<VV> body tag / Pilot - Long post
ral1963 at comcast.net
Mon Jul 5 10:21:39 EDT 2010
Actually Dave knows a lot about this one..he owned it for a while.
Here is a little something he wrote about it and other pilots....
Fisher had plants adjacent to EVERY Chevy, Olds, BOP, Cad etc. CAR assembly
plant. Sometimes they were in separate buildings, connected by a conveyor;
sometimes the buildings were physically attached, and sometimes they were
under the same roof but divided by a wall, as in Van Nuys. In all cases,
though, they were autonomous financially and in management from the car
division (Chevrolet, Buick etc.) "side" of the plant, though they had to
work together intimately. Each body delivered to the car division was bought
from Fisher by the division, if accepted. Any repairs due to Fisher goofs
were charged back to the Fisher side. There were also certain assembly
operations that were done by Fisher for Chevy, and vice versa, but I won't
get into those now.
Fisher was only involved with car bodies. Chevy & GMC truck bodies
were designed and built by Chevrolet. And Fisher didn't do the Corvette
body...again, it was entirely a Chevy body. Also, there was no Fisher Body
in Canada, and no Fisher plant at Oshawa. The Corvairs were built entirely
under one roof. Sure, the cars had Fisher on the sill plate since they were
designed by Fisher, and Fisher liaison engineers spent time in Oshawa, but
the bodies were built by GM of Canada. There are other reasons why their
pilot programs would have been unique, too.
There are so many variables in pilot programs that there are
actually different kinds of pilots. Chevy Mfg & Assembly Research in Flint
had the responsibility for most pilot programs. For major model changes,
like the 65 Impala B Body, the programs were held right there, rather than
in the actual plants that were going to build the car (or truck, as was the
case with Corvair trucks, which were piloted there). Production engineers
from the assembly plants would attend these major pilot activities. These
had nothing to do with assembling the body, other than coordinating assembly
problems with Fisher and taking delivery of pilot bodies from Fisher!
None of those pilot programs produced cars with serials. The cars
were often used for advertising, and the agency guys referred to them as
"Tinkertoy cars" because they were put together and taken apart so many
times. Once they were assembled, they'd be taken apart and "built" again,
over and over, to test the tooling, fixtures etc. Not all agency cars came
from pilot programs, though.
The early Corvair was piloted right at Willow Run, for product
security and to be close to the actual line as it was being developed.
Oakland & Kansas City men were there too, learning. The area was revived in
'64 for the 65 pilot activity. The last 69s were hand built in that area
which was called the "green room".
But for the yearly "facelifts", the pilot work was usually done
right in the various assembly plants, on the actual production line. Even
when the Chevy II was added at WR and Oakland, they worked out the
powertrain installation solutions right there on the line, due to
peculiarities at each plant.
And in those minimal change years, there could easily be "pilots"
with serials. These would have been a different breed of pilots than were
built at Flint, or in the "Green Room". Especially ones marked as "pilots"
by Fisher Body. What Fisher might consider a pilot body might not matter to
the Chevy side of the plant. The Chevy side may still consider those cars to
be pilots or the Chevy's pilot program might already be finished. Remember,
the Fisher side was separate from the Chevrolet side.
Corvair Pilot Cars:
* Thanks to Dave Newell for his help in this article. Without his help and
wealth of information he supplied, this article would have been impossible
Pilot cars were built to test component fit, assembly methods, fixtures,
timed operations etc. They had serial numbers so they could be sold. They
were often put into company service, served as show jobs or PR cars, or be
dolled up as special XP cars at Styling. Others met their fates as test cars
at the Proving Grounds, engineering test cars and as crash test cars. Over
the years, the # of pilot cars as quadrupled due to safety testing. Any
pilot cars used for ad/PR work could be sold because they had serial #s and
weren't involved in testing. Earlier test cars, photo shoot cars and
long-lead press preview cars were hand built at Chevy engineering. Most of
these ad/PR cars were hand-built from prototype parts in one of 2 areas at
Chevy Engineering and none of these cars had serial numbers, and thus had to
be scrapped. Some were fiberglass styling models borrowed from GM Styling
(like the tan 65 Spyder coupe used in publicity & literature, later
retouched into a Corsa). These cars were needed in April or May for photo
shoots and were way ahead of pilot build. In the case of model years like 66
where only detail changes were made, the ad boys didn't need prototypes or
pilots at all. They just borrowed 65s from dealers and had the retouchers do
their thing! Also any GM car, even in the 60s, that was used for testing
(pilot car or not) would have been destined for scrap, because of the
liability, unless an exec could get the car sidetracked (i.e., Charles Lee
So pilot cars were production cars, but often have previous-year parts when
the new items weren't yet available. Which makes them really interesting.
