If you haven’t been reading the GM Authority RPO series, chances re you’ve seen or heard an RPO in various GM-related conversations. And if this is the absolute first time you’ve come across the RPO label, then that’s cool as well. Whatever the case may be, we thought it pertinent — especially given The General’s changes to 2012 model-year vehicles — to bring to light what, exactly, an RPO is.
RPO stands for Regular Production Option and is General Motors’ standard coding for the configuration options of a vehicle. Usually composed of a combination of three alphanumeric characters (like LS3), an RPO code designates how a vehicle is built during production. As such, an RPO code furnishes the distinct configuration of a particular vehicle as it leaves the factory. So, how does the RPO framework work?
First and foremost, an RPO code specifies the base model of a vehicle. Then, subsequent RPOs complete the vehicle’s RPO list and add all of the various options such as paint color, engine, infotainment system, and wheels. As such, a vehicle with no optional features will have more than one RPO, since information about the vehicle’s exterior color, engine, and interior color are always specified.
Several RPO codes have reached illustrious status; so much so, in fact, that they’ve been promoted to become a full-fledged model or trim level. For instance, the Chevy Corvette equipped with the Z06 RPO package became a model (by the same name) that describes a high-performance variant of the sports car. The same is the case with the Camaro Z28, which became a high-performance model of the bow tie pony car, as well as the Silverado Z71 — an off-road suspension package.
Most of these notable RPO codes are reused upon the debut of a new model, especially when the code specifies a similar function. The ZR1 high-performance option of the Corvette, for instance, made its debut on the 1970 (C3) Corvette, was reused for the 1990-1995 (C4) Vette, and is now available on the 2009 and newer C6. RPOs that never became momentous may be reused for completely different options.
So now that you know what an RPO really is, be sure to keep up our RPO Central series for the latest on model-year changes to GM vehicles.