Since we kind of fell into LeMans Day today, I thought it appropriate to include this selection of illustrations by Van Kaufman and Art Fitzpatrick from the 1968 Pontiac prestige brochure. In the late Sixties, you could do anything with your new Pontiac, like actually park within a quarter mile of the plane. This picture is my favorite!
Or take it scuba diving? Why not?
While this is not a VF illustration, here are some nice wagons.
And just because, here’s a GTO. At least this one’s not fake…
Want some more? Be sure to check out our earlier posts on Van and Fitz here and here. From the time when advertising was advertising!
It’s kind of ironic that the airplane in the second image is Pan Am. Neither Pan Am or Pontiac are with us today. My father had a world map in his home office provided by Pan AM as my father was an original frequent flier on that line. Our next door neighbor in San Juan was a pilot for Pan Am. Pontiac and Pan Am were both class acts.
It is all kinds of wrong that the Pan Am brand is now owned by the people who own northern New England’s railroad conglomerate. As if Mercedes-Benz belonged to Bob’s Horse Emporium.
More to the point, the PanAm (former Guilford Lines) people can’t even run their little haywire road.
Turbo-G Guilford, now PanAm, fomer Maine Central and Boston and Maine…those people…couldn’t run a Lionel train around a Christmas tree.
I’m in the industry and I know of what I speak. The former major freight arteries of the PanAm have been left to rot: to where the shippers are treated as an annoyance and an afterthought. We call it one of those “Truck it or f__k it” situations…where the only available railroad is aggressively NOT seeking business.
They are just holding the name until someone makes an offer on it, you know that someone will try and start the airline again, there were rumors about 2 years ago of a new Eastern Airlines down here in Miami again, haven’t heard anything serious yet.
Great illustrations. I love the top one as well. They really capture a feeling in the way that photographs only capture an object.
OK, again. The DC-8 is a more attractive subject than the Pontiac. Would prefer to see the Van & Fitz take on the Douglas.
And why would the Pan Am pilot be leading his date/wife to a bench seat LeMans coupe? Doesn’t he have an XKE, Corvette, GT-350 or at least a Mustang 2+2 V-8 or a Healey 3000? Who is he going to impress with a LeMans?
That was my first thought too, but then it could be seen as the wife/girl friend picking him up from the airport since she couldn’t drive the Corvette since it was a stick shift.
It’s a rental.
Maybe the pilot was a skinflint!
In a documentary, a former Pan Am stewardess complained that many pilots, being ex-military, happened to be just that way.
But pilots with the “Right Stuff” were supposed to drive hot cars, like the astronaut ‘Vettes, since competence in the air [supposedly] translates into competence on the highway. While at college in Colorado, my sister told us that Trans-Ams were mandatory among the Air Force Academy types she saw there.
I love those old GM ads in that style; it bespeaks a fantastic world with happy people & no oil leaks.
The car in the first drawing is not a coupe, it’s a four-door hardtop, which suggests “family car.” And perhaps it’s his wife’s car…his car is at home.
If he has really nice car, would he want to leave it outside the entire time he is away from home (which could be several days, given his schedule)?
Safari wagon for me, please.
Got to admit, I’m trying to imagine my ’08 Altima in these settings, and it’s just not working…
+1 even more so that it’s a woody.I never knew Pontiac made woodys in the 60’s
+1 I’ve done the same thing whenever I’ve seen these brochures, picturing other cars. most don’t quite work. That’s one of the great things about GM’s of this era, you can put them in any kind of backdrop and the car just lends itself to the feel somehow. The art kind of romanticizes the whole thing, I love that.
I just noticed the first car is a sport sedan, clever how they disguised it! I’ve never seen the wagon version up close, it has very cool lines on it with that front end and all.
That’s one of the early series of DC 8s, with the turbojet (not the later turbofans) engines; presumably a Series 30. Pan Am was the first to buy the DC 8 (25 of them) at the same time they ordered the Boeing 707 (20 of them). But PA never bought more 8s, switching to 707s, IIRC. I suspect this exact plane, with the turbojets, may well have been off their roster by 1968.
