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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
There is currently a thread here about '69 COPO F41 suspensions. The discussion got into the COPO 427 production total, so I'm starting a new thread specifically about that.

The total number of "COPO" '69 427 Chevelles built is a mystery. A figure of 323 has been quoted numerous times. It was noted that Fran Preve (who worked at the Tonawanda engine plant) claimed that there were 323.
I've looked at the data he compiled, but his figure of 323 does not come from Tonawanda records. The '69 Chevrolet A-body option totals report shows that there were 323 more cars built with 396 engines than with SS options. In other words, there were 323 cars with a big-block but no SS option. Technically, the COPO 427 cars did not have an SS option, and since they often started out life designated as 396 cars, most people have concluded that the 323 discrepancy must be the 427 cars.

However, I have come across one documented case of a '69 Chevelle with a 396, but no SS option (this according to the build sheet).
So I believe that the COPO 427 total is actually lower than 323. After researching all the data I could find, I have concluded that there were actually 210 COPO 427 cars and 113 396 cars that had no SS option.

So this is what I plan to show on my production totals poster.

BTW, I talked to one Chevrolet expert who does not think much of Fran Preve. Personally, after looking over his work I don't have any problem with it, other than a couple of typos and that parts of it are not all that complete.


[This message has been edited by dcarr (edited 10-13-99).]
 

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A few years ago GM Oshawa was a lot freer with their information. When I got the print out on my Chevelle they also sent a page from the shipping list. This page contained my car and all the options on it. The page also contained 18 other cars 9 of which were COPO 9566AA cars. Last month I saw one of these cars at a show in Waterdown, Ontario at a car show. It was built 72 before ours.
People I know got even more of this info from GM at the time and they say that 30 COPO Chevelles came into Canada and that they have the info on 29. With the US population roughly 10 times ours, that might ad another 300 cars adding up to 330 total. Fran Preve had a total of 358 engines for Chevelles with 10% for warehousing. leaving the 323 figure. However, I think replacement engines were CE code. At least that was the case in the replacement of the L78 engine in our other car. Lately I've seen a figure of 373 engines produced.
Throwing around guestimates definitely does cloud the picture. Estimates make for interesting talk but people start taking them as gospel and then the confusion begins.
Concerning non-SS cars with 396 engines, a friend of mine claims to have bought a new '68 Chevelle with the 396 but no SS package. He specifically wanted the car this way. I never saw the car but he is an honest type of guy that I would tend to believe.
There are at least five COPO Chevelles still in existence here in Ontario. Two more may have been crushed.
 

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I come up with 210 COPO Chevelles as a minimum number. Here are my calculations using letters writen by Chevrolet as published in the Ed Cunneen COPO book.
Chevy states in a letter dated 7-24-69 " Subsequent to the writing of this letter, a complete review of the high performance vehicle area orders to date has indicated that approximately 700 total vehicles are in process for model year 1969 according to (4) possible combinations for many customers (Yenko Sports Cars and Fred Gibb Chevrolet Co., are typical)."
Letter no. 1 covers COPO option 9560 AA and BA which is the ZL1 Camaro (69 were made)
Letter no. 2 covers COPO option 9561 AA and BA which is the L72 Camaro
Letter no. 3 covers COPO option 9737 which is the Yenko Sports Cars (198 Camaros 99 Chevelles)
Letter no. 4 covers COPO option 9562 which is the L72 Chevelle
Here is my calculation: 700 - 69 ZL1'S -198 Yenko Camaro's -99 Yenko Chevelle's = 334 L72's
If there were 2 times the Yenko Camaros made as the Yenko Chevelles made (2x99=198) and we assume that there are 2 times the L72 Camaros made as L72 Chevelles that comes out to 222 L72 Camaros and 111 L72 Chevelles (not counting the Yenkos)
Now add the Yenkos and L72's (all COPOs)and I get 420 COPO Camaros and 210 COPO Chevelles.
420 camaros + 210 chevelles + the ZL1's = 699 and Chevy said approx. 700 in their letter but that was written on 7-24-99 so maybe more were made.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
joe58,

Great info and analysis ! This is exactly the type of deductive reasoning that I have been putting to use in creating my production totals poster. 210 sounds like the right number to me.

Keith,

Fran Preve's work showed 373 '69 L72 427 engines were built for A-body applications. I don't think any of those would have a "CE" code, but there is no way to be certain. The question, however, is how many of those 373 were service engines and how many were actually installed in cars. The way Fran Preve determined the number of L72 cars built was to simply look at the RPO totals. He deduced that since there were 323 more big-block cars than SS cars, then the 323 must be the COPO 427 cars, leaving 50 service (replacement) engines. The problem with this reasoning is that there are some '69 396 Chevelles without an SS option. If you look at the '69 L78 RPO total and the number of '69 L78 engines produced, the number of L78 cars exceeds the number of L78 engines by 610. 400 of those were the L89 396, leaving a discrepancy of 210. I believe that those are the COPOs.

