Restored COPO Camaro rakes in awards

Tommy Thompson’s got a winner on his hands. His 1969 COPO Camaro took home Goodguys’ coveted Muscle Car of the Year award in 2008.

The honor was the culmination of a great couple years for Thompson and his car; he’s won Gold at the Camaro Nationals in Carlisle, Penn.; Best of Show at Super Chevy in Indianapolis; and his COPO was named a Muscle Car of the Year 2008 Finalist at Good Guys in Bowling Green, Ky.

“It’s just been a dream to see what this car has done the first time out,” Thompson explained. “It’s won practically everything it’s entered.”

Thompson picked up his winner 13 years ago when he found a collector willing to part with one of his two COPOs: A 1969 Daytona Yellow Camaro Coupe.

“I always wanted a COPO because of their collectability, and I was fortunately able to talk this guy into selling me one,” he said.

It took Thompson more than four years to finish the complete frame-off restoration. It’s completely OEM, and Thompson freshened and restored it down to the nuts and bolts. “Attention to detail is what I go for,” he explained.

Thompson’s COPO features a 427 cubic-inch/turbo 400 automatic with 4:10 posi-rear combinations, front disc brakes, drum rears, dog-dish hubcaps, Goodyear F70-14 bias ply tires and factory interior with bucket seats. And he’s got a Gardner exhaust system to wake the neighbors.

“It’s the best sounding Camaro I’ve ever heard.”

Thompson says it drives like new, although he admits that it rarely takes to the streets. He’s got it stored in a facility based in a 17-mile cave under Louisville, and he transports it to and from his shop in a trailer.

That’s not to say there aren’t plans to travel in the coming months. He’s been invited to Concours d’Elegance in Cincinnati and he plans to hit up Hilton Head as well. Based on his experiences in Scottsdale when the COPO was crowned Muscle Car of the Year, Thompson is excited to hit some of the major events.

“When we were in Arizona, we felt like rock stars!” he said.

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