2 1969 ZL1 Camaro Prototypes - Team Camaro Tech
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post #1 of 58 (permalink) Old Feb 6th, 05, 04:18 AM Thread Starter
 
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I have just been told by a very reliable source that there was 2.This is the 2nd time I talked to someone that had GM connections.I met with one of these people just recently.One car was Black with Gold ,theres pictures of that car.The other was always assumed to be the same,but 2 connected people told me different.The 2nd one was Silver with a 4spd. Dan
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post #2 of 58 (permalink) Old Feb 6th, 05, 05:31 AM
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Both of them are black, one is more black than the other as it had some of the chrome blacked out. Both were probably mocked up at the same time the original 9560 cars were being built, but most of the drawings and pricing for the 9567 cars are dated post March of 69 thru July of 69, and the option would have listed for 5229.55, for a total base price of 8581.60 (4 spd) 8676.60 (auto) which was pretty steep for the day.

From Al Wallace who has extensively researched these cars, and has a replica that is about 100% correct.

The story of the 1969 COPO 9567 ZL-1 Camaro is really a story inside of a story. Most Camaro enthusiasts have now heard of the infamous, bare bones COPO 9560 ZL-1 Camaro, a true factory race car. But, few have probably heard that there was a 2nd version of the ZL-1 Camaro that Chevrolet very nearly produced. Chevrolet executives intended for this 2nd version to completely dominate the street. In at least one document it was referred to as the ZL-1 Special Camaro; in others, it was simply referred to as the 1969 COPO 9567 ZL-1 Camaro.

The story of the 1969 ZL-1 Camaro begins with the story about its all-aluminum 427 Big Block engine, the ZL-1. The story of the ZL-1 engine actually begins back in 1965, when an all-aluminum small block engine was designed for Chaparral race cars competing in the Can-Am Series. The project failed because the engine was not powerful enough to beat the competition. Chevrolet Research & Development set out to develop a more powerful engine and came up with the Chaparral 427 Big Block engine, available to racers over the counter in 1968. The ZL-1 followed the Chaparral engine, and was designed for even more power, with the first ZL-1 engine being forged in November of 1968.

Now, somewhere between late 1967 and early 1968, Fred Gibb (of Gibb/Harrel racing fame and owner of Gibb Chevrolet) and Vince Piggins (responsible for the Z/28) started talking about what would ultimately become the 1969 ZL-1 Camaro. It was Fred and Vince’s love of the Z/28 and the introduction of the aluminum big block engine that inspired the creation of the ZL-1 Camaro.

You see, Fred Gibb was into racing. As a matter of fact, he raced a 1967 Z/28 very successfully for a year and a half and was a national winner in his class. Fred wanted to race a ZL-1 Camaro in the Super Stock class and according to NHRA/AHRA rules, in order to qualify the car, the factory had to produce a minimum of 50 of the cars and make them “available to the public.” So, Fred and Vince came up with the idea of using GM’s seldom-used Central Office Production Order (COPO) process to realize their vision of the ultimate Camaro. The COPO ordering process, a process normally used to build special runs of vehicles like fleet vehicles and taxis, would now be used to build factory race cars.

The way COPO vehicles were built was by following what was called an Exception Control Letter Sheet. The sheets would tell the assembly workers what vehicle to start out with, and then, with approval from engineering, which components to add and which to delete. On paper, both the COPO 9560 and COPO 9567 Camaros started out as L78 (396/375hp) SS cars with power front disc brakes and either a 4-spd (M21 or M22), or a HD Turbo 400 (M40) 3-spd automatic. They then had all SS-identifying badges/tags/etc and 396 engine deleted, and the appropriate ZL-1 engine added.

For quite some time before the initial cars were ordered, Fred and Vince talked about what the cars should really be and what they should look like. It seems that Fred and Vince agreed upon every aspect of the ZL-1 Camaro except its appearance. Fred was a racer and believed the cars should be bare-bone race cars. Vince on the other hand, thought the cars should be more appealing to the public and therefore should be flashy, with special striping and badging. This is where the story of the ZL-1 Camaro becomes two stories, one of the COPO 9560 bare bones ZL-1 Camaro and one of the COPO 9567 ZL-1 Special Camaro, because up until this time they had really only talked about “the ZL-1 Camaro.” Still, both men agreed that these cars would be the most incredible Camaros ever built.

The basic idea that they each had for the car was the same. Start with a 1969 Big Block SS Camaro and swap out the 396 drivetrain for the brand-new all-aluminum Big Block 427 ZL-1 engine and some heavy duty parts like the new HD Turbo 400 automatic tranny and a heat-treated 12-bolt rear-end. To allow the cars to breath better, they were fitted with brand-new ZL2 Cowl Induction hoods. To keep them running cool, they were equipped with HD Harrison 4-core, curved neck radiators (although it’s been reported that some of the cars may have been produced with a straight neck version). The COPO 9560 cars, Fred’s cars, were built just this way.

