Dick Harrell COPO Camaro
Dave Beem was as shocked as the rest of us reading about a 1969 Dick Harrell COPO 427 Camaro in Muscle Car Review’s May 2015 issue that had just come out of decades of storage into the light of day (“Show Me State Supercar,” bit. ly/2LgZT2F). Beem is no stranger to these pages, either. He regularly brings cars to the Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals, and his own collection of muscle Camaros includes one of the most original 1969 Yenko 427 Camaros of the 201 built. After reading Geoff Stunkard’s story about the Harrell car, he set about tracking down the owner, Gerry Stidham, to see if he might sell his rare Chevy.
In the old days we would call Information and hunt a phone number. Everybody has a cellphone these days, and that old technique did not work. Beem friended Stidham’s son, Russell, on Facebook.
“His kid said his dad was an ‘ornery old guy that would never sell and would die with the car.’”
Unfazed, Beem “kept in contact” and later found Gerry Stidham had a Facebook page of his own. He proceeded to send Stidham a friend request, and waited a full year for a response.
“He finally became a friend, and he started looking at my cars [on Facebook],” Beem says.
The two swapped hot rod stories back and forth for a couple more years. Then, on May 3, 2018, “He sent me a message,” Beem says. The message was: “Would you be interested in my DH Camaro?”
Beem answered, “I’d die to have that car.”
Stidham said, “A guy’s got to do what a guy’s got to do.”
Beem told his friend to “take his time” and “let me know.” Over the next two weeks they exchanged jokes, and Beem finally asked, “Hey, what did you decide on the car?”
When he got no answer, he figured Stidham was not selling the 427 Camaro after all.
Coincidentally, Beem is a friend of Doug Perry, who bought the 1967 Yenko Camaro at the same time (“The Leftover,” page 28). Beem was talking to Perry on the phone in May and said, “You know, Doug, I just need to get on a plane and fly out there. What’s a couple hundred bucks to meet this guy and talk to him in person?”
Stidham was happy to “meet a hot rod buddy,” so Beem flew to Kansas City and drove to the small town of Odessa, Missouri.
The car was in a storage unit, “with engine hoists, band saws, and fishing poles.” Beem could hardly believe his eyes. The car was so original, right down to the factory paint and a chain in the engine compartment that was part of Dick Harrell’s build at his Performance Center, which was located at 11114 Hickman Drive in Kansas City, Missouri, 12
“It’s like part of my family. That’s why I held onto it”
miles from Bill Allen Chevrolet—the dealer that sold these cars brand new.
Beem still did not know if the car was for sale, so he was shocked when he heard Stidham say, “If you decide you want the car, I know you’ll give it a good home.”
Beem answered, “I want it. It’s just whether you want to sell it or not.”
n The factory-installed 427, an L72, is the original with matching numbers. The canister (for ice to cool the enclosed, coiled fuel lines) on the left is a Dick Harrell installation and thus stock with this car.
n Dave Beem (left) bought the 1969 Dick Harrell COPO 427 Camaro from Gerry Stidham (right).
n The Dick Harrell badges on the rear quarter-panels are intact. The Hugger Orange paint is factory original, and Dick Harrell’s Performance Center painted this black stripe.
n Because this car had been stored and not driven for many years, these Dick Harrell valve cover emblems are in good enough condition to remain unrestored.
n The interior was in very good condition, especially the upholstery, which had no rips or tears.
n Though weathered from years of heat, this Harrell sticker stayed on the air cleaner lid.
n The Bill Allen dealership badge was still on the rear taillight panel.