View Full Version : 30 millionth Pontiac celebration

September 21st, 2008, 23:28
I would like to acknowledge that assistance and contribution of the following individuals and institutions: Reg Harris, Jim Mattison, Pontiac Motor Division, Larry DeLay, Keith Seymore, Muriel Finken, High Performance Pontiac magazine, Pontiac Enthusiast magazine, Jeff Freed, Todd Crews, Rick Gonser, Jay Griesbauer, Mary French, John Kyros, Jon Havens, Mike Silpoch, Carole Silpoch, Kerry Klotzman, UAW Local 2250, GM Media Archive, GM Historic Collection, Smoke Signals magazine, POCI, Maureen Dilthey, Dennis Dilthey, Bart Orlans, Randy Fox, Kathleen Havens, Doris Ramsey, Pontiac: They Built Excitement by Thomas Bonsall, Pontiac Seventy Years of Milestones by Thomas Bonsall, Motor Trend Magazine, Collectible Automobile magazine, Guide to Muscle Cars magazine

I’m the proud owner of a white 1995 Bonneville SSEi. For more about myself and my car use the link or click on the image


http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/thumbnails/dsc0338025.jpg (http://www.poci.org/forums/showthread.php?t=10)

My Bonneville is both daily transportation and hobby. I find enjoyment in Pontiac ownership not just from driving and maintaining and showing my vehicle but also in researching the history of the Bonneville model and Pontiac division. I believe the better informed I am about the Bonneville, Pontiac and the people that created them, the better I can fulfill that obligation to preserve my small piece of Pontiac history. And the better informed I am, the more I enjoy the Pontiac ownership experience. I do this mostly by collecting Bonneville and Pontiac related magazine articles and advertisements and other relevant items of memorabilia.

There is a certain milestone event that I find very fascinating. It is of particular relevance to me, since it involves the 1990’s era Bonneville SSEi yet has a significant connection to the earliest Bonneville. I refer to the ceremony marking the production of the 30 millionth Pontiac that took place at Wentzville Assembly on Oct. 29 1991.

I hope this note is as enjoyable to read as it was for me to write. I don’t have any expectation of receiving any response to this, but it is my hope that if there are any POCI members out there that were present at this event, or that know of someone that was, that you might be willing to share any part of your 30 millionth Pontiac celebration experience with me. If there are pictures or video tapes or press releases or magazine articles that you might be willing to have copied and share with me I would be very appreciative. Of course I would pay for any copying and postage costs.

And if there are any items of memorabilia from this event that are ready for a new home, of course I would be interested. Even some photographs and descriptions of items related to this milestone event would be greatly appreciated.

Most of all, I’m interested in the event itself, who else was there, what activities took place that day, your recollections of the event. Maybe some day I’ll have enough material to be worthy of an article in Smoke Signals magazine. I can be contacted by email at mikehklassen@shaw.ca . My phone numbers are 604-988-4198 (home) and 604-661-6803 (work).

Also, I've set up a photobucket album with hi-res images of all the attachments, and added a link to the hi-res image right above each image. If you want to just go directly to the photobucket album, here's the link http://s490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/30%20millionth%20pontiac/

Please note that photos and articles used here are for historical and educational purposes. If you find a photo or article here to which you own the copyright and would like it removed, please contact me. Thank you.

I want to share the results of my research/collecting to date:

1) I first became aware of the event.

The Bonneville SSEi was introduced as a 1992 model and along with 7 other domestic cars was evaluated by Motor Trend magazine for Car of the Year honors. The winner of the competion and the detailed evaluation results were published in the February 1992 issue of Motor Trend. The Bonneville SSEi finished 2nd to the Cadillac STS. Also in that same issue, Motor Trend introduced the Bonneville SSEi as a new addition to their long term test fleet, so if you're into the SSEi as I am this is definitely a magazine back-issue worth having. But there was another Bonneville SSEi reference in that issue that I almost didn't notice.

On page 32 in the article Trends - Detroit Report there was a single sentence under the title Briefly Noted “Now back to work! A ceremony was held on Oct. 29 at Pontiac’s Wentzville Assembly center to honor the 30 millionth Pontiac, a white Bonneville SSEi …” (ok, so maybe that's actually 2 sentences)

I do not believe that any of the other mainstream automotive publications (Road & Track, Car & Driver, Automobile) thought this event was newsworthy enough to mention.


http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/thumbnails/3020millionth20pontiac20scan2012040.jpg (http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/30%20millionth%20pontiac/30millionthpontiacscan1.jpg)

2) In an attempt to learn more, I purchased 2 of the late Thomas Bonsall’s books: Pontiac! They Built Excitement (number 26 of 200, leather bound, signed by author) and Pontiac Seventy Years of Milestones.

Although the Author's Preface in Pontiac! They Built Excitement is dated October, 1991 there is no mention of the event, I guess the preface was the last part of the book to be written.

But Seventy Years of Milestones mentions that ”the 30,000,000th Pontiac, a white supercharged SSEi was driven off the final assembly line at GM’s Wentzville, Missouri, assembly plant on Tuesday, Oct. 29 1991. General Manager John G. Middlebrook did the honors”

In addition, there is a full page picture of the car bursting thru a banner which appeared to be something that would have come from a press kit.


http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/thumbnails/milestones15.jpg (http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/30%20millionth%20pontiac/milestones.jpg)

For more information on John Middlebrook and the 1992 Bonneville introduction use the link or click on the picture below.


http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/thumbnails/johnmiddlebrook.jpg (http://www.poci.org/forums/showthread.php?t=638)

September 21st, 2008, 23:31
3) Sure enough, there was a press kit issued for the event and I was able to obtain one – a folder with a white Bonneville SSEi on the cover, containing 3 black and white press photos with matching color slides and some news releases, mostly promotional material for Pontiac and Bonneville. Very little on the actual ceremony itself.


http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/thumbnails/3020millionth20pontiac207.jpg (http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/30%20millionth%20pontiac/30millionthpontiacscan14.jpg)

The car on the cover of the press kit folder is not the 30 millionth Pontiac. I am sure of this because the exact same image appears on the folders that were used for prior Bonneville press kits issued in February and August 1991.

4) There was really only one news bulletin in the press kit that had any details about the event


http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/thumbnails/3020millionth20pontiac20scan2010201.jpg (http://s490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/30%20millionth%20pontiac/30millionthpontiacscan10.jpg)

To make it easier to read, I transcribed the press kit news bulletin:

1992 SSEi - The 30 Millionth Pontiac

Contact: Rick Asher

WENTZVILLE, Missouri - Sixty-five years after the first Pontiac was shown at the New York Auto Show, a white supercharged SSEi has become the 30 millionth vehicle to carry the Pontiac marque.

The top-of-the-line SSEi was produced October 29 at the Wentzville Assembly Center - sole source of Pontiac's full-size Bonneville line. Under the watchful eye of Pontiac and plant officials, it rolled off the line and joined the original 1926 Pontiac that started the excitement 65 years ago.

"The all-new 1992 SSEi - our divisional flagship and technology leader - couldn't be a more symbolic selection as our 30 millionth Pontiac," said John G. Middlebrook , Pontiac general manager and a General Motors vice president. "This SSEi represents a milestone and the beginning of an unprescedented era of new product introductions that will see the entire Pontiac product line redesigned by the mid 1990s.

"My hat goes off to the people of Flint Automotive Division and the Wentzville Assembly Center for their fine workmanship and dedication in bringing to market this historic vehicle that is also the most technologically advanced product we have ever offered."

Middlebrook drove the 30 millionth Pontiac off the Wentzville, Missouri, plant's final asssembly line accompanied by the plant's manager, Herb Stone and two UAW officials - Local 2250 Chariman Joe Henry and President Jerry Gorski.

Through the combined efforts of Pontiac, Flint Automotive Division (I think this is a reference to the source of the supercharged 3800 engine) and Wentzville Assembly Center employes, the historic SSEi took less than three years from concept approval to start of production.

The 1992 milestone joins a long line of previous Pontiac production achievements that took place in 1935 (one millionth), 1954 (five millionth), 1965 (10 millionth), 1971 (15 millionth), 1978 (20 millionth), and 1985 (25 millionth).

Initially offered as a model within the Oakland series of cars, the first Pontiac debuted in 1926, a Series 6-27 coupe listing for $825.

The 1992 model year is not the first production milestone for Pontiac's Bonneville nameplate. In 1962, the Bonneville convertible became General Motors' 75 millionth vehicle, adding to a growing mystique that began with the first Bonneville, a limited edition convertible, in 1957 and opens yet another chapter in 1992 as the 30 millionth Pontiac.

September 21st, 2008, 23:33
5) One of the photos in the press kit is the same picture that appeared in the book 70 Years of Milestones, but the press kit photo is a slightly wider angle and has some additional caption information.

Interestingly, the caption under the press photo of the car breaking through the banner says the last occupant was not Jerry Gorski but UAW region 5 Director Roy Wyse.


http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/thumbnails/30millionthpontiacscan230.jpg (http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/30%20millionth%20pontiac/30millionthpontiacscan2.jpg)

6) Regarding what went out to the dealer network regarding the event, I recently came across the November 1991 issue of Pontiac Customer Care. It's a 4-page bulletin intended for dealers with articles about things like customer loyalty and satisfaction, tech tips, sales tips and techniques, anyway it had the following article. What's interesting about this article is the photo is the same as the press kit photo but a much wider view so you really get a sense of the crowd gathered on either side of the car as it rolled off the assembly line. Wouldn't it be neat if the original negative for this photo is in some folder in a filing cabinet somewhere waiting to be discovered?

Also, this article actually identifys the milestone car as "the first 1992 supercharged Bonneville SSEi". So obviously not counting prototypes, but is it possible this white SSEi was actually the first SSEi ever built on a regular production assembly line and that Pontiac used the event of the production of the 30 millionth car to actually launch the SSEi product? This is also what the title of the article seems to imply.


http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/thumbnails/custcarenov199165.jpg (http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/30%20millionth%20pontiac/CustCareNov1991.jpg)

7) The caption on another of the pictures in the press kit reads "The road to the 30 millionth Pontiac...began in January 1926 with the Series 6-27 Coupe (right) and reached the historic mark with the 1992 Pontiac SSEi (left) produced at the Wentzville, Missouri Assembly Center on Tuesday, October 29, 1991. Pontiac General Manager John G. Middlebrook is shown with these two historic Pontiacs in front of the Pontiac Administration Building."

The Pontiac Administration Building was in Pontiac, Michigan which is about 600 miles away from Wentzville. So sometime after the ceremony at Wentzville, once the 30 millionth Pontiac had been transported to Pontiac, Michigan, they must have pulled the 1st Pontiac out of the historic collection to setup this photo. I notice for this photo, the "30 millionth Pontiac" lettering has been removed from the windshield, I think that is unfortunate. Also, I notice that the wording on the banner saying "PONTIAC WE BUILD EXCITEMENT" has clearly been "photoshoped" into the picture.


http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/thumbnails/scan10218-15.jpg (http://s490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/30%20millionth%20pontiac/scan10218.jpg)

The final picture in the press kit is of a white Pontiac SSEi with a driver and no caption other than "1992 Pontiac SSEi". I am sure this is not the 30 millionth Pontiac, because this one has the fold-in exterior rear-view mirrors that were used on the export shipment models (I think so they could fit as tightly as possible into cargo containers). The 30 millionth Pontiac shown bursting thru the banner at Wentzville Assembly did not have the fold-in mirrors.

