With everything in life there’s a first, and the same is true of our favorite pony car, the Camaro. Yep, VIN number 123377N100001 is the first Camaro every officially produced. And while you might think it’s some super badass red RS/SS fully optioned ride, it’s not. The first Camaro was a Granada Gold straight-six with very few options. Something sensible for the wife to grab groceries in. We were pretty happy to show up at the 2017 Classic Industries F-Body Nationals and find it out of its enclosed glass trailer and on full display along with a few other rare F-bodies.
Fisher Body (Fisher Coach kit #DD01D) kicked off production with this car on May 17, 1966 and five days later it was handed over to Chevrolet to become the first of 49 hand-built pilot cars to be crafted at the Norwood Assembly Plant in Ohio. The car didn’t have a name and was known as the Detroit Sales Convention Unveil F-Car. Like all National Sales Convention F-Cars, it received special show paint and a 110-volt static lighting system for display use. The car was hidden away from the public and it was during its time in secretive storage that Pete Estes held a dramatic 10:00 a.m. 14 city network news conference and officially released the name “Camaro” to the world. Once done it was used at the GM Technical Center for press release photos and color 16mm reel-to-reel video. For marketing use the Camaro has minimal badging and in some pictures the car had V8 and other badging stuck on the car with tape for the shoots. The signatures inside the trunk lid are some of the surviving GM people that worked on the car.
This is one of the most documented Camaros on the planet with over 12,000 hours spent on research. To find out more be sure to visit www.pilotcarregistry.com.
The other car on display with it is pretty special as well. N100031 otherwise known as The Accessory Jacksonville Convention Car, was delivered on June 6, 1966 from Fisher Body as coach #DD39D. Like VIN 001 it was hand built. It was the 10th Camaro convertible ever built and was loaded with options as a sales promotional tool. After the official release of the new Camaro (September 1966) the Pilot Prototypes were utilized by the managers of the South Bend Zone Office as company cars. In fact, the two managers, John Ryan and Bill Van Hulle were told to drive them every day to create awareness locally. When the program ended the cars were sold locally and one of their friends, Ralph Kinyon, bough #31 for his Daughter Kay, a senior in high school, for her graduation. She drove it until 1973 and then returned it to her dad who had it until 1981. To make a long story short the Camaro was sold to Bruce Wheeler who understood the historical significance and eventually returned the car to Kay’s garage in 2007 where the family continued to document the car until 2014 when it changed to the new owners. More info on this car can also be found at www.pilotcarregistry.com.
Photos By Steven Rupp