Home » The 1984 Camaro Berlinetta Featured An Incredibly Useless ‘Reminder Spool’ Feature. Here’s How It Worked

The 1984 Camaro Berlinetta Featured An Incredibly Useless ‘Reminder Spool’ Feature. Here’s How It Worked

Hitech Top
ADVERTISEMENT

Camaros have all sorts of cultural connotations and associations, most of them reasonably well-earned. Generally, though, the Camaro has never really been seen as a sort of technological testbed, brimming with all the latest drooling-edge tech. It’s never really needed to be that. And yet once, in the 1980s, there was a Camaro that sort of gave that a try, but did so with some pretty ridiculous – I’d want to say “tech” but the thing I’m thinking of really doesn’t qualify as that. Maybe faux-tech? Whatever you call it, it’s pretty goofy, and it was on the 1984 Chevy Camaro Berlinetta. The only real official-ish name I’ve found for these things are “reminder spools.”

Before we get into these specifically, it’s worth going over why the Camaro Berlinetta would even have something like this. The Berlinetta has always been the sort of sophisticates’ Camaro — a bit more luxurious, a bit more of a GT car than a pony car. Where a mainstream Camaro was engineered to do big, smoky burnouts in a Dairy Queen parking lot, the Berlinetta was engineered to do big, smoky burnouts in front of the valet stand at a golf club or steakhouse. See the difference?

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

For 1984, though, someone decided that the Berlinetta should also be the vanguard of the Camaro’s high-tech aspirations, and the Berlinetta got its own special dashboard complete with digital vacuum-fluorescent displays (VFD), numerical for the speedo and a little cool bar graph setup for the tachometer. This sort of high-tech look and feel was clearly a marketing goal, as seen in commercials like this, where a high-tech woman with the high-tech job of what looks like suspension bridge design is sick of her simulations blinking the word PROBLEM over and over, so she takes to her appropriately high-tech Berlinetta to drive those pesky problems away:

Berlinetta Commercial

Other commercials that showed the Berlinetta and it’s advanced dash tried to tie it into GM’s aerospace work:

ADVERTISEMENT

1984 Gm

The whole instrument cluster layout was actually really clever and advanced for early-’80s standards. Controls were all push-buttons, placed on these cool little pods on either side of the steering column, a lot like an American take on the Citroën “satellite” style of dashboard that I’ve gushed about before.

Adjust Dash

The Berlinetta version was even a bit cooler in that the individual side pods could be slid fore-and-aft to adjust them, and even the radio and fascinating upright-style cassette player were mounted on a swiveling base so the passenger could get easy access, too, which is cool as hell:

Swivel Radio

ADVERTISEMENT

All of that is pretty cool, useful applications of technology and user experience design. GM kept going, adding a ceiling-mounted aircraft-inspired console to the Berlinetta, which included a very airliner-style map light and a little removable flashlight, both of which are pretty handy things.

Flash Maplight

But also in that roof console was another device, one that’s referenced here in the brochure:

Brochure Spools

It took me a while to figure out what those words were, and they seem to be “handy reminder spools.” What the hell is a “reminder spool?” You can see them in action – along with most of the other dash and interior elements – here in this video (if you don’t care about the cool dash, you can skip to 20:30):

ADVERTISEMENT

Starship Camaro

So, these seem to be some sort of thumbwheel-controlled…reminders? Honestly, what I think they really are is the absolute cheapest way GM could stick in something that resembled high-tech controls of some sort without having to incorporate anything more advanced than one of those old executive desk calendar things.

Spools1

I mean, what are you supposed to do with these things? There’s two of them, one with four digits, one with five. The top label roller seems to have options for ARRIVE/DEPART, MEDICAL, RECREATION, CELEBRATION, DURATION, and the lower one has TRIP, RANGE, DISTANCE, SERVICE, ENGINE, CHASSIS, MILES, KILOMETERS. Maybe I missed one or two, but you get the idea.

For the SERVICE or ENGINE or CHASSIS one I guess you could put the mileage in of your last oil change or filter change or some upcoming maintenance, or something like that? I guess that’s kind of handy? For TRIP or DISTANCE, what are you supposed to do with that? Increment the mileage manually as the odometer clicks off miles? Or subtract miles manually from a final estimated odometer reading?

ADVERTISEMENT

Spools2

And I guess the upper one was to store a single date, like an anniversary or birthday or something? But what the hell is MEDICAL for? It’s too short for a phone number. Is it days until your next planned stroke? And RECREATION? The hell are you going to do with that and four digits?