I recently chatted with Randy Fox. Randy is still with GM and at the time of the 30 millionth Pontiac ceremony, Randy was Manager of Media Relations Product & Engineering for Pontiac. Randy did not attend the event at Wentzville, but confirmed that he did take the 2 other photos for the press kit.

Rick Asher, who was Assistant Manager of Media Relations Product & Engineering for Pontiac at the time of the event, and was the contact on the news releases in the press kit, just recently left GM.

September 21st, 2008, 23:36
8) Here's a video clip of the first Pontiac from the GM Historic Collection

http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/30%20millionth%20pontiac/th_1926pontiac-theveryfirst.jpg (http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=1456468466313&oid=136615233030066&comments&ref=mf)

here's the first Pontiac back in 1936

http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/30%20millionth%20pontiac/th_scan10249.jpg (http://s490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/30%20millionth%20pontiac/scan10249.jpg)

and with a Grand Prix

http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/30%20millionth%20pontiac/th_scan10248.jpg (http://s490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/30%20millionth%20pontiac/scan10248.jpg)

and another one with John Middlebrook and a 1992 Bonneville SSEi

http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/30%20millionth%20pontiac/th_scan10250.jpg (http://s490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/30%20millionth%20pontiac/scan10250.jpg)

September 23rd, 2008, 19:08
9) I have a video regarding the assembly of the 1992 Bonneville that was filmed at Wentzville Assembly in the summer of 1991.

Appearing on this video are Herb Stone (Plant Manager), Dave Mitchell (Program Manager), Pat Stevens (Materials Manager), Muriel Finken (Engineering Manager), John Austin (Pilot Coordinator Bodyshop), Skip Mann (Gun Technician Paintshop), Chris Vasquez (Planning Coordinator Trimline) and Joe Langenhurst (Sealer Analyst).

Herb Stone, Wentzville plant manager at the time of the milestone celebration, retired from General Motors on July 1st 1999 capping a 42-year career with GM. At the time of his retirement, Herb was manager of the General Motors truck assembly plant in Arlington, Texas.

Herb Stone began his career in 1957 as a General Motors Institute student sponsored by the Pontiac Division. While at Pontiac, he held a number of positions in reliability, quality and manufacturing. In 1978, he was promoted to director of quality and reliability for Buick Motor Division in Flint, Michigan. He was appointed project manager for the Buick City plant in Flint in 1983 and, a year later, was named program manager for the new Buick LeSabre that was built at that facility.

In 1985, Herb Stone became manager of GM's Norwood, Ohio, assembly plant and added responsibility for the Hamilton, Ohio, plant in 1987. He transferred to the plant in Wentzville, Missouri in 1988 and in 1992 he was named manager of the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Center. Stone was named manager of the Arlington plant in 1996. In 1996 and 1997, he oversaw the conversion of the plant from car to truck production.


http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/thumbnails/thwentzvilleassembly.jpg (http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=1397469151367&oid=136615233030066&comments&ref=nf)

This is the transcript of the video:

Herb Stone (plant manager): the quality of the Bonneville I think will be recognized worldwide as being one of the finest cars that General Motors or Pontiac has introduced

Dave Mitchell (program manager): the quality actually starts with the parts coming from the supplier. Each department knows what they have to do to make this a top quality car

Pat Stevens (materials manager): The quality starts along time before the parts arrive in the assembly plant. It starts with the way the part is designed

Muriel Finken (engineering manager): Because one of the things that we have to do as engineers is to give input to design staff to insure that the car that they are designing is a buildable car

John Austin (pilot coordinator, bodyshop): and you don’t repair quality, you build quality

Dave Mitchell: And starting with the body shop our number one controls are really the fits of all the major body panels

John Austin: Well if the quality isn’t there we stop the line to get the quality there on our fits and finishes on our doors and door openings ands it’s very important to us because when you put your doors on the car you’ve got your closing efforts for the customer and how your trim fits and so we had to stop the line to make sure that the quality is there on the doors because that’s where your front fenders line up and then your hood and they affect the whole quality of the car

Herb Stone: In the area of quality of course the major thrust has been in paint finish and in fits because that’s what our customer has said

Skip Mann (gun technician, paintshop): we believe we have the best paint job mainly because the car is handled with kid gloves all the way across the shop from the time it leaves body shop till it goes to first set of phosphate rinse to ELPO (I think this stand for Electophoretic Deposition of Polymers) and it’s detail sanded, sealer applications, we go thru primer applications and those are detail sanded prior to a base coat application. The base coat is applied with a hand sprayers that monitor the cars. The exterior of the car is applied with automatic equipment which are dialed in and they are good equipment, put 2 mills of clear over the car to protect it from the UV’s. Just an outstanding paint job overall.

Chris Vasques (planning coordinator, trim line): We realize in this plant that the customer demands a world class quality automobile and I really believe from the bottom of my heart that the only way to get world class quality is to get every person in the building involved in achieving quality. The whole attitude of this work force is changing because of this Pontiac.

Herb Stone: If I was a salesman what I would focus on with the customer is that the Wentzville organization has developed a very strong commitment to quality. I would talk about the robotics, the single point tooling that’s been developed for this car in the body shop

John Austin: And when you stamp one and you get it right and you stamp 250,000 and they’re all the same so when you build your first car to you build your last car you’ll have the same quality on every one.

Joe Langenhurst (sealer analyst): The customer benefits from our sealing a car properly by making sure that we don’t have any wind noise, we don’t have any water leaks in the passenger compartment and also in the rear compartment.

10) At this point I admit I was losing interest in the event. It appeared to be simply a quick ceremony and publicity stunt – have a few executives drive a car through a banner at the end of the assembly line, get the 1st Pontiac out of the Historic Collection for a quick photo and call it a milestone … until I found this ...

In the April 1992 issue of High Performance Pontiac magazine was a brief article on the event. But it was enough to rekindle my interest, because it mentioned something that up to this point I had not been aware of. “Also on hand: three ’57 Bonnevilles owned by Dick and Shirley Hoyt, Glenn Bappe, and Doris and Jeff Freed”. Possibly the press kit I obtained was incomplete because it was missing this important info. I realized this had not been some quick publicity stunt. It was clearly an event with significant investment and preparation.

The HPP article went on to say "The special '92 supercharged SSEi most likely will make some auto show appearances, then join Pontiac No. 1 in the Historical Collection." Did this car actually make any auto show appearances? I have not been able to find any evidence that it did. Did this car eventually make it into the Historical Collection and if so, is it still there today? I would sure like to know.


http://www.members.shaw.ca/mikehklassen/pocialbum/30 millionth pontiac scan 3 20.jpg (http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/30%20millionth%20pontiac/30millionthpontiacscan3.jpg)

Don't think I need to explain the significance to Pontiac of the 1957 Bonneville, use link or click on photo to view a series of factory photos


http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/1957%20bonneville/press/u1402.jpg (http://s490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/1957%20bonneville/press/)

Mike Nixon
October 13th, 2008, 08:40
Interesting read. I worked at a Buick/Pontiac/GMC dealer from 85-95, and short of a breif press release sent out thru the sales dept I don't remember anything else being mentioned about this event.


October 13th, 2008, 14:21
11) With this new information I now had 3 fresh leads to pursue. I discovered I already had a picture of Dick Hoyt’s ’57 Bonneville in my magazine back-issue collection. It had appeared in (and on the cover of) the December 1986 issue of Collectible Automobile magazine in an article by Arch Brown.


http://www.members.shaw.ca/mikehklassen/pocialbum/30 millionth pontiac scan 4 15.jpg (http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/30%20millionth%20pontiac/30millionthpontiacscan4.jpg)

12) It had also appeared in the December 1986 issue of Guide to Muscle Cars magazine in a photograph by Jeff Tann. According to the text that accompanies the photo, this fuel-injected Bonneville convertible is owned by Dick Hoyt and is one of 630 serialized units produced. It is a 32,000 mile original and is a national "Best of Show" Pontiac/Oakland Club winner. Dick's Bonne is Kenya Ivory with a rare white ragtop and is equipped with a wonder bar radio, padded dash, power windows and seats as well as a fully restored Rochester fuel-injection unit.


http://www.members.shaw.ca/mikehklassen/pocialbum/dick hoyt bonneville 15.jpg (http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/30%20millionth%20pontiac/dickhoytbonneville.jpg)

With further research I discovered an article by Ross Whitehead, POCI Vice President, in the September 1982 issue of Smoke Signals magazine. Ross had attended the Southern California Chapters' second annual picnic held August 7 1982 at Griffith Park in Claremont. Ross mentions that Dick Hoyt's '57 Bonneville had recently been acquired. It must have been very recent, because just the month before, in the Chapter Briefs section of the August 1982 issue of Smoke Signals, Martin Bennett mentions that during a caravan up to Morro Bay in May 1982 to meet with the Redwood Indian (Northern California) Chapter, Dick Hoyt's '61 Bonneville had a bit of mechanical trouble. Although I guess it's possible Dick already had the '57 but chose to take the '61 for this particular trip.

According to the May 1983 issue of Smoke Signals magazine, Dick had just been selected to assume the duties of POCI Executive Secretary effective June 1, 1983 replacing Don Bougher who was retiring. At that time Dick had been serving POCI as Roster Editor and computer programmer for over 2 years. He was employed by ARMCO Steel as a coprorate level manager in charge of systems and development.

An article on the 7th Annual POCI Western Regional Convention by David Lustig that appeared in the 17 May 1990 edition of the LA Times mentions that Dick Hoyt owns three 1957 limited-production fuel-injected Bonneville convertibles, one of them being the only black one ever made. Of the original 630 card produced, he (Dick) estimated 50 are left today. Since he began collecting 30 years ago, Hoyt has had four Bonneville convertibles, a standard Star Chief convertible and a Safari wagon - all 1957s.

In the March 1993 issue of Smoke Signals magazine there is a brief biography about Dick who at that time was running for re-election as a director for the Wester Division. According to the biography "Dick and his wife, Shirley, live in Vista, California. Dick is employed as a computer consultant. He has been a member of POCI for 16 years (so I'm thinking he joined in 1977), attended 13 conventions and shown a car at 2 (I'm still trying to find out which 2). Dick is currently serving as the Executive Secretary for POCI. He has also served as Roster Editor, served on the Car Show Committee, and is the 1993 Convention Registration Chairperson. He is a member of the Southern California Chapter, Riverside Chapter, and San Diego Chapter. He has served as President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer for the Southern California Chapter as well as serving on the Car Show Committe, and Activities Committee. Dick's goals are to improve services to members and increase membership and stimulate chapter parti****tion in the Western Division. His expectations are future growth and better networking of services."

