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Golden First Chevrolet Camaro Celebrates 50th Birthday

Photo Credit: Historic Vehicle Association

May 21st 1966, a coming together of steel, glass and other assorted material converged for the first time to shape Chevrolet's answer to the Ford Mustang. Born in an era when The Beetles, The Righteous Brothers as well as The Mamas & The Papas was freshly-pressed on records, Chevrolet's attention was focused on the construction of their very first example of the Camaro. Launched to compete in a hot sector for the 1960s, it would have been hard to forecast the car's lasting impact over five decades.

Ironically, a Chevrolet Camaro marking the 50th anniversary in 2016 is a golden-colored vehicle. The historic bowtie performance is painted gold and completed with a gold-coloured interior. Documented by the Historic Vehicle Association as the first pilot car (a prototype vehicle manufactured traditionally to test the production procedures and equipment to be used ahead of mass-assembly), Chevrolet Camaro #100001 was preserved intact. Assembled in Norwood, Ohio (just outside of Cincinnati), the first Camaro had been constructed under some secrecy by General Motors who concealed many details of the car at the time. Though the Chevrolet pony car was teased in detail by magazines since late 1965, the automaker didn't even announce the official name of the car until June 1966. Having originally settled on calling the vehicle the Panther, Chevrolet made a crucial name change to Camaro months before the car was destined for dealership showrooms and was reflected on the #100001 Camaro.

A total of 49 pilot Chevrolet Camaro pre-production models were built on the Norwood, Ohio plant. Operating since 1923, Norwood Assembly would play a part in the production of the first three generations of the Camaro operating alongside the Van Nuys Assembly plant in Los Angeles, California. The Ohio plant closed in 1987 and has since been redeveloped as a commercial and retail complex.

As part of the 50th anniversary celebrations for the Chevrolet Camaro, the #100001 car will be publicly presented at an event in Detroit coinciding with the Woodward Dream Cruise between August 13th and August 20th. The vehicle will be showcased inside a large glass cube prepared by HVA (Historic Vehicle Association) in cooperation with classic vehicle insurance provider Hagerty and oil company Shell. HVA has recently been working to fully document the first Chevrolet Camaro to confirm to guidelines set by the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Heritage Documentation and the Historic American Engineering Record. Once completed, the documentation collection will be added to the Library of Congress for permanent historical recognition.  

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