During the horsepower wars of the original muscle car era, it wasn’t just the car companies duking it out for supremacy on the street and strip: Many dealers also got into the ring, adding cubic inches and horsepower over and above what the factory was offering. They were building some of the quickest muscle cars to ever hit the street, and many became legends in the process.High-performance dealer specials weren’t a new phenomenon.
They were happening before the 1964 Pontiac GTO ignited a wave of performance cars that lasted nearly a decade, but more dealers took up the cause as the decade rolled on, with some operations lasting into the early 1970s and beyond. At their height of popularity, there were dealerships across America performing engine swaps, offering bigger big blocks and long lists of other modifications. In many cases, the only limits were a buyer’s budget and common sense. Narrowing this list down to the top-10 dealer specials wasn’t easy. Did your favorite make the cut?
This small Chevy dealership in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, was run by race car driver and astute business man, Don Yenko. After making some news with his Corvair Stingers, Yenko partnered with drag racer Dick Harrell and started swapping 427 big-blocks into the new Camaro in 1967, often beginning with small-block cars. He called it the Yenko Super Camaro 450 and sold 54 that first year. The following year, he ordered the cars with the 396 big-blocks, which made the conversions easier, and sold 64.