A new 302 V-8 and a look inspired by Hot Wheels

Chevrolet has launched its 2018 COPO Camaro with an all-new, 302 cubic-inch V-8 and “Supercrush” orange paint with black racing stripes just like the 2018 Chevy Camaro Hot Wheels 50th Anniversary Edition, which debuted alongside it. Both cars will make their first public appearance next week at the 2017 SEMA Show in Las Vegas. And, while anyone can order the Camaro Hot Wheels 50th Anniversary Edition, the COPO Camaro is a race-bred monster built exclusively for the dragstrip and limited to 69 examples per year. Hopeful buyers have to win Chevy’s lottery for the chance at COPO keys.

The COPO Camaro has a rich history that dates back to 1969 when Illinois Chevy dealer Fred Gibb ordered 50 Camaros with the all-aluminum ZL-1 V-8 from Chevy’s central office production order system, hints the COPO name. Basically, these were special-order cars that proved insanely quick. Soon, 19 other COPO Camaros in similar configurations were ordered by other eagle-eyed dealerships. Yenko Chevrolet also got in on the action, ordering 201 COPO Camaros with a 427 cubic-inch iron-block V-8 in 1969. Sadly, the original COPO Camaros were a one-year-only phenomenon – that is, until Chevy decided to build its own COPO Camaro with its all-new, fifth-generation Camaro for 2012. Since then, the COPO tradition has lived on into the Camaro’s sixth generation and into 2018. To see what changes Chevy has made for this year, keep reading.

Continue for more information on the 2018 COPO Camaro.

Exterior

- * Hot Wheels 50th Anniversary Package
- * Supercrush orange paint & black stripes
- * Purely for drag racing
- * Limited to 69 examples

2018 Chevrolet COPO Camaro Exterior Drivetrain
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Supercrush orange paint & black stripes
The 2018 COPO Camaro can be ordered with a bright Supercrush orange paint with the black racing stripes and Hot Wheels fender badges

To understand why the 2018 COPO Camaro looks the way it does, we’ve got to check out the 2018 Camaro Hot Wheels 50th Anniversary Edition. This car honors the long history between the Camaro and the famed toy car builder, Hot Wheels, by throwing on a highly visible paint color, racing stripes, unique 20-inch Satin Graphite wheels, Hot Wheels badges on the front fenders, and a slew of added Hot Wheels details on the inside. It can be had in both coupe and convertible form and with either the 2LT or 2SS trim packages. That means it’s available in only the highest trim, but with the 2.0-liter turbo-four, the 3.6-liter V-6, or the 6.2-liter V-8.

The 2018 COPO Camaro can be ordered with a similar exterior treatment that includes the bright Supercrush orange paint with the black racing stripes and Hot Wheels fender badges. But that’s where the similarities end between it and the road-going Camaro. The COPO wears an airbrushed-style copy of the “Hot Wheels 50” logo on its rear haunches, has a tall ram-air hood, and drag racing equipment that includes skinny front tires massive rear slicks, wheelie bars, and a parachute. You’ll also notice the missing side mirrors and low-buck headlights. Those changes are meant to save weight. There’s no denying the COPO is meant to live on the drag strip.

Interior

- * NHRA-certified to race
- * Gutted cabin for reduced mass
- * Pro-level gauges and controls

2018 Chevrolet Camaro Hot Wheels 50th Anniversary Edition
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Jet Black leather-appointed interior

Note: Chevrolet Camaro Hot Wheels 50th Anniversary Edition pictured here.

Speaking of saving weight, the COPO Camaro’s cockpit barely resembles the production car. The dashboard, steering wheel, and door panels are about the only stock pieces still in place. NHRA-rated racing seats and five-point harness replace the standard seats. A full roll cage keeps the driver and front passenger protected. Controls include a set of aftermarket analog gauges, an A-pillar-mounted tachometer, a shift light, and a rocker switches in place of the infotainment screen that controls the ignition, fuel pump, radiator fans, and the starter motor. A ratchet shifter controls the TH400 three-speed automatic transmission and beside that is a lever to release the parachute. It’s all business inside the COPO.

