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Old 09-30-2009, 06:52 PM   #1
fbodfather


 
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....Farewell, Thor, my buddy.....

Well -- it ended very similar to how it started out -- my relationship with Thor…….

“Hello, Mr, Settlemire…..this is Amber with Company Vehicle Operations…..I’m calling to schedule your next vehicle exchange.”

The first call --in February-- made my heart skip a beat.

“Mr. Settlemire, how soon can you come by the 11 Mile Road Facility to pick up your new Camaro Captured Test Fleet Unit?”

I was in the Airport at Dallas/Fort Worth and I believe I made some sort of remark along the lines of: “ I’ll be there in 15 minutes if I can get someone to rocket me back to Detroit! “

…………

……..Some would say “It’s only a car! It’s steel, aluminum, some leather, a lot of rubber….glass….. But it’s only a car!”

…………

I’ll never forget seeing “Thor” for the first time. At the time he hadn’t been named by my fellow Camaro Enthusiasts -- some of which are probably reading this……..

I kept wondering in my mind what Camaro I’d have the privilege of Evaluating. I said to myself, (of COURSE!) that an SS/RS would be just the greatest -

but I’d also be happy with an SS --

or even a V6 RS --

And I certainly wouldn’t turn down an LS……….

What color?

I was hoping it wouldn’t be black -- not that I don’t love black Camaros -- but I knew this Camaro would get a lot of miles very quickly - and it would be driven daily -- and it would have to put up with Michigan late winter roads…….I was really hoping for Orange…………or Silver………and Victory Red would be nice………and I’ve always liked Imperial Blue…

….frankly, I’d be happy even if it were PLAID -- I mean, it would STILL be a new Camaro…..


……..but hey, it’s only a car………


There were a lot of us here at GM that were so proud of the 4th gen Camaro…….we still are! Put it on a road course and it will still outperform cars costing much more. We worked to continually improve all performance aspects of the Camaro and Firebird. It was tough, though, when we had very little budget in which to spend on improvements.

I dreaded -- for several years -- the day that we’d see the last Camaro and Firebird come down the line at Ste. Therese -- and that finally occurred on August 27, 2002.……..I was inconsolable……..

…………but they’re only cars, right?

……………..


So……..there at the 11 Mile Road facility -- I filled out a few forms -- signed my name -- showed the clerk my Driver’s License…(wow…I used to have more hair………) and then went to wait impatiently for the porter to bring my new Camaro around and into the delivery area.

The garage doors in the facility aren’t like a normal garage door - they don’t ‘raise’ -- but rather they open -- automatically - -like barn doors…….

…….and there -- peeking thru the opening -- was a yellow RS……

Wow……..

When you have worked on a car line for so many years -- and you’ve fought to get a car back into the portfolio - and you finally see the fruits of so many peoples’ labor…….

……….well, it gives you chills…….or “goosebumps”………or, in my case, both!

……and then I could hear “Thor’s” distinctive voice - and I then knew that he was an SS/RS……..with all of the ‘toys.’……….

But why get excited?

………..I mean……….it’s only a car, right?

……………

I’d driven several IVERs -- but had not yet driven a fully “production intent” Camaro SS/RS……

……and yes, I am prejudiced…….but I was just blown away that morning……..

……..and that’s when I realized what “Perma-grin” is………


I still remember the reaction to the other customers at the gas station when I stopped to fill him up……and the sense of pride I felt………what we call “The Pride of Ownership.”

…..or how the driver of a Silver Challenger practically drove UNDER a trailer truck to get up next to me to check out “Thor” as we drove thru heavy traffic on I-696.…….

……….some can’t imagine why he’d do that -- it’s only a car………….


…………………….

As we move further into the 21st century, each of us has less and less time to do what we’d like…..and I think most would agree that we’re usually in a hurry.

Thor would almost speak to me……. I’d come home from work - put him in the garage - -and get the sense of him saying

………“hey -- I don’t want to just sit here -- how ‘bout you and I going for a ride??”

………but then cars don’t speak - and he’s only a car, right?

There are several coffee shops in the Grosse Pointes -- but WHY would I want to drive less than a mile to get a cup of coffee? I’d MUCH rather drive several miles along the shores of Lake St. Clair -- into the town of Saint Clair Shores - to get a cup of coffee……

……..which meant that Thor would draw a crowd……..

It doesn’t matter the age -- it seems that just about everyone loves the new Camaro….



………….even though it’s just a car……..

So many Camaro Enthusiast events…………so many people climbing in and out of Thor…….what a GREAT “Camaro Summer”…….

