There was a time when the Quality Inn in Norwood was buzzing. Guests would check-in and wander next door to Frisch’s for a meal. A number of the people who stayed there were in town visiting or working with Norwood’s largest business, the General Motors plant. After the plant closed in 1987 the hotel began to go downhill until, in 2014, it was ordered closed by a judge because of continuing problems with drugs and prostitution.

Back in August the lot around the Quality Inn came alive as close to 100 cars and at least twice as many people came out to take part in a fundraiser for a documentary film being locally produced (Photo 1).

“So the documentary really started when my father and I decided that we wanted to find out some information about where his ’69 Camaro was made,” says Drew Money, the driving force behind the feature length documentary Norwood: Where Legends Were Born.

The car Money’s father bought was a frost green Camaro Rally Sport with a vinyl top. “It was the first new car he ever bought. He graduated college, got a job, and figured he had earned the right to get himself a new car,” he says. “As a kid growing up I just thought it was the coolest thing. All my friends thought it was cool, I thought it was cool.”

Unfortunately for Money, who today would have loved to have that Camaro, in the mid-1980s his father decided he could not really care for the car anymore and sold it. “I think he’s regretted it ever since,” he adds.

Growing up in Tennessee, Money did not really think much about where his dad’s car was made. But things have an interesting way of working out in life, and so when it was time to head to college Money moved north, to Cincinnati.

“Well as fate would have it I ended up going to the University of Cincinnati. I was 10 years too late though. I came up here in 1997. The plant had been closed for 10 years,” Money explains.

Money and his father knew that the Camaro had been built in Norwood and since he was now living so close he decided to look into the plant’s history. “We really just thought we would try and find out a little about the plant where it was built,” says Money.

So after he graduated from UC, Money started looking around for some of the history of the Norwood plant. He started online and found some people who had written articles and even a couple of books about the plant. Each discovery not only brought new information but also led him down other paths.

“Basically every single thing we found led us to one more person. We’d meet someone who wrote a book on it and they would introduce us to people that they had talked to and then they would introduce us to their friend and then they would introduce us to a place where people met to have breakfast who were people who had worked at the plant,” explains Money. “Every single person said ‘I’ve got something here that I saved that could be of interest to you.’”

As Money and his father began amassing their stockpile of information about the Norwood plant, an idea bloomed. They realized that there were already some published material out there including the excellent book Echos of Norwood by Phil Borris. Reading through all of this material and talking to so many people with history at the Norwood plant they came to a simple realization.

“Once we realized that there were a lot of people who wanted to find this out, we weren’t alone, that’s when we decided to do the documentary. There are a lot of publications that are out there that have to do, not just with the Norwood plant but with the cars that came out of there. But there aren’t any documentaries,” says Money.

Making a documentary was a natural conclusion for Money. In college he studied industrial design and even took some automotive design classes. After graduation he did product design for a while but that was not fulfilling him. Since he loved telling stories, he and a friend started a video production company called 779 Video. They do corporate and commercial work to pay the bills and then, as resources allow, they work on this passion project. Full disclosure here, I am longtime friends with and have worked on numerous productions with several of the people involved with making this documentary.

Over the past four or five years they collected and pieced together information about the plant, but in 2013 they officially kicked off the making of the documentary.

“I guess some people restore cars with their fathers, we’re doing a documentary together,” says Money.

So far they have shot over 25 interviews with former employees. They have also gone after various people who are associated with the cars that came out of the Norwood plant. They even managed to get an interview with Burt Reynolds at the Bandit Run. All of the cars from Smokey and the Bandit came from Norwood.

“Our goal is to tell the history of the plant from the day it opened in 1923 until it closed in 1987. I will tell you though that the emphasis will take place between 1967 and 1987 because that’s when the F body started,” says Money.

For those who do not know, the F body was the Camaro and the Firebird. While the Norwood plant turned out a lot of cars over the years, these two are what the plant was really known for. (Photos 2 and 3)

Money and his team are currently editing and are hoping to have the documentary done by summer 2018. Money estimates that they have shot about 98 percent of everything they need to tell the story. After that it will head to film festivals and then they will try to attract the attention of cable networks that may be interested. Other outlets such as Netflix and Amazon are being considered.

People can follow along with the progress of the documentary on their web site, Norwood Legends. According to Money, the site will have posts about updates in the production as well as clips of interviews and other footage that will appear in the documentary. He also said that sometime in the future they will be taking pre-orders for the completed documentary on DVD.

With the 30 year anniversary of the plant closing coming up they decided to hold the event at the Quality Inn. They got in touch with the owner of the very first Camaro, serial No. 1, (Photo 4) who thought it was a great idea and so in August they held a car show and invited many of the former plant employees along with dozens of great old cars. 

“We feel that what these men and women created at Norwood was really something special and I feel honored to be able to do this,” Money says.

Photo 1

Photo 2

Photo 3

Photo 4