Home » The 2023 COPO Camaro Is A Factory-Built Drag Car With A Screaming 10.35-Liter Big-Block V8

The 2023 COPO Camaro Is A Factory-Built Drag Car With A Screaming 10.35-Liter Big-Block V8

2023 Copo Camaro Topshot

It feels like it’s almost the end of the road for the modern muscle car era. Sure, the 2024 Ford Mustang is keeping the dream of V8-powered mayhem alive for another generation, but it’s set to be the only torchbearer. The gasoline-powered Dodge Challenger and Charger are going away for 2024, and the future of the Chevrolet Camaro is in a strange sort of limbo. Still, that doesn’t mean that the Camaro as we know it is going out quietly. For 2023, the dragstrip-special COPO Camaro gets its largest, most-powerful big-block V8 yet. Call it the last champion of America’s “bigger is better” muscle car powerplant philosophy.

First, a bit of exposition: Back in the 1960s, GM-aligned horsepower junkies had a little bit of a problem – a GM corporate mandate forbade really big-cube engines from being installed as regular production options in cars that weren’t so large that you could park a jet between their grilles and windscreens. However, a few enterprising dealerships found a way around this internal barrier. By submitting special orders using the Central Office Purchase Order program more typically used for commercial fleet vehicles, dealers like Don Yenko were able to order low-spec Camaros with potent 427-cube big-block V8s. The COPO 9561 Camaro was born, drawing its acronym from the special ordering process that brought it to life.

2011 Camaro Copo 15981

Flash forward to the 21st century, and Chevrolet is looking to pull out all the stops with its reborn retro-style Camaro. Cue the 2011 COPO concept, a vision of a stripped-out, quarter-mile-ready Camaro for the modern age. Chevrolet put this thing on display at the SEMA show and people loved it so much that the COPO Camaro has been part of the Chevrolet catalog on-and-off for the past 10 years.

Copo Big Block V8

However, no modern COPO Camaro has been quite like the incoming 2023 model. For the most powerful engine on tap, Chevrolet has reached into its magic bag of speed parts and pulled out a 632 cubic-inch big block, otherwise known as the ZZ632. For those of us who use the metric system, that’s 10.357 liters of V8 engine.

While the ZZ632 COPO Camaro’s output hasn’t been announced yet, we know that it makes 1,004 horsepower at 6,600 rpm and 876 lb.-ft. of torque at 5,600 rpm in crate motor form on 93-octane gas like you’d find at many pumps. Given that dedicated drag cars aren’t known for using the same stuff you’d pump into a Ford F-150, I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if the top-spec COPO Camaro sees a boost that plants power further in the four-figure range.

Copo Camaro Supercharged engine

Of course, if you’d like a COPO with fewer cubes, there’s a seven-liter V8 and a 5.7-liter supercharged V8 on offer, but you’ll likely want the big block if you’re not concerned about fitting into NHRA’s Factory X drag racing class. There’s just nothing quite like the chest-thumping, wall-rattling roar of a massive V8, it’s something that leaves a physical imprint.

If you want a new COPO Camaro, there are a few hoops you have to jump through and stipulations you need to understand, the biggest of which is that it isn’t a road-legal car. It’s a factory racer sold on a bill of sale that can’t really be registered anywhere. Sure, I suppose if you live in a state that doesn’t do emissions testing and have time and money to burn, you can swap all the good bits into a road-legal Camaro, but as it sits, the COPO remains a track-only proposition.

Next, there’s the application process. If you click this link, you can tell Chevrolet which COPO you want, what you plan on using it for, who you are, and where you live. From there, you may be lucky enough to be selected to put down a $15,000 deposit. Final MSRP hasn’t been revealed yet, but don’t expect this thing to be affordable.

Interior

Still, if you’re wealthy and lucky enough to procure a big-block COPO Camaro, you’ll get yourself an amazing slice of automotive history. One of the last big-block dinosaurs ever to be made, a very quick symphony of the past. More than ten liters of V8 engine sure is wasteful, but what’s a party without excess?

(Photo credits: Chevrolet)

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22 Responses

  1. I think manufacturers are happy to allow this “get one now, because soon you won’t be able to” narrative to continue so that they can keep marking up premium models to sell to people who think they’re getting the end of the line – buying something sure to appreciate because they’re about to become a rare commodity.

    Reality is that in the most optimistic (pessimistic… matter of perspective) scenario we’ve got another decade and a half of gas powered cars on tap. And even then, this is a track-use-only model. There are going to be companies selling track-use gas-powered cars for the next several generations at the very least.