Dick was re-elected and continued to serve POCI as a Western Division Director until 1996. Dick was awarded a 20 year pin in 1996 according to the September 1996 issue of Smoke Signals magazine. Coincidentally Glenn Bappe must have also joined POCI in 1977 because he was also awarded a 20 year pin in 1996. Interestingly, according to the 1996 POCI membership roster, Dick's POCI membership number is 001957, coincidence? I think not.

So could this be one of the three ’57 Bonnevilles that were at the milestone event?

Turns out it was not ...

Mike Nixon
October 19th, 2008, 10:55
I think what I remember was a std GM press release for the advertising end of things. The girl who ordered our stock passed a lot of that stuff on to me at the time because I was heavily involved in the local racing scene and the only hardcore Pontiac guy at the dealership.

I vaguely remember the publication you have posted. I'll have to dig around and see if I have any of that stuff still stored with my literature / certifications.


December 13th, 2008, 19:09
13) ... since as I discovered in the next article I uncovered, Dealer's Choice by Jeff Bauer with photos by Sue Elliott and Bart Orlans, which appeared in the June 1992 issue of High Performance Pontiac magazine, Dick sold his first '57 Bonneville in early 1988. The article describes it as a 26,000 mile, two-owner, original-condition car when Dick obtain it that had been treated to a cosmetic restoration while owned by Dick. I believe Dick's first '57 Bonneville is now owned by well known collector Milton Robson.

The article featured Dick Hoyt’s "new" ’57 Bonneville. According to the article, Dick had obtained this one in July 1988. It required a full restoration including converting it back to fuel injection, which was done with extremely helpful tech advice from fellow POCI member Bill Schoening. The restoration was finished in January 1991.

Is this one of the three Bonnevilles that were present at the milestone event?


http://www.members.shaw.ca/mikehklassen/pocialbum/30 millionth pontiac scan 5 15.jpg (http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/30%20millionth%20pontiac/30millionthpontiacscan5.jpg)

14) The theme of the June 1992 High Performance Pontiac issue was “Birthday Bash – Bonneville’s 35th” and the magazine centerfold is a 2-page picture of Dick’s ’57 Bonneville with a white 1992 SSEi. Could this Bonneville SSEi be the 30 millionth Pontiac and is this a picture from the milestone event?

No, I surmised this photo must have been taken in California in the spring of 1992, because another article in that same issue titled Styln' by Sue Elliott is a road test of the 1992 Bonneville SSEi and mentions taking the car up to L.A. County Raceway in Palmdale. Later I was able to confirm this with Bart Orlans, one of the photographers on the feature, that "the SSEi that was photographed with Mr. Hoyts '57 was from the western press fleet and not the 30 millionth car from Wentzville. We borowed this car from Pontiac for our Birthday Bash article and performed testing on it as well as photographing it in different locations in and around Los Angeles as well as out in Oxnard with the '57. I drove the car myself for a few days around L.A. and found it to be a superb machine with lots of comfort, performance and style. Later, when I worked for Shaver Pontiac in Thousand Oaks, CA, I sold more than a few Bonnevilles, I think, thanks to my enthusiasn for them."


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February 17th, 2009, 22:56
15) this picture of Dick and Shirley Hoyt with their '57 Bonneville appeared in the April 1992 issue of Smoke Signals. the picture was taken at the 8th annual Dealer Concours at Vreeland Pontiac in Oxnard CA where their car was selected Best of Show - Judge's Choice


http://www.members.shaw.ca/mikehklassen/pocialbum/30 millionth pontiac scan 16 25.jpg

16) The June 1992 HPP article also mentions that Dick had just purchased his next project, the only documented solid black '57 Bonneville, out of Boonville, Indiana and Dick promised HPP a full feature on the black '57 Bonneville as soon as it was finished. I don't know if this article was ever published, so far I have not found it. Although almost all '57 Bonnevilles came from the factory with white exterior, it is my understanding that about a dozen were originally non-white.

Shorty after Dick completed the restoration of the solid black '57 Bonneville, it was sold to Ron and Gail Rittlinger. This car placed first in class H1 at the 1995 Convention at Loon Mountain NH. It also earned Best of Show at the 1994 Fun in the Sun show at Holyoke, MA sponsored by the Yankee chapter. It was advertised for sale in the September 1996 issue of Smoke Signals "1957 Bonneville fuel injected convertible. The only black model manufactured out of 630 produced. Has original engine, transmission and frame assembly. Many Pontiac enthusiasts consider this to be one of the finest restored 1957 Bonnevilles in the country. Asking price: $125,000." It subsequently sold at auction in 2005 for $129,000 and then was sold again at auction in 2008 from the Brent Merrill collection for $240,000


http://www.members.shaw.ca/mikehklassen/pocialbum/ron rittlinger 45.jpg

February 18th, 2009, 09:51
I have a 40th Anniversary of the Bonneville T-shirt that was given to workers at the Buick City Assembly plant in Flint MI. It's never been worn. These Bonnevilles never got the respect they deserved.

February 22nd, 2009, 18:43
17) I then came across the August 1990 issue of Smoke Signals magazine with Glenn Bappe's ’57 Bonneville on the cover after winning Best of Show at the 1990 POCI Convention in Kansas City, MO. I assume this car was one of the three ’57 Bonnevilles present at the milestone event? I have since been able to confirm this.

use the link or click on any of the pictures of Glenn's Bonnevilles to view more pictures


http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/thumbnails/3020millionth20pontiac20scan2072015.jpg (http://s490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/1957%20bonneville/glenn%20bappe/)

Here is another photo of Glenn's beautiful red '57 Bonneville

http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/thumbnails/opw_glenbappe_mcl60.jpg (http://s490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/1957%20bonneville/glenn%20bappe/)

18) I noticed in the October 2008 issue of Smoke Signals, in the Spearfish Convention article, there is a picture of a 1957 Bonneville and the caption "Glenn Bappe’s spectacular 1957 Bonneville was finished in a very rare charcoal gray. It took a Gold Award in Junior Stock."

http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/thumbnails/glennbappe.jpg (http://s490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/1957%20bonneville/glenn%20bappe/)

This has got to be the same Glenn Bappe that brought the red 1957 Bonneville to the 30 Millionth Pontic celebration 17 years ago. Very glad to see that Glenn is still active in the Pontiac hobby, and hope that he sees this topic, or if someone that reads this knows Glenn, could make sure he is aware of this topic, thanks.

Here is another photo of Glenn's beautiful charcoal '57 Bonneville

http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/thumbnails/opw_glenbappe2_mcl60.jpg (http://s490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/1957%20bonneville/glenn%20bappe/)

June 21st, 2009, 10:53
19) Next I found this article by Larry DeLay in the June 1997 issue of Pontiac Enthusiast magazine on Jeff Freed’s ’57 Bonneville. The article confirms this is the other ’57 Bonneville that was present at the milestone event. I believe that Jeff no longer owns this Bonneville.

This is not the only article that Larry DeLay has written about '57 Bonnevilles. An article written by Larry on the charcoal '57 Bonneville of Don and Becki Felts appeared in the February 2004 issue of Pontiac Enthusiast magazine.

And remeber that name, because as I was to discover later, Larry DeLay has more connections to the milestone event.


http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/thumbnails/3020millionth20pontiac20scan2082015.jpg (http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/1957%20bonneville/Jeff%20Freed/30millionthpontiacscan8.jpg)

Recently I was fortunate to speak with Jeff Freed, owner of one of the three 1957 Bonnevilles that were present at the celebration.

Jeff confirmed that he no longer owns the Ivory white with Blue spear Bonneville that was present at the celebration. It was shipped out of Florida to a new owner in Sweden about 5 years ago. Jeff has another 1957 Bonneville which he already had at the time of the celebration, Ivory white with red spear with Ivory and charcoal interior. He bought it about 20 years ago from someone in Cincinnati and is undergoing restoration including a second repaint to get it just right. Jeff mentioned that 1957 Bonneville Ivory White is a very hard color to duplicate correctly and it needs to have just the right amount of blue and green that only shows in certainly lighting conditions. In his restoration efforts Jeff takes pride and has a lot of experience with paint mixing and color match and has worked in the paint industry for Sherwin-Williams. Whenever fellow owners of Ivory white 1957 Bonnevilles get together, there is a friendly competitiveness to see who has most perfectly matched the factory color.

Regarding 1957 Bonnevilles with the main body color red. It is not my intention to offend anyone who owns one of these fine vehicles, but after discussing this issue with Jeff, it is my understanding the Pontiac factory did not produce any 1957 Bonnevilles with a main body color of red. The paint scheme on the 1957 Bonneville uses a color for the main body and then a complementary color for the side spears. One of the side spear color choices for the 1957 Bonneville was a certain red, which was introduced in the spring of 1957 and is identified as “Bonneville Red”. Since the side spears were always a different color than the main body color, all 1957 Bonnevilles have by definition a 2-tone paint scheme and for a specific vehicle the 3-character paint code on the body data plate indicates which combination was used. So for example paint code PPZ according to the 1957 Pontiac color chart - http://www.pontiacsafari.com/L1EarlyV8Pontiacs/57Colors/57Colors.html - is Kenya Ivory body with a Bonneville Red spear. There is no listing on the color chart for a 2-tone combination with Bonneville Red as the body color. But if a color was used by the factory for the main body or if a color was used by the factory for the side spears, all these colors must be considered colors that were used by the factory on 1957 Bonnevilles. And for each 1957 Bonneville, the 2 colors that were applied by the factory to that car must be considered the factory correct colors for that car. So if an Ivory white Bonneville with a red spear is repainted as red with an Ivory white spear, the vehicle is retaining the same colors it was born with.

I mention this because around the same time Jeff bought the Bonneville he still has today, he was looking at another 1957 Bonneville (what’s the only thing better than one, is two. And what’s the only thing better than two, is three). This was an Ivory white one located in Fort Wayne Indiana. Unfortunately after a price had been agreed to but before money had changed hands, the vehicle suffered a serious engine failure (threw a rod). The dealer insisted on the full agreed price with no price reduction to allow for the engine rebuild that was now required. They eventually agreed the dealer would take care of the engine repairs and once those were completed Jeff would have first right of refusal to complete the purchase. Instead the next thing Jeff heard about the car it had been sold to John Fitzgerald and the next time Jeff saw the car it was no longer Ivory white, it was Bonneville Red.

Jeff also mentioned the 30 Millionth Pontiac celebration a Wentzville was not his first invitation to a Pontiac factory. In 1953 when he was 12 years old he went on a tour of the Pontiac, Michigan assembly plant.

Jeff recalls that when the 18-wheeler arrived in Chicago to pick up his Bonneville for the trip to Wentzville, he was concerned about the insurance coverage that was in place for the trip. A semi would probably win most road battles without serious damage to the cargo, but what if for example, another semi forced it off the road and the trailer flipped. When Jeff asked Reg Harris, Reg was not sure what the insurance arrangements were, so Jeff asked the driver. The driver replied not to worry, that Pontiac Number 1 was in the trailer and there was a few million dollars of insurance on it, if anything happened there would easily be enough extra to cover replacing a ’57 Bonneville.