I can’t imagine anyone actually using these more than, say, once? Maybe someone would thumb those little wheels to CELEBRATION and then put their kid’s birthday in there? Or would they just end up getting their oil changed when the kid was having their party? Were there actually owners painstakingly rolling out a DEPART time on these things, then re-rolling it all to the ARRIVE time when they left? For some reason?

These are some deeply goofy things, almost like the equivalent of toddler toy machines that have satisfying-feeling controls that do little more than flip a picture of a duck into a picture of a sun, or something like that. But this is on the most sophisticated Camaro you’d be paying about $11,000 for (about $32,000 today).

This has to be the most useless and goofy feature ever to be stuck into the inside of a Camaro. Maybe that’s why I want one so bad.

ADVERTISEMENT

 

Relatedbar

 

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Subscribe
Notify of
75 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Taxi maniac
Taxi maniac
11 months ago

In 1998 I had a 92 rs 305 tbi automatic with leaky t tops. It was a pretty sad v8. How could a 305 be so much crappier then a ford 302??? TBI i think is the answer to that question.

Then i got to view a well preserved garage kept berlinetta that my buddies dad had been ‘hanging onto’ for only god knows why.

He lived with his dad and his dad had a kegerator so it was a fun spot for us to all hang out if you can imagine it all. If you got a kegarator and your wife left you, why not keep a berlinetta perserved in the garage in suburban pennsylvania is the answer.

I was so confused by the berlinetta…. ‘is this dinosaur some kind of cool z28?…. nope… its all tricked out… yet it appears to be even more of a dog then my pathetic 92 rs…. wtf mate…. why did GM make all these garbage versions of the f-body. Why didn’t i buy an IROC without t-tops like my ex gf’s father who was an inteligent electrical engineer’

LuzifersLicht
LuzifersLicht
11 months ago

RECREATION 1230 – oh shit! I was supposed to do a donut in front of the golf club in half an hour!

Jakob K's Garage
Jakob K's Garage
11 months ago

ONE of these is useful for setting it to the mileage of when you last tanked, if your car hasn’t got a trip meter and the fuel gauge is untrustworthy, like in many old cars. So you can figure out for yourself when it’s going to run dry.

But TWO, that doesn’t make sense. But they look cool. A bit like the code dials in the B-52 in Dr Strangelove, speaking of planes.

I have one of the old magnetic auto store ones on my old BMW motorcycle, as it hasn’t got any fuel gauge, so I can usually fill it up again before it does that annoying stalling thing, where you have to turn fuel petcocks to the reserve setting while driving.

FullyQualifiedAmateur
FullyQualifiedAmateur
11 months ago

When you last tanked? I’d be really surprised if you’re not Swedish 🙂

Jakob K's Garage
Jakob K's Garage
11 months ago

Close.. Bought my BMW, Mercedes, VW and Porsche in Sweden though 😉

Phuzz
Phuzz
11 months ago

Sidenote, when Dr Strangelove was made, the interior of the B-52 was still classified. The model they filmed in was so accurate, the USAF wondered if someone from the set builders had somehow snuck into an airbase and taken pictures.

Bob Tenney
Bob Tenney
11 months ago

When I was in high school, my parent’s ’59 Beetle had no gas gauge, so we kept a notebook in the glove box to keep track of mileage. But an 80’s Camera is supposed to be more advanced than a 50’s VW, dammit.

Last edited 11 months ago by Bob Tenney
Marlin May
Marlin May
11 months ago
Reply to  Bob Tenney

I wonder how many people look at your username and just see “Ranger?”

PajeroPilot
PajeroPilot
11 months ago

A mate of mine had an 80’s Celica Supra – a quintessentially 80’s thing. It had a little thumbwheel controlled counter just like this for tracking service intervals. When he got the car it was set to zero and he explained to me “I’m gonna use it to count how many roots I get in this car.” I don’t think he ever scrolled it past zero.

Shane
Shane
11 months ago
Reply to  PajeroPilot

Are you going translate the word “roots” from Australian for these fine folks? LOL

Last edited 11 months ago by Shane
PajeroPilot
PajeroPilot
11 months ago
Reply to  Shane

It could be confusing. Are we talking about how many times the car was rooted (often)? Or how many times its owner was (unconfirmed)?

Boulevard_Yachtsman
Boulevard_Yachtsman
11 months ago

This was the 80’s. These were on a Camaro. The first dial was permanently set to “Recreation” followed by 0690. The second was set to “Service” and dialed to 80085.

