The annual Woodward Dream Cruise in Detroit attracts hundreds of classic cars from various eras, along with thousands of people who watch those cars parade down Woodward Avenue. This year’s Cruise on Saturday will surely be no different, save for one car so special, it won’t be joining the parade; it will be on display in a glass box.
Chevrolet Camaro, VIN 100001, was the pre-production prototype that started the whole line – and a huge muscle-car rivalry in 1966. According to theDetroit News, it’s owned by Corey Lawson from Hutchinson, Kansas, who bought it in 2009 after his then 13-year-old son saw a posting and an eBay ad for a 1967 Camaro, touted as the first one ever built. When he first saw it in person, Lawson recognized this Camaro wasn’t from a production line; the welds were done by hand, and there were no holes for badges – Chevrolet didn’t even know what to call it when engineers secretly built the prototype in a warehouse in Ohio. “I was convinced that it was probably the first car ever built,” Lawson told the News. He refuses to reveal the final price.
At the time, the car didn’t even have a powertrain, but Lawson and his son restored the Camaro to its original condition, and their hard work has paid off: on Wednesday, in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the Camaro, the Historic Vehicle Association announced that VIN 100001 will be added to the National Historic Vehicle Register, only the 15th car to make the list. Mark Gessler, president of the Association, says the Camaro makes the list because in a “much broader cultural sense, it really launched the biggest rivalry in Detroit everlasting, the Camaro vs. Mustang,” he told the News.
After extensive research by the Lawsons and the Association, it was found that the Camaro was first owned by a Chevrolet dealer, then passed through a few owners before being drag-raced in the 1980s. But now it sits, pristine, in a glass box under lights until Saturday. If you happen to take in the Woodward Dream Cruise, check out this historic Chevrolet Camaro near the corners of Woodward and Old Woodward.