The nearly 30 years of experience I have had in the magazine business and my immersion in the Pontiac hobby since early childhood has shown me a lot of things. First, I think that Pontiac people are the best in the hobby. The friendships that I have fostered over the years have really moved beyond the realm of friends- I consider many to be family and that is the highest compliment that I can give.
When I first landed at CSK Publishing in Hackensack, New Jersey, to start my position as Associate Editor for High Performance Pontiac, I was a wide-eyed kid who had a good deal of knowledge about Pontiacs and journalism and was eager to get started. I quickly found out, however, that I still had much to learn. Fortunately, CSK was the perfect place to be.
In a lot of ways that little publishing company blended extremely well with my college training. Both were relatively small operations and because of that, we learned all aspects of the business. Most car magazines at the time were much larger and had separate departments for editorial, road test, photography and other functions.
At CSK, not only was there only one group of people handling all of those things for High Performance Pontiac, we were also the staff for seven other magazines. If you look through the mastheads for late 1980s and early 1990s issues of High Performance Mopar, Musclecars, Vette, Muscle Mustangs and Fast Fords, Fast Cars & Rock and Roll, GM Enthusiast and Bracket Racing USA, you will find the same names. We did all of those magazines at the same time and it was the best training for anyone in the business- it was car magazine boot camp. Even today, having CSK Publishing on your resume is a badge of honor because that was a real “sink or swim” environment.
One of the more interesting outcomes of my CSK years are the friendships from that time in my life. I am in regular contact with most of the people from that company- even though I haven’t worked there in 25 years. The camaraderie that I continue to experience from that period is very much a part of who I am. We had Mustang fans, Mopar fans, Pontiac fans, Corvette fans, sports car fans, racers, wrenchers, photographers and editors and we all got along. We got into a ton of mischief and we still get together and laugh about it to this day.
I find it fascinating that with all of the differences we had in ethnicity, politics, lifestyle and marque loyalty, that we got along so famously. I think most of it had to do with the notion that we were decent to one another. It really seemed to work. Who knew?
Why is it then that the Pontiac hobby, a single marque that is no longer in operation, has to be so fragmented at this stage of the game? We are all fans of an orphan make. Isn’t it time to start working together? Isn’t it time that we actually make the hobby more attractive to younger enthusiasts instead of shaming them at shows and telling them their cars aren’t worthy of display?
Yes, it does still happen and it really disturbs me. Haven’t those same people ever heard the old saying, “Be nice to your kids. They choose your nursing home?” It’s the same with cars. Do you want your car to go to an enthusiast or someone who leaves it in a field to rot?
Without a doubt, the portion of the hobby that gets the most media attention is the muscle-era Pontiacs, most notably, the GTO and Trans Am, as well as their various related A and F-bodies. While those are fantastic machines, there are so many other dynamic, interesting and active areas of the Pontiac hobby that many don’t even know about. How about inviting them to your events to get your show numbers up? How about giving little kids rides in the parking lot instead of yelling at them to stay away from your car?
I own two Pontiacs purposely chosen because they are somewhat outside of the mainstream: a 2000 Daytona Pace Car Replica Grand Prix GTP and a 1966 Tempest Custom four-door hardtop. My GTP has been called by a few self-proclaimed experts on the topic, “front-drive crap,” “not a real Pontiac,” “a Buick” and “a Chevy.”
Similarly, my Tempest has been called a “GTO parts car,” a “waste of time” and a “dead grandma’s car.” That last one may well be true, however, as Mrs. Mason, wherever she is, must have looked down with great pride to see the panic her and her husband’s Tempest caused when I pulled into the midway area at the 2013 Ames Performance Pontiac Nationals. Everyone was marveling at the original, intact California A.I.R. system and the amazingly original condition of the car. One observer said to me, “I have seen two of a lot of cars here today, but I haven’t seen two of those.”
If we were to just stop bickering about whose car was this or that and made a little room under the tent for the Pontiac fans with different tastes, this hobby would be nearly as large as the Mopar hobby. Think about it, if everyone welcomed the Fieros, the front-drivers, the Third and Fourth-Gen Firebirds, the late-model GTOs, the Solstices, the G8s, hell, even the Azteks, I think that the Pontiac hobby would be healthy enough for our great-grandchildren to enjoy these cars in a self-sustaining hobby.
When it comes down to the group who I think has the best attitude of inclusiveness in the Pontiac hobby, I would have to say that the Trans Am Nationals has the right idea. They welcome all Firebirds from all four generations. Best of all, they take no issue with GM small-blocks, V-6s or LS-power- quite a breath of fresh air.
Since the history of the Pontiac Firebird is six years longer without the traditional Pontiac V-8 than it is with it, they allow that the march of technology meant that powerplants come and go. While we can all have our favorites, it doesn’t mean we have to shun all others.
I have come up with an idea that I hope will unite the Pontiac hobby and help spread the word about this magazine. You hear people talking about “hashtags,” the pound signs that precede posts that are made on social media. They tie similar interests together in searches and help spread the word about whatever it is that the posters are interested in.
I therefore ask all of you, whenever you make a post about Pontiacs that you end it with the phrase, #PonchosUnited. That way, we can help promote the idea of uniting the Pontiac hobby and at the same time, help get the word out about Poncho Perfection. We are enthusiastic about the future and want to grow the hobby. Let’s start here and see where it goes.