One of the questions that our group gets asked most commonly is "What about Firebird #1 and #2"?   Although these cars are significant by themselves and showcased in a wonderful museum... they are not Pre-Production Pilot Prototypes.

 

By the end of 1964, General Motors was already looking for their answer to the infamous Ford Mustang.  This began the early design studies that would continue under the XP-836 Program utilizing non-working prototype models until the winter of 1965-1966.

 

Although General Motor's focus on new car programs had turned away from Pontiac and focused on Chevrolet during the early years of that decade... Pontiac was on board with the F-Car Program for a brief period in 1965.  After careful reflection, Pontiac chose to pursue a new car of their own.  It would be a two-seat challenger to the Corvette and they began initial design studies under the XP-833 Banshee Program.

 

In the spring of 1966, General Motors decided to stop momentum of this program... not wishing to dilute Corvette sales by allowing Pontiac to compete directly with the Corvette product line.

 

In April of 1966, Pontiac stylists and engineers were asked by General Motors to review the XP-836 design study that would ultimately become known as the F-Car, or Camaro.  They reviewed the modeling studies of the non-working prototype models, as well as, the aesthetically modified test mules that utilized the Chevy II X-Cars as donors.

 

With the XP-836 design program entering into the test phase of manufacturing processes and the creation of working prototypes that could be tested at the Milford Proving Grounds... Pontiac would have to play second fiddle.  The Pontiac designers would be allowed to alter the lines for their own hood, grille, front bumper, and rear tail lights... as well as, minor cosmetic adornments within the interior.

 

These were the primary focus of Pontiac while the F-Car Pilot Prototypes were being assembled and tested between May and June of 1966 by Chevrolet.  These Prototypes were assembled by hand, one at a time, utilizing Prototype and Pilot parts.  The fitment, quality control, and time studies of this Pre-Production manufacturing process would lead to the mass creation of all the parts necessary for mass assembly line production, as well as, robotic welding.

 

Pontiac utilized all the completed work of the XP-836 design program and all the information gleaned from the Chevrolet Pre-Production F-Car Pilot Prototype study... this allowed them to skip the entirety of the prototype phase.  Once the fitment of the slightly modified sheet metal and cosmetic adornments were ascertained, mass production was readied.  Consequently, Firebird #1 and #2 were assembled in a mass assembly line format... approximately seven months after the creation of N100001, the first of the working Camaro prototypes.

  Question from bilodeaulynn          Name: Lynn Bilodeau

    Occupation:  Estate Planning Attorney.   Location:  Oklahoma City.

    Affiliation with CRG – forum participant

 

          “Well Dennis, I can answer these two questions for you.  I got about three min. into the video and saw the hype about the first buyer knowing what a special car it was, because she paid full sticker.  Not necessarily.

          I have several old Oklahoma registrations to my car.  Some will show an FDP (factory delivered price, which I PRESUME is the base price) of $2702.  Some also show a TDP (total delivered price) of $3750.  None of my registrations or transfers from back then show the actual price paid at the time of that particular sale of a used car.  My earliest one shows only the TDP of $3750, even though I traded an Opel for the car in 1976.  The Opel was worth $900 at best.  At the tag office, they didn’t even ask the price I paid.  In 69, the base price for the Camaro was (at least during part of the year) $2702, at least according to the Oklahoma Tax Commission records.

          Why was that important?  The tax commission used the original prices in a formula that also took into account the age of the car.  That means any Oklahoma title for the first 20 to 26 years would have the same “price” on the title.  I have a transfer on my car in the 80’s and it also shows $3750 as the price of the car.  I was simply adding a person to the title so NO money changed hands on that deal.  It wasn’t meant to indicate actual cash changing hands… it was only used as a base to determine excise tax.

          Years later they went to an “actual purchase price” system on used vehicles.  Even now though, if a purchase price as reported by the buyer seems ridiculously low, they have a minimum that is still based on the new car price with depreciation figured in.

          Now, I shouldn’t even weigh in here, but what the heck.  Camaro #1 is a cool car in its own right.  It doesn’t need any hype.  It is VIN #1.  To me, it is cool.  I don’t really care if that makes it more valuable.  But, as with any of these cars that become valuable, we get hype.  Just facts would be nice.  Unfortunately, once we have invested time, $ and emotion, it is hard to stick to just facts.  We do, after all, each see things from a different perspective.