Drivetrain

- * New 302 cubic-inch V-8 built for high revs
- * 427 cubic-inch V-8 with 470 horsepower
- * Supercharged 350 cubic-inch V-8 with 580
- * Quarter-mile times in mid-8s at 160 mph
- * TH400 three-speed automatic
- * Solid rear axle

2018 Chevrolet COPO Camaro Drivetrain
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New 302 cubic-inch V-8 built for high revs
The 2018 COPO Camaro has three engine options

The 2018 COPO Camaro has three engine options. There’s the 427 cubic-inch, 7.0-liter V-8, the supercharged 350 cubic-inch V-8 (5.7 liters), and the new 302 cubic-inch V-8. The new 4.9-liter replaces the 410-horsepower, LT1-based 6.2-liter found in the 2016 and 2017 COPOs. Technically, the 4.9-liter is a de-stroked 6.2-liter LT1 that’s build to hit higher revs. Chevy didn’t get into the exact details, but expect to see the 302’s redline well past 7,000 rpm. Likewise, horsepower and torque figures haven’t been published, but expect it to be competitive with the outgoing 6.2-liter.

The returning 427 is also naturally aspirated and is based on the LS7 V-8 found in the fifth-generation Camaro Z/28. In this application, it should make 470 horsepower. The supercharged 5.7-liter is an LSX small block race mill with a 2.9-liter roots-type blower force-feeding it cool air. Last year, the engine made an NHRA-certified 580 horsepower and boasted a redline of 8,000 rpm. That’s no joke. In fact, the 350-powered COPO will do the quarter-mile in the mid-eights at a blistering 160 mph.

Regardless of engine choice, the transmission is an ATI TH400 three-speed automatic with a ratchet shifter

Regardless of engine choice, the transmission is an ATI TH400 three-speed automatic with a ratchet shifter. Super strong with crazy fasts shifts, the turbo-hydramatic 400 is a legendary transmission that’s been used for decades.

And unlike the standard sixth-generation Camaro with its independent rear end, the COPO uses a solid rear axle with a multi-link suspension system. The front suspension is also adjustable to suit track conditions. That just goes to show, sometimes old technology works just fine.

The COPO is designed to compete in the NHRA’s Stock Eliminator Class.

Pricing

2018 Chevrolet COPO Camaro
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Mid-8 second quarter miles

The exact pricing for the 2018 COPO Camaro has not been announced, but 2016 and 2017 COPOs sold for between $90,000 and $110,000, depending on what options were ordered. Expect those prices to continue, though Chevy is likely to charge more for the Hot Wheels 50th Anniversary paint job.

On the road-legal 2018 Camaro Hot Wheels 50th Anniversary Edition, the package adds $4,995 to the MSRP and is limited to 2,500 cars.

Competition

2016 Ford Mustang Cobra Jet

2016 Ford Mustang Cobra Jet High Resolution Exterior
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Ford is in on the NHRA Stock Eliminator and Super Stock class action, too. The 2016 Cobra Jet is a special-built drag car with 1,000 horsepower from a supercharged 5.0-liter V-8 that shares nearly 75 percent of its internal parts with the stock Mustang GT. It has a solid rear axle, massive drag slicks, and the all-important parachute. Inside, the cabin is stripped of all unnecessary parts and fitted with a roll cage and race seats. Basically, it’s Ford’s direct answer to the COPO Camaro. Ford even limited the Cobra Jet to 50 examples. Sadly, 2016 is the most recent example Ford has produced.

Read our full review on the 2016 Ford Mustang Cobra Jet.

2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon

2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon High Resolution Exterior
- image 729184

The Demon has gotten plenty of press over the last year thanks to Dodge’s incredibly slow yet methodically planned rollout. The car was well worth the wait, though, thanks to its insane level of go-fast drag strip technology. Its powered by a modified Hellcat engine that displaces the same 6.2 liters of Hemi goodness, but with 840 horsepower and 770 pound-feet of torque when ran on race fuel. An eight-speed automatic transmission is the same ZF gearbox found in the standard Challenger Hellcat. Dodge somehow makes this four-seater hit 60 mph in 2.3 seconds and through the quarter-mile in 9.65 seconds at 140 mph.

