By Christopher Smith
When Garett Beaver got the call that he won a worldwide lottery to be able to buy a 2012 Chevrolet Central Office Production Order (COPO) Camaro — one of only 69 in the world — he “felt like a kid with a new bike on a rainy Christmas morning.”
Rainy, because Beaver plans to sell the car to the first buyer who meets his asking price; rainy because drag race season, which the car is designed for, is over for the year.
Beaver hopes no one matches his price before race season resumes in March, so that he can give the car a ride (it is designed for drag racing only, not street use), but since it’s No. 39 out of only 69 of that model made, the chances of Beaver racing it are slim.
“I’ve got to sit here and look at it till spring,” said Beaver, who lives in Dalton. “I’m excited to take it out if I get the chance. It’s going to be a thrill of a lifetime to race it if I can. It was already a thrill when they called me and asked me why I wanted one and I said, ‘My dad was a drag racer.’ I grew up around racing all my life. It’s a passion of mine to go fast and I got lucky.”
Beaver said his father, Gary, passed away 12 years ago.
“I grew up with my dad, racing his ‘59 Chevy Jeep on the weekends,” he said. “Getting this (car) brings up a lot of memories. My own kids think the COPO is amazing, but they respect it enough to know they can’t handle a car of that magnitude. They’re still blown away by the power of the thing.”
And the power of their father’s decision to sell the car to fund their college education.
“It’s probably one of the most selfless things someone could do,” Blane, Beaver’s son and a Dalton State College student, said. “Any person who has any car knowledge knows having this car puts you in an elite class. Millions of people put their names in to get drawn. The fact that he is going to give up this car up for me, my brother (Chance) and my sister (Maci) turns the word ‘Father’ into the word ‘Dad.”
Garett Beaver believes it “wouldn’t be right” for him to keep the car while his kids pay for college.
“I’m going to try and sell it between $275,000-$300,000,” he said. “I’ve got collectors from New Mexico, Nevada and Pennsylvania talking with me so far. If it sells before springtime, it sells. If it doesn’t, I’ve got enough of my father’s genes in me that it will go to the drag strip (at East Brainerd near Chattanooga or Calhoun).”
Selling the car will also help the family get back to financial stability, Blane said.
“We went through a situation that pretty much put us out of a house,” he said. “I don’t know how we made it, but my dad ... kept getting up every morning to go to work. This car really represents the idea that something good can happen if you keep working hard.”
Though Garett Beaver calls the car “a dream come true,” Blane said “pursuing a dream means you might have a realistic chance at getting it.”
“My dad is not a big multi-millionaire,” Blane said. “He’s a local car salesman (at Edd Kirby Adventure Cars). If there was a meeting right now of all the owners of a COPO, my dad would meet with a very selective group of people from all over the world. There’s a lot of power and icon status with that. Chevy will never make a car like this again. The fact that my dad got selected to have this car is incredible.”
The car is the first Camaro to be designed for a drag strip, says the Chevrolet website, and can reach a speed of 160 miles per hour in nine seconds with a 550-horsepower engine. Garett Beaver believes it can go faster.
“They rated it at 550, but if you calculate the total track times the car has been getting at the (National Hotrod Association) races, along with the weight of the car, it’s north of 800 horsepower,” he said. “It’s louder than any car I’ve ever heard. It’s a sonic boom. The sound of the car is completely nuts and it goes fast.”
Fast enough to lift off the ground.
“If you don’t get traction, your front will go up,” Garett Beaver said. “I’m talking not just a little bitty pop-a-wheelie — it will lift up and stay up. That’s what’s making it so collectible. It’s a real race car and very rare.”
Car stats: Supercharged 5.4-liter V-8 engine, 550 horsepower (possibly as high as 800), 3,175 pounds, chrome body, 160 miles per hour in nine seconds.