News from Corvette Mike

New ZL-1 Block

You never know what you can find on Craigs List. While answering a Craigslist ad for Chevelle parts a brand new NOS (New Old Stock) (1968-1974) 427 ZL-1 bare engine block was discovered, still in its original plywood crate. This is not to be confused with the 2016 ZL1 (without the dash) supercharged version.

It is estimated that only 300 ZL-1 blocks were cast for Chevrolet by the Winters Foundry from approximately mid-1968 through 1974. Only 71 of these would eventually find their way into 1-year only factory built Camaros (69 built in 1969) and Corvettes (2 built in 1969). ┬áThe approximately 229 remaining, like this one, were sold over the counter at various Chevrolet dealer’s parts departments.

The ZL-1 engine was intended for Can-Am road racing, and not for production vehicles. But the forward thinking of an Illinois-based Chevrolet dealer named Fred Gibb leveraged the COPO (Central Office Production Order) system to convince Chevrolet to produce fifty 1969 Camaros with the ZL-1 engine. Gibb intended the ZL-1 powered Camaros for NHRA Super Stock drag racing competition because the all-aluminum engine was roughly 100 pounds lighter than a standard iron big-block. Gibb understood that a minimum of 50 units must be produced to be legal in NHRA competition. The ZL-1 engine was very exotic in 1969 and nearly doubled the price of the Camaro. This made them very hard to sell and Fred Gibb Chevrolet eventually had to send back 37 units. Chevrolet redistributed the 37 units to various Chevrolet dealers throughout the country.

Fred Gibb Chevrolet also opened the door for other dealers to use the COPO system to order ZL-1 powered 1969 Camaros and a total of 19 units were ordered by various other dealers. Two 1969 ZL-1 powered Corvettes were also ordered via this same system.

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