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CRG Research Report

Camaro Foreign Assembly Plants

© 2010-2013, Camaro Research Group

Author -
Reviewed by the CRG
Last Edit: 26-Nov-2013
Previous Edits: 22-Sep-2010, 10-Nov-2010, 24-Aug-2013
Original Release: 11-Mar-2010

1967 Yutivo Camaro - restored
1967 Yutivo Camaro
  1. Introduction
  2. Exports of SUP's
  3. Manila, Philippines Plant
  4. Antwerp, Belgium Plant
  5. Bienne, Switzerland Plant
  6. Caracas, Venuzuela Plant
  7. Lima, Peru Plant
 

Introduction

Almost all of the 1967-69 Camaros were built in one of the two U.S. assembly plants. About 75% of the U.S.-assembled cars were built at the Norwood, Ohio factory (near Cincinnati) and the balance came from the Van Nuys, California assembly plant near Los Angeles. Unbenownst to most people, there were at least five other Camaro assembly plants. These assembly plants were constructed in countries that required local assembly and content (either as outright requirements or due to high import taxes).

Camaros were assembled at these five overseas factories: the Yutivo factory in Manila, Philippines (the subject of a CRG research article); GM Continental in Antwerp, Belgium; GM Suisse in Bienne, Switzerland; GM de Venezolana in Caracas, Venezuela; and GM del Peru in Lima, Peru. GM had other plants in various markets throughout the world that also built U.S.-designed vehicles, including Australia and Argentina, but they didn't build Camaros. All of these non-U.S. plants and the export activities were managed by GMOO (GM Overseas Operations) and GMODC (GM Overseas Distribution Corporation). We would be interested in talking to anyone who worked for either of these GM groups or who owns a foreign assembled or homologated car. Please contact us via email or via a post on the CRG forum.

The published Camaro production totals differ from the production totals from the Norwood and Los Angeles plants. The variance is 1200 units in 1967 and 1248 units in 1968. The 1969 totals match. It is not known if the unaccounted cars in the production totals were from the production of the foreign plants, but the numbers appear to be close to the approximate production of the foreign plants in 67 and 68. (It's obvious that for at least 69, that is not true since since known foreign production added to known domestic production totals is more than the published 1969 production total of 243,085 units.)  

Production Process

All of the non-U.S. factories assembled Camaros from "completely knocked down" (CKD) kits. Parts and subassemblies for CKD export units were shipped to a central collection point (called a "boxing plant"), consolidated into kits, then packed into containers for shipment overseas to small GM joint-venture and contractor-operated assembly operations. The boxing plant was located in Bloomfield, NJ and was managed by GM Overseas Operations. With twenty-four cars in the typical export car order (XCO) and generally six CKD kits to a container, that meant four containers were required per XCO.

As the name implies, CKD cars had bodies that needed to be assembled from individual sheetmetal stampings. Major body sub-assemblies (floorpan, LH/RH side panels, front and rear ends) were built by the plant, and then those were finally joined together in a master jig. Engines, transmissions, and axles were shipped from the U.S. or Canada as complete assemblies. Tires, glass, batteries, and interior parts were often locally sourced. A more complete description of the CKD assembly process can be found in the Yutivo report.  

Exports of SUP's

Driving light added to a 1967 Camaro prior to sale in France
The Norwood plant built all assembled Camaros, known as "Single-Unit Pack" or SUPs, that were exported. These SUP's were models sent to countries that did not have an assembly plant or that the local assembly plants did not build, e.g. convertibles or SS models. Exports to Canada went directly via rail and truck. The non-Canadian export units were rail-shipped to "Mortensen's Warehouse" (a contractor to Chevrolet) at the Port of Baltimore, who handled export preparations (wax and oil spray, etc.) and loaded them on ships. When cars were exported as SUP's, they had U.S. VINs and trim tags. Upon importation to the destination country, the cars were then modified to meet local requirements as needed, e.g. seatbelts, driving lights, mirrors, etc. and often had a homologation tag attached to the firewall.

