In the 1960s, one of these good Chevrolet products came in the form of the Camaro. Introduced as a competitor for the slightly older Ford Mustang, it would have remained great if it weren’t for a select pack of dealers who saw the Camaro’s potential of being so much more.
That pack of dealers includes names true muscle car enthusiasts know to this day: Yenko, Dana Chevrolet, Baldwin-Motion, and so on. These guys and gals were capable of seeing not only the car’s potential, but also loopholes in the Chevy system that allowed some incredible machines to be born over the years.
It’s Yenko we’re here to discuss today, thanks to one of the cars made with its help popping up for sale. It’s an extremely rare machine that’s been in possession of a single owner for more than four decades (42 years, and mostly out of sight), and that can do nothing but add to its value in the eyes of collectors.
Being a Chevy addict, Yenko saw the potential of the Camaro as soon as it hit the market, but there was that little problem of the carmaker-imposed limit on engine displacement: no Camaro should feature an engine larger than 400ci (6.6-liter) as it exits the factory.
In an attempt to give Camaro customers the proper tools to fight rivals Ford and Plymouth, Yenko took matters into his own hands and, together with his partner Dick Harrell, began installing Corvette engines into Camaros, with a slightly bigger displacement of 427ci (7.0-liters).
The man started doing this in 1967, and his idea caught on so rapidly that 54 Camaros got converted this way. The following year, in 1968, about 64 left Yenko’s assembly lines, and it was only a year after that when he realized he could have Chevrolet’s Central Office Production Order (COPO) do that for him.
The car, serial number YS-8035, originally had the 396ci engine of the Camaro breed, but after being handled by Yenko, it received the 427ci V8 that’s rated at 425 hp. The new engine, hidden under a hood with pins and Ram Air, was catered to by Arlen Vanke, a drag racing driver, and comes complete with the proper emissions equipment. It works with a close-ratio 4-speed manual transmission rebuilt by the same engineer.
The car’s body is wrapped in Matador Red and was made to shine again during a repaint that took place back in 2015. Offsetting the bright color is the black vinyl roof, pulled over an interior bucket seat interior where, facing the front seats, there are a 140 mph (225 kph) speedometer and a 3-gauge pod in a central position, under the dash.
Yenko references can be found all over, inside and out, in the form of badges and graphics, but also as a Yenko door jam number tag.
Whoever gets their hands on the beefed-up Camaro should also know tons of documents, from the dealer order form and sales contract to the internal invoices and inspection forms, come with the package. That’s pretty much the entire and original Yenko dealership paperwork, so greatly cherished by true collectors.
We’ll come back with an update to this story once we learn how much this rare Camaro ends up selling for.