......Camaro- Untold Secrets125.gif (824 bytes) Special Guest Article

How Many 1967 Pace Cars?
by Greg McGann

 

If you read almost any book or article on the 1967 Pace Car, you will usually see the number of cars quoted as 103. I personally believe that there were at least 200 built, and maybe over 600 more built, although I have not heard of anyone else with this opinion. Let me set out my reasoning for you and let's see if we can add up the cars.
The number of Camaros used at Indy comes from a GM interoffice memo detailing the specifications for the vehicles to be used at the race. Here are some excerpts from that memo. (Use your "back" button to return here.) Let's add up the numbers.
First we have the 500 Festival Committee Vehicles, of which 43 are Camaros, numbers 1-43. The Speedway Vehicles include 10 Camaros, numbers 49-58, and 3 actual Pace Cars, numbers 78-80. Many sources will give the number of actual Pace Cars as 2, but there were 3 - number 78, number 79, and number 80. They were identically prepared, with one designated to pace the race, one for backup, and the third, with a show quality finish, to be presented to the winner. The specifications for the 3 actual pace cars were set forth in Engineering Build Order #98168. (Use your "back" button to return here.) Then we have the 40 "Brass Hat" cars, of which 25 were Camaros. This equals 81 Camaro Pace Cars and replicas that were used at Indianapolis. These cars were later sold through Indianapolis dealerships as used cars. Some were purchased by the person the car had been assigned to during the month at Indy for the regular GM Corporate discount price.
After the race was over, many of our friends in the Great White North learned of the Pace Car Replicas and weren't happy to have been excluded from the promotion, and they apparently knew who to complain to. Chevy ordered up 21 more cars under ordering code 80055, eleven 396-325HP Turbo 400's and ten 350 Powerglides. These were distributed to Canadian dealers who remain unknown. This makes 102 cars total.
A.J. Foyt won the '67 Indy 500, but he turned down the car because it didn't have air conditioning or a power top. So Chevrolet decided to build another car for A.J., and it was produced in the same run of cars as the special Canadian-built cars. Because they were all produced together, they all got the special clear coat paint and the 0-1 code. In addition, they were all built after the race, date code 06C. This brings our total to 103.
This number is what is usually quoted as the total number of 1967 Pace Cars, because this number can be verified (more or less) from Chevrolet memos. Okay, so if this number can be verified, why does every source say it is approximate? Once we start digging further, and making guesses as to the number of additional cars, it's all pretty much speculation - and the numbers point to many more cars, not less.
First of all, let's look at the build dates. The U.S. Camaro Club has published articles that say all Pace Cars were built between 03C and 04D, except for the Canadian Pace Cars built 06C. John Hooper, in the 1967-68 Camaro Reference Book, gives the dates as 03C to 06B, and the Canadian cars also as 06C. Other sources give pretty much the same dates. (The USCC gives 06D in one article, but it's obviously a typo.)
The Chevrolet memo setting out the specifications for the cars set the deadline for the Indy cars as March 30, with formal delivery on April 1. Therefore, all 81 Camaros used at Indy were built prior to the end of March, 03D. The Canadian vehicles were built the third week of June, 06C, so no matter which build dates you use they all point to some cars being built after 03D, either through April, 04D, or June, 06B. The question is, how many?
John Hooper breaks down the build dates by assembly plant. He indicates that Norwood built pace cars from 04A to 06B, and Van Nuys built them from 04A to 05D. According to Hooper, all L181A coded Los Angeles cars were built during this period, which means none of them could have been used at Indy.
So where did these extra cars go? Chevrolet ran a special "Pacesetter" campaign to mark the selection of the Camaro for Indy. Some sources say this only included incentives on options, and not Pace Car replicas. The text of the news release doesn't really make this clear. It reads as follows:


For Release: IMMEDIATELY
(4878)

"DETROIT -- Chevrolet and its dealers are launching a nationwide Camaro Pacesetter sales campaign this month to mark the selection of the Camaro as pace car for this year's Indianapolis 500 race on Memorial Day.
"The campaign, running through June, will feature specially equipped Camaros and Fleetside pickup trucks at special savings. There will be special advertising support in the various media, including large newspaper ads, network television and radio plus spot radio and TV and dealer merchandising and promotional material.
"During the Pacesetter event, Camaro buyers can get the special hood stripe and floor-mounted shift for three-speed transmission at no extra cost with special savings also available on Powerglide automatic transmission, power steering and power brakes.
"Also offered is a half-ton Fleetside pickup truck with special savings when equipped with some of the most popular options and accessories. These include custom apperance items, pushbutton radio, a larger capacity six-cylinder engine and heavy-duty suspension.
"4 -- 10 -- 67"


