Chevrolet's COPO Camaro is one of a limited number of drag-racing-ready cars you can buy from a manufacturer. But this year, for the COPO Camaro's 50th anniversary, Chevrolet took a different approach.
The eCOPO Camaro concept's electric motor is installed under the hood of the auto and is attached directly to the transmission housing, just as the gasoline engine was. The company says the eCOPO Camaro should be able to cover the standing quarter mile in about 9 seconds with more than 700 horsepower and 600 pound-feet of torque. It takes the general idea of a COPO Camaro - build and sell a vehicle specifically for drag racing - and modified the idea with a 21st-century twist by way of a beefy electric motor.
"The eCOPO Concept is all about where we go in the future with electrification in the high-performance space", explains Russ O'Blenes, GM director of performance variants, parts and motorsports. The eCOPO was developed in a partnership with Hancock and Lane Racing and Patrick McCue, who is involved with both an electric drag racing team in the Seattle area and the Bothell High School's Automotive Technology program.
And that exploration isn't limited to playing around with an all-electric concept drag auto. COPO stood for Central Office Purchasing Order and referred to a system dealers could use to order cars with option packages not available to the general public. It is connected to a conventional racing-prepared "Turbo 400" automatic transmission that channels the motor's torque to the same solid rear axle used in the production COPO Camaro race cars. As the eCOPO Camaro shows, you can effectively drop in the electric motor as a straight replacement to the gas engine.
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2019 will mark 50 years since the first COPO Camaro specials started showing up in dealerships; the eCopo will be on display at SEMA in Las Vegas until November 2nd. Comprised of four individual modules, the eCOPO uses twice the voltage as the Chevrolet Bolt EV, enabling it to potentially charge just as fast as Porsche's upcoming Taycan electric sedan.
"The possibilities are intriguing and suggest a whole new world for racers", said O'Blenes. Chevrolet pioneered the concept of the high-performance crate engine right around the time the original COPO Camaro models were created, and the eCOPO project points to a future that could include electric crate motors for racing, or even your street rod.
"We're not there yet, but it's something we're exploring".