The production version of the highly anticipated Chevrolet Camaro won't be officially revealed for some time yet but, in a highly unusual move, GM won't hide the car from prying spy photographers during test drives anymore.
While other manufacturers go to extreme lengths to ensure their new prototypes or pre-production test mules live clandestine lives, GM has dropped a veritable bombshell with the new 'naked' pre-production policy.
Magazines and car enthusiasts pay top dollar for "spy shots" of early pre-production cars, which are usually covered in black cloth and stripes of tape to try to hide their appearance, as the cars undergo testing on public roads.
In fact, several companies now specialize in selling these pictures, while car companies do their best - or at least claim to do their best - to keep their future products under wraps.
Starting now, however, the Chevrolet Camaro isn't playing coy. When Camaro prototypes go out on public roads for testing they'll be totally naked.
"During this upcoming year, pre-production Camaros will appear both on U.S. and Australian roads as we continue with testing and development," Chevrolet general manager Ed Peper wrote in a post on GM's FastLane blog. "So keep those camera phones ready - if you happen to see one, we'd like to hear about it, so please post a comment and include your 'spy photo!'"
Heads up down under
Engineering and development for GM's new rear-wheel-drive cars is taking place in Australia. GM's Australian engineers are apparently now revered as the company rear-wheel-drive experts, following the cult status and generous reviews products such as the Holden Special Vehicle team who fettled the Chevrolet Lumina SS and current Monaro HSV GTS.
The main reason for removing the camouflage, according to Peper's post, was to facilitate tests for aerodynamics and cooling efficiency.
But even high-performance cars like the Corvette ZR1, for which aerodynamics and cooling would be especially important, are covered up during public testing.
Subsequently opinion is divided concerning the source of GM?s newfangled public pre-production policy with the Camaro. Some industry analysts think it is nothing more than a publicity stunt. In the case of the Camaro, there wasn't really much of a secret to protect, though.
In mitigation GM has said the production Camaro would closely resemble concept versions that have been seen at car shows and in the movie "The Transformers," so undisguised pre-production cars running up mileages all-over will hardly let the proverbial styling cat out of the bag.
Seeing the potential for damage or injuries as photographers try to get close to the cars, GM may have decided that "at this point everybody is safer just taking off the camouflage," said Brenda Priddy, a professional automotive spy photographer.