At the 30 Millionth celebration, Jeff recalls that the ’57 Bonnevilles were located separately. The Bonneville of Dick & Shirley Hoyt was placed in the factory, the Bonneville of Glenn Bappe was placed in a lobby that was very much like a showroom and Jeff’s Bonneville was place in a different showroom/lobby. Once his vehicle was in place there was a team of about 8 people that quickly detailed and polished the vehicle in preparation for the celebration. There were many automotive media journalists and photographers covering the event. Unfortunately Jeff did not see the 1926 Pontiac Number 1 at any time during the celebration. Possibly the Pontiac Number 1 was placed in some other location within the factory that Jeff never go to during the celebration.

Jeff recalls there was already a large crowd gathered at the end of the line where the banner was set up, so Jeff avoided the crowd and went down the line a few hundred feet and then followed the milestone vehicle as it made its way up the final section of the assembly line. He took some pictures of the milestone vehicle as it progressed up the line. It was one of a sequence of about 8 identical white SSEi that were progressing up the line and there was nothing that distinguished it from the others in the sequence. He didn't notice any parts being added to the vehicle at this time, the vehicle seemed to be already fully assembled by the time he started following it. This makes sense because the final stage of the assembly line is the audit area where operations are performed like final check, wheel alignment, roll test, paint check, headlight aim, polishing, striping and prepare for shipping. Jeff is confident the pictures he took at Wentzville that day are still in his collection, when he gets the opportunity he will pull them from his collection and make a copy of them for me.

At the reception afterwards there was a table full of the commemorative wine goblets which seemed like they were intended as souvenirs, but no one actually offered them. Also although many of the factory employees had the commemorative t-shirts on, they were not offered to the '57 Bonneville owners. Jeff was given a Pontiac belt buckle, but it was a generic item, it did not specifically mention the 30 Millionth Pontiac. Jeff was also given a poster of the 1992 Bonneville SSEi. Regarding the existence of a video tape record of the event, Jeff recalls at the end of the celebration there was a ceremonial drive-away of a fleet of white Bonnevilles. He remembers it being complete chaos like a scene out of a keystone cops movie with cars going evey which direction with no coordination. He vividly recalls watching that very scene when viewing a video tape sometime after the actual event, he is not sure who had the video tape but he does not.

I have not confirmed this with Jeff yet, but I believe this is an example of the poster he received at the event

http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/30%20millionth%20pontiac/th_DSC03773.jpg (http://s490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/30%20millionth%20pontiac/DSC03773.jpg)

June 28th, 2009, 17:30
20) To make it easier to read, I transcribed the article from the May/June 1997 issue of Pontiac Enthusiast:

1957 BONNEVILLE #125 - A true survivor - from the show circuit to Canada and back to the U.S.A., this fuel-injected beauty has lived a charmed life

By Larry DeLay

On October 29, 1991, a milestone in Pontiac history occured. The 30 millionth Pontiac Bonneville rolled off the assembly line in Wentzville, Missouri, amidst a gala celebration. In addition to the human dignitaries attending, there were also three proud ancestors of the present Bonneville. One of them was 1957 Bonneville #125, and this is its story.

The 1957 Bonneville remains one of the most desirable and collectible Pontiacs of all time. It is considered to be of particular historical significance because it was "the car" that heralded what Pontiac Motor Division went on the become - the performance division. As well as being an engineering tour de force, it was also a styling masterpiece.

The author was fortunate enough to have a chance meeting with this car's original owner, the late Doug Irwin, of Montreal, Canada, during the awards banquet at the 1987 Pontiac-Oakland Club International convention in Sturbridge, Massachusetts. There he revealed his intense interest in '57 Bonnevilles and that he still owned #125 of the 630 cars built. Irwin's primary reason for attending the convention was to gain some insight as to the value of the car, as he was considering selling it in the near future.

(note: I believe that Doug had been at least considering selling this Bonneville since 1982, because the following classified ad appeared in the August 1982 issue of Smoke Signals "'57 Bonne conv. Magnificent stong running rare model. Kenya Ivory with Tahoe Blue spear. Matching top and leather trim. Chrome engine, factory continental kit wonderbar, trunk full of injection parts with all parts and shop manuals. Will deliver anywhere in North America. $20,000 D. Irwin, Box 310, Innisfail Alberta Canada")

Although Doug briefly recounted some of the history of #125 as a PDM promotion car, most of the details of the Bonneville's story were obtained from or reinforced by conversations with the current owner, Jeff Freed, of St. Charles, Illinois.

Irwin graduated from the General Motors Institute in the summer of 1957. He began work as a management trainee in the parts department of a Canadian Pontiac dealership. Doug was fascinated with the new Bonneville and wanted one badly. At his graduation, Irwin made his desire known to a PMD zone representative.

Overwhelmed, the zone manager explained that this would be very difficult, as the Bonnevilles would be allotted one per dealership. In the late fall of 1957, however, presumably with the zone manager's assistance, Bonneville #125 arrived at the Canadian dealership earmarked for Doug. He became the first registered owner of the car. Prior to this, though, after being delivered somewhere in the United States during April of 1957, #125 was selected to served PMD as a promotional vehicle. It served in this capacity until the fall of 1957, when it was sent to Canada and purchased by Mr. Irwin.

In order to focus the attention of performance-oriented showgoers toward the engine compartment (can you hear Bunkie Knudsen in this somewhere?), the decision was made to chrome the upper and lower fuel-injection shrouds, air cleaner, voltage regulator cover, valve covers, oil breather cap, power steering bracket and pulley, and horn relay cover.

This, coupled with the already massive chrome bumper and stylish grille, riveted attention on the new powerplant under the hood of this Kenya Ivory and Fontaine Blue convertible.

During its tour of duty, the Bonneville was taken by PMD from dealership to dealership, to local drag racing events, and to NASCAR tracks, where it attracted not only young speed enthusiasts but the attention of NASCAR mechanics and drivers. Though not as light as the racing Chieftains with Tri-Power or four-barrel carbs, the 4,285-lb. Bonneville with its Rochester fuel injection and four-speed Hydra-matic could click off a 0-60 sprint in less than 8 seconds and could jump from 50 to 80 mph in 8.2 seconds. A projected top speed in the range of 130+ mph has been estimated, provided that it be running on tires better suited to the task than the standard 8:50X14s.

Sometime after receiving the car in late 1957, Doug began to campaign it on the drag strips near his home in Canada. At some point he sent the Bonneville to Royal Pontiac in Royal Oak, Michigan, where the fuel-injected 347 cubic inch engine was treated to a Royal Bobcat performance tune. This included the installation of solid lifters, heavy-duty valves and seats, and the popular "Isky" cam. An additional transmission cooler was added, as well as a steering-column-mounted tachometer, and a full set of Stewart-Warner gauges was added during the Bonneville's drag racing days. The stock dual exhaust system with resonaters was replaced with straight pipes. With approximately 15 additional horsepower, Bonneville #125 was now ready to go razzle, dazzle, and race!

Jeff Freed was also in attendance at the 1987 POCI convention. He encountered Doug in a happenstance meeting at the swap meet. Common interest in a 1957 Bonneville part sparked a conversation, in which Jeff also became aware of Bonneville #125 and the possibility that Doug might soon want to part with it. The conversation ended with Jeff making an offer to buy the car sight unseen when Doug was ready to sell. Several months later, after a call from Doug, a meeting was arranged at O'Hare airport in Chicago near Jeff's home.

At that meeting much information about the car was shared, and a trip was scheduled for Jeff to come and see it in Montreal. An overnight visit to Doug's home in late September resulted in a sale the following morning. Temporary plates were obtained from a Canadian dealership, and Jeff prepared to drive the car home to St. Charles. He had been advised that although he need not be concerned about the car making the trip he might encounter some problems at the border crossing.

To avert this possible set-back, the Canadian dealership had also prepared numerous documents to validate the sale and the legitimacy of Jeff's ownership. Another concern was the large box of NOS parts nestled away in the cavernous trunk. Jeff did not want to convey the impression that he might be smuggling parts to the U.S. And then, of course, there was the issue of getting the car itself across without raising questions. Jeff knew that because the car had been built in the U.S., it would not be subject to any duty.

Upon his arrival at Canadian customs, Jeff found himself allowed through quickly with a convoy of large trucks that he had been traveling alongside. On the American side, the agents were so excited to see the car that they hastily scanned the paperwork and waved the Bonneville through without asking to inspect the trunk. Perhaps the gorgeous rear end of this beautiful machine, complete with its continental kit, literally and figuratively "covered up" a gold mine of NOS parts!

The continental kit and a set of fender skirts were dealer-installed items added after #125's racing days were over. Needless to say, another 300 lbs. cantilevered over the rear axle would not have improved performance, as there was already enough traction available. Jeff subsequently drove the car from the border to St. Charles without a hint of difficulty. Doug had previously driven it on at least two vacation round trips from Calgary, British Columbia (that should be Alberta) to Miami, Florida. This Bonnevile has seen a good bit of the United States over its lifetime.

Today, similar jaunts involving distance see the Bonneville being trailered rather than driven, to avoid possible road construction mishaps or being stranded by the failure of a rare fuel injection part. Jeff does drive the '57 to local shows, however. For one such trip to an August show in Madison, Wisconsin, Jeff invited yours truly to ride shotgun on what turned out to be a beautiful top-down cruise in perfect 80-degree weather. Jeff prefers this type of early summer or early fall driving with the top down. As a result, #125 sees only a few hundred miles added to its odometer each year. It currently registers 61,800 miles. On cool evenings, which provide optimal conditions for the fuel injection system, Jeff can expect about 15 mpg.

The convertible has spent the past 20 years in a heated garage and has not seen a drag strip for more than 35 years. Nevertheless, it has continued to play a role in Pontiac history. On October 29, 1991, Bonneville #125, along with two other 1957 Bonnevilles, one owned by Dick and Shirley Hoyt, the other by Glenn and Mary Ann Bappe, attended the celebration of the 30 millionth Bonneville at the invitation of PMD. This event was held at the Wentzville plant near St. Louis, where a white 1992 Bonneville SSEi was assembled to become the 30 millionth of the lineage.

How fitting that survivors from amoung the original ancestors could be on hand. Jeff proudly displays a 16x20 inch poster from the photo shoot conducted by PMD. The other owners were given similar photos of their Bonnevilles as well, and all three were presented with videos and other memorabilia to commemorate the affair. All three Bonnevilles were trucked to and from the event compliments of Pontiac Motor Division.

It is an 80-degree mid-October evening. The leaves are in full color and a whisper-like breeze cools the air. There is something approaching fast in the glow of the setting sun. Leaves on the ground rustle in the wake of a rushing white form with a blue, rocket-like spear on its side. You can hear strains of "Autumn Leaves" fad into the distance...and it is gone. It was Jeff and his magnificent Bonneville!

