Chevy COPO Camaro ZL-1 vs. Plymouth Hemi Cuda Is Not Your Average Drag Race

If you've been following us, you already know we're big fans of classic muscle car drag races. Today's massively powerful cars are definitely entertaining when lining up at the strip, but nothing compares to good ole stock racing as it happened back in the day.
1969 Chevrolet COPO Camaro ZL-1 vs 1971 Plymouth Hemi Cuda 1 photo
Photo: Cars And Zebras/YouTube
We've seen quite a few iconic muscle cars hit the drag strip in these dedicated events, but this one's a little different. That's because it brings together two of the rarest and most coveted vehicles from the golden muscle car era: the Chevrolet COPO Camaro ZL-1 and the Plymouth Hemi Cuda. And they're not exactly stock either.

The ZL-1 is the rarest of two COPO Camaros that Chevrolet offered in 1969. Fitted with a race-spec 7.0-liter aluminum V8, the ZL-1 hit the road with 430 horsepower and 450 pound-feet (610 Nm) of torque, both underrated figures, a common practice back in the day.

However, this ZL-1 isn't exactly stock. The race you're about to see is of the Factory Appearing Stock Tire (FAST) variety, which restricts the car to a stock appearance from the outside while allowing certain upgrades to the engine, fuel system, and rear axle. The Camaro's engine now displaces 8.8 liters and sends a whopping 700 horsepower to the rear wheels.

The same goes for the 1971 Hemi Cuda that goes against this Camaro. The original 7.0-liter Hemi V8, rated at 425 horsepower and 490 pound-feet (664 Nm) of twist from the factory, has been upgraded and cranks out a massive 1,000 horses.

Yup, these aren't your regular COPO Camaro and Hemi Cuda, which is plain ridiculous since the stock cars are far from regular anyway. But I love how they still retain the factory appearance while pumping out enough oomph to give the modern Dodge Challenger Hellcat and Shelby GT500 something to worry about.

These cars are obviously stupid fast when compared to their original counterparts. You'll notice that as soon as they charge off the line. The output is somewhat surprising, too, as the less powerful Camaro runs a bit faster. The COPO crosses the line in 9.66 seconds at 142.95 mph (230.05 kph). The Cuda follows just a few inches behind with a 9.79-second ET at 143.04 mph (230.20 kph).

To get a better idea of how much faster these cars are thanks to their upgraded drivetrains, both were tested to 13-second quarter-mile runs when they originally introduced. Stock appearance and four seconds quicker down the strip? Sign me up!

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About the author: Ciprian Florea
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Ask Ciprian about cars and he'll reveal an obsession with classics and an annoyance with modern design cues. Read his articles and you'll understand why his ideal SUV is the 1969 Chevrolet K5 Blazer.
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