Introduced in 1969, the Camaro ZL1 is part of the iconic COPO 427 pair that went against GM's edict that forbade Chevrolet from installing engines larger than 400 cubic inches (6.6 liters) in midsize and smaller models. Conceived by drag racer Dick Harrell and ordered through Fred Gibb Chevrolet, the COPO ZL1 was pretty much a road-legal dragster.
It sounds familiar, right? Well, the ZL1 was the Challenger Demon of its era. It's super-rare too because Chevrolet made only 69 of them.
Fitted with an all-aluminum, 427-cubic-inch (7.0-liter) big-block V8, the Camaro ZL1 hit dealerships with 430 horsepower and 450 pound-feet (610 Nm) of torque on tap. It may not sound like a lot today, but it packed more punch than a supercar back then. For reference, the Lamborghini Miura P400S came with 365 horsepower in 1969.
Moving over to the Challenger Demon, its supercharged, 6.2-liter V8 engine is rated at an astounding 808 horsepower and 717 pound-feet (972 Nm) of torque. When running on 91-octane gasoline, that is! Give that engine 100-octane racing fuel and output increases to 840 horses. Needless to say, the COPO ZL1 is no match for this beefed-up Mopar.
But don't let the massive horsepower gap fool you, this 1969 Camaro ZL1 isn't exactly stock. This Chevy usually competes in the Pure Stock Muscle Car Drag Race series, a competition that allows a long list of upgrades to the drivetrain. I don't have numbers to run by, but I'm pretty sure this ZL1 packs way more than 600 horsepower.
Such a figure would explain the 11.84-second quarter-mile run in the video below, which is about two seconds quicker than the official factory rating from the late 1960s. Yes, it's still notably slower than the Demon, which covers the distance in 10.52 clicks, but the gap is unexpectedly smaller than it would have been with a stock 1969 COPO ZL1 at the Christmas tree. Hit play to check it out.