Some CKD cars were exported to nearby contries - for example, Antwerp sent cars to Germany. But most countries without a CKD plant imported most/all of their Camaros from the U.S. GM International in Copenhagen imported cars into Denmark. Despite having a CKD plant in a neighboring country, both Chile and France imported cars from the U.S. Over 200 cars were imported into Sweden whereas only a few were imported into Japan. GM Limited imported cars for the U.K. market, though it's not known if they were only from the US or also from Antwerp. There were no 67-69 Camaros exported by GM to Australia (due to the right-hand drive requirements), but a few were imported and converted by private companies.

A total of 4991 Camaros were exported to countries other than Canada in 67. Unfortunately, there are no export totals for 68 or 69.

An export Camaro can normally be identified via the trim tag.
- Most (but not all) 1967's that were exported will have a 5O stamped in the option field on the bottom of the trim tag, denoting seatbelt delete. Seatbelts that met local requirements were installed when the cars were homologated.
- 1968 export cars used the earlier 'Magic Mirror' style trim tag (see the 1968 Caracas tag below).
- 1969 export cars used a standard 1969 trim tag, but without the conformance statement stamped on the bottom of the tag (see the 1969 Caracas tag below)

 

Manila, Philippines

The Yutivo plant in Manila, Philippines was a franchised assembler of GM vehicles since 1953. (Unlike other foreign operations, the plant was not a GM subsidiary - GM did not own nor operate the plant.) Camaros were assembled there from 1967 to 1969. All Yutivo cars had L22/155 hp 6-cylinder engines and the choice of either 3-speed manual or 2-speed automatic transmission. They also had tinted glass, clocks, and consoles. It was believed the cars had power steering and were Rally Sports, but several have been found with manual steering and several 67's have had style trim but have not been RS's. Other options were available via installation by the dealer. The exact production quantities are unknown, but from management-supplied information confirmed by VIN's found to date, production was between 100 and 300 cars per year, probably closer to the lower number. For more information about the plant, see the Yutivo plant article.

Yutivo used a ID tag attached to the passenger-side cowl that contained the VIN and the interior and exterior colors. The VIN format was a modified U.S.-format VIN with 14 digits instead of the normal 13 digits. Looking at the example below, "12337" is the style code for a Chevrolet Camaro 6-cylinder coupe. The "9" that follows represents the model year, 1969. The plant code was "Y" for Yutivo (note that Y was also used by GM for the Wilmington, DE assembly plant). The next 6 numbers "184019" were the Export Car Order (XCO) number followed by a letter. The XCO numbers started at 150000 in 67, 120000 in 68, and 184000 in 69. The letters A-Z (excluding I and O) indicated the unit number in the XCO. So there would be a 123379N184019A and a 123379N184019B, etc. Note that the other carlines that Yutivo made also used XCO numbers (i.e. XCO 184018 probably is a non-Camaro XCO).

The paint code format varied from year to year. The 67 codes were 5-6 digits, but their meaning is unknown. The 68 paint codes appear to be a DuPont paint formula, but they have not been cross-referenceable to a paint color. The 69 paint codes were three digits. Some codes may match the U.S window sticker RPO color codes, e.g. 917, but the meaning of other codes, e.g. 906, is unknown.

The interior trim codes were the same as the U.S. interior codes except that in 67, it did not include the suffix for the headrest / seat type.

1969 Yutivo Trim Tag
Yutivo Trim Tag
 

Antwerp, Belgium

Production in Antwerp has a long history, going back to 1925 when it assembled Chevrolets primarily for the Belgian, the Netherlands, and German markets under the name General Motors Continental. The factory was destroyed in WWII and new facilities were constructed in 1953 and expanded in 1967. The plant assembled 1967 and 1968 Camaros from CKD kits. Total CKD Chevrolet production in 67 was 1497 and 1139 in 68. Unfortunately the production quantities are not broken down by model, so the number of Camaros in that total are unknown. At the end of the 1968 model year, Chevrolet production ceased at Antwerp and the 69's were imported.

