10 Things Gearheads Forgot About The Yenko Camaro

After serving in the Air Force and earning a degree in business administration, Don Yenko returned to Pennsylvania and established a performance shop at the Yenko Chevrolet family business. Don was also interested in a racing career, building a resume of success in Group A and B production class racing, SCCA Trans-Am racing and a few drag racing events. But since he wanted a legacy beyond racing, Don Yenko borrowed a leaf from Carroll Shelby’s playbook and created a racing brand designed Chevy.

Related: These Are The 10 Coolest Yenko Camaros Ever Made

Don Yenko tuned the famous Corvairs, Chevelles and Novas, but he left an indelible mark on the automotive industry with the Yenko Super Camaro. The Camaro debuted when GM had an internal 6.6-liter edict on midsize and compact models, which put it at a power disadvantage to the Ford Mustang, Dodge Dart and Plymouth Barracuda. However, Don discovered a workaround and created a high-performance muscle car that gained loyal cult status. It’s been over five decades since its debut, so read on to find out ten things gearheads forgot about the Yenko Camaro.

Every Yenko Camaro packed a short block 427

Yenko Chevrolet started with L78-equipped SS Camaros, dropping an L72 or L88 and swapping the 396 for the 427 short blocks mounted directly to the stock engine mounts. Conversions used the stock aluminum intake, 396 big-port and valve heads, and the same Holley four-barrel carburetors used on the Camaro Z/28.

The Yenko Camaro was available with two transmissions; a Muncie M21 close-ratio four-speed manual or the Turbo Hydra-Matic 400 three-speed automatic. As a result, power variations were 450 hp and 410 hp respectively.

The Yenko Camaro boasted several performance additions

Apart from engine conversions, Yenko Chevrolet has also outfitted its Camaros with several performance upgrades. The options list included a Posi-Traction rear differential with heat-treated gears, heavy-duty 4-core radiators, power brakes with front discs, a heavy-duty clutch, high-capacity cooling systems and suspension upgrades.

Related: We Can’t Stop Watching These Incredibly Modified 2nd Gen Camaros

Other upgrades included special spark plug wires, Traction Master traction bars, Stewart Warner tachometer, tuned headers and instrument clusters. In addition to performance parts, the Yenko Camaro featured additions like a scatter shield, N34 teak wood steering wheel, spoilers and a lightweight, twin-snorkel fiberglass hood.

Yenko Camaros feature distinctive SYC graphics and badging

Yenko Chevrolet completed the visual package with distinctive stripes and badges on specific parts all around. A graphic package including large black stripes and sYc lettering completed the bonnet, while special 427 badging featured both sides of the bonnet bulge and taillight panel.

Yenko badging is visible on the front fenders and taillight panel, and YENKO/SC branding appears in the black stripe that runs from the rear spoiler, along the quarter panel, just ahead of the front wheel opening of the car. A YENKO SC 427 decal dominates the top of the fan shroud, while the interior features sYc lettering on the headrests.

Don Yenko took advantage of the COPO system

After great success with the 1967 Camaro, Don Yenko convinced Chevrolet to create unique internal production numbers under the central office production order code. Yenko ordered 1968 Camaros with various COPO codes, which saw them arrive with a larger front sway bay, 140 mph speedometer and special trim tags.

Building on his close relationship with Chevrolet marketing manager Vince Piggins, Yenko found a workaround with the COPO system that allowed Chevrolet to build a limited run of L72 427-equipped Camaros from the assembly lines. factory. Orders included a larger front stabilizer bar, 4.10 Positraction rear end, electric disc brakes, induction hood, spoilers and 4-core radiators.

Yenko Chevrolet has sold over 300 Yenko Camaro units

In 1967 computers did not exist, which meant that pen and paper were the only available form of record keeping. Although there is no precise record of the number of 1967 Yenko Camaros, Yenko Chevrolet mechanic Warren Dernoshek confirmed that he only had the complete record for 53 of them.

Related: Here’s What Makes the COPO Camaro So Great

Dernoshek also hinted that all ’68 models had been tagged before leaving the store, with dealership records indicating Yenko had built 64 cars that year. Since Chevrolet was heavily involved in building the 1969 Yenko Camaro, production records revealed 201 units, 171 with manual transmissions and 30 with automatic transmissions.

Jack Douglass Chevrolet sold Yenko Camaros

Although Chevrolet records show 201 Yenko Camaro units rolled off the assembly lines in 1969, 25 cars went to the Jack Douglass Chevrolet dealership in Chicago. Jack Douglass Chevrolet entered into an agreement with Yenko Camaro to add several modifications to these muscle cars and sell them as Douglass-Yenko Camaros under license from Yenko.

Douglass-Yenko Camaros were available with the X11-style trim, which included woodgrain interior trim, dash-mounted passenger grab handle, Soft Ray tinted glass, polished stainless steel wheel well, a drip rail and a side louver trim. They also featured Jack Douglass Chevrolet decals, front and rear mounted Blue Bowtie badges and optional RPO VE3 Special Body Color front bumpers.

The Yenko Camaro got stifled by regulations

The muscle car era of the 1960s saw American automakers engage in a glorious horsepower war, allowing enthusiasts to own impressive cars with plenty of power and acres of style at reasonable prices. Unfortunately for the Yenko Camaro, the government launched a muscle car roundup just as it was starting to ramp up production numbers.

Heavy government regulations such as the Clean Air Act of 1970 and the Corporate Average Fuel Economy Regulations have severely affected any plans for high performance supremacy. As if that weren’t enough, soaring insurance costs added more nails to the coffin of the muscle car era.

Yenko Camaro prototype debuts at SEMA 2009

The famous Yenko nameplate reappeared with the introduction of a Yenko Camaro prototype at SEMA 2009. Based on a 2010 Camaro SS, the Yenko Camaro Phase I concept featured a 600 hp supercharged and intercooled V-8 mated to a manual transmission Tremec six-speed with Hurst short-throw shifter.

Related: The Real Story Behind Gas Monkey Garage’s SEMA 1972 Buick Riviera

Designers included retro stripes, vintage-style aluminum wheels, Yenko Super Car logos and badging honoring 60s legends. The leather interior featured sYc headrest embroidery and YENKO emblems/ SC on door sills and floor mats.

The Yenko Camaro was resurrected in 2015

May 14, 2015 was proclaimed “Yenko Day” as the first production Yenko/SC Camaro marked the rebirth of the iconic Yenko Camaro. Special Vehicle Engineering, under license from General Marketing Capital Inc., offered Yenko fans the opportunity to step into history while honoring Yenko’s legacy.

The 2015 model was based on the 2015 ZL1 Camaro, which featured a 700 hp LS7 supercharged V8 engine fed with cold air under the hood. Additional features included YENKO/SC graphics, Yenko stripes, Yenko emblems, 427 badges, numbered Yenko underhood and dash plaques. The SVE Yenko/SC Camaro is available in 2022 in Stage I or Stage II trim levels.

The Yenko Camaro is a coveted muscle car

The Yenko Camaro is arguably one of the rarest muscle cars of the 1960s, making it a coveted collector’s item with undeniable cult status. A lucky enthusiast picked up a new, restored, and nearly flawless 1969 Daytona Yellow Yenko Camaro at Mecum Kissimmee 2022 for a whopping $368,500.

Hemmings showed off one of 64 1968 Yenko Camaros in 2017, a well-maintained example that sold for a record $600,000. In 2022, a 1967 Yenko Super Camaro Fathom Blue crossed the block for a jaw-dropping $632,500 at Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale auction to become the most expensive Yenko Camaro ever sold at auction.

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