Autos of Interest: During the time you were at GMC, was there any discussion of any kind of a modern take on the Syclone or any kind of performance vehicle for GMC to capture that end of the market?

Parkinson: There are always discussions about, “where are we,” whether it’s GMC or Chevrolet, as we look at the marketplace. Are there opportunities that we capitalized on the past that we’re not capitalizing on now, that maybe we should? Are there opportunities that are new that we haven’t even thought of in the past that we need to capitalize on? At any given time, if you were to walk into the studio, you’d see sketches and models of ideas that even the marketing teams down in the [GM Renaissance Center] haven’t really talked about. So, that’s one of the roles that we play in Design is to try and stir the pot, if you will. To pose those questions that say, “Hey, what if?” It doesn’t mean that every single one of them makes it beyond that sketch or scale model. Some do and some don’t make it past a full size model but that’s just one of the important roles we play in the development of the brand and product; to offer these ideas. “Have you thought about this?” and “By the way, this is what it could look like.”

Quite often if you just pose the idea in words and say, “Hey, what if we did this?” People can have some very good reasons why to quickly shut that idea down. But when you show them and you can walk them around it, it causes a lot more discussion and hard work to have to really find out, “Can we do that?”

There’s a lot of exciting stuff in GMC and Chevrolet, throughout the whole building. That’s why they have armed guards out front.

Autos of Interest: You mentioned walking through the studio and I was picturing my head exploding about five feet in, from some of the things I’d witness. The same thing I’ve said to the archives guys. On that topic, you’ve been so kind but I’d like to ask one more question.

GM has been so good to me in sharing materials but I have been after — for most of my life — any internal images of the program from the 1980s called GM80, the abandoned front-wheel-drive Camaro/Firebird project. Well, you probably know more about it than I do. To the best of my knowledge, no images have ever been released of it, official or otherwise. I have been poking around trying to get a lead but have turned up empty, often being reminded of GM’s standing rule to not release images of never-produced models.

Parkinson: Ah, yes.

Autos of Interest: I suppose I’m trying to build a case that, maybe, due to its age, there could be an exception. Have you heard of such exceptions?

In a nutshell, do you think I should give up?

Parkinson: I wouldn’t tell anybody to give up hope but I know that I haven’t… when I first started at GM, I saw some images that I think were of that program. I haven’t seen them since. I have no idea where they are or if they even exist still. We’re focused on looking forward and getting everyone, yourself included, the entire media and our customers to help us to understand where we need to go in the future.

We do want to have an appropriate reverence for our history. It’s so strong here at General Motors as a whole but it’s so fun to think about Chevrolet’s past and where we’ve been. When Pam [a Chevrolet representative that graciously facilitated the conversation] walked in I was quickly looking at a YouTube video on how to replace shocks on a 1968 Camaro; I have to do that. We want to understand where we’ve been but we don’t want to dwell on it and we want to really focus the limited energy and resources we have on doing the greatest products we’ve ever done.

I cannot express sufficient gratitude to Ken Parkinson for taking the time to meet with me, Pam Flores for putting it all together, and Chevrolet and General Motors for their continual willingness to assist me.


Afterthought: I get the impression the author is opposed to bowtie variants. However, the author happens to be me and if you got the same impression, though justified, it would be inaccurate. Let me clarify.

Amazingly, I don’t think I mentioned even once to Ken how much I actually like the black bowties. Truth be told, I’d planned to recommend they be used on a “Black Tie” line of cars; possibly a counter to Ford’s “Platinum” line. Actually, I could envision another variant: a resurrected version of the red outline bowtie (smoked red chrome?) for “SS” models. No opposition here, if done orderly.

Regarding the existing mainstream bowtie, the shapes and surfaces are phenomenal but the gold-filling has not been a favorite of mine. I understand the heritage of the gold but that is a polarizing metal/color. It’s also less versatile against a rainbow of paint colors than say a plain or smoked chrome, or brushed aluminum. Personally, I think the “flowtie” is the way to go for the mainstream logo. Very much the same how Buick hollowed the contents out of its domestic badge.

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