Don Yenko built the 427 Camaro that Chevrolet wouldn’t
When Chevrolet refused to build the big-block 427 Camaro that people wanted, Don Yenko stepped up to answer the call. His speed shop in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, turned from race car support to production line in 1967 as new Camaros received heart transplants by the dozens.
It wasn’t just any big-block engine that Yenko was bolting in though, it was 427-cubic-inch V-8 monster. This nearly 700-pound hunk of iron churned out 450 horsepower at 5400 rpm. The 375-hp, 396-cu-in big-block was the hottest Camaro offered from the factory, meaning these Yenko-prepped cars quickly became kings of the horsepower hill.
Through an agreement between Chevrolet and Yenko, 1967 was the first year for Central Office Production Order cars, better known as COPO cars. Yenko would complete an engine swap before shipping the cars to Chevrolet dealers nationwide. It was a loophole that kept Chevrolet leadership one step removed from the high-horsepower race engines that trickled out onto the street.
Yenko converted 54 Camaros to 427 specification in 1967. This Deepwater Blue example will head to Mecum’s auction block for its May 14–19 sale in Indianapolis. With a few small badges, a stinger hood scoop, and a set of rowdy side pipes, no sharp eye would confuse this for a humble base-model Camaro.
The interior features a handful of other items that were typically installed by Yenko at the same time as its high-power mill. A lower gauge pod under the dash houses oil pressure, voltmeter, and water temp, and a Stewart Warner tachometer received a special spot between the lower gauge pod and the main dash, which is solely focused on the 120-mph speedometer and a fuel gauge.
Maybe short-shifting the Muncie M21 close-ratio four-speed would keep that fuel gauge from dropping too fast, but what fun is that?