I was visiting my family in Pittsburgh shortly after receiving Thor -- I said to Cousin Tom - “
hey -- I’m gonna be there in two days -- why don’t you invite the Pittsburgh Camaro Club over to the dealership on Sunday -- I’ll bring my new Camaro over - we’ll give it a bath - and put it in the showroom.”

(Dealers cannot sell on Sundays in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania…but you CAN show cars!)

……..absolutely BLOWN AWAY by the number of people who came -- including buddies from Virginia, New York, and Massachusetts……

………….They drove all that way just to see a Car???…………

……………………….


My friends Jim and Lisa (Mr. and Mrs. Number 3) took him with them on “Spring Break” -- and he charmed crowds everywhere they took him….including ON the beach in Daytona…..and that’s when he was actually christened “Thor.”

I was so happy to get him back --

…………even though it’s just a car……….right?


We had “Thor” upfitted with the “Transformers Package” in mid June-- the intent was to show the package for the first time at “Camaros at Carlisle.”

So off we go to Carlisle……I no sooner got off the Pennsylvania Turnpike when my cell phone rings -- it’s John Fitzpatrick (Fbodfather v 2.0 ) -- with some bad news…..seems Paramount and Hasbro have not yet signed the final contract -- so we can’t unveil the package…..

Poor Thor -- he spent the weekend under a car cover in the corner of the parking lot at the Days Inn…..

I could SWEAR I heard him mutter (under the cover) “iff iff futch boo fit!!” (not unlike having a sock stuck in one’s mouth……)

But that can’t be………because it’s only a car……….


Snapshots:

>An elderly Grosse Pointe Matron drives up to me in a parking lot in her DTS - -puts the window down - and says “Young man - -that is the most handsome automobile I’ve ever seen -- and I’m over 90, so I’ve seen a lot of them!”

>It’s 2:30am and I’m on my way back home from Pennsylvania -- I pull into the I-75 Michigan
Welcome Center (nature calls…) -- there are several young guys -- probably around 20 -- getting out of a Subaru -- One of them takes one look at Thor --drops to his knees -- has both hands pressing against each side of his head -- and yells:

“OMG -- DUDE -- OMG -- DUDE - UNFREAKIN-BELIEVABLE--OMG -- IT’S……IT’S……..IT’S…..OMG ,,,,,,,,IT’S BEAOOOOOTIFUL…..OMG!!! --

……….nothing like overreacting is there!? -- I mean - it’s only a car………

>Thumbs up from just about everyone at traffic lights……

>A warm spring Sunday - incredible blue sky with no clouds -- the sun shining off Thor’s hood -- and the Doobie Brothers blasting “Rockin’ Down the Highway” from his Boston Accoustics Stereo -- me with “Perma-Grin” -- fellow motorists staring……….

>Three young fellows - -probably about 5 years old, each of them…..riding in a Chrysler Mini-van that’s pulling into the convenience store where I’m refueling Thor…….their eyes the size of saucers………yelling “IT’S BUMBLEBEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!”

>A young father pulls up with his child in the rear seat of a new Yukon XL -- this is in a parking lot at a grocery store…….his little boy is all eyes -- all excited -- so I say to the tyke: “Would you like to sit in Bumblebee?” -- and before he can answer, the father says “I don’t know about him, but DADDY DOES!!”

……..I guess no one told him it’s only a car………..

>I’m at a stop light at the entrance/exit to a high school. As the school busses pull out of the parking lot, it looks like each bus has elephant trunks sticking out of the windows on ONE side of the bus…….it turns out the ‘trunks’ are arms -- that are holding camera phones…………snapping away……..

(don’t they know it’s only a car???)


>I come out of a Hardware store to find TWO families taking each others’ pictures with “Bumblebee” -- so I allow each of them to climb behind the wheel. The children have the look of wonder in their eyes…….and I’d like to think that they’ll remember that day with “Bumblebee” for years to come…….

………..even though it’s just a car………

What a great Summer……..

I continue to imagine the voice of Pete Estes - the General Manager of Chevrolet wayyy back in the Summer of 1966 when we announced the Camaro name…….

“…….Chevrolet has chosen a name…. which is lithe, and graceful…. in keeping with our other names beginning with C….. It suggests the comradeship of good friends............as a personal car should be to its owner...."