July 5th, 2009, 16:37
21) A pair of commemorative wine glasses. As mentioned in the above article by Larry DeLay, there was a gala celebration which must have included a fancy meal. These wine glasses were possibly used at the dinner, then given to attendees as souviners.


http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/thumbnails/3020millionth20pontiac206.jpg (http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/30%20millionth%20pontiac/30millionthpontiacscan13.jpg)

22) I purchased these from Carole Silpoch of Summerville SC. The wine glasses were from the memorabilia collection of her husband Gary and he had recently passed away. Gary Silpoch at one time operated Mid-Michigan Performance Pontiac in Stoneville NC. He was also a POCI member and his (at that time) 1970 GTO Judge convertible won 1st place in class JU1 at the Cleveland 1991 POCI Convention. Occasionally I chat with Gary's son Mike and I know he is interested to know where is the car his dad once owned.

The Judge is green with a black top, when it was displayed in the early 1990's it had "thin white line" tires. I think there were a few different shades of green available, I'm not sure which shade it is, but I believe the car had a nickname - Emerald Mist.

September 10th, 2009, 23:41
As I mentioned, the car was at Cleveland 1991 POCI Convention, it was first in class, the 1969 GTO Judge convertible of Billy Tubbs placed second and the 1970 GTO Judge of Roger Barksdale placed third. The only other appearance the car made that I am aware of was at the Seventh Annual (1994) Eyes on the Classics design show at the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House in Grosse Pointe S****s, Michigan. This was a by invitation only show and a 2 page article by Jeff Denison appeared in Pontiac Enthusiast magazine volume 1 issue number 5. Jeff's 1967 GTO convertible was also invited to the show. In the page below, Gary's Judge is in the 2nd row of pictures on the left.

Anyway, if any member knows where this car is today, or is aware of other appearances the car has made, maybe even a recent picture of the car, I would be very interested and I would pass this info on to Gary's son Mike, who of course would also appreciate this.


http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/thumbnails/1970judgeconvertible.jpg (http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/30%20millionth%20pontiac/7thannualeyesondesign.jpg)

September 10th, 2009, 23:44
24) My most recent find is this article that appeared in the February 1992 issue of Smoke Signals magazine




http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/30%20millionth%20pontiac/th_scan10219.jpg (http://s490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/30%20millionth%20pontiac/scan10219.jpg)

http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/30%20millionth%20pontiac/th_scan10220.jpg (http://s490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/30%20millionth%20pontiac/scan10220.jpg)

http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/30%20millionth%20pontiac/th_scan10221.jpg (http://s490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/30%20millionth%20pontiac/scan10221.jpg)

To make it easier to read, I transcribed the article from the February 1992 issue of Smoke Signals:

PONTIAC - "We've Always Built Excitement"

By Shirley Hoyt, Vista, CA

Picture this: 1992 Bonnevilles everywhere you look - white ones, burgundy ones, forest green ones, ebony ones, and in the midst of all this, a beautiful 1957 white and blue Bonneville presiding over the new children. This was the sight Dick and I experienced recently when we flew to St. Louis for Pontiac's grand celebration of the 30 millionth Pontiac exiting the final assembly line in the Wentzville, Missouri Assembly center. As this was the 35th anniversary of the Bonneville, it was only fitting that the 30 millionth Pontiac was a gorgeous white Bonneville SSEi.

This fantasy started back at the POCI convention last July when Reg Harris invited 1957 Bonneville owners to bring their treasures to St. Louis for this event. Fast forward to October when the fantasy became a reality as we bid our car good-bye as it was loaded onto an enclosed car carrier for its journey to St. Louis. We took the big silver bird for a fabulous whirlwind trip and arrived Saturday at the Stouffer Concourse Hotel (note: now Renaissance Hotel). Also displaying their "beautiful boats" were Glenn Bappe from Iowa with his dynamite all red Bonne - 1990 POCI Convention Best of Show winner and Doris and Jeff Freed from Illinois with their white and blue Bonne, complete with Continental kit. What a beautiful sight - three Bonnes together - all the same yet different. So much chrome the dazzle was blinding! Our friends Cherie and Larry DeLay, from the Illinois POCI chapter, drove down to join in the festivities.

Sunday night we were entertained by the POCI St. Louis chapter at the home of president Jon Havens and wife, Marianne. Since our car arrived in St. Louis before we did, they were nice enough to babysit it until we arrived. Jon even moved his car outside in order to accommodate ours!

Monday morning we trailered our car from Jon's house in the pouring rain, while Glenn and Jeff met their cars at the Wentzville plant - huddled together in an enclosed carrier (the cars - not the men). Despite waiting for a break in the weather to unload the cars, they still needed touching up before they regally took their place. Jeff and Glenn's cars graced the lobby like two spectacular bookends beneath a sign "We've Always Built Excitement". Dick's car took its place inside the plant, nose to nose with a new 1992 Bonneville SSEi. Monday night we POCIers enjoyed a delightful dinner with Reg Harris and Celeste Speier, Media Relations and other Indian Chiefs from PMD.

Tuesday, October 29th was the "Big Day". We arrived at the plant along with the media, Pontiac dealers from the area and PMD dignitaries from Pontiac, Michigan. Everyone gathered for a reception, buffet breakfast and welcome speeches from John G. Middlebrook, Pontiac General Manager and a General Motors Vice President; and by Herb Stone, Wentzville Assembly Plant Manager.

A fascinating tour of the plant followed. Equipped with state-of-the-art technology, this center produces 75 cars per hour and is the sole source or Pontiac's full size Bonneville line. Approximately 3,500 people and 165 sophisticated robots work hand in hand on one shift.

A media conference was next and then on to the main event. Pride of workmanship was apparent as the 30 millionth Pontiac - a white supercharged SSEi was driven off the final assembly line by John Middlebrook and Herb Stone. The production line was shut down so employees could witness this slice of Pontiac history.

After the ceremony, a beautiful lunch was served, complete with ice carvings and souvenir wine glasses. After lunch everyone gathered outside for the promotional drive-away as 30 white SSEi's were released to the dealers and media for the first time. Our 57 looked on proudly as the new kids drove away single file, headlights sparkling, proving Pontiac Still Builds Excitement.

What more is there to say; we saw the three old Bonnevilles loaded onto the transport (supervised by Glenn, Jeff and Dick), bid good-bye to all our friends and caught the plane home - proud to be part of Pontiac and all it stands for. We enjoyed the excitement!

In her story, Shirley mentions "Our friends Cherie and Larry DeLay, from the Illinois POCI chapter, drove down to join in the festivities."

Recently I chatted with Larry DeLay, and he confirmed that he "along with (his) wife Cherie, attended the event with our close friends, the Hoyt's. In fact the Freed's who also lived in Illinois at the time, and the Bappe's are friends as well - it's the Bonneville thing! If you check the Pontiac Enthusiast story again you will note that the article and photos of Jeff Freed's Bonneville were authored by me. I have also photographed both of Glenn Bappe's Bonnevilles's - Red and Charcoal; and have informal snapshots of Dick's Bonneville. Cherie and I were part owner's of that car."

Larry DeLay and Dick Hoyt became friends when Dick purchased a '61 Pontiac parts car from Larry. When Dick picked up the solid black Bonneville, Larry was with him and help pull it out of a field. At the time of the 30 millionth Pontac celebration, the Freed's and the DeLay's lived just a couple miles apart just outside of Chicago. So after the celebration when Jeff's car was transported back home, there was space on the transporter so the Hoyt's car joined it for the trip to Chicago so that Larry could have it for a few months. In the spring of 1992 the Bonneville was shipped back to the Hoyt's in California. Not long after, the Bonneville was stolen. Dick took it out for a drive, parked it in a shopping mall parking lot and when he returned the car was gone. It was never recovered.

I have also chatted with Dennis D. who at the time worked at a St. Louis Pontiac dealership. Dennis recalls that "John Middlebrook was in attendance and at that time he was Vice President General Motors Corporation and General Manager Pontiac Motor Division. Later he became General Manager of Chevrolet and Executive Vice President of North American Operations. As I recall, there was about 250 people in attendance. I recall two 1957 Bonnevilles were on display, both fuel injected. One was a red convertible with white leather interior while I cannot recall the other one. Luncheon was catered at the Wentzville plant, and a nice day was had by all."

September 30th, 2009, 22:50
26) Planning for the October event was already in progress in July (the 1991 POCI convention in Cleveland). 3 rare and valuable Bonnevilles (and their owners) were brought to the event. Commemorative tshirts and wine glasses were prepared in advance, Posters and videos produced. There was a dinner, reception, breakfast, speeches, plant tour, media conference, shutdown of assembly line, formal lunch with ice carvings (the number 30,000,000). The General Manager came in from Pontiac, Michigan. Back in Pontiac, Michigan, the first pontiac was brought out from the historic collection.

Who was the mastermind behind this event?

Reg Harris is probably best known in the Pontiac community for his work throughout the 1990's promoting the very successful Firehawk as Marketing Director for SLP (Street Legal Performance) Engineering. But back in 1991 Reg was Pontiac Manager of Media Relations Sales & Marketing working out of One Pontiac Plaza in Pontiac Michigan.

Recently, I had the honor, privilege and thrill of speaking with Reg about this event. Keep in mind we're talking about an event that happened almost 20 years ago. Reg is proud of what SLP accomplished (and rightly so) and is often asked about the Firehawk program, so he is much more comfortable taking about his SLP experiences.

One story that Reg recalled about the event was regarding the commemorative tshirts. Of course, this is of great interest to me. Reg recalls that one day at lunch he went to get a hair cut at a barber about a block away from (what he called it) the "admin building". As he's getting his hair cut he notices a faint chemical smell and asks the barber what's making that smell. Barber says it's the printing shop next door. After his haircut Reg goes next door to check it out, it's a small "mom and pop" minority owned print shop, does things like custom signs for church sales, custom tshirts, etc. Reg asks them if they can do an order of 5,000 custom tshirts. He says they just about collapsed, in their total business to date they probably hadn't done that many tshirts. Reg says Pontiac provided the designs and the print shop went to work. Pontiac paid about $4 per shirt, so the deal was worth about $20,000 to the shop. It came down to the wire, but the shirts were completed and delivered to Wentzville Assembly the day before the event. And Reg commented this was probably just as well, because there was always a problem with "shrinkage" if something like this sat around at an assembly plant for too long, so it was for the best the shirts arrived just the day before they were needed.

Here's a photo from June 1991 taken at the Long Lead Press Intro at Big Sky, Montana, with (from left to right) Ed Lechtzin (Director of Pontiac's Public Relations Staff), Reg Harris, Carl Sheffer (Manager of Western Regional PR Office) and Randy Fox (Manager of Media Relations Product & Engineering). For more on the Long Lead Press Intro, click on the link or the image.


http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/thumbnails/pr20staff2050.jpg (http://www.poci.org/forums/showthread.php?t=729)

27) here is some info on the Wentzville Assembly Center, where the 30 millionth Pontiac was built


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On June 29, 1980, General Motors broke ground to begin construction of one of the most technologically advanced automobile assembly plants in the world. At first there was only a wheat field, but three years and $500 million later, the transformation was at last complete – the sparkling new WENTZVILL ASSEBMLY CENTER was the result.


