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Jim Wangers Death: A Tribute to the Marketing Genius

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History Of GTO and 2004 Pontiac GTO Review

On the morning of April 27, 2023, Jim Wangers, the legendary marketing genius for automobiles, passed away in his sleep at the age of 97. His passing was confirmed by members of his family and close friends, who mourn his death. Jim was not only a marketing genius, but he was also a great storyteller who found joy in sharing his tales with others and helping them gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for their vehicles. In this article, we pay tribute to Jim Wangers and celebrate his life and legacy.

Who was Jim Wangers?

Jim Wangers was a marketing guru who revolutionized the way cars were marketed in the 1960s and 1970s. He was instrumental in creating the muscle car era and was known for his innovative marketing strategies that helped to sell millions of cars. Jim was particularly associated with Pontiac, a company he never worked for directly, but one for which he was a highly respected adviser for the better part of four decades.

By 1960, Jim was already practicing what he preached on the drag strip and on Woodward Avenue in Detroit. He won the NHRA National drag racing championship in the 1960 Nationals in Detroit, piloting a "stock" Catalina prepared by Ace Wilson at Royal Oak, Michigan's Royal Pontiac, earning Pontiac one of its most significant early racing triumphs.

Jim did not invent the GTO, but he placed it on the front of Car and Driver magazine, kicking off the muscle-car era. He was the brains behind the Tom McAn GTO sweepstakes, instrumental in introducing "The Monkees" to the American public with the Monkeemobile, and a strong voice in DeLorean's ad hoc team, which created the 1969 GTO Judge and the subsequent brash marketing campaign.

Despite his many contributions to Pontiac, Jim never worked for the company directly. Perhaps it was so he could get away with all the marketing tricks that would have gotten a GM worker fired. He departed the advertising firm McManus, John & Adams in 1972, but he remained a highly respected adviser for Pontiac's management for the better part of four decades. His 1977 Can Am limited-edition two-door coupe (based on the LeMans Sport) is widely regarded as one of the most famous muscle cars of the late 1970s, right up there with Burt Reynolds' Special Edition Trans Am.

Jim Wangers' Legacy

Jim Wangers' legacy in the automotive industry is vast, and his contributions are immeasurable. He was a marketing genius who had an uncanny ability to understand the desires and aspirations of the American car-buying public. Jim knew how to create a buzz around a car and how to make it desirable to the masses. He was the mastermind behind some of the most successful car marketing campaigns in history, and his ideas and strategies have been emulated by countless marketers since.

Jim's influence on the automotive industry is still evident today. He helped to create the muscle-car era, which continues to captivate car enthusiasts around the world. Jim also played a significant role in the success of Pontiac, a brand that is now a part of automotive history.

Memorial Service

It is the wish of the family that the memorial (Car Show) will take place at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles sometime between the end of May and the beginning of June. An announcement regarding the precise date will be made in the near future.

Jim Wangers' passing marks the end of an era in the automotive industry. He was a marketing genius, and his contributions to the industry will be remembered for many years to come. His passion for storytelling helped others gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for their vehicles. He will be deeply missed by his family, close friends, and the entire automotive industry.