The powertrain options on the Antwerp-built cars included either the L26/140 hp L6 engine or the LF7 327/210 hp engine and either a Powerglide automatic or a manual 4-speed transmission. Cars were well-optioned; possible options included power disc brakes, power steering, console, rear defroster, fold-down rear seat, gauges, and deluxe interior.

1967 German Homologation Tag
German Homologation Tag
 
Factory Installed Camaro Sunroof
 
Factory Sunroof
The plant also homologated U.S.-produced 67-69 Camaros for the European market by adding marker lights, Euro-spec seatbelts, and other European requirements / features. 1967 cars that were homologated also received an Antwerp tag with an Antwerp VIN. On at least one car, the Norwood VIN was still attached, so the car had two VIN's! On other cars, it appears the Norwood VIN was removed. This is still an area of research, but Antwerp did not homologate many Camaros in 67, so there is little data. On 68 or 69 cars that were homologated, the Antwerp data tag was added, with the U.S. VIN on it. Antwerp would also attach a German homologation tag to the firewall if the car was intended for sale in Germany.

One of the most unique features installed by the Antwerp plant was sunroofs. Sunroofs were made by a German supplier and were optionally installed on both Antwerp-assembled vehicles and imported vehicles. When the sunroof was added to imported SUP's, a vinyl top was also installed (to hide distortions in the roof panel).

VIN's for the Antwerp cars were based on the U.S. VIN format with three notable differences.

Examples of typical Antwerp VIN's would be 12537GX100123 or 12437HX101121.

The General Motors Continental Antwerp tag was mounted on the passenger-side of the cowl. The 1967 tag was stamped with the following information:
Line 1: Make and model.
Line 2: Engine No., which was the engine code and an 4-digit engine number (not related to the VIN) that the plant generated and also stamped on the engine pad, and the model number (e.g. 12537, which used the original Camaro series designation).
Line 3: Chassis No., aka the VIN.
Line 4: Release number and the exterior color code. The Release number was an internal tracking number for the unit that may have been a reference to the XCO number. The paint code generally used Opel paint color codes.
Line 5 was the interior trim code, which was the same as the U.S. interior codes except that it did not include the suffix for the headrest / seat type. The weight fields (GVW and PVA) were not filled in.

1967 Antwerp Trim Tag
Antwerp Trim Tag

The tag changed in 1968. The tag now had recessed fields where the information was typed. The same information was on the tag (though in different locations) with the notable exception of the removal of the Engine No. field.

1968 Antwerp Trim Tag
Antwerp Trim Tag
 

Bienne, Switzerland

GM Suisse Grille Emblem
 
Swiss Grille Emblem
The General Motors Suisse SA plant was located in Bienne (the town is called Bienne in French and Biel in German) in western Switzerland. It produced Chevrolets, Vauxhalls, and Opels. The plant also homologated SUP's. It ceased production of Camaros and other Chevrolet models after 1968. Total Chevrolet production was 511 in 1967 and 343 in 1968, mostly for the Swiss market. Unfortunately the production quantities are not broken down by model, but by the VIN's observed so far, there were just over 200 67 Camaros made. We don't have much data on 68 Swiss Camaros, but there were at least 80 produced.

Cars that were assembled by the Bienne plant received a unique emblem on the grille representing the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau peaks and bearing the words "General Motors Montage Suisse" - Montage Suisse meaning "Made In Switzerland". Emblems on homologated cars had "General Motors Suisse SA Bienne" on them, since the cars weren't made in Switzerland.

1967 Swiss Homologation Document BT5776
Swiss Homologation Document

Swiss Camaros were unique in that they were the only production application of the 283 cu. in. V8 engine in any Camaro. This was done for tax reasons (the tax was based on engine displacement). The 230 cu. in. L6 and the 283 V8 was used in 1967 models. The 1968 models used the 327/210 hp engine and presumably the L6 too, but no 1968 L6 Swiss cars have been found so far. The transmission choice was either a Powerglide automatic or a manual 4-speed. Most cars had several options such as power windows, rear defroster, console, power disc brakes, power steering, and deluxe interior.