Last edited 11 months ago by Boulevard_Yachtsman
Chronometric
Chronometric
11 months ago

My engineer father had thin little plastic devices with 5 digits in all his cars. When he changed the oil he would dial in the mileage of the next change as a reminder. The reminder spool was always in view so he never missed his maintenance interval. I’m sure that all Camaro owners were just as fastidious!

Sc00t3r
Sc00t3r
11 months ago

My brother had a mid 80s Camaro, and I’ve seen fireflies brighter than the built in flashlight.

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
11 months ago

My god American car commercials are TERRIBLE.

Ottomottopean
Ottomottopean
11 months ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

Well at least the cars aren’t…
Nevermind.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
11 months ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

Were yours any better?

Zeppelopod
Zeppelopod
11 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

“British Leyland: Accept your station, peasantry.”

XXLTall
XXLTall
11 months ago

I knew someone who had the truly modern and fast version with an Iron Duke.

Jonathan Hendry
Jonathan Hendry
11 months ago

You should 3D print a replica and turn it into a badge you can wear around clipped to your shirt.

I do think it would be handy for recording the mileage for your next oil change, especially back in the day when everyone didn’t have a supercomputer in their pocket.

Last edited 11 months ago by Jonathan Hendry
Anders
Anders
11 months ago

Wow, the radio ❤️ … Looks like GM’s take on the glorious Blaupunkt «gooseneck» stereo.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
11 months ago

I wonder how many people died trying to set their spools while in motion.

45-Minute Truckin'
45-Minute Truckin'
11 months ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

This made me laugh harder than it perhaps should have. Now people in my office are looking at me strangely. If only they knew what I was laughing about.

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
11 months ago

Now if only I could remember to check the reminder spool.

YetAnotherVariant
YetAnotherVariant
11 months ago

I came of driving age right as these were hitting the used car market. Always loved the look of the Berlinetta.

Every single one of the  “radio and fascinating upright-style cassette player were mounted on a swiveling base so the passenger could get easy access, too” were broken off the swiveling base by high school drivers and passengers fighting over the controls. Every single one.

Squirrelmaster
Squirrelmaster
11 months ago

I was actually thinking the same exact thing – I only ever saw what the radios were supposed to look like in pictures, because every one I saw in the wild was broken off at the swivel base.

The Berlinetta also suffered from lackluster styling compared to the Z28, so the lack of desirability meant most led a rough life after the second or third owner. I’ve owned multiple F-bodies, and that isn’t a model I’ve wanted.

Racecar_Steve
Racecar_Steve
11 months ago

Yes! Someone is finally mentioning this stuff- specifically the “Reminder Spool”.

I have an ’87 Z-28, and while it doesn’t have all the Berlinetta’s tech pods, it does have the overhead console with the reminder spool. I always thought this was so bizarre, especially considering GM couldn’t even give third gen owners cupholders, or even a glove box (the firebirds at least had this little pouch thing where the glovebox should be, but the Camaro got a big glorious blank piece of plastic).

Also- the correct answer for what you set the spools to is “Celebration” for the top one, and “Total” for the bottom one, then any numbers of your choosing. Any time that car doesn’t leave me on the side of the road, it is indeed a “Total Celebration”

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
11 months ago

My older sister had a boyfriend who had a Berlinetta. I remember seeing that feature in his car, and while he did insist that being a Berlinetta somehow made his car special, he was quite dismissive of that particular part.

Scott Leclerc
Scott Leclerc
11 months ago

Ah yes, the summer of ’84 (and’85)… I worked the lot at the local Chevy dealer where the Camaros were aplenty.. and every single Berlinetta had to be jumped started if it sat for more than a week….

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
11 months ago

“Berlinetta” was GM’s defense when Beretta Arms sued it in the ’80s for the Chevy Beretta name

It claimed no, its Beretta wasn’t appropriating the gun company’s name but rather inspired by Berlinetta and other GM trade names all mixed together. They eventually settled I think.

Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
11 months ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

Mercury- Ford car, outboard boat motor, or defense contractor?

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
11 months ago

The Coneheads was on this weekend, and I’d forgotten all about Dan Ackroyd’s recitation of the provenance of Beldar’s driver’s ed car, the Ford Lincoln Mercury Sable. Plus it was shown with the front light bar full operational!

Data
Data
11 months ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

A personal conveyance named after its inventor, an assassinated ruler, a character from Greco-Roman myth and a small furry mammal.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
11 months ago

Roman god.

MAX FRESH OFF
MAX FRESH OFF
11 months ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

Group 12 element.

