Custom Camaro (1968)

  The Chevrolet Camaro was and always
will be the quintessential American muscle car!  Introduced in 1967, the Camaro was Chevy’s answer to Ford’s Mustang that debuted a couple of years before.  The Camaro was unique with its uni-body design, smaller chassis and sporty lines.  Designed and geared specifically for the “young at heart”, the Chevy Camaro soon became a muscle car icon that also sported hood scoops, spoilers and big 350 c.i. 8-cylinder engines!

When the Hot Wheel designers chose cars for the initial “sweet sixteen” it was a no-brainer that the Camaro should be one of them!  In fact, not only was it one of first Hot Wheels cars, but many experts and former employees claim it was the first one tooled, assembled and brought into production in 1968.  Supporting evidence comes in the form of the numerous prototypes that have been found in collections belonging to former Mattel employees.  These treasures include cars with unique marked bases, pre-production prototypes, and photographs, drawings and blueprints of the casting. The evolution of the casting and the number of early variations that have been discovered leads us to conclude that the Custom Camaro was a favorite test piece in the early days of Hot Wheels.

Harry Bradley's original sketch of the Custom Camaro. (Courtesy of Bruce Pascal)

An early ZAMAC prototype Custom Camaro. (Courtesy of Bruce Pascal)

For more info and photos of prototype Camaros, please visit

It has been said that “there is no other redline casting that has as many variations as the Custom Camaro!”  When considering combinations of origin (US or HK), paint color, base type, interior color, black roof vs. no black roof, etc., the possibilities are almost endless.  Not content to simply collect a "rainbow" of Camaros, many collectors believe that it is absolutely essential to add early “tabbed base” and “kidney bean” US Camaros, or even a rare white enamel Camaro to their collections!

Above: blue HK Camaros with and without a black roof; below: a US "kidney bean" base Camaro.

The Custom Camaro shared many attributes with the other fifteen cars produced that year such as a lift-up hood, metal chassis, and plastic interior.  The very early Hong Kong-produced Camaros (first two months of production) were antifreeze (a/k/a “lime”) with a matching pea green interior, or blue with a matching light blue interior, deep-dish wheels all around, black roof and a tail light panel that matched the color of the car.  Camaros produced later featured a rear panel that was painted flat black to match the roof. At least one blue Camaro has been found with a mismatched antifreeze rear panel!

An early production HK Custom Camaro with "bubblegum" deep dish wheels.

The HK version of the Custom Camaro had blue-tinted plastic windshield glass, a stamped detailed base with a gas tank and exhaust with side pipes, four square holes showing the suspension wires for the wheels, various  interior colors and a black steering wheel. All HK Camaros have “door-lines” depicted on the sides of the car.  This is not a rare variation as with some of the other castings.

HK Custom Camaros with "painted" (L) and black (R) tail light panels.

Not all HK Camaros have black roofs. The most common HK cars with black roof are blue and antifreeze, although several other colors such as aqua, purple and orange have been found with black roofs.  The HK Camaro also had smaller taillights on the back panel and a black-painted front grille.  Many early production HK cars had either two (front) or four deep-dish bearing-type wheels with chrome "spokes".

An olive HK Custom Camaro.

US Camaros came standard with clear plastic windshield glass, various color interiors with a
small steering wheel of matching color, a raised dashboard, and a less-detailed stamped base with side pipes, and silver-painted bearing-type wheels.  There are numerous base differences on US Camaros, and the reader is referred to for extensive details and photos of the many variations.  The US version of the Camaro does not have “door-lines” on the sides of the car.  Some US Camaros were produced with a black roof.  Of these cars, the most common colors are blue, red, antifreeze and lime.

A gold US Custom Camaro with white interior.

The original Custom Camaro was produced through 1969 before the US die tool was re-worked for production of the Heavy Chevy for the Spoilers line.  The Camaro has since been represented by several other popular castings in the Hot Wheels catalog!

Color chart

blue w/black roof common
blue common
antifreeze w/black roof common
lime w/black roof
green uncommon
red w/black roof uncommon
antifreeze hard to find
medium blue hard to find
olive hard to find
aqua hard to find
lime hard to find
purple hard to find; light purple is a later run color
hard to find
hard to find
light blue rare
creamy pink rare
copper rare
orange rare
very rare
brown (chocolate) very rare; store display has white interior
white enamel
very rare; prototype
blue w/black roof common
antifreeze w/black roof common
orange uncommon
aqua uncommon
green hard to find
gold hard to find
red hard to find
olive very hard to find
purple very hard to find
copper very hard to find
aqua w/black roof rare
orange w/black roof rare
purple w/black roof very rare
creamy pink
very rare

Note: the above color chart does not include all variations, some of which add considerable value!

Above and below: an early-run antifreeze hybrid Custom Camaro in the original blister!
This rare car has HK glass, a "tabbed" US base (below) and is packaged on a "Cheetah" card!

A creamy pink US Custom Camaro.

A green US Custom Camaro with blue Heavy Chevy glass!

A copper US Custom Camaro.

An oddball green US Custom Camaro with antifreeze tail panel and Heavy Chevy glass!

A light blue US Custom Camaro.

Rare over-chrome Custom Camaros in antifreeze (L) and blue (R)!

An orange HK Custom Camaro.

One of the rarest: a white enamel US Custom Camaro!

A red HK Custom Camaro.

A purple US Custom Camaro.

Purple HK Custom Camaros with light and dark interiors.

An olive US Custom Camaro.

An antifreeze US Custom Camaro with dark interior.

An "icey" light blue US Custom Camaro!

A pale gold HK Custom Camaro with green interior.

A creamy pink US Custom Camaro with dark interior.

A rose US Custom Camaro.

An antifreeze US Custom Camaro with white interior.

A medium blue US Custom Camaro.

A rare creamy pink US Custom Camaro in the original blister!

Photo & info credits: Curtis Paul

Additional contributions: Jack Clark, Mike Otte, Bruce Pascal

Additional photographs: the Redlines Online community


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