Question of the Week: What is the best factory performance option?


If you knew what to order, there have been plenty of opportunities over the years to score yourself a factory hot rod. New or old, the right code on the order sheet could change a docile grocery-getter into a potent performance machine. So who did it best?

A Yenko Camaro is the pinnacle of selecting just the go-fast parts. Credit Hagerty/Carol Gould

There are the familiar and top-of-mind examples, of course, like the COPO 427-cubic-inch V-8s that could settle into any frame rails it dimensionally fit, or the competition suspension for late ‘60s Ford Mustangs. An in-the-know buyer would not be caught without those boxes checked on the order sheet.

Whether it was heavy-duty suspension, bigger brakes, or even the weight-saving benefits of a rear seat delete, if your goal was going fast without compromise, we want to hear your favorite factory performance option. Leave us a comment below.


Turbocharged versions of (in no particular order)…

Mk lV Supra
Porsche 944
Gen. 2 RX7
Gen. 2 MR2


@Jim-R - I think adding a turbo is up there in terms of best options, bar none. I do really like sport suspension tuning though.


Totally agree. The nice thing about ordering up the turbos in most of those cars I named was that you usually got the stiffer springs, shocks and sways…along with things like LSDs and better brakes automatically. That’s why it’s the best IMO.


I was one of the fortunate ones to own a new COPO back then. I raced cars off and on my whole life. Mostly on. Always liked muscle cars. Back then the COPO ran A Stock the class was called. Primarley ran against the 396/375 HP chevys. They NHRA re-classified the 396/375 to 425 HP for racing purposes. That always put us side by side at the starting line. 427 always was about 1/2 second faster in 1/4 mile then the 396/375. Best ET was 11.52 @ 118 MPH. Only thing done was headers and slicks ( I think they were M&H 7 inch wide was all allowed). That was all I could afford back then. I drove it everyday on the street. That was smoking ET back then for a stock streetable machine. I went to the track nearly every weekend ( Maryland tracks) to race.
Nothing stock could compete. Fords,Dodge,Shelby’s nothing really came close. They all looked nice but couldn’t keep up.
I Had big and small block Vetts back then,raced them,stock to stock the COPO was untouchable. I never saw a Yanko at the track but did see one other COPO back then. The Yanko and COPO was basically the same car under slightly different cover. I’m sure there was no differences in performance between the two of them.
I now have a lot of newer muscle cars and they are phenomenal.
My best comparison for a matchup today is the Demon. The COPO was the Demon in 1969.


@john2 - It is awesome to read a firsthand account of putting a COPO through the paces. I was always curious how well those 427s did on the street. Did it really have decent manners?


It was great. Never any issues til I broke something. I did a lot of street racing. That car was never beat on the street. Mine was a 4 speed M22. Had 4:10 gears. I had all Chevy,s back when. CI to HP nothing could beat chevys.my friends had a mix of everything but nobody wanted to mess with the Camaro.
Because they were so rare not many people knew what they were. I had 396 emblems and hockey sticks put on it. Told everybody it was the 396/375. We had fun!!!


That oh so cool, hardly known, sneaky exhaust knob under the dash of the GTO that is just so Pontiac. Cool.


Let’s talk about all types of cars and all types of racing, since most are mainly talking race.
Engines change all the time. Displacement, cubic inches, fuels (even electric), Types (Rotary?) just to name a few.
There is one main item that doesn’t seem to change in all the considered fast cars like:
GT350, COPO, Bugatti, Cobra, Viper, Ferrari, AMX, M BMW or CSL.
I do not have enough space to talk about other cars.
You can change or tweak and often do, engine parts, suspension and a whole list of other manufacture parts.
The right code, new or old, would be to get as light a model as possible. Then you can use factory parts to tweak the engine or suspension as racing restrictions change throughout the years. A lightweight car will help in any type of racing or street activity, not just straight line. Even the owner of an older ? BMW CSL or GT350 will sneak in some new engine or suspension technology but most will not acid dip and a complete CSL or lightweight XKE to lightened even further, a factory lightweight car. An added benefit is value. A factory lightweight car is usually worth much more than a new standard car with a new turbo engine, 10+ years later.


My vote would go to the R code (Boss 351) 1971 Mustang. You got a high performance engine with ram air, competition suspension and steering, bigger exhaust, lighter front bumper, 4 speed and 3:91 Traction Loc rear end.


Fun but not earthshaking, the B09 option on the 1964 Olds F-85/Cutlass was inexpensive and gave folks the first 442. And you could get it on four door models (10 produced), not just the two doors. Not station wagons, though.


The 67 “R” code Fairlane 500XL. The 427/425hp 8bbl, 4sp package was the ticket at the time. Much like the current GT350R is now. If Ford would allow a simple Mustang with the GT350 driveline, that would be the best factory performance option. A throwback to the LX days.



COPO 9560 hands down!


Fastest of the early Mustangs!


My vote goes to the 69 Z28 with the 302, light, nimble, quick and a true joy to drive on a mountain road.


1967 327/375 hp with electric fuel pump. Came out of a 'vette. One of the Fastest small block’s on the road.
I had mine in a light 1950 Ford Coupe, Muncie 4 on the floor, What a screaming machine!!


assuming the drivetrain is already uprated, I’d say suspension with good tires and wheels


62 Bubbletop Bel Air… 409 w/ dual quads.


I have an add for the 67 Shelby GT-350 Mustang, the GT-500 option was $200.
Add is from a 67 Playboy.


Playboy? You read the ads and articles, right?