On paper, Vince’s cars, the COPO 9567 ZL-1 Special Camaros started out basically the same as the COPO 9560 ZL-1 Camaros, except they were all to be painted Tuxedo Black with Special Gold Striping and given a street detuned version of the ZL-1 engine. This engine ran 11:1, instead of 12:1 like the COPO 9560 ZL-1 engines. There were a host of other standard options intended for these Camaros, as well. Unfortunately, the 1969 COPO 9567 ZL-1 Special Camaro never went into production. However, there is enough verifiable proof to show that GM was seriously considering producing 100 of these cars by around the mid-March 1969 timeframe (the same time that Fred Gibb’s remaining 48 COPO 9560 cars were being built). In fact, Vince Piggins and his design staff hand-built two prototype cars (see pictures of Prototypes “A” & “B” further below), one a 4-spd, the other, an automatic, to show off to executives, and, on occasion, to terrorize the streets of Detroit!

So where did it all go “wrong”? First, a little more detailed background. It started out this way: Back in August 1968, through his dealership, Fred Gibb placed an initial order for fifty (50) COPO 9560 cars. In December, the first two cars were built as sort of a test run, and delivered to Fred’s dealership on 31 Dec 1968. Soon after the first two cars arrived, other dealers found out about Gibb’s order and wanted to get their own ZL-1 Camaros. Nineteen additional cars would eventually be ordered and built for a total of sixty-nine (69) 1969 COPO 9560 ZL-1 Camaros. All of the cars were produced at the Norwood factory between December 1968 and early June 1969 before the program was killed. Factory dyno tests of the time showed that the ZL-1 engine produced 575 hp and 515 lb-ft of torque with open headers; however, GM only publicly acknowledged that the cars put out 430hp. And, only a handful of cars exist today.

A total of only ninety (90) ZL-1 engines were built: fifty-four (54) in the COPO 9560 manual transmission configuration, thirty-four (34) in the COPO 9560 automatic transmission configuration, one (1) in the COPO 9567 manual transmission configuration, and one (1) in the COPO 9567 automatic transmission configuration for the other prototype Camaro.

Of those ninety engines, sixty-nine (69) were put in COPO 9560 cars (47 manual, 22 automatic), two (2) were put in 1969 Corvettes, and two (2) were put in the COPO 9567 cars, leaving seventeen (17) crate engines (12 manual, 7 automatic).

I believe that both cars (COPO 9560 and COPO 9567) went through the normal phases of pre-production in parallel, but two factors prevented the 1969 COPO 9567 Special ZL-1 Camaro from reaching actual production, i.e., where it all went “wrong”:

1. The price for a ZL-1 Camaro turned out to be too high. When Fred Gibb’s 1st two COPO 9560 cars arrived at his dealership, they showed up with a price tag of $7269 each. Fred had originally been quoted a price of ~$4900, and given that the base price of a V8 Camaro in 1969 was $2726, Fred suffered a severe case of sticker shock when he saw the price on the cars. He knew that it would be difficult to sell the cars at that price, so he had GM re-invoice 37 of his 50 cars to other dealerships and had his name removed from the paperwork to avoid finance charges. The reason the price on the cars was so high was because GM had passed on the full price of R&D onto the price of the car itself, instead of spreading it over the fleet. The cost for the ZL-1 engine option alone turned out to be $4160.50! With a price like that, the cars were just too hard to sell.

2. Timing. I believe that because there was more to the COPO 9567 ZL-1 Special Camaro than simply adding and deleting existing components (the process used for building a COPO 9560 Camaro), it required more lead-time within GM to make the car a reality. There was artwork to be done, badging to be made, and another batch of engines to produce, amongst other things. The COPO 9567 cars were already slated to sell for $8581.60 for the (M21) 4-spd version and $8676.60 for the (M40) 3-spd automatic version. Given the reaction to pricing on the 9560 cars, the proposed price for a COPO 9567 was also too high.

Exactly how close the COPO 9567 Camaro actually came to production is unknown, but from the documentation I’ve accumulated, it’s clear that Chevrolet was more than just considering building these cars. They had done a significant amount of planning, engineering, prototyping, and pricing of them to clearly show that the car was ready to go to production.

