Well, Hot Rod magazine visited the set and got the full skinny on Bumblebee, and it's all very interesting. In a feature named "Flight of the Bumblebee" in Hot Rod's November '06 issue (on newsstands now) , we learn that GM, who had a good working relationship with Michael Bay already, opened up the "skunk works" (Bay's words) to the director, who immediately decided he wanted the new Camaro in the film.
The problem was that there were no new Camaros available to be used for filming. The only two in existence were on the auto show circuit, and of those, only one was a runner (the silver one), and it was in no way prepared to handle the rigors of real stunt driving. For the production, new Camaros would have to be created.
Enter Saleen, who was brought on board to build the cars. Saleen has done this kind of thing before: they created the Shelby Cobra Concepts used in the Ice Cube actioner, XXX: State of the Union. GM decided that the Pontiac GTO would be the best candidate to act as a base vehicle for the film's Camaros, and they provided two of the Pontiacs, all the relevant specifications, as well as two fiberglass Camaro bodies made from the concept car molds. Then, the team from Saleen went to work.
(Keep reading after the jump)
[Source: Hot Rod magazine]
They cut off the GTO's bodywork, reinforced the chassis and built a tube frame around the passenger compartment. They attached the new bodies and pretty much created all the customized Camaro interior and trim pieces from scratch using fiberglass (even the rims and brake discs are fiberglass copies mounted on steel wheels). The end result is that they had a pair of cars that on film look exactly like the concept Camaro, but have the driveability of the production GTO. It took under 45 days for Saleen to complete both cars. .
We love how much trickery and sleight-of-hand went into making Bumblebee. After all, the Transformers tagline is "More than meets the eye."
Go get yourself the November '06 Hot Rod (subscribe) for the full story, including pictures of the build and a great shot of Bumblebee vaporizing his rear tires (sneak peek above) at the behest of writer Randy Lorentzen, who was behind the wheel. That little stunt got Hot Rod booted off the studio lot by a Teamster. We're guessing it was totally worth it.