Fulfilling the wish of every child who has ever played with one, Chevrolet and Hot Wheels® have created a life-size Hot Wheels Camaro Concept. The car debuted at the 2011 SEMA Show — the aftermarket industry’s premier display of automotive toys.
The Camaro Hot Wheels concept is inspired by the “Custom Camaro” — the dazzling Spectraflame® 1:64-scale toy that was part of the original 16 Hot Wheels cars released in 1968. The project was a collaborative effort between the General Motors Design studio in Michigan and the Hot Wheels Design studio in California. Each sketched its own ideas of a life-size Hot Wheels Camaro, compared notes and refined their visions until the concept hit the right note for each group of designers.
“The Camaro has been a mainstay in the Hot Wheels lineup since 1968,” said Phil Zak, GM design director. “Several generations of car enthusiasts grew up playing with Hot Wheels Camaros, while dreaming of driving the real thing, so this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make that dream a reality.” There was a similar buzz of excitement in the Hot Wheels studio.
“The Hot Wheels and Camaro brands have been paired together since their inception,” said Felix Holst, vice president of design for the Mattel Wheels Division. “As part of the brands historic sweet 16, the Camaro was the first Hot Wheels car ever produced. The Spectraflame paint and redline tires of those first Hot Wheels cars have been the dreams of guys for generations, and it was thrilling to inject these elements into a Camaro for real.”
The synergistic project created a car that is instantly identifiable as a Camaro with styling cues — including flat-black graphics, red-line wheels and, of course, the dazzling metallic-green finish — that are classic Hot Wheels.
The original Hot Wheels cars debuted with their metallic Spectraflame paint finishes, and the Camaro Hot Wheels Concept features a brilliant, chrome-style finish created in a similar manner: a tinted top coat over a shiny base.
In the case of the original Hot Wheels lineup, the process involved polishing the die-cast metal vehicle bodies and applying a metallic lacquer to them. With the Camaro Hot Wheels Concept, the process was decidedly more complicated.
“We are always looking for innovative ideas and processes that push the boundaries of design — including paint finishes — and the Hot Wheels concept definitely stretched our team to the limit,” said Zak. “They had to essentially invent a new way to paint the car.”
The reflective finish was created using Gold Touch Inc.’s Cosmichrome product, starting with the application of a primer coat on an immaculately prepared surface. The primer coat was then sprayed with a liquid-metal solution to create the mirror-smooth, silver-chrome base coat. Afterward, the green tint was applied in several layers until the just-right color effect was achieved.
“It may sound pretty straightforward, but no one had ever tried using this process to paint a whole car,” said Zak. “The bodywork and paint team experimented with several processes before spraying the first body panel. There were so many variables that contributed to getting the finish perfect, from the drying time to the air pressure of the spray guns — none of which was known before this project — and the team absolutely nailed it perfectly.”
Hot Wheels will offer a collector’s edition 1:64-scale model based on the full-size Concept. Purchase information is available at www.hotwheelscollectors.com, as well as the Hot Wheels and Chevrolet Camaro Facebook pages.
It will be the 18th 1:64-scale Hot Wheels Camaro model produced since 1968, all with a variety of colors and configurations. During the past 44 years, literally millions of Hot Wheels Camaro models have been produced.
The original Custom Camaro from 1968 remains one of the most valuable Hot Wheels toys among collectors. That year, Hot Wheels produced all the Custom Camaro models with Spectraflame paint — except for one version in white enamel.
Today, examples of the Spectraflame Custom Camaro in excellent condition can sell for $150 or more. Only 15 white enamel versions are known to exist, and none are in their original packages.
“The value of a white enamel Custom Camaro is upwards of $3,000,” said Holst. “But if one still existed in the package, the value could be tens of thousands of dollars.”