Ohio COPOs
Muscle Car Review|December 2019
Chevelles Travel Different, Yet Similar, Paths
Drew Hardin

It’s not surprising that both of these 1969 COPO Chevelles came out of GM’s Baltimore assembly plant. Almost all of the 300 or so that were made were built there. Per NCRS documents, these two were built three weeks apart (June 4 and June 25, 1969) and were delivered to the same dealer, the nowshuttered Earl Evans Chevrolet in Painesville, Ohio, northeast of Cleveland.

Their paths diverged at that point—boy, did they, as you’ll see—but they have joined again. Both cars now belong to Grady Burch, who lives about 50 miles from where Evans Chevrolet was located.

Regular MCR readers will recognize Grady’s name. He owns some significant examples of Chevrolet muscle, several of which have appeared on these pages (like the day-two COPO Camaro doing that wild burnout on the cover of our Dec. 2017 issue). His Dusk Blue COPO Chevelle was featured back in May 2009, but we’re revisiting the car because its stablemate, the Garnet Red COPO, just finished an extensive two-year restoration. Both Chevelles will be displayed together at the 2019 Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals in Illinois.​

According to well-established research, about 300 COPO Chevelles were built in 1969. An estimated 66 remain, making them rarer still. Grady’s Dusk Blue Chevelle takes that scarcity a notch higher, as it is a perfectly preserved, unrestored example of the breed.

Grady has owned this Chevelle since April 1987. Back then he was looking for one like the car he drove in high school, a red 1969 SS396 that he sold after he got married. An acquaintance said he knew of a 1969 Chevelle for sale, but it had a 427 V-8 in it, not a 396. The car was located just 3 miles from Grady’s home.

“Before I went to see it, I got in touch with Mark Meekins,” who then was president of the National Chevelle Owners Association, Grady recalls. “I was trying to get info on the 427 cars. I knew they built them, but I had no information to go by.”

Meekins put Grady in touch with Chevelle enthusiast Ray Hurst, who himself had recently bought a COPO Chevelle (which was profiled in “Muscle Car Woodstock,” Nov. 2019, and will also be at MCACN as part of the MCR Showcase). “Ray helped me with engine codes, rearend codes, stuff like that, to see if I was looking at a real COPO Chevelle.” With Ray’s info in hand, Grady confirmed that the Chevelle was a real-deal factory 427 car.

The seller didn’t have any paperwork on the Chevelle, except for a copy of the window sticker, and a story to go with it. During negotiations between a previous owner and potential buyer—“I think it was the fifth owner, and I’m the sixth or seventh, I can’t remember,” admits Grady—the would-be buyer asked for a copy of the Chevelle’s original window sticker, which the owner had at the time. After the deal closed, the buyer wanted the original window sticker and was told it would cost $100 extra. To that, the buyer angrily told the seller, “You can use it for toilet paper.”

Grady has had no luck tracking down that previous owner to get the actual window sticker. “My friends all know the story. I’ve been honest through the years about it,” he says. “But I truly believe it is a copy of the actual window sticker. Over the years I was taught what to look for on thewindow stickers—the shapes of the numbers, the fonts—and this thing is so exact that there’s no doubt in my mind that it is a copy of the original.”

What Grady bought on that day in April 1987 was a 28,000-mile time capsule with its original drivetrain intact: L72 V-8, M22 four-speed transmission, and KQ-code 12-bolt Posi rearend unique to the COPO Chevelles. Grady found the original distributor in a box in the trunk. Headers had been installed in place of the original exhaust manifolds.

Those headers, plus evidence of tow tabs having been mounted up front and remnants of bolt-on ladder bars, led Grady to believe the car had been raced, but not hard enough to have blown up any of the driveline.

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