Don Yenko and his Canonsburg, Pennsylvania-based dealership have been literally “canonized
It's become an annual tradition for the most serious muscle car collectors on the planet. Since moving to the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois, the Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals has grown to be the most prestigious event on the yearly calendar for vintage 1960s and 1970s performance cars. The show is traditionally held the weekend before Thanksgiving. This year over 500 vehicles showed up to fill the cavernous facility. As always, rare Camaros play a vital part of the attraction.
Having grown greatly from the former Chevy Vette Fest held downtown, promoter Bob Ashton and his business associates are always finding ways to highlight specific types of cars. This year included tributes to the models of 1962, 1972, NASCAR aero specials, Trans-Am vehicles, and more, but by far the largest group this year was the Yenko supercar display, with 60+ cars on hand including race Corvettes that Don Yenko had driven or sponsored, a variety of the Stinger sports cars, the noted Chevelles, Novas, and Dueces, and SYC Camaros—lots of real Yenko Camaros.
Of course, Chicago was Nickey territory, and they were represented, too, as were the COPO packages, the second-gen models, and the show cars. We'll let the pictures tell you the story, but with many high-quality accommodations within walking distance, a full schedule of entertainment, and the literally once-in-a-lifetime gathering of special cars based on the groups being featured at each annual event, MCACN is the place to be if rare, real muscle is your passion.
01. Elsewhere in the building, Scott Kiehne's '70 L78 396 Camaro got the attention of people who understood just how rare this car is. Only a handful of the reported 600 L78 big-blocks from the 1970 model year have surfaced to date. Scott's four-speed, 4.10 gear-equipped model is one of only 12 said to retain the original engine.
02. The newly refounded Nickey dealership display was prominently seen as one of the major exhibits soon after entering the hall, complete with a '67 SS/RS as the centerpiece.
03. Charley Lillard had a lot to smile about as restorer Brian Henderson and his crew finished up Lillard's car and brought it in from Pennsylvania just before the show started. The car is the only known orange, non-vinyl top X11-trim '69 Yenko Camaro built, and Lillard selected a prototype circa-1968 ZL1 aluminum engine to power it. It was a former Pennsylvania drag car known as Forgy's Funster.
04. Another area of car judging outside of the normal awards process is the Vintage Certification area, which is limited to original, unrestored cars. Among them were these two RS models.
05. The '69 survivor is owned by Mark Bulaw, while the '70 version is actually a pilot car documented as the second-gen two Camaro assembled at Norwood in very late 1969. It is the design's first Rallye Sport model produced, and the first automatic for the breed that year as well.
06. One highlight of the MCACN event is the unveilings of the latest restorations and debuts, which occur every 15 minutes or so during the show's opening hours. Here, Wayne Schmeeckle and his wife, Robin, gather with the guys from the Supercar Workshop restoration business as his '68 Yenko Z/28 is unveiled.
07. Here are two '68 big-blocks that went through the Yenko franchise. The green one is owned by Ed Montini of Arizona and is a rare unconverted 396 COPO 9737 package. The other is a 9737 build that was converted to 427 power, which belongs to Dana and Kristy Hurt. Both cars were sold through Yenko's franchised dealers elsewhere, not the Canonsburg facility.
08. If you were into '69 Yenko Camaros, there were examples in every color available that year. This is just a small part of the display, including a fresh project original body that was up on a rotisserie.