Boys of a certain (AARP-eligible) age know good and well that 2018 will mark the 50th anniversary of Mattel’s Hot Wheels die-cast toy cars. Back in 1968, the company issued 16 car and truck models roughly sized to fit in our Matchbox car carrying cases, but with their wheel-wells hogged out to accommodate what looked like red-line Polyglas tires on Hurst alloy wheels, spinning on polished wire axles. They might have been sized and variably scaled like Matchbox cars, but these bright metallic customized babies were fast. Not surprisingly the first 16 models included most of the pony cars—Camaro coupe, Firebird convertible, Mustang fastback, Cougar, and Barracuda. But because those other guys didn’t establish the marketing arrangements like Chevy has, big kids eager to celebrate this milestone with a big-boy car (or perhaps replace their aging 45th anniversary 2013 Camaro Hot Wheels Special Edition) will need to head back to their Chevy dealers.
The 2018 Hot Wheels Camaro will break cover in Las Vegas at the SEMA show. Available on coupe and convertible body styles, the package includes special “Crush” orange paint inspired by the iconic orange flexible track, which has remained unchanged all these years. Orange brake calipers, seat inserts, and interior upholstery stitching are included along with gray and silver stripes and gray forged 20-inch wheels (shod in summer tires on SS models) that again ape those early fast-spinning ones. Also included in the deal are a unique grille with chrome inserts, a ground effects package, dark-lens tail amps set in a black panel with the Hot Wheels emblem, a 50th Anniversary Hot Wheels badge on the steering wheel, carpeted floor mats with orange stitching and “ghost” stripes, and doorsill plates with a light-up stripe of orange. Coupes also get a unique spoiler, but convertibles must retain their stock wing because it incorporates various radio, GPS, and telematics antennas. This package adds $4,995 to a 2LT grade V-6 or 2SS V-8 Camaro, so budget at least $36,490 for a V-6 coupe and $53,990 for a V-8 convertible—both of which go on sale in February 2018. That’s actually down from the $6,995 pricing of the Kinetic Blue 45th-anniversary 2013 package. Then, as now, no performance upgrades were included.
Is owning one of a scheduled run of 2,500 V-6 or V-8 street-legal Camaros not quite “collectible” enough for you? Well then register here, and pray that the independent third-party selects you to be invited to purchase one of the 69 race-ready COPO Camaros that will be built for 2018 and specify the Hot Wheels edition upgrade. The 2018 COPO Camaro making its debut in Las Vegas at the SEMA show will feature this package, except its paint is a slightly different metallic “Supercrush” orange with a much more elaborate Hot Wheels graphics package (production Hot Wheels COPOs will get Crush paint). The show car will be fitted with a new 302-cubic-inch racing engine based on the LT1 V-8 offered in the stock SS but built for drag racing with many unique components, including a shorter-stroke crankshaft that enables exceptional high-rpm capability. (Other COPO engine options include a naturally aspirated 427 or supercharged 350, the latter of which can put down 8-second quarter-mile runs at nearly 160 mph. All COPO Camaros get an SFI-approved ATI TurboHydramatic 400 three-speed automatic transmission and a drag-optimized live-axle rear suspension.)
As for COPO Hot Wheels package pricing, we’re only told that it’s likely to be “considerably more” than $4,995. But hey, it’s only money, and unlike your Hot Wheels collection back in the day, you can’t take it with you.
Pub Ammo: The Custom Camaro was first among the original “sweet sixteen” Hot Wheels vehicles to be released in 1968. It came in some 20 colors, with Gold and Creamy Pink being the rarest.
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