The following is an excerpt from the 50 year history of #31. Pilot Car Registry feels it is relevant enough to warrant its own page. The following paragraphs document a 35 year journey of misunderstanding and negativity that has been removed from our hobby as a result of our team's research.
Pilot Car Registry authenticated #31 in person on the Sunday following the Unveil of the all-new 2016 Camaro at Belle Isle. We were honored guests at the Unveil and our research was recognized by General Motors. This recognition can be viewed on the “Special Thanks” page of this website by clicking on the General Motors letterhead. Below, you will find a slide-show of all the historical awards, published media, correspondence, and title history of the only known surviving example of a Pilot Prototype “Accessory” Vehicle. This vehicle was extensively documented in photographic form and recognized as being a fully restored concourse candidate . The ownership story is truly remarkable. Additionally, #31 is a prime example of the confusion surrounding these Pilot Prototypes prior to the discovery of the original Pilot book and subsequent research that followed through General Motors and this site. A few examples of the confusion that have been rectified are:
1. Being a Pilot Prototype slated for Sales Divisions…the test run of the IBM 360 computer had not yet been ascertained. This led to the belief that the car was assembled during the second week of September instead of the days following June 6, 1966.
2. Prior to the creation of this site and existing in an environment without the research and governing body that could coordinate all surviving examples, it was thought to be the first convertible ever built and the oldest surviving example. In fact, it was the 10th convertible built and the 5th oldest surviving Camaro known to exist at the time of this writing.
3. #31 confirms the research that all Pilot Prototypes slated for use by Sales Divisions were given the latitude to be sold to the public.
4. #31 showcases the inefficiencies of the shipping dates on the factory shipping logs. This is discussed at length on the Pilot Statistics Page of this site. This vehicle was actually shipped to the South Bend Zone office in October of 1966. Depending on the length of publicity use, as well as, executive use….this is the assertion of the majority of the Sales Cars.
5. #31 also spotlights the maximum length of time allotted for the Publicity use by those Sales Divisions prior to possible sale…six months.
6. #31 was sold originally like many other “Factory Special Use” cars that preceded and followed…through a local dealer as a pre-done deal.
7. And finally, #31 exemplifies the party politics that divide the hobby in the absence of factory documentation. The mission statement of this site serves to rectify this in its individual small way.
8. During the 26 years of Bruce Wheeler's ownership, this car was shown and judged extensively. In combination with a "forced Input" cowl tag and a date coded drive-train of January of 1967...it was overlooked for its historical significance. Pilot Car Registry is in possession of multiple correspondence during this period that is full of conjecture and misunderstanding. During our five year research of these cars to this date, we were able to conclusively prove these anomalies. We are in possession of the factory documents, the personal correspondence, and the personal interviews that explain in great detail the inner workings of Frank Beaulieu's Pilot Prototype Program. To protect the integrity of these cars, we safeguard these documents to limit the attempts of counterfeiters. That being said, the cowl tag is a perfect match to our research and the drive-train matches the first hand accounts of the people that were there. I will attempt to explain these idiosyncratic anomalies without jeopardizing the safe guarded secrets.
The "F" car was one of the larger Pilot Prototype programs instituted by Frank Beaulieu. At the same time that these programs were taking place, Ed Cole was cutting the operating budgets of all divisions. To keep this program on budget and ensure that enough Pilot Prototypes were created for their end uses and all of the individual testing....a decision was made to circumvent General Motors Legal Department policies. These policies included that General Motors saw the sale of engineering test cars to be a liability. These cars were flogged extensively at Milford, were actual prototypes that hadn't made general assembly yet, and they would be considered used. These particular cars could only be sold for scrap, as rollers, or on bill of sales. This happened on at least three cars. I like to refer to these cars as the "back door" cars.
The money derived from the sale of these cars was funneled back into the operating budget of the Pilot Programs in which they came. The sale of beat up junkers that have been flogged is a small amount, but the sale of a completely new vehicle that has been used for displays at sales conventions and General Motors photography is a different story. Those can be sold for new car pricing to dealers. I like to refer to these cars as the "sales convention" cars. Thusly, this eliminated the issue that General Motors Legal Department had with selling a used vehicle.
The final issue that had to be overcame was that of the selling of a known prototype that had not yet made general assembly yet. This was eliminated by the forced inputs to the IBM 360 computer that created the illusion of a later build date that was acceptable for general production. This move eliminated the final issue with General Motors Legal department....AND simultaneously tested the nuances of the IBM 360 computer in the future. Two cars that were slated for publicity use made their way to the South Bend Zone Office......#27 and #31. These cars were to be driven for six months throughout the community and then returned to Corporate. When that time came, the men in the Sales Department at South Bend were instructed to return the two cars or sell them. Both cars had racked up more than enough miles to be considered used automobiles by then, so to stay within the guidelines of the agreements made to General Motors Legal department regarding the liability of selling a used car.....the entire drive-train was replaced in late April of 1967 prior to the sell of #31 to a golfing buddy of the sales team. A participating dealer working off an internal work order was commissioned to install these components.
Sounds pretty simple huh? Well, fast forward the clock to the 26 year ownership of #31 by Bruce Wheeler. I'm sure you can imagine how widely held this fact was received in the absence of our research. This properly date coded entire drive-train from January of 1967 was ostracized at national events for almost thirty years. This is precisely what our team is dedicated to eliminating.
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.