The WENTZVILLE ASSEMBLY CENTER is equipped with state-or-the-art technology. Sophisticated robots numbering 165 weld and paint the metal bodies of the vehicles produced at the Center. Over 1,000 programmable devices are used to monitor and control facilities, equipment, and processes. These computer systems have the capacity to process 20 billion bit of information per second.


Employees receive at least three weeks of orientation and training before assuming their job. Skilled technicians who directly interface with the Center’s technology receive 1,100 hour of training in robotics, pneumatics, electronics, hydraulics, micro circuitry and more. Supervisory personnel complete a nine-week training program which includes instruction in interpersonal skills and statistical process control.


The assembly building covers 78 acres and encompasses 3.15 million square feet. More than 20 miles of conveyors move material and parts through the five phase assembly process. A complete automobile emerges from these five phases – body, paint, trim, chassis, and final process – after about 36 hours in the system. Finished vehicles are produced at a rate of 75 cars per hour. Approximately 3,500 people are employed on one shift.

January 14th, 2010, 23:50

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Material for one shift arrives daily via 60 rail cars and 60 eighteen-wheel trucks. Automatic guided vehicles (driverless tuggers) assist material department employees in delivering parts from major receiving docks to the assembly line. Approximately 5,500 parts from over 2,100 suppliers are assembled into complete automobiles.


The major body components – underbody, side frames, roof – are assembled and welded together by five automated systems comprised of 146 robots. At the robogate body framing station, these component parts are held in near perfect alignment while 8 robots perform critical spot welding operations. By using a single fixture for each body style produced, dimensional variations are controlled and accuracy is achieved within +- 1mm. Body fits are checked daily to determine whether tooling or engineering adjustments are needed to achieve desired dimensional relationships between parts. Weld placements, consistency and strength are also monitored and regulated to insure structural integrity of the vehicles produced.


Following a thorough phosphate wash, the body is submerged in a tank of corrosion resistant pain, primed, and wet sanded, before receiving its final coats of paint. In the paint booth, nineteen numerically controlled robots apply two coasts of base color paint and two coasts of clear paint to each body. These robots act as mechanical arms, opening and closing doors, and spraying paint along the contours of the vehicle.


After the wiring harness is attached to the instrument panel in the trim shop, electrical connections are checked to insure that indicator lights, headlamps, windshield wipers and other instruments are functioning properly. Before the carpet and seats are installed, each vehicle is tested for water leaks. As jets direct water at the vehicle from all angels, quality operators check seals on the inside. Leaks are detected under black lights that illuminate a special dye in the water.


Wheel alignment is carefully calibrated through an interactive computer system to insure proper ride, handling, and tire wear. At the sift station, the camber machine automatically sets the four hubs at the proper camber angle and tightens eight bolts connecting the hub to the strut. At the end of the assembly line, operators adjust the “toe-in” of the wheels as they rotate in place. These two on-line stations are regulated by a third station off-line that monitors wheel alignment. When variations occur, the system automatically adjusts the on-line machines to maintain proper alignment.


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Before leaving the plant, every automobile is driven onto a set of dynamometers for a simulated road test. As the vehicle is taken to a speed of 55mph, it is computer and manually checked for functional operation. Among the items tested are the speedometer, transmission, cruise control and brakes. After meeting performance and safety requirements, an automobile is released for shipment to dealers across the country.


Quality is everybody’s job at Wentzville. Along the production line, operators monitor the vehicles that pass through their area, and take action to insure that quality is passed from one job to the next. In addition to these and other assembly process controls, five vehicle are audited every day. Over 1,500 items are checked on each sample car. Employees gather at the daily audit review meeting to discuss quality achievements in light of specific goals.


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And here is an interesting article about automation of auto assembly that mentions Wentzville:

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The robots are looking

At a sprawling GM C-car assembly plant in Wentzville, Mo., I watch a group of four body-welding robots connected to a vision system performing tasks that blind robots simply couldn’t do. As silvery “bodies in white” (car bodies minus doors, hoods, and trunk lids) move slowly down the assembly line, gleaming ruby-red cross-hair patterns appear at the tops of their door openings.

“When a car comes into this station, 16 lasers detect shifts in the locations of the eight door-facing joints on each body,” explains Reini Osterloh, an electrician who monitors the system’s operation. “The vision system also checks the depth and width of each joint and tells the robot controller to offset each robot to the right location. Then the robots use silicon-bronze wire to weld the joints.” This is basically a cosmetic operation that affects the appearance of the car. The controller selects the best of three possible welding programs and automatically adjusts the welding voltage, amperage, and wire-feed rate. “It will also direct the robots to weave sideways to fill a wide joint with weld metal,” Osterloh adds.

Art Pavlovick, a high-tech instructor at the plant, says: “Here we’re using the lasers as a structured light source. They project horizontal and vertical beams in a pattern that video cameras can see.”

The cameras, which use charge-coupled devices as light-sensing elements (“Chips That See,” PS, Jan. ’82), digitize the visual information and send it to a specialized vision computer, which processes the data and generates movement and weld-operation command to the robots, Welding the door-facing joints is a job that used to be done by hand. “The robots will do good welds over and over again. No person can do that continually,” says Pavlovick.

This vision-guided robot-welding system is an example of a new computer-intensive approach to improving manufacturing accuracy and efficiency, according to Thomas Reynolds, director of product marketing at Automatix Inc., Billerica, Mass., builders of the equipment. “We call it adaptive automation,” says Reynolds. “This means that you can adapt the manufacturing process to whatever parts you have. Instead of using expensive tooling to precisely locate parts, we do it with software. It’s a major change in the way factories are operated.”

February 20th, 2010, 13:56
I believe this 1957 Bonneville that was for sale on eBay recently, is Dick Hoyt's first one

use link or click on image to view an album of photos of the vehicle


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relisted - http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=200425858274&viewitem=&sspagename=STRK%3AMEWAX%3AIT

here is the description from the ebay listing -

Spectacular ORIGINAL 36,000 Mile car from Palm Beach Museum"

Exterior: Kenya Ivory with Blue Trim

Interior: Blue & White Leather

Convertible Top: White

Serial Number: P857H36932

Mileage: 36,204 (Actual Mileage)

1957 is considered by millions of car collectors around the world as the crowning point in the American Car Manufacturing history.

You can't buy originalty & mileage...this Bonneville has both!


America was "KING" of the car making world...and sitting alone at the Top of the hill was General Motors...1 out of every two cars produced in the world was made by the General!

Thanks to the incredible Harley Earle, GM's chief designer....GM was at the top of the world when it came to making really neat & cool cars.

If you want to read all about Harley Earl...his Grandson, Richard Earle has created a memorable web site of Harley's accomplishments...carofthecentury.com to view it.

1957 was no exception for GM'S Pontiac Division..... great things were happening at Pontiac. The changes had started the previous summer, when Semon E. "Bunkie" Knudsen became Pontiac's new general manager. Soon after that, he hired Pete Estes and John Z. DeLorean, in a move that would mean great things for the company for many years to come.
Semon E. “Bunkie” Knudsen, at the age of 44, became the youngest general manager of a car division at General Motors on July of 1956. This tired GM division needed some excitement, and there were two areas that could be exploited to bring a more youthful feel to Pontiac: styling and performance. The process of designing and tooling up to produce an all-new car takes time, but introducing performance offered more immediate opportunities. Therefore, in about half a year into his tenure as division chief, Bunkie Knudsen was able to put the fuel-injected Bonneville convertible on the road.

This injection system was similar to the one on '57 Corvettes, and it offered the same mystique. Simply put, it meant something to have a fuel injected engine in '57, and it really meant something if you were cruising around in a fuel injected Pontiac Bonneville convertible.

Unfortunately, not too many people would get a chance to test drive this fine American machine. Pontiac built just 630 of these babies, ostensibly to be sold only to dealers to gain valuable field testing--and to earn some publicity along the way. With a base price of $5,782, the Bonneville came with virtually every accessory Pontiac manufactured; air conditioning and an externally mounted spare were the only options. I have been told that only 3 or 4 were built with factory AC.

The Bonneville had its own version of the 347 CID engine, with something new: fuel injection. Its injection system was a mechanical continuous-flow type that directed fuel to each intake port. Conceived by GM Engineering, the unit was manufactured by Rochester Products. The setup was similar to the fuel-injection system used in 1957 Chevrolets and Corvettes. However, manifold designs and fuel-meter locations differed between the two makes. At 10.25:1, the compression ratio of the Bonneville engine was a quarter-point higher than the triple-carb engine available in other Pontiac models.
The powerplant made 310 bhp at 4,800 rpm and a healthy 400 pound-feet of torque at 3,400 rpm. The Bonneville was available only with the Hydra-Matic automatic transmission. Motor Trend Magazine tested the new car, and found that at 8.1 seconds, the new Fuel Injected Pontiac was just one-tenth of a second quicker to 60 mph than another Pontiac with the 290-horsepower triple-carb engine, and it was more than a second slower in the quarter mile. However, the Bonneville makes a well-equipped convertible, and was Pontiac’s heaviest ‘57 model at 4,285 pounds.

The 1957 Bonneville shared the Star Chief’s 124-inch-wheelbase chassis. Front-fender hash marks and a ribbed panel on each rear-quarter panel were other exclusive touches. “Fuel-Injection” badges on the front fenders announced the car’s special engine. Other standard equipment included power steering and brakes, power windows, an eight-way power seat adjuster, leather upholstery, a Wonderbar radio with electric antenna, padded dashboard, electric clock, tri-blade wheel covers, and whitewall tires. The price for a Bonneville came to $5782-a good $2677 more than a Star Chief Custom Convertible. Only 630 were built.

Of the 630 total cars produced....about 20% are known to have survived or approx. 130 cars.

However, of the 130 cars left in existence...there is one very special car that is different from the others...and it is this car. It is a True survivor with a little more than 36,000 actual miles. The paint is 85%-90% original!

There are two things one can not "BUY" in a vintage & classic car...namely ORIGINALITY & MILEAGE...and this ultra rare Bonneville Convertible has them both.

We have had collectors from throughout the world visit this car...because they have one that needs to be restored...and by looking and examining this car...they can determine exactly how their car should be restored.

This EXACT car is featured in several car collecting hard bound color books which feature the best all time collectable cars from the 1950's. The 1957 Bonne License plate has been registered this car for almost 20 years and you can recognize it in the photos in all the books. It has a December/1990 decal on the license plates which was the last time this car was really driven on public highways..it has been in the hands of collectors or car museums since that time.

I have driven this car approx. 20 miles..it runs flawless and everything works. It starts up the 1st time...every time with a turn of the key! It is pure joy to drive and draws a crowd and rave reviews everywhere and every time I drive it.

