Todd Werner has excellent taste in American performance cars. His collection includes some of the greatest Mopar race cars to ever run a Hemi in the 1960s and ’70s, and his collection also includes quite a few rare performance cars from the General. Here are our seven favorite Chevrolet and Pontiac performers from Mecum’s upcoming sale of the Werner collection, July 31–August 3 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
Arnie “The Farmer” Beswick has a career drag racing Pontiacs dating to the 1950s, and won the 1960 Super Stock class at the Winternationals in a 1960 Pontiac Catalina decked out with Super Duty parts. When Pontiac wanted to show off what the new 1969 GTO Judge was capable of, they put Beswick behind the wheel of this Carousel Red, Ram Air IV, four-speed GTO and let him loose on the quarter mile. The car has been restored to replicate the hand-lettering and custom graphics airbrushed by Dick Scully and is a page out of Pontiacs illustrious drag racing history.
1969 Chevrolet Corvette Baldwin Motion Phase III GT
Baldwin Chevrolet and Motion Performance teamed up to customize and tune some of Chevrolet’s most powerful engines and create even more potent street machines. Most of their competition in the dealer-modified-new-car realm focused purely on engine and suspension modifications, and while Baldwin-Motion certainly delivered on performance, it also dabbled in body modifications and custom paint. The Phase III GT customization for 1969 Corvettes, only applied to 10 cars, added not only custom tuning to the 435-horsepower 427 with its 3x2 carburetion, it also deleted the factory pop-up headlights and added recessed headlights in the fender arches. This gold and black example is the only one to have Shelby-style C-pillar scoops.
From 1970–72, Chevrolet offered a 396 big-block in the second-gen Camaro but never offered a 454, but that didn’t stop Baldwin-Motion from swapping them in. Unfortunately for enthusiasts, the Environmental Protection Agency would step in and put a stop to the engine swaps in 1974, making this the last Baldwin-Motion car to be built. It features custom graphics and a stripe running down the custom, L88-Corvette-style hood scoop.
While Chevrolet was keeping Camaros from rolling out of the factory with its largest engine, Pontiac had no problem giving Trans Am buyers the full torque of a Super Duty 455. The big Pontiac V-8 used the same cam as Ram Air III 400 and cylinder heads that had round exhaust ports, but it also received forged rods and pistons and a unique heavy-duty four-bolt-main block. Despite its low compression to deal with lead-free fuel, it produced 290 horsepower, stellar for the era. This Brewster Green example has a tan interior and is the perfect canvas to display honeycomb wheels.
As much as we love earlier Trans Ams, with their more powerful engines and bold twin grilles, the 1977 and ’78 Trans Ams (particularly in black with gold phoenix graphics) have become the standard bearers for Trans Am—and a silver lining to the end of the muscle car era. This L72-equipped model comes with four-speed and air conditioning, giving it perhaps the most desirable option set for a daily driver. At only 46,700 miles, it looks too good to be all original, yet there’s no comment of any restoration. Either way, it’s a stunning car and exactly as we’d have ordered one.
One of just 58 COPO Camaros built with the Rally Sport option and striking hidden headlight grille, this Camaro also comes with what is arguably the most distinctive color for 1969 Chevrolets: Hugger Orange. The orange-and-black houndstooth interior is a nice touch too, but we all know that the COPO Camaro is all about the 425-hp L72 427-cubic-inch big-block V-8 under that cowl hood. Teamed up with a Turbo 400 three-speed automatic, this would have been one of the quickest factory street cars of its era.
Don Yenko’s 427-swapped 1967 and ’68 Camaros no doubt led to Chevrolet finally giving the COPO Camaro the green light for 1969. With the proper 427 engine installed at the factory, Yenko cleared one of the biggest hurdles in creating the final product, although the Sports Car Conversion package still entailed a heavier front anti-sway bar and a 140-mph speedometer, along with engine upgrades that led to the Yenko L72s wearing 450-hp designations on the air cleaner. Of the 201 1969 COPO Camaros built, only 29 were Daytona Yellow four-speeds like this one, which was restored in 1996.