The Swiss plant took the most liberties of any plant with the VIN. The format was S9-YY5xxx where YY was the year, 67 or 68. 5 was the code for Camaro (also used on U.S. window stickers). xxx was the consecutive serial number. The VIN on the tag below is S9-675199. The VIN was attached to the dash and also was stamped on the cowl tag.

The cowl tag four lines of information:
Line 1: Make and road homologation document. The homologation document (called a type certificate by the Swiss) confirms that the model is in compliance with Swiss traffic laws. This document will be on-file with the Swiss authorities and an example is shown to the right.
Line 2: Model and model number, release number. Like the Antwerp cars, this is an internal tracking number. It appears to be the XCO number and the unit number in the XCO.
Line 3: Motor code and exterior color. The motor code is the engine suffix stamped on the engine pad. The exterior color codes use an X and then a 3-digit number. The meaning of the color code is undetermined.
Line 4: Chassis number (VIN) and interior trim. The interior trim code also uses an unknown code format. It is in the form of XJ and then a 3-digit number.

1967 Swiss Trim Tag
Swiss Trim Tag

 

Caracas, Venezuela

This South American plant was located at La Yaguara in Caracas, Venezuela and started production in 1948. They produced Camaros and Novas in 1968 and 1969 and also produced Malibus (starting about 1969), full-size cars, and pickups. From the VIN's observed, it appears that the total plant production was between 10,000 and 13,000 annually. There is no breakdown of how many Camaros were built.

The 68 Camaros used the L30 (327/275hp) engine while the 69's use the LM1 350 or the L65 350. The cars were pretty well optioned with Rally Sport, power steering, power brakes, console, clock, and HD radiator. There was a choice between automatic and 4-speed manual transmissions. It's believed the cars with automatics also had AC and power windows. Color combinations were apparently somewhat limited - dark blue with blue standard interior and white with red standard interior were the most common ones.

The VIN was stamped on a plate attached to the dash in the normal location. The format used the U.S. VIN format but with the year indicated by a letter: H = 1968, J=1969. The plant code was C for Caracas (note that C was also used for the Southgate, CA assembly plant).

One late-69 Caracas car has been found with a K (K = 1970) VIN. This would indicate that the plant was notified that the 1969 body style was going to be used for 1970, but that plan changed. 1969 production was instead extended for 4 months.

The firewall tag used a U.S. trim tag. In 68, the tag was the earlier "Magic Mirror" design (also used on 68 export cars) that did not have the U.S. conformance statement on it. In 69, the tag was the normal 69 tag, but without the U.S. conformance statement stamped on it. The firewall tag was stamped with the VIN (unlike U.S. cars) and the interior and exterior color codes. Whereas the interior codes used the normal U.S. format, the exterior color codes used several different formats with six, eight, or nine digits. Some resemble DuPont paint codes, but only one observed code matches a known DuPont code.

1968 Caracas Trim Tag
Caracas Trim Tag
1969 Caracas Trim Tag
Caracas Trim Tag
 

Lima, Peru

General Motors del Peru S.A. operated an assembly plant in Lima, Peru that was first opened in 1945. A new plant was constructed in Lima in 1965 and it built most of the Chevrolet car and truck models. Camaros were built there in at least 1967 and 1968. Information about this plant is limited. The plant was closed in 1970.

The Peruvian Camaros apparently did not have a trim tag, only the VIN tag. The VIN used the U.S. VIN format but with the year indicated by a letter: H = 1968. The plant code was P for Peru. There were only 5 digits in the consecutive serial number after the plant code instead of the normal 6 digits. An example of a VIN would 12437HP11111.

 

Acknowledgements

I wish to thank the numerous people who supplied information used in researching and writing this report.
Of notable mention:
Santiago Montenegro for his research of the Caracas plant.
Claus Nielsen for his research of the Yutivo cars.
Jan Suhr for his research on the Antwerp cars.
Alex Beeler for his research on the Swiss cars and documentation.
David Hayward and his GM Worldwide information page.
James Hurt's export Corvette research.

 



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