Whatever happened to the two prototype COPO 9567 ZL-1 Special Camaros? No one outside GM knows for sure, but rumor has it that they’re locked away in a special warehouse that GM owns. Whether they are or aren’t, wouldn’t you love to get your hands on one of these gems?
Standard options slated for production COPO 9567 ZL-1Special Camaros included:


Tuxedo Black paint with Special Gold striping
ZL-1 Street Detuned Engine
Z22 Rally Sport
M21 (M22 Optional) 4-spd manual or Heavy Duty M40 3-spd automatic transmission
J52 Power Disc Brakes
N40 Power Steering
D55 Center Console
U16 Tachometer
F41 Special Performance Suspension
ZN2 COPO 9567 Springs
G80 Positraction (4.10 ratio w/M21 or 3.55 ratio w/M40)
K85 61 Amp Generator
K66 Transistor Ignition
D80 Auxiliary Valance Panel
Wider Front Bumper Valance Panel
VE3 Special Front Bumper (only Prototype “B” had this)
Racing Type Mirrors (Only Prototype “B” had these? – Can’t tell from photos. Prototype “A” did not.)
Exhaust Resonators
Tail Pipe Extensions
Special Steering Wheel
F-70-15B Nylon Blackwall w/Gold Lettered Tires
15x7 Wheels (Prototype “B” had 15x8s in the rear)
Special Hub Caps & Wheel Nuts
Wheel Trim Rings
Fender Splash Guards (Prototype cars did not have these)
Special Striping, Decals for the Hood, Grille & Rear End Panel (The grille lettering was slightly different for each of the two prototype cars – see pictures below)
Wheel Opening Mouldings Deleted (only Prototype “B” had these deleted)
Special Instrument Cluster (for Transistor Ignition)
Other Features of RPO L-78 except Fender Emblems
In addition, Prototype “B” had its Simulated Rear Fender Louvers Blacked-Out

[ 02-06-2005, 07:41 AM: Message edited by: Mark C ]

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post #3 of 58 (permalink) Old Feb 6th, 05, 06:05 AM
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Very nice information. Please can we look at the pictures?

1967 RS L30/M20 2nd owner numbers matching
1968 Z28 Butternut Yellow original BU rear end
1968 SS/BB 396, Daughters Camaro BB not numbers matching.
1968 Coupe 2nd owner Sons Camaro numbers matching
1969 RS LM1 2nd owner numbers matching
1966 Chevy II SB 400 alum trick flow heads, Turbo 400, Dana 44 rear
1970 Camaro coupe, 350 L65, 350 auto, numbers matching,
1968 Chevelle Malibu, 327 L30, 3 speed on the tree, third owner.
1941 Ford Super Deluxe Coupe
1968 SS El Camino BB
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post #4 of 58 (permalink) Old Feb 6th, 05, 06:26 AM Thread Starter
 
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Mark,Great info,but the 2nd one was Silver.The Black and Gold car could of had slight changes from the beginning.Notice ALL the pictures published of this car theres been NO pictures of 2 Black and Gold ZL1's together.By the way the Silver car was ran on the streets back then by certain GM employees.I cannot tell you who told me,but I'm sure in the near future it will get out. Dan
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post #5 of 58 (permalink) Old Feb 6th, 05, 06:47 AM
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Could be I suppose, but the more common photos are of the B car, these are the ones with the MC-6588 Michigan plates, and it's definately black. The "A" car is the one with the USA front plate (never seen it with a real license plate) The "A" car could have been blacked out, but if that happened then there are only photo's of one car, not two.

The current rumor is that the second one (or maybe the first) has been found in a location not far from the GM proving grounds where it's been stored away since 69 or 70 and that it is presently a different color than black. doesn't mean it was built that way, and when (if) it makes it's eventual appearance then we'll see.

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post #6 of 58 (permalink) Old Feb 6th, 05, 07:06 AM
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Again from Al Wallace:

The "A" Car:



The "B" Car:





Notice that the "B" car does not have a driver's side mirror (or holes for one) and also doesn't have hood pins (in the center of the stripes)indicating it is probably not a blackout of the "A" car since it has mirrors and hood pins and would have had to exist prior to the second version.

[ 02-06-2005, 10:51 AM: Message edited by: Mark C ]

