Gathering of the Faithful
John Gunnell - June 25, 2014 09:52 AM
1971 GMC CarryallJohn Gunnell
A trio of OaklandsJohn Gunnell
There were lots of GTOs.John Gunnell
In the summer of 1974, I drove a 1953 Pontiac from Staten Island, New York, to Wichita, Kansas for the Pontiac club’s second convention. The Chieftain Deluxe sedan purchased for $175 made it with only a broken shock that cost $11 to repair.
In 2014, I drove a 1953 Pontiac from Iola, Wisconsin to Wichita for the same event. The Custom Catalina purchased in the ‘80s for $4,500 made it with only a U-joint replacement, steering gear adjustment and alignment costing about $500. The cars were not the same, but neither were the highways or the convention.
The 1974 venue drew about 40 people and maybe 20 cars. This year’s convention had over 500 attendees and hundreds of Pontiac, Oaklands and GMC trucks. Those are the vehicles that the Pontiac club (www.poci.org) recognizes as being part of a corporate family. Oakland sired the Pontiac and GMC trucks—some with Pontiac engines—were built in Pontiac, Michigan, for years.
Describing that five-day-long 2014 convention would take a book. There are business meeting, breakfast tours for Oakland lovers, an ice cream social for “Early Times” Pontiac fans, dozens of chapter meetings, seminars by the likes of GTO “daddy” Jim Wangers and a big “Road Warriors” show for cars that are driven a lot. Ames Performance (www.amesperf.com) put on an evening of fun and Pontiac drag races were held the next night.
The parking garage at the Wichita Hyatt Regency hosted both a judged car show and a popular vote car show. The all-Pontiac swap meet was held nearby. Cars put on exhibit ranged from a 1910 Oakland Model 24 roadster to a 2009 Pontiac Solstice roadster. In addition to original and restored-to-original vehicles, there were racing cars, hot rods, prototypes, limo and ambulance conversions, GMC pickups, GMC Suburbans and even a ’53 Studebaker “old school” drag car with a Pontiac engine.
The show concluded with an awards banquet. It was announced that the 43rd annual POCI Convention would be held in Louisville, Kentucky, July 21-25, 2015.