It looks like the Camaro concept show car has reached production, but it's only an illusion. In true Hollywood fashion, the Transformers Bumblebee Camaro is a real car, but only for the movie. Building the Transformers Bumblebee Camaro required a symbiotic relationship between Hollywood and Detroit. The Transformers Bumblebee Camaro is a fiberglass bodied replica of the Camaro concept car that toured the North American Internal Auto Show in 2006. It's got a cooler color than the original silver and it's not a roller, it really burns rubber! Steve Saleen was chosen to supervise the construction.
Since the new Camaro is not in production at the time of the filming of Transformers, a donor car was needed to create the mechanical movie star. A Pontiac GTO research and development test mule was acquired and production began on creating not one, but two Transformers Camaros. Since the GTO with its 109.8-inch wheelbase is already about the same size as the Camaro Concept with its 110.5-inch wheelbase, the Australian-built Pontiac became a natural base upon which to build the two Bumblebees. But the GTO is built around a unitized structure, so Saleen couldn't simply drop a new body onto the chassis. "Basically it was reverse-engineered by our build team," explains Bryan Chambers, the director of production at Saleen. "We had less than 45 days to build both cars so it was a barn-burner."
To simplify, the bodies were chopped off the two 5.7-liter, LS1-powered GTOs while box frames of steel were welded up to compensate for the lost structure. Then a team led by Jon Zorn in Saleen's showcar body shop grafted on the GM-supplied fiberglass bodies that had been pulled from the same molds used to build the concept car.
Throw in an interior also formed with fiberglass pieces, a lot of detail components (like the composite hubcaps that make the huge steel wheels look like the alloys on the concept) and a couple gallons of gorgeous gold paint and the result is the car that we see in the movie.
From afar the Bumblebee Camaro is simply gorgeous; the shape that mesmerized on the show stands looks even better in sunlight. Up close, this movie prop is even more impressive, despite plenty of fakery including plastic door handles that are supposed to look like metal and plexiglass side windows that don't roll down. This isn't some cheap splash of fiberglass done up by amateurs, but rather Corvette-quality resin and mat. Every piece of the body is perfectly formed, the panels fit to each other with precision and the paint is thick and luminous. It's not a production car, but it could easily pass for one.
Inside the cabin, fiberglass panels cover components that obviously have their origins in the donor GTO. For instance, the instrumentation is simply the GTO's gauges covered in new frames, while the seats come straight from the Pontiac. Most of the surfaces the driver touches are hard plastic instead of the soft-touch stuff found in production machines, but it's all been nicely shaped and beautifully finished. Impressively, Saleen has even managed to keep the GTO's air-conditioning system intact, which the stunt drivers were grateful for while filming during the heat of the summer.
The car starts instantly and falls easily into a familiar, throaty idle. The four-speed automatic transmission's shift lever has been modified from a GTO piece and it works fine. Get the car rolling
and there's some road noise from the big tires since there's little sound-deadening material aboard, but there are only a few creaks around where the body is bonded to the frame.
This Bumble Bee Camaro looks so much like the 2010 Camaro, its scary!