Bumblebee Camaro shows off GM's design muscle in 'Transformers' flick

GM designers were asked to give Bumblebee more muscle for the car’s fourth appearance in the Transformers saga.
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It’s a car, it’s an Autobot, it’s a Camaro. General Motors’ Chevrolet Camaro will again transform into the gutsy black and yellow Autobot hero named Bumblebee in the latest Transformers film, which hits theaters June 27.

The Camaro first appears in Transformers: Age of Extinction -- or TF4 as its known among fans -- as a highly modified 1967 Camaro SS. The yellow-and-black-striped 2014 concept Camaro, designed specifically for the movie at GM’s North Hollywood Design Center, shows up later on in the film.

GM’s vice president of global design, Ed Welburn -- who has worked on the past three Transformers films -- will act alongside the Camaro as the director of the CIA in director Michael Bay’s Transformers universe.

“Being a part of the Transformers franchise is an incredible way to showcase the design work of which GM is capable,” Welburn said in a statement.

Bay asked Welburn and the GM design team to give Bumblebee more muscle for the car’s fourth appearance in the Transformers saga, GM said in the statement.

“The Bumblebee seen in the TF4 movie will not be available to the public,” GM spokesman David Barnas wrote in an e-mail. “It is a special model designed, developed and built specifically for the movie.”

At Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet in Tallahassee, Fla., the Camaro is popular among a new generation of Camaro fans, sales manager Rusty Connell said.

“No car sells itself, but the Camaro is not hard to sell,” he said.

Around the time GM brought back the Camaro in 2010, which coincided with two Transformers appearances in 2009 and 2011, the vehicle became popular with buyers in their late 20s and early 30s, a trend that has continued over the past four years, Connell said.

“It’s a younger crowd,” he said. “But not the college crowd or anything like that.”

New ad spot

Meanwhile, starting today, GM is marketing the 2014 Camaro to yet another generation of consumers. A new video advertising spot features a young boy watching scenes of Bumblebee in TF4 on his tablet. The boy encounters the Bumblebee-style Camaro in his driveway, and leans towards the car to whisper, “Bumblebee, is that you?”

GM marketing director Steve Majoros said the advertisement highlights the cross-generational appeal of both the Camaro and the Transformers films. The Camaro “has always had a sense of amazement and wonderment attached to it,” Majoros said in an interview.

David Whiston, a market analyst at Morningstar, said the Camaro’s appearance in Transformers could be good for the entire Chevrolet brand.

“A car like the Camaro is popular with young men, and so is Transformers,” Whiston said in an interview. “It’s always good to get young people’s attention.”

The Camaro is far outside most young Transformers fans’ price range, but Whiston said the Camaro could get them thinking about other Chevrolet cars.

“A young man could see the Camaro in the movie and like it, head to the Chevrolet Web site to look at it … and end up at a Chevy dealer to buy a Cruze -- or whatever he can afford,” he said.

In addition to the Camaro, the Corvette Stingray, Chevrolet Sonic rally car and Chevrolet Trax will also be featured in Transformers: Age of Extinction.

 

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You can reach Nora Naughton at nnaughton@crain.com.


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