Classic Chevrolets burn to the ground on an HBO film set

Fire at a period-correct 1990 dealership claims classic Corvettes, Camaros, and pickups

As car enthusiasts, we feel a special kind of horror watching other enthusiasts' cars burn to the ground. That's what happened last week to about a dozen 1990-model Chevrolets assembled for an HBO miniseries. The cable channel has adapted Wally Lamb's book This Much I Know is True, part of which takes place in 1990. The production built a period-correct Chevrolet/Pontiac/Oldsmobile/Isuzu dealership in Elmersville, New York with the cars, trucks, and paperwork you'd have found at the time. After a three-alarm fire caught around 12:45 a.m. Thursday morning, nothing was left of the dealership and cars but burnt metal and wood, ashes, and smoke.

Automobile's New York bureau chief Jamie Kitman runs a film-car company aside from his writing duties. The 12 or so cars lost in the fire were part of 27 total classic cars Kitman had provided to HBO, and each car had been provided to Kitman by a loving owner. Among the vehicles lost to the blaze: A yellow, low-mile 1990 Chevrolet Beretta Indy Pace Car edition; a mint C1500 pickup; a 454 SS pickup; several Corvettes and a rainbow-hued row of Camaros in various trims. Kitman said one fellow had even "spent a week putting together genuine Chevrolet loose-leaf binders exactly as they appeared on sales desks in 1990 and '91." Gone. Among the survivors, a Chevy Lumina APV "survived completely unscathed."

The local Shawanguk Journal wrote that the fire is believed to have begun in the showroom building, taking HBO cameras and equipment with it, too. Nobody was injured in the blaze, and Kitman wrote that he doesn't expect any issues reimbursing the owners for their financial losses. But these cars sound like personal treasures you'd find in the average neighbor's garage; no one's keeping a Lumina APV or a yellow Beretta in as-new condition as an investment. Those losses can't be undone.

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