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The 2013 Chevrolet COPO Camaro Involved in One of the Strangest Recalls Ever

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has announced a recall of select 2013 Chevrolet COPO Camaro race cars over a concern that the transmission’s Park gear may fail - allowing the car to shift into another gear and roll away.

When you read the brief description above of the topic of this article, it probably doesn’t seem all that strange that Chevrolet would be recalling Camaro models that are prone to rollaway risks but when you consider that this recall only applies to the ultra high performance COPO Camaro – which isnt street legal or even legal to register for street use – it seems a little strange that the federal safety group would have any involvement in the recall whatsoever. After all, why would a group that is designed to help keep our nation’s highways safer care about a car that is built in very limited numbers strictly for drag racing? I cannot think of a recall of a race car in recent automotive history so the fact that GM is recalling the 2013 COPO Camaro via a public safety group makes it all a bit unusual.

In any case, it seems that 52 of the 69 2013 Chevrolet COPO Camaro race cars are fitted with a high performance transmission that may have a problematic Park gear. Generally, rollaway risks occur when something goes wrong with the shifter or shift indicator but considering that ATI Performance Products (the company who produces the race ready gearbox for the COPO Camaro) is involved, this certainly sounds like the problem lies in the transmission itself and not in the shifter. General Motors, ATI Performance and the NHTSA are concerned that if one of these 2013 COPO Camaro race cars is parked on a hill and the Park gear malfunctions, the car could roll unattended and that creates a very obvious safety risk to everyone around the car…even if it isn’t out on a public road. The other possibility is that when a 2013 COPO Camaro owner parks his or her race car in or on a trailer and Park does not engage correctly, the car could roll back off of or out of the trailer – putting the people loading the car at significant risk of injury.

This new 2013 Chevrolet COPO Camaro recall is expected to begin this month and when it does, ATI Performance Products will contact the owners of the 52 COPO Camaros affected by this problem. Even though ATI is doing the leg work to reach the owners of these troublesome COPO Camaro race cars, owners will be asked to bring their Camaro back to the dealership where the service team will inspect both the transmission and the torque convertor – making any adjustments or changes needed to prevent the chances of a faulty Park gear causing a rollaway hazard.

I have to wonder if General Motors or ATI had any real obligation to recall these vehicles since they don’t fall under the same safety requirements as street legal vehicles but in the modern age of vehicle recalls, the decision to recall the 52 COPO Camaro race cars for what could be a troublesome transmission is more about preventing bad publicity than it is making sure that our roads are safer. In any case, this shows commitment by GM to make all of their vehicles as safe as possible – even the vehicles that aren’t subject to the same safety requirements.


Alan Adler (not verified)    December 18, 2013 - 7:10AM

I work in Communications for General Motors. This was a recall from ATI Performance Products, which supplied the transmission into these specialty vehicles. The vehicles themselves were not recalled because, as your post points out, they are not street legal.