Monday, December 12, 2016

Early production cars at SEMA 2016

At the 2016 SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) show in Las Vegas, the booths of a pair of automotive manufacturers, Chevrolet and Toyota, proudly featured restored examples of their early production cars.

The first Camaro

The first Camaro with VIN (Vehicle identification Number) N100001 was on display in the Chevrolet Performance booth. The car finished in Granada Gold with a gold interior was the first of forty-nine “pilot cars” built in the Chevrolet Norwood Ohio assembly plant. The purpose of the “pilot car” process is to test the machinery and techniques used for the new design against the function of a mass production assembly line and provide employees ‘hands on’ training.

The first Camaro built on May 21 1966 was hardly a tire-smoking high-performance muscle car, as it is equipped with the 230-cubic inch inline six-cylinder engine painted bright orange also used in half-ton trucks and shared with Studebaker. The 140 horsepower engine is hooked to a three-speed manual transmission with the transmission selector mounted on the steering column. For optional equipment the first Camaro was equipped with deluxe seat belts, push-button AM radio, front fender mounted antenna, and white wall tires.  
The first Camaro was revealed to dealers during a Detroit convention in August 1966, then was later used in official factory photographs and appeared at sales conventions across the country before it was sold to a dealer in Yukon Oklahoma. The dealer displayed the first Camaro in his showroom for two and half years before it was sold at full sticker price of $2550. Through the years this historic Camaro passed through many hands and was converted into a drag race car before it was stored for nearly 20 years.

The two-year restoration project was completed in 2014 using NOS (new old stock) parts; since then the first Camaro has been shown at numerous shows across the country and is listed on the Historic Vehicle Association’s National Historical Vehicle register.  

Toyota Stout 1900

Toyota (then known as Toyoda) introduced its first truck the ‘G1’ in December 1935 then re-entered the truck market in 1947 with the Toyopet SB. In 1964, Toyota USA founded in 1957 introduced the Toyota Stout 1900 pickup to the United States market in 1964. The short-bed pickup features a two-door cab with seating for three people mounted on a ladder-style frame chassis with leaf springs and four-wheel drum brakes. The truck was powered by a 1.9 liter (116 cubic inch) overhead valve four-cylinder engine that produced 85 horsepower.

The engine’s power connected to a four-speed column shifted transmission allowed the two-wheel drive 2800-pound truck to boast a payload of one ton  During 1964, four Stout trucks, sticker priced at $1695,  were sold but before it was pulled from the US market at the end of 1967, Toyota sold a total of 4,219 Stout trucks. This restored example a 1966 model came typically resides in the Toyota USA Automobile Museum in Torrance California.    

Toyota Corolla

In October 1966, Toyota introduced the Corolla which in Latin means "small crown." This sub-compact car known to the manufacturer as the E10 model was built in the Takaoka Assembly Plant in Japan. Powered by a 1.1 liter (67 cubic inch) four-cylinder overhead valve engine that produced only 60 horsepower but with the Corolla’s 1588 pound curb weight the 151-inch long two-door coupe could reach 80 miles per hour provided the driver was brave enough.

Also available in a two-door wagon and a four-door sedan all on the same 90-inch wheelbase the Corolla attained fuel economy of over 30 miles per gallon. Now in its eleventh generation, over 40 million Corollas have been sold worldwide and is Toyota’s best-selling nameplate in the United States. Since 2011 Toyota has assembled Corollas in their factory in Blue Springs Mississippi. The example on display at the SEMA show which sold for $2217 in 1966 is part of the Toyota USA Automobile Museum collection in Torrance California.      

All photos by the author

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