Eric Dahlquist, Jr., President of Pontiac’s West Coast PR firm Vista Group, died unexpectedly on December 24, 2016 from complications following open heart surgery. He was 79.
Born in 1937 in Lockport, New York, Eric inherited his father’s fascination with all things mechanical, eventually becoming a contributor to Hot Rod magazine while attending the University of Buffalo, covering drag racing and carbuilders throughout western New York during his college years. After graduating, he was hired as a staff writer for Hot Rod and moved to Los Angeles in 1964. He soon became the magazine’s technical editor until 1968, when Eric moved over to the staff of sister publication Motor Trend, of which he became editor the following year.
He left Motor Trend in 1975 to begin what was then Vista Publishing to concentrate on specialized publications and freelance writing. By 1977 Vista segued into public relations when Pontiac Motor Division asked Eric to represent them on the West Coast. As such, he was instrumental in arranging articles on Pontiac products in all the major auto enthusiast publications, promoting the division’s forays into NHRA Funny Car, NASCAR, and SCCA Trans Am Series competition during the 1980s, as well as some high profile Hollywood placements including KITT, the Knight RiderTrans Am. During the 1980s, several other automotive companies who sought Eric’s services helped Vista Group become the largest PR agency in the U.S. dealing exclusively with the automobile industry, performing motion picture and television product placement, product planning, marketing, sales promotion, and special projects services for a whole host of automotive business clients. Eric’s dedication to the success of his clients was embodied in his “never say no” attitude, often giving more than asked.
Eric is survived by his wife, Vicki, sons Eric, Scott, Karl, and Ian, daughters Jennifer and Lily, stepchildren Ricky and Eshelle, and nine grandchildren. He will be buried in Buffalo, NY with his mother and father.