(from General Motors
Press Release) After traveling nearly 10,000 miles,
crossing two continents, ten countries and the Amazon River, an
intrepid band of eight passionate Brazilian adventurers will enter
the United States Oct. 3 driving a group of 40-year-old Chevrolet
trucks. Surviving torrid heat, aboriginal tribes, gasoline thieves,
drug-smuggling checks, intermittent storms and treacherous roads,
all without air conditioning or power steering, the "Old Way
Expedition" is bound for Detroit, Mich. from Manaus, Brazil where it
left Sept. 1.
Organized as part of the celebration of GM's 80th anniversary in
Brazil, the expedition pays homage to the similar epic journeys of
past explorers. But it also has a more wide-ranging symbolism.
"Our journey highlights the importance of the Chevrolet pickup truck
in Brazil's economic development in the last 50 years," said Luiz
Fanfa, the expedition leader and former PR Director, GM do Brasil.
"The restored 1960 Chevrolet Brasil pickup truck we are bringing
will be donated to the GM Heritage Center in Sterling Heights, Mich.
and join the nearly 700-strong historically significant vehicles
that make up the GM Heritage Collection."
Keen students of automobiles will notice that the Chevrolet Brasil
pickup truck carries an outline map of Brazil in the Chevrolet
bowtie logo of the hood to reflect the importance of the vehicle to
Brazil. This is the only Chevrolet ever to be so honored.
The Old Way Expedition's arrival in Michigan will coincide with the
World Forum for Motor Museums being held this year in Detroit, Oct.
10 - 14.
The 8-member expedition will have traveled through Brazil,
Venezuela, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala and
Mexico before entering the United States, having overcome many
trials and tribulations.
The vehicles themselves have proved reliable (one broken electrical
generator and some leaky brake lines) to date, while the Goodyear
Wrangler tires have proved remarkably immune to the extremely rough
and potholed roads.
Some experiences ranked as inconvenient include: having gasoline
stolen overnight from the vehicles prior to the start; running out
of gas twice (once when Venezuelan police only allowed partial
fill-ups at official gas stations). While others have been more
challenging - such as the 70-mile police-escorted crossing of an
aboriginal reserve in the Central Amazonian rain forest: traversing
is only allowed in daylight because of the risk of attack by the
Still others have demanded profound patience. Because of the lack of
roads in ecologically sensitive north-eastern Panama, driving all
the way from South America to Central America is not possible.
Instead the group had always planned for the vehicles to travel by
sea from Baranquilla, Colombia to Panama while the personnel
leapfrogged by air. The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina on the
movement of container ships caused a four-day delay in embarking the
vehicles, compounded by a five-day delay in clearing customs and
anti-drug inspection in Baranquilla.
This delay - plus the devastation caused by Katrina and Rita - has
forced a revised route through the South and Eastern United States
before reaching the Heritage Center.
The expedition is sponsored by General Motors do Brasil, Esso Brasil
(Exxon Mobil group), Goodyear do Brazil, the Museu de Tecnologica da
Ulbra (Ulbra Museum of Technology) and ACDelco.
The 1960 Chevrolet Brasil pickup which Mr. Fanfa is driving from
Brazil was restored by the Ulbra Museum of Technology in Canoas,
Brazil, where he serves as director. Occupying an area of 93,460
square feet, the Museum houses approximately 260 vehicles consisting
of passenger cars, utility vehicles and motorcycles, including rare
and milestone vehicles.
General Motors do Brasil Heritage was consolidated within the Museu
de Tecnologica da Ulbra in 1996, with the purpose of depicting the
importance of industrialization in Brazil and the financial,
technological and social role of the automobile industry as a whole
and that of General Motors do Brasil in particular. To date, its
inventory totals approximately 170 thousand items (such as photo
negatives and slides, prints, videos and text documents) and 72
vehicles, including the first and the last samples of units
manufactured in Brazil. Additionally, concept-vehicles developed by
GM do Brasil Design are also housed there.
The GM Heritage Center features a continuously changing display of
more than 150 of the GM Heritage Collection's nearly 700
historically significant concept and production vehicles from as
early as 1903. Artifacts and archives are displayed along with
automotive design and technology milestones that mirror the
Corporation's excellence in its products and the pride and passion
of its people. The 81,000 square-foot facility in Sterling Heights,
Mich., provides an inspiring environment for business meetings and