Yes -- Thor is like a best friend………I would look forward to getting into him and driving to work…even on some bad roads and streets within Detroit city……

……..And after a long day at work, I’d walk out to the deck - -and he’d be waiting - -’waking up’ as I hit the door unlock -- his ‘eyes’ (headlamps) lighting up -- almost as if to say: “ Hey, buddy -- where can I take you tonight?” ( “……even though I’m just a car……..)


And so at 8am tomorrow morning, I will take my “handsome chariot” which I have truly cherished since I laid eyes upon him --

………….and I will take him back to the 11 Mile Road Facility - and I will turn him over to a porter -- and I will hand in his keys……

WHY am I feeling so bad? I’ve been blessed over my 33 years at General Motors - to have some pretty awesome company cars….some really stand out -- and not always for a GOOD reason. (….there was that Diesel Chevette one time……..)

But I can honestly say that I’ve never had a car or truck ‘move me’ as Thor has……

All 15,780 miles have been nothing but pleasurable and exciting…….

Yes -- I’ll receive another new GM vehicle to evaluate.

Yes -- I’m so very blessed to have that privilege.

And yes, I’ll most likely enjoy my time with this next car or truck……(that is unless the Diesel Chevette was misplaced for about 29 years and they’re gonna give it back to me…)


I took him to “Mr. C’s Car Wash” in Grosse Pointe Farms late this afternoon to get him completely cleaned for turn-in……and I had a lump in my throat as I watched him go thru the wash - and as I watched other people watching him…… “Bumblebee!!!” …..from a little tyke with his Mom - -getting their Tahoe washed.

…….and I really DON’T know what will happen to him. His VIN is A9000130 -- so he’s an early one -- he needs some retrofits if, indeed, he will be resold thru the GM Auction. I pray that’s where he goes -- because I don’t want to think that he might get assigned as a development vehicle at Milford. (that never has a happy ending…….)

And some would say “Scott! What are you carrying on for? It’s not like one of your friends or relatives just died!!!…” -- and they’d be right…I AM overreacting……but I can’t explain the sense of loss that I’m already feeling…….

……..it’s only a car……….


So I’ll end this little note……because Thor is sitting in the Garage -- and I think I can hear him saying “C’mon, buddy, let’s take one last cruise……” and I cannot resist the urge to drive him for several more miles late into the night…….And I’ll realize that all of the hard work that every man and woman who worked on the new Camaro -- I’ll realize just HOW RIGHT we got this car…..if I must say so myself…….

So why am I feeling so bad?………….


I mean………

He’s only a car……….


…………..right????
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Old 09-30-2009, 06:56 PM   #2
rudack
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Farewell Thor! That was a great read. Sometimes they are never just a car.
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Old 09-30-2009, 07:01 PM   #3
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First Camaro I ever sat in...first Camaro I ever rode in...

Gahh. If he went to GM auction and if I had the money I'd buy him on the spot...
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Old 09-30-2009, 07:04 PM   #4
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hopefully he'll get a good home at auction!
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Old 09-30-2009, 07:05 PM   #5
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The Annihilator will miss his "late night snack" buddy.

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Old 09-30-2009, 07:11 PM   #6
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Old 09-30-2009, 07:12 PM   #7
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I actually got choked up reading that! One hell of a guy and one hell of a car. Scott. I probably still wouldn't have had my Camaro if it wasn't for you. I know I wouldn't have the permagrin. You're more than welcome to take mine for a spin any time you are in PA. Even though its "only a car". Thanks Scott, and heres to a great future life for Thor!
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Old 09-30-2009, 07:13 PM   #8
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serious chills after reading that...

..the passion is just amazing..

..thanks again for all you do for "just this car" for we all know it's not just a car, it's a passion, it's part of you..
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Old 09-30-2009, 07:15 PM   #9
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Lacrosse?
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Old 09-30-2009, 07:16 PM   #10
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they are always, NEVER JUST A CAR!!!!!!
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Old 09-30-2009, 07:18 PM   #11
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wow..uhh..i almost cried. seriously. not cool scott! but also very very cool! its nice for us to read about other people with the same passion we have. i unfortunately may have to give my car up thanks to Obama eliminating my job...so i feel your pain
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Old 09-30-2009, 07:19 PM   #12
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Sounds like you did your job well. I hope your next vehicle you get to test drive is as much fun..
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Old 09-30-2009, 07:19 PM   #13
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Scott, your car was the first 2010 Camaro I sat in, and it just felt so "right"... I still get that same feeling every time I get in mine...

Thank You!!
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Old 09-30-2009, 07:20 PM   #14
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Very touching!! The Camaro is not just a car, It's your best friend!! Sad to see "Thor" go.
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