By William Hall. Photos by the author and Derek Klein.
Long before I owned a Ferrari, raced a Mustang, or restored a Triumph, I was a Pontiac man. My first car was a 1970 LeMans Sport, which unfortunately suffered all the indignities that go with the teenage hot-rod bug: jacked up suspension, tatty exhaust and mismatched aluminum-slotted rims. But the car itself was marvelous. I’d felt as if I was one of a privileged few to fully understand the genius in the restrained design and wonderful finish of these intermediate GMs. And though it’s been years since I’ve owned my last GTO, the fire still burns.
I had a chance to fan the flames today, as our rolling car show called The Drive Home heads northeast through Illinois with an early stop at the Pontiac-Oakland Museum in Pontiac, Illinois. Pontiac could be one of those Midwestern towns used as the wholesome backdrop in “Back to the Future” or “Groundhog Day” with its center-square courthouse and historic murals. Housed in a former five-and-dime store on the town square, the museum is a private/public partnership between the town and Tim Dye, a Pontiac enthusiast and publisher of the Smoke Signals magazine of the Pontiac-Oakland Club. He discovered Pontiac while on a road trip and happened to mention his interest in forming a museum dedicated to his passion for the car of the same name. Proactive town officials and merchants took note, and a day later Tim was on the phone with Pontiac’s mayor and on his way to fulfilling every car guy’s fantasy.