Don Yenko grew up in his family’s Chevrolet dealership. In 1957, he set up a performance shop at the dealership for adding a bit more punch to Chevy cars. The shop sold performance parts to customers, or the customers could have the work done there by Yenko Chevrolet technicians. The first Yenko special was the 1965 Chevy Corvair Yenko Stinger, ordered through the Central Office Production Order, or COPO. The top-of-the-line Yenko Stinger produced a staggering 240 horsepower from the 164 cubic-inch flat-six-cylinder. In 1967, Yenko began modifying the new Chevy Camaro, soon followed by the Chevy Chevelle and Chevy Nova fitted with L72 427 Big Block.
In 1969, the Chevy Nova Yenko SC 427 was rated at 450 horsepower. In retrospect, Yenko thought he probably shouldn’t have built the SC (Super Car) 427, saying “it was the wildest thing we ever did,” that “it was barely legal at best” and was likely “skirting the edge of product liability.” Yenko didn’t stop modifying Novas, but would tone it down for the following year.
1970 was to be the high watermark for GM muscle cars. Insurance companies were shying away from covering big power muscle cars by charging far higher premiums, and federal regulations were coming in the form of pollution control systems and fuel economy standards. Yenko still wanted to give Chevy Nova fans a car worthy of his name, and so decided to use the 360-horsepower Small Block LT1. The car would be called the Yenko Deuce, and would be advertised as “mini muscle cars” (in 1970, the Chevy Nova was considered a small car, and the Chevelle was a mid-size). By using the 350 cubic-inch LT1, the Yenko Deuce managed to dodge the performance-car insurance premium.
The Chevy Nova Yenko Deuce with the LT1 came with a solid-lifter camshaft, an aluminum intake, finned aluminum valve covers, a twelve-bolt Posi rear differential, 4.10 gears, and Rallye wheels sans trim rings. Transmission choices included the three-speed Turbo Hydramatic 400 automatic or the Muncie N21 four-speed manual. The Yenko Deuce could be had in Sunflower Yellow, Hugger Orange, Cranberry Red, Cortez Silver, Fathom Blue, Forest Green, Citrus Green, or Gobi Beige. The interior came in only one spec, a black vinyl bench seat. Total Chevy Nova Yenko Deuce production numbered but 175 copies, 122 four-speeds and 53 automatics. The last 50 built were sent to Hurst for final assembly, and can be identified by and “H” in their VIN.
Our feature Chevy Nova Yenko Deuce is one of only ten built in Sunflower Yellow. It is equipped with the 350 cubic-inch, 360-horsepower LT1 Small Block, Holley four-barrel carb, M21 four-speed transmission, heavy-duty clutch, Hurst shifter, hood tachometer, American Racing wheels wrapped in Firestone Wide Oval tires, and power brakes. The black vinyl bench seat interior presents as new and features large Yenko Deuce emblems on the door panels.
This rare 1970 Chevy Nova Yenko Deuce will cross the Mecum Auctions block at their Dallas, Texas event taking place September 20th through the 23rd.