The original first generation Chevrolet Camaro suffered from a major handicap since the day it launched in 1967. Due to a policy inside of General Motors, the Camaro wouldn’t receive an engine larger than 400 cu in (6.6-litre) which meant that it was at disadvantage against its rivals, the Ford Mustang, Plymouth Barracuda and the Dodge Dart. To get around this issue, Don Yenko, an American racing driver started to swap the Camaro’s engines with larger L-72 427 cu in (7.0-litre) engines from the Chevrolet Corvette. This gave birth to the Yenko Super Camaro. These cars were made at his Chevrolet dealership where he sold the Yenko Camaro cars as optional kit in various trims to customers who were looking to get their machines up to power with those from Ford and the other companies.
While Yenko’s previous cars were more often drag-strip ponies, the Yenko Camaros were much more sophisticated, fitted with options right from the factory and then given a spec bump later, getting fitted with a fully tuned engine, suspensions and cosmetic upgrades. Off these, one special build that Don Yenko created was the Turbo Z which you see here, fitted the 350 cu in (6.0-litre) engine with a water-injected turbocharger, that along with a Yenko-designed fuel heater that resulted in a near 3-second drop in quarter-mile times over the standard Camaro.
This 1981 Yenko Chevrolet Camaro Turbo Z that is going on sale at Mecum is one of the only tree “Turbo Z” cars that Don Yenko made, and is also one of the nineteen Yenko Camaros that were produced in 1981. It is also the last of the original Yenko creations as Don sold his dealership the following year. Photos courtesy Mecum