Reader Question: Yenko Camaros and Steel Balls?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

Robert asks: Tell me every thing you know about Yenko Chevys. My chevy buddy thinks  thats an unknow story of American patriotism, back when men with nerves of steel drove big block Chevys with cast iron drums.

My reply: More like balls of steel!

Yenko was a Chevy dealership that sold specially modded Chevys not generally available through the normal factory pipeline. For example, the ’67-69 Yenko Super Camaro – which came with the Corvette’s 427 rather than the available 396 big block V8, along with special additional functional and appearance upgrades. This sort of thing is impossible today because any dealer that modified a new car’s drivetrain would be Hut! Hut! Hutted! by the EPA in short order.

Another dealer that did these deeds back in the day was Baldwin Chevrolet; the Motion Camaro being a fun example of the hooliganism that was once available at dealers. The last such I’m aware of was the Meecham Trans-Am, created by Dennis & Kyle Meecham. The first was in ’77, if I recall correctly. These featured a turbocharged version of the Pontiac 400, along with a retuned carb and ignition.

It’s sad they’re gone – along with most of the rest of what was once America.

. . .

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  1. 8SM, good stories and related stuff about the days “before the motor laws”, as Rush sang about. And today,
    “Stealerships” (dealers) only want to fleece the sheep/customer to the maximum amount possible before customers revolt by trading in cars with significant repair bills, or changing brands, or “going galt”, and buying an older inexpensive vehicle with less subsystems to break. The only advantage to what’s happened is all the growth for independent shops that will fix cars for less than dealers, and “hop up” cars, which dealers won’t do anymore. The greatest disaster is the loss of income to buy cars, or do any work on cars b/c of bigGov’s insane flu bug restrictions, causing 50 million formerly employed to be out of work since March, and no end in sight. Good luck, and good wrenching to all us motorheads moving forward.

  2. Not to mention all us crazies who modified cars well beyond the factory mods. I remember a run of 9 miles between 2 towns I could make in 4 minutes and could have done better except for an S curve over RR tracks. I could stand on the brakes, and get down to the 120 showing on the speedo before they were toast. I wouldn’t need them again for another 5 miles. Good thing too since it took that long before they’d do anything significant. 4 wheel discs would have been heaven on earth.

    I used to make my mother mad but there was little she could do. I’d open the dumps and tear off on the FM road we lived on. After I got through the twisties I’d turn around, about 10 miles from the house, and come back through them. They could hear me turn around.

    The best thing about back then was the free country we lived in. Nobody got bent about somebody using the public roads to race. Hell, our local sheriff would pull up and be a spectator. It was only when a red 67 Malibu and a 66 SS would head out of town people would head out and word would spread fast. Only the DPS gave anyone hell and that was mainly because they were so badly outrun.

    In the wee hours on a Sunday morning a friend and I would line up at the only light in town and head west. By the time we got to the truck stop near the edge of town, everyone hanging out there would be lined up to watch us come by including the sheriff. We waited for the DPS to go home and open our dumps on the courthouse square and use the green light to start. EvenSteven with the same light. Now and then one of us would break loose and we’d turn around and go back to try again. But we knew how much we could roll into the throttle and how many RPM we could run it up before dumping the clutch. That was a time and country when life was fun for everyone.

      • In my Veloster, also, I have… had a little bit of fun on one of the local mountain roads. It is annoying to have to work around all the places a pedestrian “might” be (i.e. probably isn’t), though that may get marginally better as the summer goes on and it starts getting dark earlier. The problem with that road is, the state has done pretty much everything they possibly can to make that area attractive to normies and tourists with hiking trails, campgrounds, and so on. (It used to be a mine access road, but then the mine closed down and became a historical park). So it doesn’t matter if it’s the literal middle of the night, you can never quite drive as if cars are the only possible hazard, just in case one of the campers decides to go for a walk. In the daylight, forget it; too many normies doing wilderness park things like crossing the road in blind zones.

        The other problem is, the other drivers there pretty much all drive Subarus. In former years, I’d go out there and see an occasional Miata or Golf, but now it’s like some kind of driving Oprah went out there on a day I wasn’t there and told everyone “You get a WRX! You get a WRX! EVERYONE gets a WRX!”


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