Camaro on display in Richland depicts U.S. military history with one-of-a-kind paint job
By Deborah Deasy
Published: Wednesday, July 31, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
A panorama of U.S. military history wraps around General Motors' well-traveled American Pride Camaro.
Never mind the mere 146 miles on the car's odometer.
The 2011 Camaro SS/RS, which has a 400-horsepower, V8 engine and 20-inch wheels, lists the Pentagon among its past destinations, plus air shows, military bases, museums and auto shows across North America.
“It never sits still,” said Scott Settlemire of Grosse Pointe Farms, Mich., manager of special vehicles and special events for General Motors.
An 80-foot tractor-trailer always transports the roving masterpiece of air-brushed illustration.
The colorful car drew nonstop admirers at the Pittsburgh Area Camaro Enthusiasts' annual Camaro-Firebird show on July 20 at Tom Henry Chevrolet in Richland.
“It's beautiful. The detail is incredible,” said Barbara Reuning of Middlesex Township, Butler County. “It's a wonderful tribute to our nation's fight for freedom.”
The American Pride Camaro car is part of the General Motors Heritage Collection.
The late former General Motors President E.M. “Pete” Estes found the Camaro name — meaning “pal” — in a French–English dictionary, according to Settlemire.
“He's the one who picked the name,” Settlemire said. “It was supposed to be called the ‘Pirate.'”
Settlemire, who grew up in Mars, commissioned the American Pride Camaro's unique paint job.
It took 350 hours for airbrush artist Mickey Harris, of Cosby, Tenn., to create the pictorial saga of U.S. military veterans.
“It's all freehand,” Settlemire said about Harris' artistry.
Mountain Muscle Cars, also in Cosby, applied several layers of clear coat paint to protect the car's photo-like images of historical military conflicts and heroes, including Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Jackson, Colin Powell and Norman Schwarzkopf Jr.
Scenes on the car recall the War of 1812, Civil War, Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War and multiple conflicts in the Middle East.
Untold “ghost” eagles can be seen among the car's illustrations of everything from George Washington crossing the Delaware River and Rosie the Riveter to a napalm bomb exploding in Vietnam and gas-masked U.S. troops dressed in Middle East combat fatigues.
Settlemire asked artist Harris to celebrate all U.S. veterans through American Pride Camaro.
Settlemire ordered the car off the assembly line in dark blue, at the artist's request.
“I said, ‘I want you to honor every man and woman who has ever served in our armed services for freedom,'” Settlemire said. “I said, ‘The only ground rule is that I don't want to see a swastika (the Nazi emblem) because there are too many young people that think it's cool and don't realize that six million people died because of it.'
“This is all about freedom,” said Settlemire, 59, son of Elaine Settlemire of Mars and the late Dale Settlemire, former general manager of Tom Henry Chevrolet in Richland.
“Our family goes back in this area for seven generations,” said Settlemire, also brother of the late Richard Settlemire, who served multiple terms as the mayor of Mars.
Scott Settlemire also is a first cousin of Thomas G. Henry, owner of Tom Henry Chevrolet and son of Thomas B. Henry, who founded Tom Henry Chevrolet in 1968.
The cousins each started their GM careers at the Bakerstown dealership.
“We both started out washing cars,” said Settlemire, a 1972 graduate of Mars High School.
Thomas G. Henry is a 1972 graduate of Shaler Area High School.
Deborah Deasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6369 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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