Chevrolet redesigned its mid-sized Chevelle for 1968 with one of the cleanest, sharpest body styles ever to come out of GM Styling _ or anywhere else for that matter _ but the factory regular production options continued to offer only variants on the 396 cubic inch big block.
Fortunately Chevrolet management had found a way around the corporate restriction on using the 7-liter 427 cubic inch big block in the Chevelle.
It was called a "Central Office Production Order", or COPO as it is now universally known. Set up by GM as a means of satisfying fleet orders for special specification cars, most COPOs were for fleets of police cars and dull, boring cars for taxicabs, meter readers and delivery services. A few enterprising dealers, in collusion with enthusiastic insiders at Chevrolet, realized they could use the COPO system to build fleets of 427-powered Chevelles and Camaros.
The most prolific of these dealers was Don Yenko. Yenko Chevrolet in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania had been selling Chevys since the marque was new. Don knew the ins and outs of Chevrolet management and had a long and successful history racing Chevrolets on both drag strips and road circuits. He knew there was a market for a 427 Chevelle, just as he had demonstrated there was a market for 427 Camaros. In 1969 he placed an order for 100 Chevelles powered by the 427 cubic inch big block using the COPO number 9562. Not all would be sold through Yenko Chevrolet, as Yenko found like-minded Chevy stores to take a few of them after they'd been modified in Canonsburg. But they were known as Yenko Chevelles, identification that both took advantage of the already established Yenko reputation and satisfied Chevrolet and GM Corporate management's requirement that they would be clearly differentiated from the Regular Production Option (RPO) Chevelles sold by most Chevy dealers.
COPO 9562 included the 425 horsepower 427 cubic inch big block engine, 4.1:1 Positraction 12-bolt rear axle, heavy duty suspension and radiator, power front disc brakes and 7%uFFFD15 Rally wheels. Yenko offered the choice of either a special Turbo 400 automatic or a close ratio M21 4-speed Muncie transmission. Configured as SS models, they were delivered without "SS" identification so Yenko Chevrolet could apply its unique graphics package of Yenko medallions and black side and hood trim. Mechanically the only change Yenko made was a switch to an open element air cleaner which marginally boosted the 427's power _ already underrated by the factory and factored by NHRA in its classification scheme at 450 horsepower.
Surviving records indicate that only 99 of the 100 COPO 9562 Chevelles ordered by Yenko Chevrolet were actually built and today only something like half of them survive. Their reputation is founded first upon performance and only later by their rarity. There are no compromises in a Yenko Chevelle: they were built to go very fast in drag competition and they fulfilled their purpose.
Reggie Jackson acquired this '69 Yenko Chevelle in the 1980's. "I gathered paperwork and drove it a while even though it was a show queen.
"At one time I had one or another of all the Yenkos. They drive nicely.
"The appeal of these cars is that they were done by the factory. The suspension was there, the heavy duty M20 transmission or beefed up Turbo 400, big springs, big sway bars, trailing arms and more tire. The factory did it and whenever the General got involved they spent lots of money on R&D to get it right, millions on development so they could sell it to us for $6,000."
It is still in show quality condition and equipped with the 450hp 427 big block, Turbo 400 automatic, bucket seats, console, rally wheels with Goodyear Polyglas F70-15 tires, rear mounted antenna, AM radio, power steering, power brakes and its original smog equipment.
Its most unusual feature (as if being one of 99 built isn't enough) is the cowl induction air intake. This isn't the usual flapper valve in the back of a raised hood but NASCAR style fixed ducting from the carburetor back to pick up high pressure, cool air out of the body's standard cowl vent openings. It's very trick and very rare.
This is an original engine and transmission Yenko, thoroughly documented including a certificate from Ed Cunneen's COPO Connection. It is finished in Ermine White with Yenko's distinctive matte black hood, exterior identification and seatback emblems.
Reggie calls it "A high school kid's dream."