The Bow Tie brigade is never one to rest on its track success, and when it comes to the NHRA Factory Showdown class, the company is playing for keeps. Chevrolet’s “old” 2015 COPO claimed “World’s Fastest Stocker” title by running a jaw-dropping 8.54 e.t. at 157.01 mph in October 2015 with David Barton at the wheel. The engineers at Chevrolet Performance know their crosstown rivals will be looking for blood when their 2016 Cobra Jets and Drag Paks start attacking the dragstrip. Both the Mustang and Challenger drag-package cars have been improved significantly this year, especially with new supercharged engine combinations.
All three OEMs want to offer their customers the most competitive package for the money. If anything, the NHRA Factory Stock class has seen its share of “defectors” among racers. Brand loyalty is one thing, but if your competition has a better piece that’s faster, requires less thrashing between rounds, and costs less to operate, it’s only a matter time until defection among Stock or Super Stock racers becomes rampant. Nothing is more satisfying to a company when they make a conquest and capture a competing brand’s customer.
Knowing this, the team at Chevrolet Performance set out to make major improvements on the 2016 COPO. When the Gen 6 Camaro came out, one of the biggest improvements was a much-needed weight reduction over the prior model. But borrowing the Corvette’s 6.2L LT1 and making it standard on the 2016 Camaro SS made major headlines. So how does that relate to COPO? Hang tight, we’re going to tell you in a few.
Modern History Lesson
It’s hard to believe the modern COPO program is only four years old. When it was announced at the 2011 SEMA Show, thunderous applause emanated from the Chevrolet Performance booth in the main hall at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Since then, Chevy has produced more than 270 COPO Camaros in a variety of naturally aspirated and supercharged engine packages that have produced winning combinations for their owners in NHRA Stock Eliminator, Super Stock, and Factory Stock Shootout classes. The driving force behind the program is a group of knowledgeable individuals, including racers, who know what it takes to build a better COPO year after year.
“Chevrolet Performance is more than just parts and crate engines. We are continuing a legacy. The 2016 COPO Camaro is no exception. A small facility north of Detroit hand-builds 69 modern interpretations of the original icon with a NHRA certified cage, slicks, and everything a racer needs to make consistent 8-second passes the day they take delivery,” said Adrienne Peters, Chevrolet Performance Marketing Manager. “This car is truly crafted for our most passionate performance fanatics. It is an absolute honor to continue the historic work of my performance-minded predecessors at Chevrolet.”
Once Chevrolet Performance announced the 2016 COPO was a go in late 2015, we couldn’t wait to see the finished product. Since the production Gen 6 Camaro is all-new for 2016, the COPO would also have the same sexy sheetmetal and profile. It’s also leaner and meaner, with new technology and lessons learned from the Gen 5 COPO program. Just like the prior years, an online application on the Chevrolet Performance website and a third-party lottery system were used to contact the 69 lucky individuals that had been approved to purchase a COPO.
Kids in a Candy Store
When Chevrolet Performance offered to provide us a tour of the COPO Build Center, we were all over that. The COPO team also gave us behind-the-scene access into the care and passion that goes into hand-crafting this 8-second, turnkey machine. Since this was the birthplace of the Gen 5 COPO, a lot of history and horsepower rolled out of this facility, and for us, it was like hallowed grounds. So here are some exclusive behind-the-scenes images on how the 2016 COPO Camaros are built.
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