Chevy’s New COPO Camaro Has the Biggest V8 in the US. Do You Care?

Welcome to the awkward automotive transition period

The new 2022 Chevrolet COPO Camaro on the drag strip. The Chevy has the biggest V8 from an American automaker.
The 2022 COPO Camaro is certainly a beast, but maybe not as much as people were hoping for.

Chevrolet recently announced a new version of the COPO Camaro for 2022. It’s a factory-built drag racer inspired by dealers in the late ‘60s using Chevy’s Central Office Production Order (COPO) system, where the vehicles get their name, to put giant engines in relatively small cars. This year’s offering is special because it’s powered by not only a brand-new Big Block V8, but the largest V8 engine currently offered by any American automaker, as reported by The Drive.

The engine in question is a 572-cubic-inch (9.4-liter) V8 with a cast-iron block and four-bolt main caps that’s mated to the TH400 three-speed automatic transmission from ATI Racing Products. (For reference, the V8 available for the high-performance ZL1 Camaro is just 376 cubic inches, or 6.2 liters.) But while this would seem like the wet dream of anyone whose interests lie somewhere in the Venn diagram of Chevy cars, American muscle and overbuilt engines, the fanbase here is decidedly niche.

That’s because the COPO Camaro is not street legal. As Chevy notes, the car is designed to compete in National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Stock and Super Stock eliminators. As such, this monstrous engine, capable of a similarly monstrous output, has actually been “choked down to 430 horsepower to fit into a specific NHRA class,” The Drive writes. The car can actually be ordered with two smaller engines that get more horsepower, a 350-cubic-inch V8 that puts out 580 hp and a 427-cubic-inch V8 that offers 470 hp. 

In short, this is an exciting development for people interested in hitting the drag strip (and have six figures to shell out, as these start at $105,500 for the 572 Big Block), but not really anyone else. Camaro fans have been hoping Chevy would give them some real-deal power they could actually drive around, or at least something slotted under the much-loved Z28 name. But we’re in a transition period in the automotive industry, and it appears the company has its focus elsewhere. 

As we noted last week, Dodge is currently working hard to be first to market with an electric muscle car, so it’s possible Chevy would rather compete in that segment than give everyday drivers new fossil-fuel options. On the other hand, word is that the Camaro isn’t long for this world, and while its successor could still be high performance, it may not be a muscle car or drag racer.

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