          Looks to me like someone looked at those first two transfer papers from the tax commission on Camaro #1 and jumped to the conclusion that they represented as actual purchase price from that particular transaction.  They did not.  It was only there for tax purposes, and represented the price when new.

 

Answer:  Questions have been raised as to the OK Tax Commission records on the price paid upon resale on N100001 and the actual sales amounts do vary to a small degree and are not the same.  A review of the records shows that in:

1969 the car sold new for $2550.00.

Late in 1975 the car sold to a dealer for an undisclosed amount.

1976 the car was sold by the dealer for $2550.00.

1982 the car was sold for $2400.00.

2009 the car was sold for $2500.00.

2010 the car was sold to current owners for undisclosed price.

 

 

 

  Questions from   BCM66        Name:   Bryon Miller - (CRG officer)

                                            Q-1 through Q-6

 

    Q:1      So if the vehicle was built in late May and used as an assembly test mule then was this car a “Glider”  (no engine/transmission installed between late May and Early August?

Answer:  Multiple engine and transmission configurations were tested in N100001 to determine time to build for Regular Production Option (RPO) time studies and Assembly Information Manual (AIM) revisions.

 

    Q:2      Were there any engines or transmissions installed while it was a test mule?

Answer:  Yes.  The specified 6 cylinder engine was installed just prior to shipment.

 

   Q:3      Have you been able to confirm when the sales convention took place (exact date) and if the car was there at this time?

Answer: The date of the sales convention is known as on or about August 25, 1966 and “F” car N100001 was at the sales convention.

 

    Q:4      Have you been able to get exact dates for the photos of the car without emblems and do they correspond to the time prior to the official naming of the car.

Answer:  Photos supplied by GM Media archives were dated.  The photographs correspond to the time period after the announcement of the name “Camaro” and prior to the arrival of the finished production approved Camaro emblems.

 

   Q:5      Why is the build date on the body tag later (by several months) than the date the body was released by Fisher and also later than the shipping date?

Answer:  The body plate (aka “Trim tag”) used for N100001 was selected from a group of plates already stamped and forecast for regular production usage in September 1966.  The use of the build data in this manner was a forced value designed to test the plant production computer.

 

    Q:6     At what point in the assembly process (When and where) was the VIN tag put on N100001?

Answer: Upon arrival at the secure Pilot Prototype staging facility located on the Chassis side of the Plant.

 

 

  Questions from  President, Royal Pontiac Club of America

      Name:   Dr. Eric M. Schiffer

         Questions Appear In the Form of Letter of the Month In Muscle Car Review

 

 

Answer: Published In November Issue of Muscle Car Review... The Education of Our Readers Continues.

Answer: Published In February Issue of Muscle Car Review.

Due to the overwhelming response of our readers, we have spoken to General Motors about the issue of a proper name in several divisions.  It is quite clear after 50 years of history has unfolded since the inception of the "F" car...that no one involved in the pre-production days ever saw the need to create an appropriate car hobby moniker for an automobile that was intended to be mass produced with no guarantee of success.  That being said, all parties involved agree that "Pilot Prototype" is the best expression of what the envisioned uses and the build process actually represented.  The mock-up models that preceded these cars were not meant to be used as a drivable car....either for engineering testing or for any mobility whatsoever.  These predecessors were design concepts that were utilized from a styling standpoint only, were not operable, and were not issued VINs.   Consequently, Bob Lund of General Motors is given credit for the final use of his phrase, "these are prototypes that run" and the appropriate name choice from this point on will be that of "Pilot Prototype".

 

 

All of the Vehicles produced by  the former General Motors Corporation at its long expunged Norwood, Ohio factory are all existing trademarks of the new General Motors Company.  Any and all historical marks as used here are used for identification, description, illustrative, and educational purposes only.  This site is not affiliated with General Motors Company.

 

 

By: Logan Lawson

Registrar Of WWW.PilotCarRegistry.com

 

Copyright 2014 Logan Lawson. All Rights Reserved.