1969 Yenko Nova 427 Haunts the Backroads of Iowa
Just the name “Yenko” captures the attention of car enthusiasts in the know, as these rare, purpose-built 1969 Yenko Nova 427’s are few and far between. And while all are special, there are those that are coveted like no other.
Even though “Stinger” Corvairs were the first vision of Pennsylvania Chevy dealer and racer Don Yenko’s passion for performance — and Camaros and Chevelles gained attention of their own — some people like Ankeny, Iowa’s Dennis Albough, have a thing for particular 1969 Yenko Nova 427’s.
What set certain Yenko S/C Novas apart is the fact that of thirty-eight cars intended for conversion from already stout L78 396/375 JH big blocks to hotter L-72 427 iterations, only about half were actually converted. Produced only in 1969, less than ten are known to exist today, making this Rallye Green example with white Yenko stripes and a black vinyl top rarer than one proverbial hen’s gold tooth.
Of course, the heart of this historian is its thundering big block, and while fitted with cast iron L78 head and exhaust manifolds, a standard distributor, and Holley carburetor, careful tuning produced prodigious power. Once unleashed, 450 horses blow through a Muncie M21 four-speed to a 12-bolt rear end fitted with 4.10 positraction to deliver sub 5.0-second 0-60 times!
Open the door and you might think this was a salesman’s daily driver, with a bench seat covered, like its surroundings, in simple black vinyl. Beyond that, you have to look closely for telltale details of these rarities, like the 140 mph speedometer, an 8000 rpm Stewart-Warner tachometer, a Hurst shifter, and rubber floor mats that saved weight over carpeting.
While these sleepers rode on slim white letter bias plies, they also weighed less than a Corvette. Thus, when fitted with racing slicks, 1/4 mile times under 11.0 seconds were easily achieved, which in the day was unheard of! No doubt about it, the L-72 Nova S/Cs were some of the fastest cars of their time, and they would still hold their own today.
Don Yenko once said his ’69 Novas were “a beast, almost lethal, a car they should not have produced, as they skirted the edge of product liability when they built this car.” In hindsight, it’s good they did build them for those who have them, as they certainly raised the performance bar, and the pulse of those who dared test their capability in the next lane, or from the driver’s seat!