Yenko Chevrolet - The Dealership

Canonsburg, PA

 

What can you say? Don Yenko, the son of the founder of Yenko Chevrolet, was the man behind the '69 COPOs, and was probably the best known and largest supplier of muscle cars back in the 60's and 70's. Don started using GM in 1965 to get special Corvairs, then moved on to transplanting 427s into Camaros in '67 and '68.  In '69, Yenko used the COPO pipeline to get factory 427s in Camaros and Chevelles, then transplanted a few 427s into some Novas.  In '70, he again used his COPO ties to get an LT-1 equipped Nova.  From there, he began hot rodding Vegas and then produced a few hi-performance Camaros in '81. The dealer was located in 575 West Pike St., Canonsburg, PA.

 

 

The Yenko S/C - Supercar

Don Yenko creates a 1/4 Mile Beast

 

Donald Yenko (May 27, 1927 – March 5, 1987), also known as Don Yenko, was a race car driver who was best known for creating a high performance version of the Chevrolet Camaro known as the Yenko Camaro.

 

In 1957, Yenko set up a performance shop for Chevrolet vehicles. The customers can either order high performance parts or they can have their car modified by Yenko's mechanics. In 1967, when Chevrolet began selling the Camaro, Yenko began to modify SS Camaros by replacing the original L-78 396 in³ (6.4 L) engine with a Chevrolet Corvette's L-72 427 in³ (7.0 L) and upgrade the rear axle and suspensions. He also modified other Chevrolet vehicles like Chevelle and Nova by fitting them with L-72 engines.

 

In 1970s saw the decline in muscle cars due to higher insurance premium and tighter emission rules, Yenko began to modify Chevrolet Vega with spoiler, turbocharger and design graphics. Due to difficulties with EPA certification, he only sold the modified Vega without a turbocharger. Instead, the turbocharger sold separately at Yenko dealership. In 1972 Yenko stopped selling modified cars and began publishing a performance parts catalog from cosmetic modification to engine modification. One of his notable product was the ZL-1 engine and he produced them under permission from Chevrolet. In 1981, Yenko made his last modification, the Turbo Z Camaro. He added a turbocharger to 350 in³ (5.7 L) engine. In 1982 He sold Yenko Chevrolet dealership which had been family owned since 1934. In 1987, he died in a plane crash, along with 3 of his passengers, while on final approach to an airport near Charleston, West Virginia. Yenko landed hard with his Cessna 210M causing him to lose control and dove into a ravine and crashed.

 

The Yenko Super Camaro was a modified Chevrolet Camaro prepared by Yenko Chevrolet, under the command of Don Yenko. The originals were all first-generation Camaros. When the Camaro debuted, a General Motors corporate edict prevented it from carrying an engine larger than 400 in³ (6.6 L); this put the Camaro at a serious disadvantage to the Ford Mustang and Plymouth Barracuda, since neither Ford nor Plymouth had a such a limit. Don Yenko, however, knew there was a market for an ultra powerful Camaro and found ways around the GM limit.

 

Yenko ordered L-78 equipped SS Camaros and swapped in the Chevrolet Corvette's L-72 427 in³ (7.0 L) engine. The cars came with a 4.10 rear end and heavy-duty suspension. The exact number of cars produced is not known; most estimates are around 50. Yenko also installed a fiberglass replacement hood similar to the "Stinger" hood featured on 1967 big-block Corvettes.

 

Encouraged by the success of the 1967 model, Yenko continued production. All cars came equipped with the M-21 close-ratio four speed manual transmission. A large, twin-scooped hood replaced the "Stinger," hood and Yenko badges graced the sides and tail light plate.

 

For 1969, the dealership worked with Chevrolet to have the L-72 engines installed on the factory assembly line using a Central Office Production Order, or COPO. The orders included power disc brakes, a 4.10 Positraction rear end, a stronger front stabilizer bar, and a heavy-duty 4-core aluminum radiator. Buyers of the car had the option of either the Muncie M-21 or 22 four speed manual transmission or the Turbo Hydramatic 400 automatic transmission. A total of 201 cars were sold in 1969, 171 with four speed transmissions and 30 with automatic transmissions. Yenko rounded out the visual package with front and rear spoilers, a cowl-induction hood, special "427" badges on the cowl (2) and back panel (1), twin stripes down the flanks and hood, and the sYc (Yenko Super Car) badges on the sides (2), and on the back panel(1) and sYc lettering on the headrests and cowl.

 

 

1969 Chevrolet Camaro 427 Yenko

Dealer Built Muscle

Present - Yenko Today

Former Yenko Chevrolet Building

 

Yenko Chevrolet, located in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, was one of largest custom muscle car shops of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Don Yenko, son of the dealership founder, first sold specially ordered and equipped Corvairs in 1965 through 1967 called the Yenko Stinger. When the Camaro entered the pony car fray in 1966, Yenko transplanted Chevrolet's 427 cubic inch (7 L), 425 horsepower (317 kW) L-72 engine (along with other high-performance parts) and created the Yenko Camaro. The cars were so popular that, in 1968-69, Yenko used Chevrolet's Central Office Production Order (COPO) system to have L-72 engines installed into Chevrolet Camaros, Chevelles, and Novas on the factory assembly lines. In 1971, the Chevrolet Vega Yenko Stinger II was sold with a 2.3 inline 4 cylinder with Turbocharger and 155 hp. It was offered through 1973. Chevy didn't take the hint on this one though, as no Vega factory turbo was ever built. The high performance and limited production of all Yenko-customized cars makes them valuable to collectors.

 

The former Yenko Chevrolet building as of March, 2008
The former Yenko Chevrolet building as of March, 2008


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