The L88 7.0L V8 racing engine found under the hood of the 1969 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 was never intended to be installed on a road going vehicle. Chevrolet developed the engine for drag racing and other track use, so how did it end up in a production car?
The Central Office Production Order, known famously as COPO, was a process that allowed specialty vehicles to be ordered directly from the factory. When it was conceived, it was intended to be used for taxis, trucks, and other commercial vehicles, but it remains known for allowing dealers to order some of the most special muscle cars to ever leave Detroit factories.
Chevrolet drag racer Dick Harell approached Fred Gibb, owner of Gibb Chevrolet, about ordering a COPO Camaro with the 430 horsepower, 7.0 liter ZL1 engine under the hood. Gibb contacted GM, who eventually agreed to produce the Camaro with the ZL1 racing engine, but only if he ordered a minimum of 50 vehicles. Gibb obliged, and one of the fastest Camaro’s ever built was set for production.
Only 69 1969 Camaro ZL1’s were built, which may explain the $500,000 that this Dusk Blue Camaro ZL1 fetched at the Mecum Chicago Auction this past weekend. This example is #23 of 69 and has been restored to original factory specifications. Even though its been sold, you can still view the ad and full photo album on Mecum’s website here.
Just last month, a Corvette equipped with the mighty L88 sold for a staggering $3.2 million.