The COPO Camaros, Chevelles, and Novas of the 1960s and early 1970s were the ultimate high-performance GM muscle cars. While few knew about this back channel program at the time, it is now recognized as the origin of GM's top muscle cars.
Dedicated Chevy racers and car owners were determined to compete head-to-head with Mopar and Ford at the racetrack and on the street. But in order to do so, they needed to circumvent the corporate ban on racing and resolve the restriction of 400-ci engines in intermediate vehicles. Don Yenko and some other creative individuals recognized the loophole in the COPO (Central Office Production Order) system at General Motors. The COPO program was designated for fleet vehicles such as taxicabs, but at the peak of the muscle car wars it was used to build the ultimate high-performance Chevy muscle cars. Some horrific on-track accidents compelled General Motors to drop out of racing, yet GM did not want to allow Chrysler and Ford to steal the glory on Sundays while they stood on the sidelines. As a result, GM inconspicuously ran the Chevy racing and high-performance program through back channels, and COPO was integral part of the program.
The COPO muscle car and racing program produced a storied and remarkable journey, and author Matt Avery captures all these facets in this entertaining and revealing history.