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Amazing, Unrestored, and Super-Rare: 29,000-Mile 1969 Chevrolet COPO Chevelle

HOT ROD logo HOT ROD 9/17/2019 Drew Hardin,Richard Prince
a car parked on the side of a road: Richard Prince Photography© Richard Prince Richard Prince Photography

Arguably the highlight of muscle car collector Grady Burch's stable of top-tier Chevrolets is his original, unrestored, Dusk Blue 1969 Chevrolet COPO Chevelle. It is one of two COPO Chevelles that he owns, the other a Garnet Red car that just went through a two-year restoration. They were built just three weeks apart in June 1969 at GM's Baltimore assembly plant and delivered to the same dealer northeast of Cleveland. Both Chevelles will be displayed together at the 2019 Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals in Illinois November 23-24 (mcacn.com).

Research

About 300 COPO Chevelles were built in 1969, and an estimated 66 remain. Grady has owned this Chevelle since April 1987, back when he was looking for one like the car he drove in high school, a red 1969 SS396.

In those days little was known about Chevrolet's COPO program. Through Mark Meekins, then president of the National Chevelle Owners Association, Grady got in touch with fellow COPO Chevelle owner Ray Hurst, who helped Grady confirm that the Chevelle was a real-deal factory 427 car. The 28,000-mile time capsule had its original drivetrain intact: L72 V-8, M22 four-speed transmission, and KQ-code 12-bolt Posi rearend. The original distributor was in a box in the trunk, and headers had been installed in place of the original exhaust manifolds. Grady wanted the Chevelle back in its stock appearance, so he remounted the original distributor and put factory exhaust manifolds back on with a correct smog system. At some point the "Chevelle by Chevrolet" badges on the car's header panel and trunk had been removed, the holes brazed over, and the panels repainted. "I drilled those out and put emblems back on the car," Grady says.

a car parked on the side of a road: Richard Prince Photography

"Other than those two spots, the car has original paint," a fact proven with a paint-thickness gauge when the Chevelle went through Steve Shauger's Vintage Certification process at the 2009 MCACN. "It was one of the first cars to go through Vintage Certification when Steve started it, and it was one of the first to achieve Legend status, the highest they awarded at the time," Grady says. "So it really is a nice car."

Editor's note: We would like to extend a special thank you to the helpful and friendly staff at the Medina Municipal Airport and Flight Services of Medina for their kind assistance with our photography location.

At a Glance

1969 COPO ChevelleOwned by: Grady Burch, Hinckley, OH

Restored by: Unrestored original

Engine: 427ci/425hp L72 V-8

Transmission: Muncie M22 Rock Crusher 4-speed manual

Rearend: KQ-code 12-bolt with 4.10 gears and Positraction

Exterior color: Dusk Blue

Interior: Black vinyl bench seat

Wheels: 14x7 SS

Tires: F70-14 Goodyear Wide Tread GT

Special parts: Sun tach, Stewart-Warner gauges, Hurst shifter; 29,350 original miles

The COPO Numbers Game

Factory paperwork that Grady Burch has collected over the years outlines what was included in Chevrolet's Central Office Production Order equipment packages for Chevelles. The basic COPO 9562 package included the L72 engine assembly, oil pan, clutch housing and fork, exhaust manifolds, radiator, and radiator grille, as well as the Chevelle-specific KQ-code rearend assembly, which shared its internals (heat-treated ring-and-pinion, 4.10 gear ratio) with the BE-code rearends under COPO Camaros.

Double-letter suffixes to the 9562 code indicated variations on the theme; 9562 AA, for example, denoted a COPO Chevelle with a four-speed manual transmission (M20, M21, or M22) and Positraction, while 9562 BA called for the M40 three-speed automatic with the Posi rearend. The code 9562 CD added Special Contour bucket seats, COPO tires, and special-order springs to the AA equipment, while 9562 DD did the same for the automatic-transmission (BA) cars.

Further down the list was 9562 EA, which augmented the AA group with RPO J52 disc brakes and RPO L78 tires. Those would be wrapped around 15-inch Rally wheels. Interestingly, Grady's blue COPO is not a 9562 at all. Its COPO designation is 9566 AA, a version of 9562 EA but with 14-inch tires rather than the 15s, and SS wheels rather than the Rally wheels.

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