We Drive The 2013 Camaro SS Hot Wheels Special Edition – Full Road Test And Review!

We Drive The 2013 Camaro SS Hot Wheels Special Edition – Full Road Test And Review!

(Photos by Dave Nutting) – When the 2013 Hot Wheels Special Edition Camaro SS made the left hand turn into our driveway, my six year old son had eyes the size of pie plates and then literally wept tears of joy upon learning that we’d be rolling around in the car for the better part of a week to prepare this story. Initially, I thought he had hurt himself somehow and I asked if everything was OK. He just stood there saying, “That is sooooo awesome,” as the tears rolled down his cheeks.

If that isn’t the most genuine praise that I can aim toward the design team on this car, I’m not sure what is. This is not a car you cruise around in to avoid attention. Quite the opposite. From middle aged guys at the coffee shop to loads of kids on school buses, everyone wants and needs to have a look at the Hot Wheels Camaro. Over the course of the time I had the car, sunshine was at a premium but the awesome kinetic blue metallic paint projected itself so vibrantly off the car that cloudy days still saw the Camaro garnering stares, iPhone photos, and miles of smiles from kids.

The 2013 Hot Wheels Special Edition Camaro is largely a styling exercise. It is not laden with any specific go fast parts from the Chevrolet skunk works and its performance is akin to a “normal” 2013 Camaro SS. The idea of the project was the bring a Hot Wheels car to life and most everyone who saw the car agreed that they did one hell of a job at that. The fact that the Camaro also packs 400hp, enough torque to bake tires at virtual will, ultra grippy (larger than typical SS) Pirelli P-Zero tires, and an upscale interior didn’t hurt things from the Hot Wheels perspective either. I racked up a great number of miles during my time with the car in highway, secondary, and rural driving. I didn’t want to throw the keys back to the fine people at GM…neither did my kids. Thankfully Tom was at school when the return happened as he would have been crying tears of abject sadness to see his blue dream car slip slowly from his grasp as it drove away down the street. Like all special editions, this level of coolness and fun does not come cheaply. Our tester had a sticker price of $46,010 with $8,975 being made up of option costs. The Hot Wheels package was a $6995 of that. So what did I really think? What are the coolest details and “must see stuff” on the 2013 Hot Wheels Camaro SS? Scroll down as I am going to tell you the rest of the story through photos and captions!


So I joined the league of hero dads when the Camaro came home. Why? I had brought home the Hot Wheels version of the actual car from the SEMA show for my sons last fall and clammed up when I learned that an actual example would be coming to BangShift eastern world HQ. When it arrived, both of my sons were stoked, but it was 6-year old Tom who cried as though he had witnessed some sort of biblical miracle as he gazed upon the car.

The Hot Wheels Camaro is visually arresting. The kinetic blue metallic paint is awesome but it is only a small part of the program here. The center stripe has a textured flat black center with a more glossy border. There is a flat black inset in the nose of the car ringed by a red pinstripe, which rules. The 21-inch wheels which have big fat spokes and a red pinstripe around the edge which really completes the car. The ghost flames on the rear quarter panels are cool, although if I were buying and had the option to delete them…I would.

Three of the main styling elements that give this particular car its tough look are the ZL1 style nose with faux scoop, blacked out rocker panels, and ZL1 deck spoiler. The beauty of this thing in my eyes is that none of those elements are super radical or attention grabbing on their own, but when teamed up and dunked in this color, you can’t help but stare. The faux air inlet at the top of the ZL1-style nose is perfect to “start” the center stripe on the car. It takes you eye from from the nose and up the hood. I dig.

Normally these “fender gills” are body color, but in this package black tape is applied to accentuate them. The effect (in our opinion) almost exaggerates the width of the fender as you look at the car from the side.

As I mentioned, the ghost flames are not my favorite, but they were certainly not obnoxious. It was a necessary bit of Hot Wheels flair I suppose, but if there was a “delete” option box for these, I’d still be checking it.

