Gunners Garage

The Folks Who Were There

I was just doing some writing about Pontiac GTOs and used two great books for research. Both of these books were written by men who were there in the 1960s when GTO history was evolving. The first man is Jim Wangers, who I met for the first time in the mid ’70s. Jim worked for Pontiac’s ad agency. His book Glory Days: When Horsepower and Passion Ruled Detroit gives a remarkable insider’s look at the history of many high-performance Pontiacs and the people who brought the cars to market. The second man is Milt Schornack, who I met about six years ago following a Pontiac show in Michigan. Milt worked for Ace Wilson’s Royal Pontiac, a high-performance dealership with direct links to the factory. His book Milt Schornack and the Royal Bobcat GTOs is certainly must reading for enthusiasts.

Using these books made me wonder how many other men and women there are who were an important part of automotive history who haven’t written books? Wouldn’t it be great if publishers would seek them out and sign them up for books?

Years ago I had a chance to interview Ben Annibal, the man who was chief engineer for the first Pontiac of 1926. I was a young writer and I dragged my feet on getting the interview done and by the time I worked up my courage, Mr, Annibal had passed away. Now, I regret missing that opportunity and I hope that the younger writers who are doing research today will look up all the important personalities and get their first-hand memoirs into print befiore it’s too late.

One thought on “The Folks Who Were There

  1. Herb Wilson

    I agree with your last paragraph we need to interview and pass down the stories and the truth about the drag Wars of the 60’s. I remember Asa coming over to my Uncle Paul’s with the white 62 Ultralight with open headers and thumbprint slicks in the early 60’s and all us kids would pile in for a ride. Gee no seatbelts in the only one that had a automatic and the Royal still on the side of the car.
    Years latter it came back to a Wilson after being stored in a neigbors garage for years. It still had the slicks on it with every other thumbprint painted red and white. The Royal had been wetsanded off. You could still see Driver Ace Wilson on it also.
    I still live only a couple of miles from Asa Wilson and Sons Dairy. That was Ace’s Dads Business and paved the way for the Pontiac Delership.
    It’s in my blood I still love the hotrods and have a hard time selling off my vintage parts. I was into Fords but have had GM’s and have some parts.
    Regards The Cobra Jet Kid
    Herb Wilson


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