I’ve got a more in-depth DC 8 story coming later this summer, based on our trip to the US on an early 8 in 1960,
My mother in law worked for Eastern Airlines from the 50s until 1988 when she retired. She worked with Eddie Rickenbacker, Frank Borman the astronaut, and she retired when she had had enough of Lorenzo. Since she could speak 5 languages, she was all over the Caribbean and South America, even working a hijacking in Cuba in 1980 I believe. Her father was a military attaché in WWI and II in Brazil where she was born (but American by nationality) rode with FDR in 43 when he traveled to Europe for Yalta via Brazil. He died in 1981 but it was an interesting person to talk to. Between my mother and the in laws, my father’s family in Cleveland, OH seemed positively boring.
Back then, airplane travel was special, almost romantic. Deregulation brought prices down in adjusted terms but it’s now like riding a bus.
Fascinating spectrum…from Rickenbacker, the pioneer; to Borman, the technologist-traveler and business magnate; to Lorenzo, who symbolized all that was wrong with the 1980s. Wow.
I suspect people like your parents, and mine, settled in Cleveland BECAUSE it was boring. What sounds exciting to you was mess-your-pants frightening to them as it was happening. My own father had a checkered past: A dual-national, with German and American citizenship…born in Cleveland but raised in what was becoming Nazi Germany. Used his birth certificate (at age 13) with his mother to get outta Dodge…Berlin, actually.
Once in America, it was the Division Avenue projects for him…until he got drafted at age 17. When the Army found out he spoke perfect German and knew the land…well, of course! Make him a front-line scout! And if he gets captured…too bad, too sad.
My old man made it back; and he had had enough of “adventure.”
As to the changing nature of air travel: It’s been commoditized, true. To revert back to “special” or exclusionary status…probably would eliminate a lot of the ruffian elements and behaviors. It would ALSO cut huge numbers of jobs in the airline industry.
And, for what? Would we be better off if everyone on planes were in their cars on the Interstates? Okay…trains. The railroads couldn’t run passenger trains profitably in the 1960s…BEFORE Texas Air’s Peanut Fares and deregulation. Amtrak today sure ain’t gonna be up to the task.
Times do change. When the change involves progressing technology, there’s no putting the genie back in the bottle.
Well my father never lived in the Cleveland Area once he graduated high school and went to Korea. This was around 1950, industry was good then still, but he wanted to move on. Instead of waiting for his number to come up, he joined the newly established Air Force, ended up in Puerto Rico during Operation Bootstrap. Meeting my mother who worked at a local panaderia and the rest is history. They married but my mother refused to become a military wife so we stayed and lived with my grandmother until I was 14. A Taino marrying a blanco in those days was controversial but the military was an accepted way to move up in life, it was accepted. Until I was 3, we lived in a hand built log cabin house with tin roof and an outhouse eventually moving into an apartment in town built by the Federal government. PR did not have projects per se in the same way as the mainland, but it was basic. Being accepted to GMI was a big deal, as I was told then, I was only the second one to have been accepted and the first to come directly from the island. The day I left on the airplane, almost 65 people came to the airport to see me off. Most had never seen an airplane up close let alone been to an airport. In those days before all the security we have today, people could board a plane with you and leave before take off. As trivial as it seems today, I remember it like it was yesterday, almost every detail. So I was off to work at one of the world’s great automotive companies.
As for air travel, yes I suppose we can’t put the genie back in the bottle, but I do my best to make the best of it. I do like Amtrak, I am a big proponent of a wide variety of means of transportation. Even though more are riding today than ever (mostly due to gas prices), it’s a drop in the bucket in volume compared to air or car. But if you can afford the time to drive and Amtrak stops are convenient, it’s an enjoyable way to travel, especially if you are people oriented. We also cruise a lot, another way to be sociable when traveling as long as you avoid the Motel 6 lines. In 2007 we returned from Europe to NYC via the QE2 instead of plane. It was about 6 times the cost of plane tickets and it took a week, but it was as close to being on the Titanic as you could get in modern times.
As for my mother in law, all the stories came out later. Of course I knew about her career, but did not get to talk to her deeply about it until I went for MBA and it was a case study. Quite fascinating practically book level
I did not discover Cleveland until well into my career when my father retired grandma got old and I was able to procure her house. By then, it was a shadow of it’s former self and quite depressing. Probably the most noteworthy thing is that in such a place as diverse with colors and ethnicities, you had groups of all kinds from Europe, they all lived separately and were often at odds with each other. Something that never quite went away as I periodically read the Plain Dealer online when I am local.