All of the pilot 65 "Corsas" would have been true 65 Spyders. In a minimal
change year such as 66, fewer pilot cars were built. They were run right
through the normal body shop line on the Fisher side, and run down the
regular assembly line on the Chevy side. Often, the first pilot cars are run
in between the last cars of the previous year if there's very little change,
or in the case of 69s, no formal pilots at all. In a major change year,
portions of a mock assembly line are set up off the main line, such as for
the 65 model year, to develop the new assembly methods & fixtures. This is a
true pilot line.
Van Nuys ran their own pilot program, of course. Although not nearly as
extensive as Willow Run's, they had their own unique assembly methods &
sequences to develop. No two plants put cars together in the exact same way,
or in the same order for that matter. The Vair had to be built on the same
line with Impalas in Van Nuys. Also, they had to put the Corvair back into
production, since it had been dormant during 64 when they built Chevelles
PILOT CAR NUMBER #23
PILOT NO 23 E
ST-66 10767 WRN 5 BODY
TR 795 R-1 PAINT
A47 A49 B70 C06 D33 L87 M20 U73
VIN # 107676W100016 T0612RL
Decode of bodytag:
ST = 1966 Corsa Convertible Body = Willow Run 5th Corsa Conv body
TR = White interior Paint = Regal Red / top color = white
Acc code = A47/A49 = Deluxe seatbelts front/rear, B70 = padded dash, C06 =
powertop, D33 = remote mirror, L87 = turbocharged, M20 = 4spd manual
trans,U73 = rear antenna.
(Owner narrative) Owner David Trull
I purchased pilot #23 in Colorado during the summer of 2002. Leo Ford, a
former western division Corsa director was the previous owner and had owned
the car since August of 1975. I also contacted Ted Raines who owned the car
before the previous owner. I found his name on the 1975 title and found him
via the internet. He had the car for several years but did not know anything
about the history of the car. In fact he did not even know it was a pilot
car. He said he had very fond memories of the car. I have no history for the
first six years of the cars life. The title does say it was first registered
on October 11th 1965.
The car is a great example of an unrestored original car. The
drivetrain including engine are original and unmolested. The paint and
interior is also original.
Pilot #23 has alot of options. Pilots were always well option to test
assembly methods. Bodytag listed options include deluxe seatbelts front and
rear, remote mirror, power top, turbocharged, rear antenna, padded dash,
and 4spd transmission. Non-listed options did not require Fisher body
modifications. These include: telescopic wood wheel, and 4 way flasher. An
interesting fact is that the 4spd trans and the padded dash are no longer
listed on regular production 66 model bodytags, and the remote mirror was
offered only as a package in 1966, and this car has only the remote mirror.
The package included both under hood and luggage lamps, and door edge
guards. Pilot #23 doesn't have those three items. No warning labels on the
glovebox door on either Pilot #23 or 27.
A few 65 model years parts were used on Pilot #23. These include: 65 style
thin Convertible sunvisors, and a 65 style Corsa dash paint with thin silver
line around periphery of painted dash.
From: virtualvairs-bounces at corvair.org
[mailto:virtualvairs-bounces at corvair.org] On Behalf Of Matt Nall
Sent: Saturday, July 03, 2010 9:37 AM
To: virtualvairs at corvair.org
Subject: Re: <VV> body tag / Pilot
Can some one please tell me what this means? It is from the body tag on the
Pilot No 23
Early TEST of the Assembly line CARS... very sought after...
BigWave Dave knows all about them!
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