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Dan Carr
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Team Chevelle Gold Member #11, ACES #701
Author of the GMC Sprint, El Camino, and '68-'72 SS Authentication pages.
See my GM A-body fleet at:
www.rmi.net/~dcarr/cars/cars.HTM
 

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Dan,
Thats very interesting that we derived the same no. of 1969 Chevelle COPO's (210) using different ways to make the calculations.
I never liked the Fran Preve's no. (323) because he claims 50 motors were made for replacement. Every replacement motor I know of has a "CE" no. stamped on it or no number at all. The chevy letter I used claims approx. 700 cars " in progress" and was written in late July. How much longer after July does Chevy still take new car orders? They have to tool-up for the 1970 cars so maybe that 700 total is an accurate number.
What book did you use to get your numbers? I would like to get a copy of it. Is it still available or in reprint? - thanks
 

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In '69 the Camaro production ran on much later and the new '70 Camaro didn't come out until the new year. This would account for some more Camaros being built. The new models usually came out in late September or early October. GM was probably done taking Chevelle orders well before this letter was written in July. There would have probably been a couple of months or more of work to tool up for the '70 Chevelle as the gate line in the body shop of the plants would have to be retooled for the new body style.
The 210 figure makes the most sense. If you knew for sure how many MP and MQ engines were built, then you would probably know how many COPO Chevelles were built. One little curiosity is the fact that the engine for our car is stamped T0402MQ yet the car was built right near the end of the production run. That's about 4 months between engine build and car build. A friend ordered his car in early calendar year '69 and didn't get it until July. There was always some excuse or another eg. no aluminum intakes. It makes me wonder if Yenko and a few others had the market to themselves until near the end of the production run.
The first COPO Chevelle article I ever saw in a magazine was back in the '80s. The owner's name was Grady Burch and I believe he was from Cleveland. There were some black and white pictures and the 9566 COPO code was mentioned. It appeared to be the real thing. Other than a few Yenko cars, there haven't been very many COPO Chevelle articles as there weren't many of these cars around to write up on.
 

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Well, here's a wrench for those counting Camaro COPO's with the Chevelles....Camaros had their own engine codes, MN with 4-speed, and MO for automatic. If Chevelles are coded MQ and MP, then this adds a twist to the counting, as Chevrolet has confirmed there were 822 MN coded engines, and 193 MO automatic engines built. This would give a total of 1015 COPO Camaros built in '69.
As mentioned above, the Camaro production ran long into late '69, the first week of November, to be specific. This would account for a few extra Camaros.
This total of 1015 includes Yenko Camaro production, speculated at least 200.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
joe58,

I got Fran Preve's numbers from a book called "Chevelle and El Camino ID Model Codes". It was published several years ago by the NCOA, but I don't think it is available any more.

Dave,

Preve's numbers show that there were 277 "MQ" 4-speed Chevelle motors and 96 "MP" TH-400 Chevelle motors (373 total).

I wonder, of the 99 reported Yenkos, how many were 4-speeds and how many were automatics ?


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Dan Carr
[email protected]
Team Chevelle Gold Member #11, ACES #701
Author of the GMC Sprint, El Camino, and '68-'72 SS Authentication pages.
See my GM A-body fleet at:
www.rmi.net/~dcarr/cars/cars.HTM
 

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Dave
I am not using engine code numbers to make my calculation. I am using the COPO numbers 9560, 9561, 9562, and 9737. There was a series of 4 letters writen by Chevrolet from 7-9-69 to 8-2-69. The letters were writen to outline the special equipment and service items for high performance vehicles (COPO's). Quote " This supplement information is furnished for detail, assembly and components peculiar or special to the vehicle involved." In one of the letters it states that approximately 700 total vehicles " are in process for model year 1969". The letters are long and have the part numbers that are used that were different then the L78 cars.
Where did you get the production number 1015 for the COPO Camaros? Is that the Fran Preve calculations ?
 

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Joe- The numbers I quoted are in Incremonas' '69 Camaro reference book.
He also lists the VINs for the 69 '69 ZL1 Camaros...How do they know what the VINs of these 69 cars are, if they supposedly have no records????
The last ZL1 car was built in June '69. Camaro production ran through the first week of November, '69. 700 cars through August, I would venture to say once the COPO program for the Camaros got out, there is a good chance there were another 500 COPO Camaros built in three months (Aug, Sept, Oct.)
This assumes the totals for the cars, added together, 1015+373= 1388 total COPO L72 cars.
You must also not assume that all engines built went into cars. They would not have been "service replacement" engines, either. This would have been a "CE" coded shortblock.
Case in point...the 14 or so '71 coded LS6 Chevelle engines, that never left Tonowanda.
 

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Dave
The 1015 number is the engine production numbers. It may be right but I am not sure if using engine production numbers is an accurate way of estimating the number of COPO cars produced. If the engines are made 3 or 4 months before car production, then the production planning department has to "estimate" the number of engines to build.
On the question of ZL1 vin. numbers.- All 69 were released by Vince Piggins (chevy engineer) and published by SUPER CHEVY MAG. in the early 1980's. Fred Gibb also released a lot of original paperwork he had on the ZL1's
I also think the 1015 number is high because It seems the ZL1's, Yenkos, and COPOs didn't sell very well. Don Yenko said in the MCR interview that he had trouble selling them toward the end of the year. Fred Gibb sent back 37 of his 50 ZL1S because of the high cost and didn't sell his last one until 1973! I have an ad for the dealership Byrne Brothers Chevy in NY. that had a "sale" on Yenko's in Feb. 1970. Not many people knew about the COPOs and there were a lot of chevy dealers still transplanting 427 engines into 396 cars. Fred Gibb said he was doing at least one a week. These are just my thoughts.


[This message has been edited by joe58 (edited 10-16-99).]
 

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I'm going to put a little more into the fire. I have an Uncle that had a 69 Chevelle SS396 and was supposed to be a 350hp 396. He bought it new and after a few months of abuse or fun they blew a head gasket. They bought gaskets for a 396 and the gasket was inside the cylinder wall. It turned out to be a 427 short block with all the oval port stuff on top. Then years later the rearend started making loud noise around corners so they took it apart and it was different than your regular 12 bolt positraction. Regular over the counter parts at the dealer would not interchange. They had to get another 12 bolt and put a whole rearend in. My cousin was drunk one night and hit a telephone pole with it. I used to never believe that story about the 427 and oval heads in that car but the more I hear about shortages on the assembly lines the more I believe this.

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