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post #7 of 58 (permalink) Old Feb 6th, 05, 07:28 AM
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One of the black and gold prototype ZL1 Camaros showed up at a press preview of the 1970 Chevrolet line. Since the 70 Camaro and Corvette were not ready at this time, Chevy brought a 69 ZL1 Camaro and two 69 ZL1 Corvettes to this dog and pony show for the new 1970 line. (This 1970 press preview was in the summer of 1969.) The ZL1 Camaro was aluminum block and heads with L72 specs. The magazine photos are black & white but it looks like it could be the black/gold stripe car. One ZL1 Corvette was a TH400 with 4:88 gears and drag slicks the other was set up for road
racing. The press loved the Camaro and called it a big block Z/28. One ZL1 Corvette was set up for drag racing and ran in the 10s and the press was allowed to run the car on a drag strip that Chevy had set up. There was a 1970 SS LT1 Nova there that I believe was a prototype of the Yenko Deuce Nova. One writer said his lap times on road course was quicker with the LT1 F41 Nova then with the ZL1 Camaro because the Camaro would smoke the tires coming out of the corners. There was also a 70 LS6 Chevelle there. This was a fantastic day in Chevy hi po history but there was not much written about it which is very strange since it was a press preview. With all the press there with cameras you would thing more pictures/info can be found about this press preview. I asked a 1970 magazine writer if he was there and he said he could not remember. He said they went to so many of those events with all the different manufactures that it is difficult to recall a specific event. I have only been able to find 2 small articles about that day.

If that ZL1 prototype comes up for sale could be a million $$ Camaro?
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post #8 of 58 (permalink) Old Feb 6th, 05, 09:49 AM
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None of this squares with the letter from Passenger Car Styling to the Central Office dated March 24, 1969 requesting ONE 1969 Camaro.

The letter states in part:

"This car is to be used as a Pilot Build for the one hundred (100) ZL-1 cars to be ordered by the COPO group."

Styling regularly made changes to prototype/show cars. The differences noted do not guarantee there were two.

There is someone with a tremendous amount of internal documentation on the ZL-1 showcar(s) and he isn't talking. He was in a position to know and has send me a few items of interest. He also once told me the car was factory-built as a Cortez silver SS-RS.

My comments like all the others are opinion, not fact. We will have to wait until his planned book is written.

William

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post #9 of 58 (permalink) Old Feb 6th, 05, 11:01 AM
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That's true, maybe the blacked out one was first and it was chromed up later in life. Maybe they are both the same one, an it is the same one as the rumored silver one.

Heres the ECL (Exception Control Letter) for what appears to be 2 9567 COPO's, one with an M21, one with an M40 (look down near the middle of the sheet. This would infer that if there were two, the "A" car is an M21 and the "B" car is an M40. Don't know if that means there are two in existance, or that this document was just part of the paperwork associated with the as yet unreleased COPO order of 100 to come. Guess we'll all have to wait until one of both of them appear, or someone who was there speaks up.


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post #10 of 58 (permalink) Old Feb 6th, 05, 12:40 PM Thread Starter
 
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MarkC,The book that you pulled these pictures out of show on page 58 also a 69 Camaro with a Black Stripe going down it with the number 56 on it.Also has hood pins with cowel hood.Could this be the silver car? I will call my first contact up that remembers this car and see if he can remember details.Dan
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post #11 of 58 (permalink) Old Feb 6th, 05, 01:23 PM
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I didn't pull these out of a book. They are Al Wallace's pictures. He could have got them from a book, I don't know what their original source is.

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post #12 of 58 (permalink) Old Feb 6th, 05, 01:55 PM Thread Starter
 
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MarkC,It's called "The Camaro Book" by Michael Lamm copyright 1978.ISBN 0-932128-00-9.
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post #13 of 58 (permalink) Old Feb 6th, 05, 03:28 PM
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The silver car is Dick Guldstrands' Z/28 Trans-Am car as tested by Car & Driver, May 1970 issue.

William

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post #14 of 58 (permalink) Old Feb 6th, 05, 04:08 PM Thread Starter
 
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Bill,Below the picture it says....Editors of Sports Car Graphic borrowed race-prepared 1969 Camaro for extended test,found the car good for 143 but impractical at supermarket...Its got a funky looking rear spoiler too.....Dan
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post #15 of 58 (permalink) Old Feb 6th, 05, 05:31 PM
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Mark;
While your info is technically correct about the birth and inception of the 9560 ZL1 Camaros, the main mover and shaker behind the project is none ither than Dick Harrell himself. Dick was instrumental in the development work with both Chapparal and Chevrolet. It was Dick who worked with Vince Piggins to consider the ZL1 engine for the Camaro. Fred Gibb played a major part in that he was the dealer that Dick needed to actually order the cars for Chevrolet to build them, because the Dick Harrell Performance Center was not an authorized Chevrolet sales outlet. This was possible because of Dick's long and very decorated history with Chevrolet, all the way from the Z11 impalas to the Nickey funny cars and 427 transplants in Camaros and Novas and Chevelles. Dick also held the Chevrolet banner high in the Super Stock ranks as well. For further insight on this, stop on over to http://69.94.82.218/forum/index.php? . This is the Dick Harrell forum, and many of the posters there were with Dick back in the muscle heyday. Also, some of them worked for Chevrolet and can answer about any question anyone may have about the cars.
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