If you want and can afford the very, very best unrestored 57 F.I. Bonneville Convertible left on Planet Earth...here it is!

Sales of restored examples of these cars have ranged between $180,000-$225,000 over the past two years...and typically the ONLY place you might have the opportunity to own one of these ultra rare cars is at an auction...at these auctions the typical commission you have to pay on top of the final bid price is 10%...and you don't have the chance to drive and really inspect the car prior to owning it.

This car is proudly on display at the fabulous Cars From Dreams in North Palm Beach, Florida. We have an ultra modern shop with available lifts to inspect the flawless and original undercarriage...and a test drive is also offered to potential qualified purchases.

Both license plates and the books will go with this car when sold.

I can not think of anything negative to mention on this car...PLEASE come and inspect it for yourself in person...you won't be disappointed!

This car is 100% documented...."THE REAL THING!"

This ultra rare Fuel Injected Pontiac will be on display in the annual "Shop With A Cop" car show to raise money for underprivileged kids" It is located at the corner of Northlake Blvd and U.S. Highway One in North Palm Beach.

Every car is thoroughly inspected before it is released to the lucky buyer.

Your personal inspection is most welcomed...only of course by appointment. If your flying in, the Palm Beach Airport is 15 miles to the South and Ft. Lauderdale approx. 50 miles to the South. Please have your financing in place prior to coming to inspect this car.

Now...let me tell you about this incredible car!

It still retains it's ORIGINAL FACTORY Fuel Injected V-8

The Engine & engine compartment is unmolested as is the interior.

Frankly speaking, they just don't come any better than this.

I have had the pleasure to drive this car...WOW! Absolutely Amazing!

I would be confident to drive this Bonneville Convertible anywhere and anytime with no hesitation...it drives that good! Just awesome!

If your looking for a Museum quality, ORIGINAL example ...that drives as incredible as it looks...here is a unique opportunity to acquire one of the rarest and nicest cars ever offered on ebaymotors.com

March 5th, 2010, 00:29
The GM Media Archive was very kind to find for me this picture from the event. This picture appears to have been taken just a moment before the picture that was included in the press kit and the pontiac customer care article.

If you compare this photo to the press kit photo, in this photo the banner is covering part of the windshield and the banner is being held by the men on the right.

Check out the cool tshirts some of the people are wearing!


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May 29th, 2010, 18:54
A couple months ago I spoke with Jeff Freed, owner of one of the 3 '57 Bonnevilles that were at the celebration. I have updated the topic with Jeff's comments. It is reply #13 (if this link does not position you at the correct reply) - http://www.poci.org/forums/showthread.php?15-30-millionth-Pontiac-celebration&p=1284#post1284

When I spoke with Jeff a couple months ago, he mentioned that no story about a 1950’s fuel injected Pontiac would be complete without acknowledging the late John Thropp. I did not include the reference to John when I wrote up the summary of our conversation since I had never heard of John and did not know anything about him. I have since done a bit of research and last week I spoke with Jeff again to find out more.

According to Jeff, John Thropp was highly regarded for his expertise in rebuilding, setting-up and the high performance tuning of the early Pontiac Tri-power and Fuel Injection systems. Jeff recalled that whenever John attended a Pontiac event he was constantly in demand by the other Pontiac owners who would seek John’s advice on their Tri-power and F.I. issues. Jeff also purchased some F.I. parts from John, some of which may have been used on Jeff’s 1957 Bonneville that was at the 30 millionth Pontiac celebration, but Jeff still has most of the parts he obtained from John and intends to use them on his current 1957 Bonneville restoration project.

John Thropp was a member of POCI and also a member of the Safari Chapter. According to the chapter briefs section of the October 1982 issue of Smoke Signals magazine, a new Safari chapter officer for 1983 was chapter vice president John Thropp. John also had quite a career as a drag racer and was runner up in Stock Eliminator at the 1969 Dallas World Finals driving a F.I. Pontiac. The tow vehicle for the race car was a Safari.

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Sadly, John past away on November 18, 1994 and the following announcement appeared in the January 1995 issue of Smoke Signals.

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It seems appropriate then, that in 1994 at Springfield, Illinois at the last POCI national convention that John attended, he is credited with the white 1957 Bonneville that was awarded 1st place in class H-1 (the gray 1957 Bonneville of Glen Bappe was 2nd).

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The announcement regarding John’s passing mentions that he recently had worked on John Denlinger’s first place ’57 Bonneville, so I wonder if that was actually John Denlinger’s car at the convention, but with John Thropp getting credit for presenting it as thanks for his contribution to the car.

Mike Nixon
May 29th, 2010, 19:01
You just have to LOVE a 57 Bonnie in drag trim!

May 30th, 2010, 08:31
Very interesting story on John Thropp -

That must have been in the NHRA Junior Stock days?

Thanks for sharing!

June 8th, 2010, 00:46
Recently I talked with Muriel about her recollection of what it was like working at Wentzville in the early 1990's. This is what Muriel had to say.

“She Was There!”

Muriel worked on the 1992 Bonneville in the early design stages when she first came to GM in 1987. She changed jobs in late 1988 when she was promoted but came back to the 1992 Bonneville when help was needed on re-designing the decklid hinges at the last moment. She had 6 weeks to get a design production ready. (Back then it took a lot longer to do things - no computers, no CAE, no rapid tooling or accelerated testing.) Based on her work there she was given the Engineering Manager's job for the Action Center Team in Wentzville for the launch of the 1992 Bonneville. There were 4 main people on the team - one from the plant, Dave Mitchell who has retired recently from GM, Purchasing - Pat Stephens who left GM a couple of years later and another person from Marketing who retired immediately after returning from Wentzville.

The Bonneville had a new design for the 1992 model year and was new to the Wentzville Assembly plant. The Wentzville Assembly plant was assembling full size Buicks and Oldsmobiles while the 1991 (and earlier) Bonnevilles were manufactured elsewhere. Preparation at Wentzville for the launch of the 1992 Bonneville began in August 1990. Muriel was based in Flint, Michigan at the time so this required frequent trips to the Wentzville Assembly plant in Missouri. Then from September 1990 until November 1991, Wentzville became her full time work location. She had an apartment and car in Wentzville, flew in from Michigan every Sunday evening and flew back to Michigan every Friday evening. Her work day started at 5:30 AM with a meeting in the body shop and ended at 6:00 PM with a daily meeting every day except Friday.

The purpose of involving engineering in the Action Center Team was to achieve better communications between the Flint-based engineering team and production and to enable engineering to more expediently address product and process engineering issues right at the assembly plant. This was the first time strong collaboration between engineering and manufacturing was driven from the beginning of a project. Wentzville Plant Manager Herb Stone was a staunch supporter of Muriel and the Action Team program. The program was a great success – the 1992 Bonneville was the highest quality new car launch GM had achieved up to that time.

Regarding the “World Class Quality” video that Muriel appears in, she did not know anything about a video being produced until the day of the taping. The video crew showed up at the assembly plant one day and she was told to be ready in about an hour to be filmed. This was not a Hollywood production with wardrobe, hair stylist and makeup artists. She (and the others on the video) appeared just the way they showed up for work that day. There were no scripted lines and no rehearsing. She was just instructed to say whatever she wanted to about the quality of the new Bonneville and how it was being achieved. The video was intended for dealership personnel only. It was not meant to be viewed by the general car buying public.

The Action Center Team program to launch the 1992 Bonneville began in the summer of 1990 with the stationary build. An area was set aside in the assembly plant body shop and the very first Bonnevilles were assembled on a large platter. The regular assembly line was not used for this build; the assembly line was busy building the 1991 model year Buicks and Oldsmobiles.

In the fall of 1990 the program advanced to what is called the “slow builds”. This is done using the regular production assembly line. What they would do is start a single 1992 Bonneville down the line, inserted into the line with all the 1991 Buicks and Olds. This “slow build” vehicle would be followed all the way down the assembly line by a team of about 50 people representing all different areas of the assembly process. This was the build team that is featured in the picture with the first shipments of 1992 Bonnevilles.

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This build team would either perform or observe the assembly operations as this “slow build” vehicle progressed down the assembly line. The line would often have to be slowed or stopped as each step of the assembly processes was analyzed by the build team. Obviously this slowed down production of the 1991 model year vehicles. When the “slow build” vehicle had gone part way down the assembly line, it would be pulled off the line so the line could resume regular speed. It would sit there off to the side of the line, sometimes for days, before being inserted back into the line to make further assembly progress. These “slow build” cars once they were completed would go to the proving grounds for various quality, endurance, mileage and safety testing. Some would be used for advance media evaluation and reviews. Some would even be assigned to the engineers and other appropriate GM employees to be used as daily drivers for evaluation purposes. For example, Muriel’s company car back in Michigan was 1992 Bonneville VIN# 6. Her company car in Wentzville was also an early 1992 Bonneville.

In the spring of 1991 the 1991 model year vehicle assembly ended and the plant was switched over so regular production of 1992 Bonnevilles could begin. The build team picture features the very first regular production shipments of 1992 Bonnevilles. These were all the SE base model. Regular production of SSE and SSEi models did not happen until later, there was no engineering reason for this (“slow builds” on the SSE and SSEi models had already been done), it was simply marketing considerations to focus regular plant production on the SE base model first. I noticed there were no white cars in the first shipments which I thought was strange since white cars were often featured in Bonneville advertisements, media reviews and press kits. Muriel does not recall there was any problem with producing white cars, the colors of the first shipment just happened to be what was ordered. Also, all the first shipment Bonnevilles appear to be “bubble butts” (i.e. no rear spoiler). For the base SE model the spoiler was part of an extra cost option package so it appears again, this just happens to be what was ordered.

Regarding the SSE and SSEi models, I was curious why they went to the trouble of a separate hood insulating liner with the Pontiac SSE logo printed on the hood liner vs. the base SE model with just a plain hood liner. According to Muriel this is thanks to the “father” of the SSE model, which had been introduced to the Bonneville lineup just a few years prior (for model year 1988). She could not recall his name, she though it was Bill and he was the chief engineer for the SSE. He retired right before the 1992 models were introduced. The logo’ed hood liner was something he insisted on.

Muriel was aware of the 30 Millionth Pontiac milestone celebration event in advance, since it was mentioned in the regular Plant Managers meetings which she attended. This is where any special events or guest visits would be discussed. For example, at one of the Plant Manager meetings it was mentioned “the CIA” was coming to visit the plant and she was thinking who could this be, was there some other organization that used these initials that she was not aware of, but in fact this was the real CIA since this was during the Desert Storm operation and they were considering temporarily using Wentzville for some military assembly purposes. Everyone was shocked to hear the CIA was coming. The concept that Wentzville may be used as part of a war effort had not dawned on us.

Another special event at the assembly plant was when 1992 Bonneville production had just started up. A bunch of Pontiac and UAW executives were invited to the assembly plant and a temporary race track was marked out on the Wentzville parking lot. Well known racing instructor Skip Barber was brought in to give the executives some instruction in high performance driving and they “raced” some brand new Bonnevilles around this parking lot race course.