  2. Disheartening that it won’t be available for regular road use. I can see a Dodge Demon and the Camaro duke it out on the track. Or park next to the Demon and laugh uncontrollably at its “puny” 800 hp. C’mon GM, you can hand build a friggin Cadillac, but a vehicle that can probably embarrass a Demon goes track only….smgdh..

    1. Call me Nervous Nancy, but I really, really don’t want a 1,000 hp passenger car on public roads. There is absolutely no reason for it within the boundaries of non-homicidal good sense. Half that power output level is more than any street-legal car needs for street-legal purposes.

      1. It’s a symptom of my advancing age, I’m sure, but given the ludicrous horsepower available at dealerships of nearly every marque these days, I’m starting to wonder if driving one on the streets should require an endorsement on your license, not unlike a CDL. I mean, I managed to raise plenty of ill-advised hell as a teenager in a 1978 Camaro with a raging 135hp 305 2-barrel under the hood. I shudder to think what Inwould have done with 707hp, just to pull a famous modern rating out of the air.

      2. True, but I’m a maniac as well. I mean, GM can build at least 1 or 2 for an “altruistic” reason, like a charity. I’m sure Rick Hendrick can drop a cool mil or so.

    2. You can just watch this duke it out with the Drag Pack instead. Why would you want to see a slower version of this face off against a slower Dodge product?

  3. Interesting choice, the 632 big block. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the last time we saw a GM big block in a “production” vehicle (obviously this is a pretty loose term given the COPO nature) was 2007, with the final year of the GMT800 trucks and their optional Vortec 8100 (496ci) motor. I don’t recall if the 8100 is a tall deck like the 632 is, but either way, have we ever seen a 16-year hiatus for an engine family?

  4. Where’s V10emous? This is decidedly his sort of thing.

    Also…if they want to send the Camaro out with a bang they should put the new Z06 engine in it. Do it, GM. I’d sell one of my kidneys for one.

  5. Someone made a point a while back that the reason electric cars are faster than gas counterparts is because electricity doesn’t need to meet emissions regulations, which is the primary disadvantage of gasoline. Electric performance vehicles are just as inefficient as a comparable gas car would be, but the difference is that electric cars can get away with it, while gasoline is strangled by a different set of rules.

    That’s what makes things like this COPO Camaro interesting to me, it’s like a “What if?” car, what if internal combustion engines didn’t have to meet those regulations… Honestly that’s reason enough for the companies investing in synthetic fuels to keep going, if we didn’t have to worry about emissions then maybe we could all have cool 632 ci V8 Camaros…

    1. I need to preface this by saying that I’m an EV enthusiast and EV owner. Because otherwise somebody is going to jump in and call me a troll and short Tesla.

      Electric cars aren’t faster yet. Not even close.

      The world record quarter mile time in an EV is 7.55 at 202MPH. That’s a purpose built, EV drag racer.

      The record winning time at the 2022 NHRA nationals was 3.665 at 338MPH. In a purpose built internal combustion powered drag racer.

      Electric cars have great low end torque and good acceleration at low speeds (sub 100MPH). They’re competitive with fast gas powered cars on the street. They’re faster than moderately fast gas powered cars in their segment. Beyond that, they still have a lot of catching up to do.

    2. EVs are in fact way more efficient than gas-powered cars. As a rule of thumb, your typical EV puts about 75% of the energy in its battery bank to the wheels, with the other 25% being lost as heat, noise, etc. In gas cars, it’s basically the opposite: 25% of the energy in the tank gets to the wheels, and about 75% is wasted—and there are physical why it’s unfeasible to do much better than that.

      There’s also kind of a reason why EVs aren’t subject to emissions requirements—they don’t generate emissions. The emissions regulations are further upstream, at the power generators that make electricity. Furthermore, even a coal-fired plant burns cleaner than a gas-powered car, since it’s much easier to employ effective emissions controls when the emissions are all in one big place, rather than millions of little ones. That’s to say nothing of zero-emission sources like solar and wind.

      1. Oh! Also worth mentioning: a coal-fired (or even a gasoline-fired, for the sake of argument) is also much more efficient than a gas-powered car. The efficiency of any kind of Carnot engine (anything that converts heat into work) is tied to how hot the engine is able to run. You can’t run an engine in a car as hot as you can a turbine in a power plant.

  6. Take 10.35 Liter add Supercharger from the 7 Liter. Then Drag Race.
    Blow through the gates of heaven in a flaming Camaro, jump out when you finally stop and ask where the women at?”

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