These wheels are among my most favorite elements of the car. I think that they are as true as could be made possible to looking like a wheel on a Hot Wheels and still be functional. I think the red pinstripe is a perfect touch and garners more attention than I ever expected. The front wheels are eight inches wide. The rims are nine inches wide out back. Tires were Pirelli P-Zero units that measured 245/40/21 up front and 275/35/21 in the rear. The tires and chassis are a fantastic pairing and outside of straight line romps using all of the 400hp the motor makes, ripping around corners was my biggest joy. In hard cornering neither the tires nor the car showed any signs of roll, softness, or under steer. Dropping the hammer mid corner would send the car into a nice controlled drift.   

The car’s brakes are fantastic as well. The big Brembo calipers latch on to the equally monstrous rotors and haul the car down quickly from any speed. Pedal feel is good and the brakes are easy to modulate, but when stopping needs to happen RIGHT NOW, they respond in kind.

Because our tester was an automatic equipped car, it didn’t have the vaunted LS3 under the hood. Instead the Camaro had the L99 engine which all of the automatic cars get. The L99 gives up about 20hp and 10lb/ft of torque over the LS3, which is kind of a bummer but I never had a feeling that the car lacked for power at any time. The painted engine cover is part of the Hot Wheels package and….well its a painted engine cover. What’s it hiding?

The L99. This mill has lots of the same elements of the LS3 but with a little less compression, “active fuel management” (displacement on demand), a redline that’s a little lower down the scale (400 RPM prior to LS3), and a different camshaft profile.

Inclement weather prevented us from hitting the drag strip, so I can’t report back any times to you. Our butt dyno says that this is a low 13/high 12-second car on the quarter mile. Those numbers would drop with the addition of a stickier, more drag friendly tire. I’m not thinking that many of these cars will be turned into racers though. As you can see in this photo, there’s plenty of tire shredding power produced by the L99.

The RS style headlights on the car did a great job of cutting through the…ummm….fog.

The halo style headlights on the car are truly cool and add to the muscular/sinister vibe the whole thing throws off. These lights are just one of the elements that had us just staring at the car on several occasions.

Out back, the Hot Wheels Camaro looks pretty similar to most of the fifth-gens you have seen on the road. It seems that L99/automatic cars are equipped with single outlet exhaust tips, while LS3 stick cars have twin outlet tips. Here you can see the cool ZL1 rear spoiler. Speaking of the exhaust system, the car is damned quiet but does emit a nice roar when the accelerator is laid flat. Me being me, some more noise would be welcome, but there are dozens of aftermarket options to solve that “problem”. The less gear-headed among us were surprised at how quiet it was inside (in a good way).

Let’s take one last long look at the exterior before moving inside. There are Hot Wheels badges a-plenty on this car. Starting in the grill up front, moving to both front fenders where the Camaro badge and Hot Wheels bade are stacked, and there’s one more for good measure on the rear of the car…just in case you forgot on your way back.

The interior is super well appointed with more Hot Wheels logos dispersed through the cabin. The automatic transmission can be shifted into D for fully automated shifting or into a manual/sport mode for use of the paddle shifters behind the wheel. Now, I’ve been let down by paddle shifters on virtually every automatic car equipped with them that I have ever driven. This is the first car that I can actually say some positive words on their behalf. Definitely not a fun as ripping a shifter through the gears, the paddles do have some merit. The 6L80E transmission responds instantly from commands given by the paddle shifters, rev matched on down shifts, and gives the driver a great feel of control. There are no wonky delays or feeling that your are making “suggestions” for the transmission to follow. Instead, it really feels as though you are in complete command of shifting, sans clutch.

When the doors are opened, the first thing that driver and passenger see are the Hot Wheels sill plates.

I was interested in seeing if the large embroidered Hot Wheels logos in the seats would cause discomfort after a long time in the driver’s seat. They didn’t. Those seats are super supportive and comfortable. During any aggressive driving where I may or may not have gotten the car sideways, I was held in tight and could concentrate on steering rather than bracing my body into the seat. 

The center pod of four gauges is cool…BUT…when you are actually sitting in the driver’s seat, it is virtually impossible to see the oil pressure gauge. In fact, without completely contorting my body the only reading I could physically see on the gauge would have been zero.

The large “My Link” screen in the center of the car is where the navigation system, radio controls, and other gadgetry lives. I found it to be easy to use, navigate, and synch my phone up to. This system is a winner. HVAC controls are located below the screen and are the cause of the gauge obstructions.

