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      Muscle Cars: Muscle Cars: American Motors - Bigger Is Better
    Posted on Tuesday, October 12 @ 20:13:36 UTC by Cars
     
     
      Muscle Cars Bigger Is Better No one was hurt more than Chevrolet by the General Motors edict limiting cubic inches in mid-size cars to 400. Chevy was supposed to be the performance division and it was hamstrung by a harebrained corporate decision. Ford was pumping out 427 and 428 Fairanes and Mustangs, and you could get up to 440 cubic inches in a compact-size Dodge Dart, but a 427 Chevelle? Heavens, no!

    But as in any good capitalistic society, GM's myopia led to great fortune for those with the presence of mind to build what it wou d not. One person who saw the possible gold at the end of the rainbow was Joel Rosen of Motion Performance in Baldwin, New York. "As soon as the Camoro came out in 1967, if was obvious there was a market for a 427 version—at least to me it was obvious," Rosen said. He teamed up with Baldwin Chevrolet and began ordering 396/375-horse cars (because the solid-lifter engines were so easy to sell after the swap) and installing 425-horse L72 427 engines in them. "The basic package went for about $4,000. It was cheap; that's why it went over so well," he recalled. "The original concept was to build a plain Jane sleeper. Then it was up to the customer if he wanted to order a different carburetor, hood, traction bars, etc." So popular were the Camaros that by 1968 Rosen and Baldwin Chevrolet began to do heavily modified Corvettes; the following year they were followed by 427 Novas, Chevelles, and special Biscaynes. Rosen, however, wasn't the only person profiting from these kinds of swaps. Don Yenko, through his Chevy dealership in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, was doing similar things in 1967, as were Fred Gibb Chevrolet, Berger Chevrolet, Nickey Chevrolet, Dana Chevrolet, and others. The demand was so great that by the '69 model year (and possibly earlier), Yenko had worked out a clever deal to have one hundred cars built on a factory assembly line through use of a Central Office Production Order (COPO). Eventually, another 101 cars were ordered by Yenko, and other astute dealerships got in on the action as well. Though no one knows for sure how many, it is believed that approximately three hundred more went to these other dealers. Don't get the idea that the stock 375-horse Camaros were slugs. They were extremely potent. As the decade wore on, though, 396 cubes weren't always enough to compete with some of the modified street pounders. That's when you needed the heavy artillery. Super Stock & Drag Illustrated tested a '69 Yenko Sports Cars 427 Camaro in its July 1969 issue and the results were mind-boggling. The only deviation from a production 427/425 engine was a set of open Doug Thorley headers. With 8-inch-wide M&H slicks and 4.10 gears, the Camaro rolled to an 11.94 at 114.50mph. Research has shown that COPO Chevelles were also available in 1969. But that is only part of the story; recently discovered do*****entation has shown that Yenko may have ordered and sold 1968 COPO Camaros. Perhaps the only person who knew for sure was Don Yenko, and he died in a plane crash years ago. Rosen does not remember any '68 COPO cars, but he doesn't rule out the possibility of their existence: "They might have let one or two slip out; that's always a possibility. But I never saw one." As for the 427 Novas, Rosen wasn't the only person to build or sell them either. Yenko and Gibb did, too. Blindingly fast, they were not easy cars to drive, and some insurance companies flatly refused to handle them. For this, Yenko had a solution. In 1970 he produced a number of Chevy 11s with the potent but ightweight LT-1 Corvette motor. Known as the Yenko Deuce, this car came straight from the factory (via a Fleet Order, not a COPO) with the LT-1 and a 12-bolt rear with 4.10 gears. It should come as little surprise that with 370 horsepower, it gave you mind-altering acceleration. These cars were produced only in 1970, and a total of 176 were built.
     
     
     
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    Friday, July 12
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