPO will be certified for both the NHRA Stock and Super Stock Eliminator classes as soon as you take delivery. The COPO is built for the drag-racing enthusiast who wants to eliminate the hassle and research involved in building a race car to adhere to such strict standards. It’s now as easy as filling out an order form.
An NHRA-certified roll cage, five-point harness and lightweight racing seats highlight a gutted interior with drag-spec instrumentation. The front suspension is completely adjustable for drivers looking to fine-tune in search of the perfect launch.
The COPO will forgo the sixth generation production of Camaro’s independent rear suspension in favor of a four-link solid rear axle system with an aluminum center section and spool type differential. Combined with heavy-duty 40-spline axle shafts, the COPO should have no trouble enduring hard launch after launch at the strip until your heart is content or the fuel cell is empty, whichever comes first.
Only 69 COPO Camaros will be sold in 2016, which is the same number since production began in 2012. This number is chosen to commemorate the number of original ZL-1 COPO Camaros made in 1969. If you’re one of the lucky names drawn from the pool of interested customers to reserve a 2016 COPO, you’re sure to be in for a wild ride. And who knows, you might just settle the pony car battle once and for all.
Like classics? It’s always Throwback Thursday somewhere.