The steering wheel is thick rimmed, comfortable, and home to controls for radio volume, cruise control, and more.

The speedo and tach were super easy to read and looked great with the red and blue lighting. The heads-up display this car was equipped with turned out to be one of my favorite features. Adjustable in both height and brightness, it was a life saver when rolling through town because the Camaro always seems to be going faster than you think that it is. The heads up display allowed me to avoid any visits with the long arm of the law.

Here’s another look at the deep buckets that provide great support for driver and passenger in the car during “fun” driving .

Yes, the Camaro does have a nice looking rear seat. Yes, my two kids were strapped in with their car seats all week as I was  cruising and they fit OK. No, I wouldn’t want to be a six foot tall guy riding for hours back there. Look, it is a Camaro…not an Impala.

The dash is trimmed in leather with the cool red stitching. The whole car has a very refined feel and that’s very apparent inside. While I wouldn’t go all the way and call it “luxury” I would certainly say that it is the nicest interior ever installed in a Camaro and you won’t be embarrassed picking up your girl for a fancy date in it. It also gave me the impression that it is pretty rugged as well. These seats should wear well.

The stereo is bad ass and I was loudly jamming to the XM Satellite radio for most of the week with it cranked.

While the rear pillar looks killer, it did present one situation where it hindered my ability to see while pulling out in traffic. It took a little extra caution but nothing much more than that. I’ve read umpteen reviews with people crying about how the car is tough to park and see out of since the fifth-gen Camaro came out. With a back up camera, ingress and egress into parking spaces was no sweat, lane changing and blind spots were not a big deal with proper mirror adjustment, but seeing through that thick rear pillar is an impossibility that I did have to fight with. Looking good has its compromises I guess.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the 2013 Hot Wheels Edition Camaro SS. The car has a look that literally grabs the attention of anyone in a quarter mile radius of it, has stout performance that can plant you into your seat from a roll or from a standing start, corners and turns masterfully, stops like it has the Titanic’s anchor chained to its ass, and is filled with an interior that is stylish, refined, and fun all at once. While driving the car hard results in the most grins and laughter, driving the Camaro like a normal human being yielded us solid fuel economy, a comfortable ride over our pot-hole ridden local streets, and the solid impression that this car would be a fine daily driver. If the weather had been better I’d have brought you some more concrete performance numbers but the car hauls tail and is an absolute joy to get aggressive with apexing corners. The only thing that I didn’t like about the car wasn’t even the car itself…it was everyone else on the road who wouldn’t get out of the damned way. This thing wants to RUN! With the sticker price of $46,010, this isn’t a cheap car. In reality, it feels like a $46,000 car with its level of interior refinement, performance, and attention grabbing looks. I’m not sure how many of these cars will be made, but our money says that every one of them sells…and probably for above sticker. If you’ll excuse me, I have to explain that my son’s Hot Wheels monster truck isn’t showing up in the driveway anytime soon. 

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5 thoughts on “We Drive The 2013 Camaro SS Hot Wheels Special Edition – Full Road Test And Review!

  1. Whelk

    Are the ghost flames and gill slots decals? Ugh. If it’s not worth painting It’s not worth bothering. I dislike ghost flames anyway. If you’re going to flame a car, let’s see it.

  2. Greg Rourke

    How fast did this car go in second gear with the engine bouncing off the limiter?
    Remember in 1969 when Chevrolet couldn’t sell all the ZL-1 Camaros because the whole car cost $7,000? Now we an option that costs 7 grand.

  3. cyclone03

    These cars were all over IMS last weekend for the 500. This Ford guy likes the look,it’s a very well done car. The interior is great.
    GM had a “test drive” set up at the track and I drove both an Impala and Camaro.The drive was controled,no “high speed” because it all happened on the IMS grounds.
    I drove a convertable SS with the padles and got to have some fun,I may or may not have hit 80mph and worked the traction control off the line and the brakes,wow the brakes.
    I noted right off the oil pressure gauge was in the wroung place too.

  4. John Brewer

    By the looks of the Trans. and oil temp. gauges, looks like u wrung it out pretty good! Hope u had fun and am glad you are getting to wring out rigs like this! Congrats!

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