Going electric is seemingly the only way the Camaro will see another generation, even if it might be as a sedan. Sales have been so bad that Chevrolet even canceled a planned Z/28 return. But the Camaro isn’t dead yet, nor is the V8-powered muscle car segment. And while the Z/28 isn’t coming, another high-performance Camaro is. The Chevrolet COPO Camaro is back for 2022, and it’s packing a truly big big-block V8.
With a 9.4-liter V8, the 2022 Chevrolet COPO Camaro isn’t going gentle into the good night
Originally, GM’s Central Office Production Order was designed so dealers could sell customers vehicles with non-standard features, Car and Driver explains. But it quickly became a way for savvy dealers to follow in famed racer and Chevrolet dealer Don Yenko’s footsteps and order racing parts for road cars. And that included early Camaros.
The first COPO Camaro era ended in 1970. However, Chevrolet restarted it in 2012 to sell drag-race-ready Camaros to a limited batch of customers. And every year since the automaker has made limited numbers of these non-street-legal Camaros. Most have some flavor of V8 under their hoods, though there was even a one-off electric ‘eCOPO Camaro’ in 2019.
However, with the COVID-19 pandemic and slumping sales, 2020 looked like the program’s last year. But that’s not the case. The COPO Camaro is back again for 2022, and electrification is nowhere to be seen. Instead, it seems that Chevrolet wants to let the 2022 Camaro rage against the dying light with a big V8 hurrah.
And that’s ‘big’ as in ‘big-block.’ The 2022 Chevrolet COPO Camaro has the largest V8 ever offered by an American automaker, The Drive says. It’s a 9.4-liter V8 that powers the rear wheels via an ATI Racing TH400 three-speed automatic transmission.
The 9.4-liter V8 might be big, but the other V8s are even more powerful
A 9.4-liter V8 sounds impressive, especially since Ford’s ‘Godzilla’ V8 only displaces 7.3 liters. Unfortunately, due to NHRA Stock and Super Stock eliminator class rules, it’s limited to 430 hp, The Drive says. But if you want to race it out of class, it’s theoretically capable of making significantly more horsepower, Hagerty notes.
However, Chevrolet isn’t letting the 2022 COPO Camaro go into battle against the Challenger Drag Pak under-powered. There’s also a 470-hp 7.0-liter V8 available for fans of natural aspiration. And those looking for maximum power should take a look at the 600-hp 5.7-liter supercharged V8. But unlike the 9.4-liter V8, these other two engines have carburetors rather than fuel injectors.
All three 2022 COPO Camaro engines use the same TH400 transmission. They also all have standard wheelie bars, carbon-fiber hoods, Bogart race wheels, and Hoosier drag tires. And buyers can order additional racing parts such as trunk-mounted parachutes, weight boxes, and carbon-fiber air intakes. The supercharged model gets the Parachute Package as standard, though.
How much is a 2022 COPO Camaro?
Since the program’s resurrection, Chevrolet has only sold 69 COPO Camaros each year. That’s because it only made 69 of the original COPOs back in 1969. However, that’s not the case with the 2022 model. This year, Chevrolet is ditching the production cap. It’s first-come, first-served, but anyone with enough money can order one.
Speaking of money, the 2022 COPO Camaro isn’t cheap. The 9.4-liter model is the cheapest and it starts at $105,000. The 7.0-liter and supercharged 5.7-liter models start at $117,500 and $130K, respectively. Those prices, though, include a private tour of the Oxford, Michigan COPO facility.
Officially, 2022 isn’t the COPO Camaro’s last year, even if the road car is on its slow way out. And given that Ford made an electric Mustang Cobra Jet, Chevrolet might be considering making another EV drag racer. Nevertheless, if this is the V8 COPO’s end, it’s one heck of a send-off.
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