The Yenko Super Camaro was a modified Chevrolet Camaro prepared by Yenko Chevrolet, under the command of Don Yenko. The originals were all first-generation Camaros. When the Camaro debuted, a General Motors corporate edict prevented it from carrying an engine larger than 400 in³ (6.6 L) V8; this put the Camaro at a serious disadvantage to the Ford Mustang, Plymouth Barracuda and the Dodge Dart since neither Ford nor Plymouth/Dodge had a such a limit. Don Yenko, however, knew there was a market for an ultra powerful Camaro and found ways around the GM limit.
Yenko ordered L-78 equipped SS Camaros and swapped in the Chevrolet Corvette's L-72 427 in³ (7.0 L) V8. The cars came with a 4.10 rear end and heavy-duty suspension. The exact number of cars produced is 54. Yenko also installed a fiberglass replacement hood similar to the "Stinger" hood featured on 1967 big-block Corvettes.
Don Yenko's Camaros were equipped with a 427ci L-72 in them with either an M21 or M22 transmission. The horsepower was rated at 450 hp (336 kW). Yenko Camaros were not allowed to race for Chevrolet on the drag strip because they were not made by Chevrolet. Chevy's answer to this was the COPO Camaro, or Central Office Production Order, in 1969. The COPO Camaros were equipped with the same 427ci engine and were allowed to race for Chevy.
Encouraged by the success of the 1967 model, Yenko continued to produce his Camaros. All cars came equipped with the M-21 close-ratio four speedmanual transmission. A large, twin-scooped hood replaced the "Stinger" version, and Yenko badges graced the sides and tail light plate. The COPO model came with upgraded suspension, 140 mph (230 km/h) speed and other items but not the 427 ci engine. Yenko then swapped the factory 396 ci engine for the 427 ci engine up until in 1969 when the 427's were installed by Chevrolet.
In January 2009 at the Barret Jackson Auto Auction, a re-bodied, silver four-speed Yenko reportedly sold for $121,000.
For 1969, the dealership worked with Chevrolet to have the L-72 engines installed on the factory assembly line using a Central Office Production Order, or COPO. The orders included power disc brakes, a 4.10 Positraction rear end with heat treated axle shafts, (to avoid breakage), a Z-28 front anti-sway bar, and a heavy-duty 4-core radiator. Buyers of the car had the option of either the M-21 four speed or the Turbo Hydramatic 400 automatic transmission. A total of 201 cars were sold in 1969, 171 with four speed transmissions and 30 with automatic transmissions. Yenko rounded out the visual package with front and rear spoilers, a cowl-induction hood, special "Yenko 427" badges, twin stripes down the flanks and hood, (not with all cars however), and the sYc (Yenko Super Car) badge, (again, not with all cars). According to the Camaro Research Group, standard black interior (code 711) was the only interior ordered by Yenko.
As of September 2008, there are two known automatic transmission 1969 Yenko Camaros remaining, according to an ESPN auction show.
On Jan. 17, 2009, a documented ZL-1 COPO, dark green, re-bodied, went for $290,000 at the Barret Jackson Auto Auction as Lot 12773. "Mr. October," Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson, was bidding on this car but didn't win it. Another yellow with black stripes, original body but non-original heads, and auto transmission, sold for $270,000. Auctioned as Lot 96651.
The last five digits on the V.I.N. denote the lot numbers assigned for live sale through Barrett-Jackson auctions.
The 1981 Yenko Turbo Z, as it was known, was based on a 1981 Camaro. Don Yenko's comments on the car are:
|“||From a performance standpoint, cars have shown a slow but steady decline in the last 10 years. Low compression engines to accommodate low octane fuel, are now the norm. Ever-increasing numbers of emissions controls have sapped their share of horsepower from once potent engines. To recover these accumulated horsepower losses without increasing pollution presents a real challenge. After months of testing and development we have done it. Working closely with some competent people at Turbo International a system emerged that does everything we hoped for. This system, like all others, captures the energy to improve the induction of fuel/air mixture. The similarity to the other systems stops right here. Our system uses no priority valve so there's no turbo-lag. We don't have a waste gate to malfunction either. And since all of the fuel entering the engine is "processed" through the turbo, you get better fuel economy and improved response even without being in boost. Every nut, bolt and fitting used in this system is the best available. This has all been developed with each and every emission control connected and functional.[dead link]||”|
1969 Continuation Series
Recently a company out of North Carolina called Classic Automotive Restoration Specialists has restarted production of the '69 Yenko Camaro. Don Yenko sold 201 of his famous COPO-program Camaros out of his Canonsburg, PA dealership. As reported in the March '08 issue of Muscle Car Review the vehicle is a fully licensed and certified Yenko starting at #202. The 427 engine under the hood was built by GM who has brought back the big block engines from the muscle car era. The rest of the components took 2½ years to track down the original machinery. Options offered on the vehicle are the same as was available back in 1969 including paint colors. The car costs around 60% less than some of the current 43-year old Yenko Camaro survivors but drives like an old car would have when it was new off the dealership.
A new Yenko Camaro based on the new 2010 Camaro platform was introduced at SEMA 2009. The new engine is a supercharged version of GM's LS3, the 6.2-liter V8 that comes standard with the Camaro SS. Since it is only the Phase I Yenko, it is expected that Phase II and Phase III Yenkos are coming which will have a Z06-sourced LS7 427 engine and possibly even an LS9. New Yenko Camaros are currently being offered via Nickey Chevrolet in Chicago.