General Motors is the automotive industry’s granddaddy. The Detroit-based company is credited with creating America’s first muscle vehicle in 1949, and it has been producing hits for over 70 years.
Although today’s muscle vehicles may differ from their predecessors in appearance, the concept remains the same: cram a massive V8 engine under the hood and crank up the horsepower.
Now, for 2022, GM is updating their legendary COPO Camaro and presenting it with the largest gas-powered V8 currently available in a passenger vehicle.
Some automakers now allow consumers to configure their ideal vehicle online and wait for it to be delivered when they wish to buy a new automobile.
Customers in the 1960s, on the other hand, had no choice except to visit a dealership and place an order in person.
The dealer would then place an order with the manufacturer using a specific ordering method, such as the Central Office Production Order (COPO) system for Chevrolet.
The COPO procedure was designed to allow dealers to order fleet automobiles with highly specified choices.
However, some dealerships soon discovered that by entering part-specific codes into the vehicle configuration order sheet, they could use the COPO process to buy crazy performance-oriented versions of street vehicles.
In 1968, an Illinois dealer discovered that the compact Chevy Nova could be equipped with a larger big block engine previously reserved for Chevrolet’s full-size automobiles, such as the Impala.
This was the same method utilized to order some of the legendary Yenko Camaros’ powertrains.
General Motors figured out what was going on and shut it down after a few years.
There would be no more COPO-built performance automobiles until 2011 when Chevrolet introduced its factory-built COPO Camaro, which used the famous COPO moniker but was designed to their factory-tuned specs.
The current COPO Camaro is a race-specific vehicle, which means Chevy develops it expressly for NHRA drag racing.
As a result, the manufacturer equips the vehicle with a variety of high-performance engines.
A 9.4-liter naturally-aspirated V8 is new for 2022, and it’s the largest V8 offered in a car this size from the factory, period.
Unlike all official COPO Camaros made from 2011 onwards, which were only available in GM’s “small block” footprint, or its more current LS-coded platform, this motor is built on GM’s “large block” platform, just like its predecessors from the 1960s.
By enlarging the diameter of each cylinder (called the “bore”) and increasing the distance that the piston can travel (called the “stroke”), Chevy was able to greatly increase the engine’s internal volume using the big block’s larger engine casting.
These two measurements make up a motor’s displacement in cubic inches, which is a measurement of how much air can be forced through it.
The bore and stroke of the 9.4-liter V8 are around 4.6 inches and 4.4 inches, respectively, providing a total volume of 572 cubic inches among its eight cylinders.
The 350 cubic inches small-block 5.7-liter V8 has a bore of 4 inches and a stroke of around 3.5 inches.
A larger volume does not always imply more power right out of the box. Although more displacement translates to more power, there are a number of additional elements that determine an engine’s final horsepower.
The 5.7-liter small block is the centerpiece of the 2022 COPO Camaro. This engine produces 600 horsepower thanks to a factory-installed supercharger.
Another engine choice is the 7.0-liter LS-based V8, which produces 470 horsepower.
Surprisingly, the new 9.4-liter V8, despite its physical size, is rated at only 430 horsepower near the bottom of the ranks.
For years, the 572, as GM refers to the 9.4-liter due to its cylinder displacement, has been available as a standalone performance crate motor, capable of producing up to 727 horsepower right out of the box.
The COPO Camaro, on the other hand, gets a drastically diluted version—but there’s a reason for it.
The National Hot Rod Association (NHRA), the world’s largest racing sanctioning organization, gives these purpose-built Camaros a horsepower rating as part of the design process.
The group organizes drag racing events across the United States, with numerous classes for automobiles to compete in.
By putting restrictions on power, weight, safety equipment, and modifications, these classifications serve to ensure that a race is fair for all competitors.
Chevrolet’s race-only Camaro, for example, is utilized to participate in the NHRA’s Stock and Super Stock classes, which are further broken into small subclasses of competing vehicles based on weight and modification regulations.
The NHRA chooses which subclass a vehicle can compete in based on a ratio of the car’s shipping weight to its horsepower rating, and can further restrict classes if a vehicle consistently runs a quarter-mile faster than the index time for the subclass.
Depending on whatever motor is installed, the vehicle’s shipping weight and factory NHRA-certified horsepower will determine which class it competes in, which is important for customers who are buying this car to race.
Expect to pay $105,000 for a vehicle with the new 9.4-liter engine, or $130,000 for a vehicle with the horsepower-hungry 5.7-liter.
Due to restricted production, Chevrolet also offers the automobile as a rolling chassis for buyers to provide their engine, albeit no price is stated.
For weight savings and safety, all cars come equipped with a carbon fiber hood and wheelie bars.
In addition, if desired, a trunk-mounted parachute can be installed.
Unfortunately, you won’t see a COPO Camaro on the streets. Despite its resemblance to a vehicle seen on a dealer lot, the COPO is not a street-legal vehicle.
Buyers of one of GM’s most powerful cars will only be able to use it on the drag strip, but that’s one of the reasons it’s still around.