Muriel was not involved in any of the preparations leading up to the 30 Millionth Pontiac milestone celebration event. Regarding the actual day of the event, it was quite the big deal. It was a busier than average day for Muriel so there was not a lot of time to participate in the celebration. In addition to Muriel’s regular daily responsibilities, some Engineering department executives had come from home office to Wentzville for the event, so she had to meet with these executives and help chaperone them around the plant. There was an opportunity during the day for Plant Manger Herb Stone to take Muriel over to one of the 1957 Bonnevilles that had been brought in for event. It was in the lobby and it was the red one (Glenn Bappe’s).

June 8th, 2010, 00:48
Herb told her that he helped build this car. Muriel questioned Herb if he meant that he had worked on other late 1950 Pontiac cars like this one. But Herb claimed he meant this very car. Muriel thinks Herb was just joking - he had a great sense of humor. Herb graduated from Pontiac Central High School in the class of 1957. He started out with GM right out of high school at the General Motors Institute which is now Kettering University. The students there would go to school one semester and then work somewhere in GM one semester. His first work semester was at the Pontiac Assembly plant so he did work on the assembly line where the 1957 Bonnevilles had been assembled, but by the time he got there it would have been the 1958 model year. He was a wonderful person to work with and to know, a great guy and an original character. He left Wentzville and went to Detroit Hamtramck and then to Arlington Texas where he retired from GM in 1999.

Interesting story regarding the logo for the Wentzville Assembly plant, the shock of wheat, which appears on the 30 Millionth Pontiac souvenir wine glass and the custom event t-shirt. When GM decided to locate a new assembly plant in the Wentzville area, the piece of land was purchased from a farmer and it was already planted in wheat and was almost ready to be harvested. So after they acquired the land, GM hired the farmer that sold the land to GM to harvest it and GM sold the wheat. Thus making Wentzville one of the only, if not the only, GM assembly plant to generate some income before the plant had even been built.

There were no special engineering considerations for the milestone vehicle. It was just a regular production vehicle so there was no reason to give the vehicle any attention from an engineering perspective as it was being assembled. Muriel was there at the end of the assembly line when the milestone vehicle was driven off the line by Pontiac GM John Middlebrook. She was not invited to the reception lunch which was for the executives and special guests, but there was a large cake for everyone else to have a piece. Afterwards she was offered a souvenir wine glass which she accepted. She was also offered one of the special t-shirts that was custom made for the event but the yellow color of the t-shirts did not appeal to her so she did not take one. Her assignment in Wentzville ended very soon after the 30 Millionth Pontiac milestone celebration. The time spent at Wentzville was one of hard work, intense learning, and new friendships. Muriel will always remember it as a positive milestone in her career.

October 27th, 2010, 10:09
Jeff Freed, owner of one of the '57 Bonnevilles that was invited to the event, went thru his personal photo collection and found these photos (click thumbnail to view full-size):

http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/30%20millionth%20pontiac/th_990103984_002_2001.jpg (http://s490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/30%20millionth%20pontiac/990103984_002_2001.jpg) http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/30%20millionth%20pontiac/th_990103984_010_2001.jpg (http://s490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/30%20millionth%20pontiac/990103984_010_2001.jpg) http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/30%20millionth%20pontiac/th_990103984_001_2001.jpg (http://s490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/30%20millionth%20pontiac/990103984_001_2001.jpg) http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/30%20millionth%20pontiac/th_990103984_003_2001.jpg (http://s490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/30%20millionth%20pontiac/990103984_003_2001.jpg) http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/30%20millionth%20pontiac/th_990103984_004_2001.jpg (http://s490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/30%20millionth%20pontiac/990103984_004_2001.jpg)

October 27th, 2010, 10:09
http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/30%20millionth%20pontiac/th_990103984_005_2001.jpg (http://s490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/30%20millionth%20pontiac/990103984_005_2001.jpg) http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/30%20millionth%20pontiac/th_990103984_006_2001.jpg (http://s490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/30%20millionth%20pontiac/990103984_006_2001.jpg) http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/30%20millionth%20pontiac/th_990103984_007_2001.jpg (http://s490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/30%20millionth%20pontiac/990103984_007_2001.jpg) http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/30%20millionth%20pontiac/th_990103984_009_2001.jpg (http://s490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/30%20millionth%20pontiac/990103984_009_2001.jpg) http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/30%20millionth%20pontiac/th_990103984_008_2001.jpg (http://s490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/30%20millionth%20pontiac/990103984_008_2001.jpg)

December 7th, 2010, 19:22
Since I first came across this, I suspected the 1957 Bonneville in this picture is the car that Jeff Freed brought to the 30 Millionth Pontiac celebration, seems it should be a very well known car, since this photo is the one used by wikipedia in the article on the Bonneville - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pontiac_Bonneville

the only reference information in wikipedia is the photographer is Lars-Göran Lindgren from Sweden


I have now confirmed this is the same car that Jeff Freed brought to the 30 Millionth Pontiac celebration. Thanks to the interest generated on this forum and other forums, the son of the current owner of the car learned that I was searching for this car and contacted me. I received these recent photos of the car from him, (click thumbnail to view full-size)

http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/1957%20bonneville/Jeff%20Freed/th_CIMG0121.jpg (http://s490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/1957%20bonneville/Jeff%20Freed/CIMG0121.jpg) http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/1957%20bonneville/Jeff%20Freed/th_Bonneville013.jpg (http://s490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/1957%20bonneville/Jeff%20Freed/Bonneville013.jpg) http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/1957%20bonneville/Jeff%20Freed/th_DSC06732.jpg (http://s490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/1957%20bonneville/Jeff%20Freed/DSC06732.jpg) http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/1957%20bonneville/Jeff%20Freed/th_DSC06729.jpg (http://s490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/1957%20bonneville/Jeff%20Freed/DSC06729.jpg) http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/1957%20bonneville/Jeff%20Freed/th_CIMG1379.jpg (http://s490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/1957%20bonneville/Jeff%20Freed/CIMG1379.jpg)

According to the current owner, the Bonneville is # 129, not 125 as indicated in the article by Larry DeLay that appeared in Pontiac Enthusiast magazine. Also, the owner of the car was not aware this car participated in the 30 millionth Pontiac celebration. In the 5 years he has owned the car there have been no major repairs needed, just adjusting the fuel injection and routine servicing. The car now has 65,700 miles.

January 7th, 2011, 18:51
25) Ironically, although the owners were invited to attend the celebration when they were at the 1991 national convention in Cleveland, none of the '57 Bonnevilles that were brought to the celebration were at the Cleveland convention. There was a '57 Bonneville at the 1991 Cleveland convention and it was red with white top and continental kit, very much like Glenn Bappe's red one. This other red one was owned by John Fitzgerald at that time and was awarded gold in the points judgeing, here is a short video of this car.

http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/1957%20bonneville/john%20fitzgerald/th_JohnFitzgerald1957Bonneville.jpg (http://s490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/1957%20bonneville/john%20fitzgerald/?action=view&current=JohnFitzgerald1957Bonneville.flv)

The only difference that I notice between this one and Glenn's red one is the location of the driver side rear view mirror, on this one the rear view mirror is mounted on the fender but on Glenn's the rear view mirror is mounted on the door. I don't know where this '57 is now, I checked the membership roster and it appears that John Fitzgerald is no longer a POCI member.

I believe this '57 Bonneville of John Fitzgerald is the same one that Bunkie Knudsen was photographed in for the 2-part interview that appear in High Performance Pontiac Magazine in the August and October 1994 issues.

http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/1957%20bonneville/john%20fitzgerald/th_scan10251.jpg (http://s490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/1957%20bonneville/john%20fitzgerald/scan10251.jpg)

January 7th, 2011, 18:59
The car was featured in this magazine article:

http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/1957%20bonneville/john%20fitzgerald/th_01-05-2011122257AM2.jpg (http://s490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/1957%20bonneville/john%20fitzgerald/01-05-2011122257AM2.jpg) http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/1957%20bonneville/john%20fitzgerald/th_01-05-2011122257AM3.jpg (http://s490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/1957%20bonneville/john%20fitzgerald/01-05-2011122257AM3.jpg) http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/1957%20bonneville/john%20fitzgerald/th_01-05-2011122257AM4.jpg (http://s490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/1957%20bonneville/john%20fitzgerald/01-05-2011122257AM4.jpg) http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/1957%20bonneville/john%20fitzgerald/th_01-05-2011122257AM5.jpg (http://s490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/1957%20bonneville/john%20fitzgerald/01-05-2011122257AM5.jpg) http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/1957%20bonneville/john%20fitzgerald/th_01-05-2011122257AM6.jpg (http://s490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/1957%20bonneville/john%20fitzgerald/01-05-2011122257AM6.jpg) http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/1957%20bonneville/john%20fitzgerald/th_01-05-2011122257AM7.jpg (http://s490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/1957%20bonneville/john%20fitzgerald/01-05-2011122257AM7.jpg)

January 7th, 2011, 19:10
and here is an article about Pontiac Restorations in Jupiter, Florida where the restoration work was done, and a photo of the restoration in progress:

http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/1957%20bonneville/john%20fitzgerald/th_01-07-2011072056AM.jpg (http://s490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/1957%20bonneville/john%20fitzgerald/01-07-2011072056AM.jpg) http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/1957%20bonneville/john%20fitzgerald/th_01-07-2011072056AM2.jpg (http://s490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/1957%20bonneville/john%20fitzgerald/01-07-2011072056AM2.jpg) http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/1957%20bonneville/john%20fitzgerald/th_01-07-2011072056AM3.jpg (http://s490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/1957%20bonneville/john%20fitzgerald/01-07-2011072056AM3.jpg) http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/1957%20bonneville/john%20fitzgerald/th_01-07-2011072056AM4.jpg (http://s490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/1957%20bonneville/john%20fitzgerald/01-07-2011072056AM4.jpg) http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/1957%20bonneville/john%20fitzgerald/th_01-07-2011072056AM5.jpg (http://s490.photobucket.com/albums/rr268/aukcc/1957%20bonneville/john%20fitzgerald/01-07-2011072056AM5.jpg)

September 19th, 2012, 14:00
Want to let folks know what I’ve been up to lately on this project. The format of this forum is perfect for dialog among members and while I continue to value the POCI members only club forum for group discussion and conversation , I also needed a place on the internet for hosting the photos and videos that I’m collecting and to be able to display the information to an audience that includes some non-club members and also something with a format that is oriented towards the organization and viewing of lots of photos and videos.

As a result, I’ve started a facebook “fan page” to host and present the information that I’ve collected, please check it out and let me know what you think - http://www.facebook.com/30.Millionth.Pontiac

I hope there are POCI members who can contribute to the discussion, either because they were involved in the launch of the 1992 Bonneville or events related to the Bonneville or they know someone who was, and this is still the place where I want to find out about it and have those conversations. Thanks, and I hope to hear from you, Mike