Yenko Super Camaro - 1968

 

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1. Award winning Shelby GT 350 - 1965

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Don Yenko was the owner of a Chevrolet dealership in Cannonsburg Pennsylvania in the mid sixties and was also an accomplished race driver with a pair of national SCCA titles to his credit using Chevrolet products. As a racer Don knew Carroll Shelby and took notice of Shelby's work with transforming the Ford Mustang into a viable perfromance car.

Don Yenko decided in 1967 to do what Chevy wouldn't and install the L72 427/425 HP into a Camaro. Don Yenko built 107, 1967 Camaro's with this potent powerplant and shipped them all over the country for customers. The 1967s required a lot of parts swapping for the engine transplant and were very labor intensive due to the necessary suspension and brake upgrades to handle the added HP and thus were expensive to build and sell.

For 1968 Don Yenko worked with Chevrolet and together they created the "Yenko Sportscar Conversion Package" for a special run of 70 Camaro's of which 64 of the 70 COPO Camaro's were converted to 427 Yenko Camaro's. These special Camaro's were ordered through the GM central office production order division which later came to be known as the COPO program. For 1968 the 9737 COPO Camaro was only available to Don Yenko and in fact Yenko was considered the manufacturer for these 68 Yenko Camaro's. Most people tend to think the high performance aspect of the COPO program hit its stride in 1969? However this #9737 COPO package was added in 1968 as per Don Yenko's request to RPO L78 SS Camaro's that were equipped with the 396 CID/375 HP big blocks. The COPO 9737 designation added for 1968 cooling, suspension and brake upgrades along with a 140 MPH speedometer, heavy duty springs, larger anti roll bar, M-21 tranny and a 4.10 posi rear diff. These 9737 COPO 1968 Camaro's were delivered from Chevrolet to Cannonsburg with the RPO (regular production order)L78 396/375 HP engines. Yenko's mechanics then removed the L78 396 engine and installed a L72 427 short block. The original L78 396 heads, aluminum intake and carb were then installed on the 427 short block. Yenko also added Pontiac "JA" 14x6 rally II wheels with a special "Y" for Yenko in the center caps, wide oval red stripe tires and a unique fiberglass hood. Also added were Stewart Warner interior gauges and Yenko emblems along with 427 emblems on the exterior. Only 65, 1968 Yenko 427 Camaro's were built and remain the rarest Yenko Camaro's ever built. Most Camaro enthusiasts know that the Yenko Camaro conversion program continued through 1969 however by 1969 you could order through the GM COPO 9737 program a 427 installed in any Camaro right from the factory thus the 1968 Yenko Camaro's were the last handbuilt versions. Yenko built 198, 1969 Yenko Camaro's.

It is believed that about a dozen 1967 Yenko Camaro's still exist with between 10 to 15, 1968 Yenko Camaro's still in existence. This 1968 Yenko Camaro is #8021 meaning it was the 21st Yenko Camaro built. Yenko riveted a Yenko tag on each Yenko before it left his dealership for record keeping purposes.

#8021 is considered to be the most well known 68 Yenko Camaro in existence today due to the media attention it has received throughout the years. It also has an airtight owner history with absolutely no ownership gaps including the original owners being alive and well. More amazing is that #8021 still retains 100% of its original sheetmetal having traveled only 32,000 miles in all these years. In 1989 it was restored by Greg Donahue considered to be the best restorer of his generation. Donahue found and installed date code correct and NOS parts for every nut and bolt both inside and out including hard to find nitpicky stuff like seatbelts. In fact the Donahue restoration was recorded in the well known 1990 book "How to restore your muscle car" by Greg Donahue.

#8021 was sold new to Michael and Karen Attwood on June 4, 1968 at Francis Chevrolet in Bridgeton Missouri for about 5000 dollars. Francis was the number one Yenko dealer in the country at the time. In fact when purchased there were three other 1968 Yenko Camaro's available at the dealership. We recently were able to locate Michael and Karen and reunite them with their Yenko Camaro at the 2009 Yenko Supercar reunion in Collinsville Illinois. They hadn't seen or heard from #8021 in forty years mainly because the second owner had told the third owner that he was the original owner so all subsequent owners never bothered to look past the second owner thinking he was the original owner. Check out the pictures at the bottom of this page of original owners Michael and Karen.

The original owners sold it on April 16, 1969 with 11,000 miles on it to the second owners who kept #8021 until January of 1973 when it was sold to the third owner who kept it from 1973 until selling it on April 20, 1988. We also located the third owner who was able to attend the 2009 Super car reunion after not seeing #8021 since April of 1988. In 1989 #8021 was restored for the fourth owner by Greg Donahue then placed in the Talladega Motor Musuem where it was subsequently purchased by the fifth owner on July 22, 1996 who kept it until January 20th 2007 selling it to noted collector and author Colin Comer the sixth owner.

Colin the author of "Million Dollar Muscle Cars" and the "Complete Book of Shelby" is known for being one of the most meticulous collectors in the country and for him good is just never good enough so after the purchase he began a no expense nut and bolt body off re-restoration of #8021. Colin's efforts paid off as he won the prestigious Chevy Vettefest Gold Spinner award with a score of 998/1000 and a Milwaukee Masterpiece silver. After more than a year of begging and arm twisting we were able to buy #8021 from Colin on April 22, 2009. We then went to work on firming up the owner history and were able to locate and reunite #8021 with its original owners and third owner on September 4, 2009.

#8021 is perhaps best known for being on the September 1989 cover of "Muscle Car Review Magazine" with "Big Daddy" Don Garlits at the wheel. Inside on page 35 is an extensive article and six pages of color pictures about #8021 where Garlits takes it down the drag strip for three passes racing against a 68 Ford Mustang. #8021 was subsequently on the cover of "Hemmings Muscle Machines" in the July 2007 issue with another five page spread of color pictures. It was again featured in "Muscle Car Review" in the February 2009 issue. Bob McClurg is featuring it in his new Yenko book which documents the Don Yenko story from day one.

#8021 appeared and was track tested on Speedvision's Autoweek TV show in 2001. It has also been featured in "Camaro Performers" magazine January 2008 as well as "Chevy Rumble" magazine April 2008. #8021 found itself as a centerfold in the 2004 "Memorable Muscle" calendar and was a feature car in the Muscle Car Trading Cards series.

Aside from decades of media attention and being on display as a feature car at the Talladega Motor Museum #8021 has been judged and inspected by the best Camaro experts in the world. In 1998 it won a Gold Concours award at the United States Camaro Club with a score of 992/1000 points. It received an invitation to the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance in 2001 and came away with a first place award. After Colin Comer's meticulous re-restoration it won a Gold Spinner Concours award at the 2007 Chevy Vettefest scoring 998/1000 points. #8021 has also been fully documented by Ed Cunneen of the COPO Connection.
#8021 is not for sale. Yenko production information courtesy of www.yenko.net the registry for Yenko Camaro's.








 

 


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