This memo is not very clear. It does give incentives on options which you could order on your Camaro, but it also implies that there were "specially equipped" Camaros also at the dealer. These would have been the Pace Car replicas. According to John Hooper, dealers received these cars as a special sales promotion and they were all built at Los Angeles. However, any Norwood production after 03D would have to be included in the promotion.
When Chevy built the Z10 Pace Car Coupe as a special regional promotion in 1969, it is believed they built between 200 and 300 at Norwood. You would expect Chevy to build more cars for a nationwide promotion, but then again, they didn't try to sell as many '67's either. You can make a good case for at least 100 extra pace cars from this alone.
Since Chevy built all these cars for promotion, as opposed to letting the customer order them as they did in 1969, it would be reasonable to assume that they built these cars according to some kind of a schedule to meet deadlines and shipping dates. If Chevrolet built 81 cars in Norwood during the last two weeks of March - about 40 per week - and 22 cars in Los Angeles during the third week of June, then mightn't they have also averaged at least 20 cars per week through April (04D) for an extra 80 cars? And maybe even an additional six weeks' production through the second week of June (06B) for another 120 cars? That would equal around 200 cars in addition to the 103, making 303 total.
And this ignores the fact that two assembly plants were running, and Norwood produced over twice as many cars as Los Angeles did. If John Hooper's facts are correct, then Norwood produced pace cars for the 10 weeks from 04A to 06B - 400 cars at 40 cars per week - and Los Angeles for the 8 weeks from 04A to 05D - 160 cars at 20 cars per week - then we are looking at 560 extra cars, plus the 81 Indy cars built in March and the 21 Canadian cars and the one for A.J. Foyt built in June, for a total of 663! That's a long way from 103.
Thanks to the U.S. Camaro Club, there is one more indicator to look at. The USCC has a registry for Camaros, which amounts to a large database of information. From this they can extrapolate statistical data on these cars. As of July, 1992, in their special Pace Car issue of the magazine, they had 98 pace cars registered. What are the odds on having virtually every single Pace Car replica, 98 out of 103, still around? Not only are they in existence, but also owned by members of the USCC, and also registered with the USCC! I'd say it's highly unlikely.
There were 3,675 Pace Car Replicas sold in 1969, not counting the actual Indy cars and the Z10's, yet the USCC had only 103 registered in 1992 - roughly 2.5% of all pace cars made. It's not likely that they would get over 95% of the '67's and only 2.5% of the '69's. If you take the build date end of 04D, for an extra 80 cars, that's still 53% of the total, still very high. A build date end of 06B, for an extra 200 cars total, would still leave around 32% of the cars still around and on the registry, which still seems high. The highest estimate, 663 cars total, would leave 14%. This is starting to sound a lot more realistic.
Finally, of the 98 cars registered, only 8 were built in March, so only 8 of these 98 could be part of the 81 Indy cars. That leaves 90 cars which couldn't have been used at Indy. They have all 21 Canadian cars registered, so that is at least 69 extra cars if they have every one in existence registered!

So there is the dilemma. My best guess is about 200 - 400 cars total, but my opinion isn't cast in stone. If you have another guess, or any other information, please email me.

New Information!

I spoke with Matt Murphy of SLP Engineering at the US Camaro Club Nationals this July. He has gathered a lot of information about the 1967 Pace Cars, and his father worked at Dan Young Chevrolet in Indianapolis where the actual festival cars were prepared. He shed some light on many questions which puzzled me, and he agrees that the number of cars and replicas is probably over 350.
To begin with, although the deadline for delivery of the Festival cars was April 1, the cars continued to be delivered through May 1, 1967. He also gives the total number of Festival cars used at Indy as 110 because more Camaros were being assigned to VIPs and they needed more than the original number. If you add these 110 cars with the 21 Canadian cars we get 131.
There were also "dealer cars," the Pace Car Replicas I specualted as being at the dealer during the Pacesetter sale. According to Matt, the way the system worked was that the people in charge of these promotions would get on the phone to their best dealers and let them know there was a special promotion coming. In this case, the dealers were informed of the Pace Car Replicas and given a chance to order them during the winter of '67. The ratio of Dealer cars to Festival cars is about 2:1, so this points to about 220 Dealer cars, for a total of around 330.
Once the Pacesetter campaign was underway many dealers tried to order more cars, and many dealers who hadn't ordered any tried to get a few. The factory, however, was not interested in building any more cars, so the dealers had to come up with their own. They ordered white SS/RS 396 and 350 convertibles with blue tops and stripe delete. Then they painted the blue nose stripe at the dealership and ordered the door decals through their parts departments. There are also dealers who skipped the stripe delete option and just repainted the nose stripe. These would be considered genuine Pace Car Replicas, since the only changes made by the dealer were the color of the nose stripe and the decals, unlike the 69 cars, where there was a factory x-code on the trim tag.
How many dealer-duplicated Pace Cars is a matter of speculation, but figure at least 20 or 30. That puts the total number in the 350 range, and it is perhaps much higher.

This article originally appeared on The Camaro Homepage.