Remembering Pontiac and M,J & A

Not really on topic for a Corvette Blog, but some of us from the Bloomfield Hills School District and the local Boy Scouts from the late ’50s remember McManus, John & Adams, Pontiac’s advertising agency on the North (and South) West corner of Woodward and Long lake.

Story of the Week  From
MotorCities National Heritage Area: 06.27.2011
Van and Fritz- The Famous Pontiac Artist
By: Robert Tate

During the early fifties, automotive illustrations dominated magazines such as the Saturday Evening Post, Life, and other well know publications. While some firms began to switch to photography, many automotive companies relied on the talents of artists. Arthur Fitzpatrick and Van Kaufman were two of the best illustrators in the automotive community. Van Kaufman was a professional illustrator who had spent many years with Disney Studios and had never done any automobile advertising. Van Kaufman was chosen as the background artist while Arthur Fitzpatrick, who started out as a consulting designer to General Electric and Packard automobiles, illustrated the car.
Van and Fritz often worked independently discussing the color schemes and dimensions of an illustration ahead of time and later merged it into one famous picture. After many successful series of advertising for Buick, Van and Fritz were given the opportunity to create a new advertising image for Pontiac. This was the first time their signatures appeared on the advertising of “VK” and “AF”. Of the 13 years, many of the brochure illustrations they created were for Pontiac.
Many illustrations were so unique because it told the fascinating story of the extensive traveling Van and Fritz did just to find the ideal backgrounds for Pontiac ads. Soon, they were given complete freedom to create their own ideas. In 1965, their creations became even more prestigious and magnificent to look at that the illustrations were the main selling tool for the buying public. During 1968-69, Van and Fritz continued to produce colorful and enhanced advertising pieces for Pontiac. Many awards were given for their illustrations such as the “Society of Illustrators Advertising of Excellence Award”. This was truly an honor to both of them since there were over 3,000 entries qualified. John Delorean, would insist that all Pontiac advertising images be done by Fritz and Van and that photographs were not be used.
During the1970’s, Pontiac advertising began to change and photographs were in much demand for a fresh and younger audience. In 1970, after the strike, General Motors began to tighten their budget and thought photography would be cheaper. Unfortunately after this decision, Pontiac sales dropped off with consumers.Van Kaufman and Arthur Fitzpatrick were among the best advertising artist in the world and their work will be admired for many years to come. Van Kaufman passed away in 1995 and Art Fitzpatrick continues to share his stories and automotive illustrations to many enthusiasts today.

A special thanks to Robert Tate, Automotive Historian and Researcher, for donating his story to the MotorCities Story of the Week program.  Photographs courtesy of Robert Tate. Please do not use any photographs without the permission of MotorCities/Robert Tate. For further information contact Robert Tate at

About corvetteinjimzgarage

America's Corvette Club, Car Show Chairman North Oaks Corvette Club, Past President National Corvette Museum, Ambassidor Silicone Valley Corvette Club '91 Coupe, "Polar Bear"
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