June luncheon … 
The legend lives, Chevy Camaro is back!
By Juan Robbin- Photos by  Juan Robbin, Ron Beasley, Pepe Delfino & Marlene Bedoya.

The June 2009 SAMA luncheon, graciously sponsored by General Motors, was held at the Rusty Pelican restaurant and the all-new Chevrolet Camaro was the star attraction.

SAMA President Ron Beasley headed up the pre-lunch announcements, which included a rundown of upcoming events. He reminded us of the upcoming South Florida International Auto Show dates, Oct. 23-Nov. 1. Then Prestige Auto Specialists President Marcello Serrato revealed the long awaited news that Jaguar is planning a national reveal of the new XJ at the Miami auto show. Additionally, Serrato reported that Jaguar’s longtime communications representative, the beloved Ree Hartwell, who has been recuperating from multiple surgeries, is planning to be in Miami for the important unveiling of the new XJ. 

SAMA members, please make plans not only to attend the show, but also to be present at the third annual SAMA kick-off breakfast for the auto show on the morning of Oct. 23. Be sure and mark your calendars to attend. 

Ron also reminded members to read the bylaws that vice president Paul Borden recently emailed to everyone for their review and comments. The July 2009 meeting will be used to finalize the bylaws and officially ratify them within SAMA. 
Speaking of Paul, he was not in attendance as he was enjoying a well-deserved vacation, as was treasurer Bill Adam. Secretary Jaime Florez also was not present because of an urgent personal matter.

A total of 47 members and guests enjoyed a delicious salmon and steak lunch, followed by a presentation from GM’s Luciano Nakamura, the dynamic Japanese/Brazilian engineer and lead exterior designer on the strikingly beautiful new Chevrolet Camaro. Also in attendance from GM were Southeast Region Communications Director Araba Dowell, Odie McKinley, Alex Vitale and GM Zone Manager Carlos Latour. Thank you GM for a great event!

Mr. Nakamura did a great job of describing the development of the Camaro in spite of some computer-related audio visual challenges, giving us some insight into how GM’s version of just how the new Pony Car evolved. Based on the Zeta platform, the Camaro took form in GM’s top secret “Studio X” located in an undisclosed location on the GM campus (I wonder if this is the same place where they kept Dick Cheney).

Nakamura gave us some valuable insight into his inspiration for the project. As it turns out, he looked towards the Corvette, the F22 Raptor fighter jet and the 1969 Camaro for inspiration and ideas for the new design. He was proud to be able to stay very true to the original concept car’s look with the final production version. He says the wheels and stance and retro-inspired squared-oval gauges and instruments will get the thumbs up from all Camaro connoisseurs. 

Marcello, Angelo and Tony Serrato from Prestige Auto Specialists and their whiz-bang staff did their usual fantastic job of staging the Camaros in a full palette of color in the parking lot in front of the Rusty Pelican Restaurant for SAMA members to photograph and take on a short ride and drive along Rickenbacker Causeway and Key Biscayne. The GM contingent was gracious enough to spend time with SAMA members after the luncheon and pose for photography and make themselves available for individual interviews. 

A special thank you goes to Alex Vitale from GM. Times are tough in the auto industry these days and I am sure it took a lot of work for him to make this event happen. Thank you Alex, and thank you GM.
Until next month, stay cool and dry in the South Florida heat! 

Click on pictures to enlarge