Although Jim Wangers was one of the most loyal, vocal and influential supporters of the GTO, he never worked directly for Pontiac. Instead, he was a noted drag racer who also worked as an account executive on Pontiac at its long-time ad agency, MacManus, John and Adams.
He started his automotive career in 1952 at the Kaiser-Frazer ad department. Then, he went to Campbell-Ewald four years later to work on Chevrolet, but soon left to be an assistant sales promotion manager at Chrysler on Plymouth. In 1958 he went to MacManus, John and Adams.
Wangers felt that the GTO solved a marketing problem. He called it a gentleman's hot-rod, and maintained the vehicle was crucial in Pontiac's efforts to convince buyers it was worth it to spend a little more for a more sophisticated, high-tech Pontiac than a Chevy.
In late '62, GM's racing ban finally took hold, and Pontiac was forced to withdraw its support. The GTO helped Pontiac maintain its racing heritage in the following years. Wangers was an integral part of this era, and as it was ending, he left the agency to become a partner in a Milwaukee dealership. A few years later, he formed a Michigan-based company that produced "image" cars for automakers. Today, he owns a consulting group.
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