by Steve Alexander
Before life became filled with acronyms such as, LOL, BFF, FAQ, FYI, YMMV, and the one all married men hear at home– EOD (End of Discussion), there were a couple of acronyms that filled the soul of a Camaro owner: Z28 and COPO. Let’s take a look at what the meaning of RPO is, and what is offered, or in some cases would not be offered, to a new Camaro buyer.
First let’s define RPO– it stands for Regular Production Option. For those of you who have sat at a new car salesman’s desk, gripping your pencil tightly as you agonized over the seemingly endless options list, checking off just the right additions to build your dream machine, just like the one on the poster that hung over your bed as a kid, then you are already familiar with RPO codes. I’ll give you a quick rundown of some of the most famous, common, and unusual Camaro RPO codes, focusing on the B4C code. GM designated this code as, “The Special Service Package”, or in layman terms, it’s known as “The Police Package”.
In 1967, Chevrolet gave us what may be the most famous RPO code, it can be seen displayed on the fenders, grille, and rear panel of some of the most beautiful Camaros ever produced. “The Special Performance Package” would give you the high-revving 302 engine and special racing stripes. The code was Z28. This was just another option group, but as it caught on with owners, it became the designated model name and emblems adorned Camaros chosen with this RPO code starting in 1968. Let us not forget RPO V75 “Liquid Tire Chain”. By activating a switch on the dash of your 1969 Camaro, the vacuum operated system that would spray ether on the rear tires from canisters positioned in the trunk, melting ice as it gathered on the tires, giving you sought after traction in ice and snow.
Now we’ll address the star of the show– RPO B4C “The Special Service Package”. In 1979, Chevrolet began to address the need for a high speed pursuit car by creating twelve Z28 cruisers for the California Highway Patrol. With power to spare, they were ideal as chase cars, but limited interior room ultimately spelled the end to this early project. Chevrolet perfected the package and regular offerings began in 1991 and ran until 2002. The basis for the package began in 1991 with a Z28 in RS clothing, with the additions of A/C, dual-converter exhaust, 16” wheels, 4-wheel Corvette disc brakes, engine oil cooler, 145 mph speedometer, and special suspension package. Additional changes over the years included a limited slip axle, rear compartment shade, 6-speed manual transmission, LS1 horsepower, and 1LE rear control arms.
Chevrolet enthusiasts would feel fear and trepidation from these Camaros when seen in their rear view mirror. Nowadays, collectors scramble for an opportunity to own one of these rare Camaros. Many were destroyed during high speed pursuits or disassembled once taken off the road. Units that were offered for sale had all of the police add-ons removed.
The next time you sit in a car salesman’s office, look over those RPO codes very carefully. You may just be building the next dream car of the future!