The 1969 Camaro - The Best of Gen 1

The 1969 Camaro marked the last of the first generations and is arguably the most popular. This is also one of our cars, and can be seen on our signage whenever you drive to our facility. Look for the 1969 Chevy Orange SS Convertible and you have found Crown Auto Parts.

The 69’ Camaro featured entirely new, more aggressive looking sheet metal and revised grille. Going away was the coke bottle shape, making room for a flatter, much wider looking stance to all who gazed upon it.

The Camaro was available in many different configurations, from a standard Sport Coupe, a rubber melting Super Sport, or a track-ready Z/28. The Rally Sport option with hidden headlights, special stripes and wheels, special bucket seats, nice carpeting, and other items could be added as a separate package to any of the models.

Sales numbers really jumped up in '69, with the Camaro pushing 243,085 units off the lots. Part of the success was due to the refreshed styling, which saw skinnier three-block taillights, two large round headlights pushed all the way to the sides of the grille, a pointier front fascia, and slightly reworked body panels. If the buyer chose the RS trim, the headlights were made flush with the grille, and three stacked slits covered the lights. This was also the first year that variable-ratio power steering became an option. SS trims offered a 300hp 350 V8 or a 375hp 396. Largely considered one of the most beautiful cars of all time, the '69 would later provide direct inspiration for the fifth-gen Camaros.

The Sport Coupe was longer and wider this year, had bucket seats, carpeting, and improved Astro Ventilation System. The base $2,466 '67 Camaro sport coupe was lean and aggressive, as was the convertible. Adding substance to that appearance was done either by picking or combining individual options or trim packages called RS and SS.Buyers could opt for a larger 250-inch version of the six making 155 horsepower, a 210-horsepower 327-cubic-inch small-block V8 fed by a two-barrel carb, that same V8 with a four-barrel carb and a higher compression ratio was rated at 275 horsepower, or two versions of the 396-cubic-inch big-block V8 making either 325 or 375 horsepower. Those engines could be lashed to a series of wide- or short-ratio three- or four-speed manual transmissions, or one of two automatics: the slushy two-speed Powerglide or outstanding three-speed Turbobydramatic.

The Z/28 was for the road racing fan. Dual exhausts, special suspension, heavy-duty radiator, quick-ratio steering, and 15×7 inch rally wheels. The Z-28's 302-cid motor achieved a near-perfect combination of horsepower and weight for all-around performance. Originally based on the 327 block, the 4.00-inch bore and 3.00-inch stroke motor was now based on the 350 block, which had larger main journals and four-bolt main caps. Heavy-duty parts included forged steel crankshaft, connecting rods, and pistons, solid-lifter camshaft, and an aluminum dual-plane intake manifold. Stiffer suspension, quick-ratio steering box, and 15x7-inch wheels all helped improve handling. Unique to the 1969 Z-28 was a rear-facing cowl induction hood. At 80% throttle, an electric valve opened the cowl flap, pulling in cool air from the base of the windshield. Racing legend Mark Donahue won the SCCA Trans-Am championship for the second year in a row in his #6 Penske/Sunoco Z-28 Camaro

The SS was “Easy recognized by the SS located in the Grill.” Big power, special 3-speed transmission, sport striping, heavy insulated hood and pure street strip power to the pavement. The SS performance package consisted of a 350 or 396 cu in V8 engine and chassis upgrades for better handling and to deal with the additional power. The SS featured non-functional air inlets on the hood, special striping, and SS badging.

The Rally Sport (RS) appearance package brought deluxe interior trim and hidden headlights with it, and the high-performance Super Sport (SS) package had its own distinct decoration (including a domed hood with simulated vents, "bumble bee" stripes encircling the nose and the iconic SS badges), a heavy-duty suspension and larger D70-series tires on 14-inch wheels. Beyond that, the SS-350 model also offered a new 350-cubic-inch small-block V8 rated at 295 horsepower — Chevy's first 350. The Rally Sport and Super Sport packages could also be ordered together to form the most lavishly equipped Camaro of them all, the RS/SS. And it was an RS/SS convertible powered by a 396 that Chevy provided as pace car for the 1967 Indianapolis 500.

In 1969, there were three different COPO orders for a Camaro. Order #9560 and #9561 were almost the same cars, but #9560 had one big difference: The engine was all-aluminum, and that is the brutal ZL1 (Fred Gibb Chevrolet was responsible for getting the ZL-1 cars into production). These cars had different variations of the 427ci V8, making up to 425 hp. One of the other COPO numbers was the Yenko Camaro, dreamed up by Don Yenko of Yenko Chevrolet, in which he persuaded Chevy to install the L-72s on the assembly line in a limited number of Camaros later to be known as Yenko.

COPO L-72 Big-Block Camaro

Since the Camaro's front sub-frame had been designed to fit the 396ci big-block V8, that also meant that the larger bore, 427-cid V8 engine would also fit. The problem was that GM divisions has agreed not to install engines 400-cid or larger in passenger-designated cars (except Corvettes). Executives found a loophole to this rule with Chevrolet's Central Office Production Order (COPO) system. Previously, a common use of COPO was to specify paint schemes or other alterations for fleet or municipal vehicles. COPO #9561 gave the buyer a factory 427 Camaro.

By making the 427 big-block engine a COPO option, a 1969 Camaro could be ordered with the solid lifter L-72 big-block engine, which produced an underrated 425 horsepower. Around 1,015 Camaros were fitted with the L-72 engine option.

COPO ZL-1 Big-Block Camaro

The fastest and rarest production Camaro is the ZL-1 427 Big-block, COPO #9560. Starting with an SS396/375-hp Camaro, the heavy-duty F41 suspension package was added, as was a cowl-induction hood, front disc brakes, and a choice of either close-ratio 4-speed or Turbo-Hydramatic transmission. The rear axle was upgraded to a 12-bolt positraction unit with 4:10 gearing. All SS trim was removed from the car, as was the SS-396 big-block. In its place went the aluminum-block, aluminum-head 427 ZL-1 motor, fitted with 12.25:1 compression forged aluminum pistons. Intake manifold and water pump were also aluminum.

What is “COPO?” COPO stands for “Central Office Production Order” which means it’s a high performance Camaro that doesn’t come with regular production options. This Bad Boy isn’t necessarily available to the public and can only be special ordered through a dealer. The COPO Camaro can’t be licensed, titled, and registered for highway use but then, you probably wouldn’t want to drive it on a public highway. There’s no underbody sealant and very little insulation to muffle the rumble of the engine and the sound of the road beneath you. Nor is there a back seat or power accessories to accommodate

All ZL-1 engines were balanced and blue-printed before installation, and had a torque rating of 450 foot-pounds at 4,400 rpm. Although advertised horsepower rating was 430, actual power from ZL-1 equipped Camaros was nearer 550-horsepower.

Chevrolet built 69 copies of the ZL-1, making it legal to run in NHRA SuperStock drag classes. In stock trim, 13-second quarter-mile times were common. Using a stock-parts motor and single four-barrel carburetor, drag-racing legend Bill 'Grumpy' Jenkins clocked a 10.09 second elapsed time in his modified ZL-1 Camaro.

Facing delays with the second-generation Camaro, due out for the 1970 model year, Chevrolet extended 1969 production into November. This helped stretch yearly sales to 243,085. In it's first three years of production, more than 699,000 Camaros were sold.


Z28 - 14.7 sec @ 95.9 mph -

SS - 396ci/325hp -14.2 sec @ 97.3 mph

427ci-Yenko - 11.9 sec @ 114.5 mph