In 1969, Chevrolet built a very limited number of Camaros equipped with the legendary 427 cubic-inch ZL1 V8. Dressed down in luxury options to make way for the finest performance hardware Chevrolet had to offer – in grand sleeper tradition – these rare models are referred to as the COPO (Central Office Production Order) Camaros and have become some of the most highly sought-after musclecars today.
Fast forward to 2012: Chevrolet revives the COPO moniker, but this time the game plan is a bit different. Using the fifth-generation Camaro as a canvas, Chevrolet Performance produced 69 examples of its new interpretation of the COPO model – a factory-built NHRA Stock Eliminator drag car specifically for use on the track. Along with a host of other track-specific upgrades, the COPO Camaros also ditched the standard Camaro’s independent rear suspension (IRS) for a more launch-friendly solid axle setup.
All told, the COPO Camaros offered from GM proved to be a formidable package, but with only 69 cars built in total, putting one in your garage is easier said than done.
As it turns out, getting your hands on a rear suspension setup like the one found on the COPO is just a matter of getting on the line with the folks at Moser Engineering and ordering up their solid rear axle package. So, that’s exactly what we did. We put our wrenches to a 2014 Camaro SS that was previously using the stock suspension components.
Our New Solid Axle 5th Gen Camaro – Project True SStreet
Our car, Project True SStreet, is a 2014 Camaro that’s destined to be a street and strip bruiser, packing a Whipple supercharged Chevrolet Performance LSX376-B15 (engine build story, on the dyno part one, and on the dyno part two) powerplant and similar styling cues of the inside and outside of the real COPO Camaro. Moser’s solid axle package will provide us all the frills of the COPO’s suspension package, but with additional adjustability.
While the stock Camaro’s IRS is a great setup for a street car in terms of handling and ride compliance, getting independent rear suspensions to hook on hard launches can be tricky. That’s compounded by the fact that IRS systems typically add a lot of weight to the car versus a solid axle alternative, and usually aren’t designed to withstand the abuses of high horsepower applications. With that, it’s clear that if you’re putting together a purpose-built fifth-gen Camaro for the strip, replacing the independent system with a solid rear is the way to go.
“Let’s face it, no independent rear with even the best half shafts is going to handle sticky meats and 1,500-plus horsepower and high RPM launches reliably at the drag strip,” says Moser’s Jeff Anderson. “Horsepower is more affordable than it has ever been, and when you see 1,500 horsepower and higher becoming more common, you need a solution.”
The center section, along with brakes, driveshaft, and shocks aren’t included with this particular kit, so you’ll need to supply those yourself – which makes sense considering the wide range of different setups racers will inevitably want to run. Moser does, however, also sell a full kit with all said components if you require a complete strip-ready application out of the box.
“This rear was basically developed as a single package replacement for the fifth-gen cars that are interested in racing Stock Eliminator,” Anderson added. “It allows a person to make his own COPO conversion without the huge price of admission required by the factory, and they can do it slowly as time and money allow.
“Although it was initially designed for NHRA Stock Eliminator classes, the simplicity allows it to be adapted for many classes or uses, including extreme high-horsepower street cars that are more interested in straight-line performance. It was designed so that only minimal modifications are required for this kit compared to other designs in the market, and comes with all the adjustability you need for competition right out of the box. This is a serious rear assembly for machines that mean business,” Anderson continued.
It should be noted that, like the OE setup in the COPO, Moser’s solid rear axle package is NHRA-legal for Stock Eliminator in a non-adjustable configuration.
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