Waiting for that DC-8 story–I’m too young to have ever seen DC-8s fly as anything but converted cargo haulers, but to me they’re the most graceful jetliners ever built. I used to live in Winthrop, MA, directly across from Logan, and would look forward to seeing the odd DC-8 fly in and out (and this was as an adult, not a kid…as recently as 2000).
I look forward to your DC 8 article.
Love, love, love these illustrations! I’m nowhere near in this league (and 30 years out of practice), but I loved doing marker and gauche renderings in industrial design at Ga. Tech. We’d always try to hide “mini” illustrations in the hubcap or other reflections.
I love the way Van and Fitz have got the reflection on the side of the Pontiac,it’s that new car shine perfectly captured.
Right hand drive Pontiac for the Australian market! Can you spot the changes?
Well, it’s a B-Body instead of an A. that’s a pretty big difference right there.
Amazing how easily they morphed the one into the other.
Guess it shows to go ya, how little the “special moment” has to do with the allegedly-“special” car.
…I noticed the tag at the bottom. GMH? GM Holden? Holden, a brand, was marketing another brand, Pontiac? Or was Pontiac, in those days, a sub-brand of Holden?
Holden marketed Chev and Pontiacs as further up the price and prestige ladder than their own cars.
In the early 1970s they were replaced by the Statesman LWB models for reasons to do with costs, tariffs and diverging tastes between the Australian and American markets
I believe the end of preferential Commonwealth trade tariffs also played a role. This is why Australia (and the UK) got the Canadian versions.
I am trying to decide how long it has been since I have seen one of those wagons. It occurs to me that Pontiac did not seem to sell many wagons back then, at least not the A body versions. The Chevys and the Vista Cruisers were everywhere, but these Pontiacs were not common at all where I lived.
The first illustration is still of a time when “Gate 6” was literally a gate in a fence at some airports.
I didn’t know the Canadian model names like Parisienne were sold in Australia.
Believe it or not, I actually own the original illustration artwork used on your feature image of the ’68 Lemans sedan and the Pan Am jet. I was able to buy it in the late 90’s at a local automobilia store in Birmingham, MI. I was told the son of the janitor at McManus, John, & Adams ad agency (which ran the campaign) brought a few in to sell because he was moving to New York and needed extra cash. Apparently his father was told to clean out the agency’s flatfiles years before and many of the old illustrations were in there, complete with the approval stamps and signatures on the back. He kept many instead, and they passed to his son eventually.
Mine is in beautiful condition, and the actual rendering of the car was done separately on vellum from the rest of the background that was painted directly on the illustration board. I can see where along the edges in places the car is just starting to lift from the board after all these years. I’ve attached an image of it hanging in my den along with a few old Dodge illustrations I have as well.
As an added coincidence, my friend bought the scuba diving Lemans image pictured in the article just below mine at the same time!
Awesome, simply awesome.
I own a few original studies done by Fritz Willis for calendar artwork. I know just how amazing it is to obtain a piece of these industrial artworks.
Congratulations on a great find.
This era of LeMans carries an aura of mystery for us Canadians as our Pontiac substituted the badge engineered Chevelle, the Beaumont,
Now that looked at the ad again I noticed that it’s actually a Tempest Custom sedan.
When I got back home today I looked at my AF/VK illustration and remembered something interesting: The original does NOT have the “Pan American” lettering on the side of the plane. I imagine it was put on in post-production. Also, the original licence plate is different from the one in the ad. I’ve noticed in various ads and brouchures the plates would sometimes change like this. Why? I have no idea….
Here’s a bit better photo of it I just took today:
Funny, cause it still has the globe on the stairs and the pilot is wearing a Pan Am uniform.
The AU version lacks the Pan Am on the plane too- maybe painted over?
I believe the license plate numbers corresponded to the page number of the brochure it was shown in. Maybe that’s why it changed?
I never thought about the brochure pages being behind the plate differences. I’ll have to pay more attention and see. And I also never realized there was an AU version without the lettering. I wonder if it was indeed painted over after being shot the 1st time. Perhaps it’s under there somewhere still. Or maybe it never was, and they added it post-production like the plate changes. Based on the background “wash streaks” being the same in multiple ads I’ve seen, there’s no way there could’ve been more than one base. It wouldn’t have been that consistent between brush strokes, and there’s little reason they would’ve even cared to try.