The best part, of course, is the Demon is completely street legal and comes with a VIN – something no COPO or Cobra Jet can boast. Better yet, Dodge is building 3,000 of them for 2017. The price is even comparatively reasonable at $86,090.

Read our full review on the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon.

Conclusion

2018 Chevrolet COPO Camaro Exterior Drivetrain
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Supercrush orange paint & black stripes

The 2018 Chevrolet COPO Camaro is a helluva car, though only if you’re planning on living life a quarter-mile at a time. Vin Diesel has met his match. The COPO offers a factory-built dragster to anybody with six figures in their bank account and enough luck to win the independently moderated and randomly drawn lottery. Remember, only 69 COPOs are built each year.

And should you want your Camaro to do more than drive straight, Chevrolet also has you covered with the Camaro GT4.R track car. This ZL1 1LE-based GT4 car is designed to out-turn, out-stop, and out-accelerate the best from Germany, all for $259,000.

  • Leave it
    • Not street legal
    • Verly limited production

References

Chevrolet Camaro

2016 - 2017 Chevrolet Camaro High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2017 Chevrolet Camaro.

2018 Chevrolet Camaro Hot Wheels 50th Anniversary Edition
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Read our full review on the 2018 Chevy Camaro Hot Wheels 50th Anniversary Edition.

2016 Chevrolet COPO Camaro High Resolution Exterior
- image 653876

Read our full review on the 2016 Chevrolet COPO Camaro.

Press release

Chevrolet revealed the 2018 COPO Camaro today at Hot Wheels headquarters in conjunction with the announcement of the 2018 Camaro Hot Wheels 50th Anniversary Edition.

The COPO Camaro features an exclusive Supercrush exterior color and a Hot Wheels appearance package that will be offered with the latest edition of Chevrolet’s factory-built drag racer. An all-new, high-revving 302 Gen V Small Block is also available.

Today’s announcement coincides with the early opening of the registration system for a chance to be chosen to purchase a 2018 COPO Camaro.

“The introduction of a new COPO Camaro is always exciting and the new engine and Hot Wheels package expand choices for customers,” said Jim Campbell, GM U.S. vice president of Performance Vehicles and Motorsports. “Chevrolet has supported Camaro drag racers for more than 50 years and the historic COPO Camaro program continues to offer them more ways to win.”

Those interested in purchasing one of the 69 2018 COPO Camaro race cars can register at chevrolet.com/performance/copo-registration. An independent third party will randomly select purchasers from the pool of interested customers.

The new 302 racing engine is based on the LT1 engine offered in the 2018 Camaro SS, but built for drag racing with unique components. Its displacement derives from a shorter-stroke crankshaft than the production engine that enables exceptional high-rpm capability.

COPO Camaro customers can also select a naturally aspirated 427 (7.0L) or supercharged 350 (5.7L) racing engine. The supercharged 350 enables mid-8-second quarter-mile times at nearly 160 mph. All COPO Camaro engines are backed by an SFI-approved ATI TH400 three-speed automatic transmission.

As with the previous editions, 2018 COPO Camaro models are designed for NHRA’s Stock Eliminator classes. They are fitted with racing chassis and suspension components, including a unique solid rear axle system in place of a regular-production Camaro’s independent rear axle.

Driving the COPO legacy

During the 2017 Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals — NHRA’s largest event — more than 25 percent of the Stock Eliminator field was composed of COPO Camaro race cars, with many claiming class wins. Stephen Bell and Brett Candies won their respective Super Stock classes, while COPO Camaro competitors Jim Boburka, Victor Cagnazzi, Jeff Taylor and Daren Poole-Adams won their respective Stock Eliminator classes.

David Barton won the Factory Showdown at the U.S. Nationals and went on to win the 2017 championship after the final race in St. Louis.

Enthusiasts can follow updates on the 2018 COPO Camaro program at TheBlock.com.

The 2018 COPO Camaro joins approximately 20 additional Chevrolet models next week at the SEMA Show, Oct. 31-Nov. 3. Follow the action at ChevySEMA.com, #CHEVYSEMA, @ChevroletPerformance on Instagram and Chevrolet Performance on Facebook.

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