Dick Har­rell COPO Camaro

Muscle Car Review - - Contents - By Jerry Heasley

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.

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