Thx1138
Thx1138
11 months ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

The settlement was Beretta got a car and GM got a shotgun (officially). The actual payment from GM to Beretta was never disclosed that I knew. I remember seeing the announcement in the Washington Post or Southern Maryland news. The shotgun I am sure is in some trophy case in full working order. The Chevy Beretta, well the handles make great beer taps!

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
11 months ago
Reply to  Thx1138

Ah thanks – I always wondered!

I was always impressed that for the life of my Beretta, those handles never broke, even after the ice and snow of multiple winters.

Last edited 11 months ago by Jack Trade
SK2807
SK2807
11 months ago
Reply to  Thx1138

Two guns from Beretta for a car and a donation to some Beretta charity was the deal, and there was some sort of ceremonial handover apparently.

Should’ve just called it Berlinetta all along and upset the Ferrari purists.

Data
Data
11 months ago

And Pontiac thought they were driving excitement.

Chris D
Chris D
11 months ago
Reply to  Data

What that really referred to was the excitement that the folks at Pontiac would feel when someone purchased one and managed to successfully drive it away from the dealer’s lot.

Duke of Kent
Duke of Kent
11 months ago

Some airliners have something similar on the control yokes.

The official use is to have the flight number easily accessible, but a pilot friend of mine once joked that they were there for the pilot and first officer to log their guesses of the weight of the flight attendants.

Chewcudda
Chewcudda
11 months ago

My hazy childhood memory tells me there was a Berlinetta commercial that kept using the word “pulse”.

NosrednaNod
NosrednaNod
11 months ago
Reply to  Chewcudda

Ask and you shall receive https://youtu.be/Oij2DlcXWa0

NosrednaNod
NosrednaNod
11 months ago

One of the things I did during the pandemic to entertain myself was to occasionally edit Wikipedia pages. My submission for the “in pop-culture“ section of Wikipedia Chevrolet Camaro referencing the dead milkmen was deleted.

Last edited 11 months ago by NosrednaNod
10001010
10001010
11 months ago
Reply to  NosrednaNod

Why would anyone delete the Bitchin Camaro?

Jason Roth
Jason Roth
11 months ago
Reply to  10001010

Somebody who was sick of having donuts done on their lawn.

Highland Green Miata
Highland Green Miata
11 months ago
Reply to  Jason Roth

Tony Orlando and Dawnn

Scott Finkeldei
Scott Finkeldei
11 months ago
Reply to  10001010

Yeah, and his dad’s the mayor I heard

NosrednaNod
NosrednaNod
11 months ago
Reply to  10001010

Because it is Wikipedia, all the edits are still there! From April of 2020:

“Per WP:CARTRIVIA, mention of pop-culture references should be strictly limited to cases where the fact of that reference influenced the sales, design, or other tangible aspect of the vehicle”

NosrednaNod
NosrednaNod
11 months ago
Reply to  NosrednaNod

To be clear, The song has an entry… just linking that entry to the Car entry is seemingly a bridge too far.

Icouldntfindaclevername
Icouldntfindaclevername
11 months ago

My Mom bought this car and had it for a couple days until my Dad took it back and got the less expensive RS model LOL

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
11 months ago

I forgot they made these! Also brought back a very distint memory of a C&D article from 1997 inlvolving an old GTI vs. and old RX& vs. the Camaro Berlinetta.

https://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/comparison-test/a15128401/battle-of-the-beaters-archived-comparison/

Josh Turner
Josh Turner
11 months ago

Fingertip chronometers is a fantastic name for these

J G
J G
11 months ago

Oh man I remember that article! Read it while onboard a submarine out in the pacific. I was mad (and still am) they trashed that RX.

FuzzyPlushroom
FuzzyPlushroom
11 months ago

But what the hell is MEDICAL for? It’s too short for a phone number. Is it days until your next planned stroke? And RECREATION? The hell are you going to do with that and four digits?

Time, I suppose, but then you still have to remember which day your appointment’s on.

Eggsalad
Eggsalad
11 months ago
Reply to  FuzzyPlushroom

Um, it’s 4 digits, so if your proctologist exam is on October 10th, you set it for 10/10

Nic Periton
Nic Periton
11 months ago
Reply to  Eggsalad

At 10 past 10, or for the those who think in black and white, your medical is 10.
Mine is 96.3.

FuzzyPlushroom
FuzzyPlushroom
11 months ago
Reply to  Eggsalad

That works too, as long as you then remember the time instead.

(Edit: Or, of course, set it to 01010 Kilometers o’Clock for 10 past 10.)

Last edited 11 months ago by FuzzyPlushroom
75
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x