Few are aware that the first Yenko COPO car was the Corvair Stinger. I owned YS042 back in the 70’s, and can attest that unlike the big-engined cars designed to go fast in a straight line, the Corvair in Stage 2+ was a nearly unparalelled road car, for an American car. It went reasonably well in a straight line, given the small displacement of its engine. Mine, a 4-carb with a lumpy camshaft and other improvements, ran about 200 hp or so, but the car was lightened from stock, and so could punch well above its weight at the Stoplight Grand Prix. It took a pretty small block V8 to get a jump on it.
But it was on the open road that it showed its mettle. A bunch of the roads in the western MN lake district saw some memorable summer drives with me chasing 911 Porsches of the time. It could catch them, but usually couldn’t pass safely. But few could get away from me. I could walk away from most of the other cars.
Part of the handling performance was due to Yenko’s interesting take on how to fit a wide rear tire to the stock wheels. He would take two 5.5" wheels, cut them off-center and reweld them back together, which could then take a wider-than-stock 13" racing tire. I had a set of those for one summer, and their performance was phenomenal. From outside the car, everything looked fairly stock. The wheel wells didn’t need to be enlarged to fit the road course wheels.
The fiberglass engine and luggage compartment lids helped with that. Putting the spare tire and mounting the battery in the front greatly improved balance on the road. The two magnetic engine compartment lid openings improved air cooling at speed. The front air dam and rear spoiler eliminated the sight of a bunch of the 65-66 Corvairs going nose-high down the superslab, especially after ill-informed owners removed the front air dams on the 66 models.
With the headers – both the original Yenko headers and later the IECOs – the engine sound was really good.
I enjoyed driving it, especially since most people who saw it at the time simply presumed it was just another custom car, and nothing really special.
Alas – the car got sold with the divorce in 78. I understand it’s still out there, now living in Arizona if the Yenko Stinger registry is correct.
Nice memory of a really good car.