The Paper Trail - Pontiac Enthusiast July 2010

Written and Photographed by John Kryta

To most of us this is a hobby, to some of us it is an obsession. It may be all about one car or one make of car or Pontiacs in general but we are all into collecting something. If you are reading this magazine it may be one of several that you subscribe too and if you are like me you save every issue of course for future reference but seldom find yourself going back and reading the old issues. So the stack at some point becomes a collection or at least that’s what we call it so our wives don’t throw them in the trash. Some of us collect the actual cars and others just the parts for a particular year or NOS items. Every guy that I have ever talked to that is into a particular car has some extra parts or options that are never going to make it on the car but still aren’t for sale.

On a smaller scale we all can’t resist buying the model or diecast of our own car especially if it is in the right color. We all know a guy or a few that has gone over the top and buys anything that has the letters GTO or Trans am on it. After all these toy companies are making all this stuff for us grown adults not our kids and I too buy it. I can’t resist from the small hot wheels to the fully detailed diecast. We all deep down all have our own car shrine to our favorite.

This collection always includes paper work items such as dealer brochures, key chains, owner’s manuals, and can get pretty detailed to include a glove box full of items pertaining to your favorite car. Finding these items can be hard enough but once found they can be a treasure trove of information pertaining to your car. You could spend hours on one page learning and reading the facts or codes and when or if you ever go to sell the car it only increases the value. You see these boards at the car show or on the auction block and they make any car look more impressive to the next buyer. We are going to tell you what is out there where to get it and what useful information it has in it.

Pontiac Historical Services PHS – most of us Pontiac guys have heard of this one. This is the option sheet on your particular car. For a few bucks you can send in your vin number a packet will arrive in a few days with the option build sheet of your particular car. All information to build your car is on the sheet. It has the color of the exterior and interior of the car and lists all the options and the sales codes with the prices. The sheet includes the dealer ship the car was shipped to and the build date plus much more.

Shop Maintenance manuals – these manuals were used and available for sale at the dealership when your car was new. The first few pages explain how to decode your trim tag and give all the codes for optional engines, trans and rear ends. This book also has many detailed pictures and instructions to service and re-build different service components of your specific car. It also illustrates the assembly of much of the sheet metal of the car. These books are mostly reproduced and have hundreds of pages of maintenance type information.

Assembly manuals – were used on the assembly line when your car was built as reference to the line workers. They do not go into detail on the assemblies but do show how the assemblies are installed on the car. This book has very few instructions like the maintenance manual but is more of a set of drawings on how the car goes together. It is a large set of instructions of how your car went together in full detail showing every nut bolt and bracket. It is a great reference for any frame off restoration. It also has many charts and graphs that call out codes for engines, transmissions, axles, springs and other components or assemblies.

Inspector Guides – were used on the floor of the assembly plant to check over the cars before they went to the dealer. These booklets have pages of assembly codes, part numbers and quick reference material to make sure there were no mistakes made in the production line. The originals are extremely difficult to find but many are reproduced.

Build Sheets are the holy grail and the finger print of a particular car. There were several of these going down the line with the car and these also are packed full of option codes, assembly codes, color and vin information but are not always found. They could be under the gas tank, door panels, seats, carpet and in some cases not present or the car before or after on the line. Some plants considered them trash and did not want them left in the car.

Dealer brochures – are another great source of car specifications. They show the different models and options and usually in the back give specifications on different options and power trains complete with, horse power ratings and axle ratios. There may be many different brochures on a particular car some are the full versions and others are on a particular model. Many of these are now reproduced or the literature guys at the swap meet or eBay is another good place to find the originals.

Accessories brochures are much harder to find and not reproduced but were made for every year car and list every option with a description, picture, UPC and sales code. The captions tell you what models the option is available on and the factory pictures are a great reference. On the last pages it shows all the dealer installed accessories or add-ons.

Accessorizer Booklets were available to the dealership sales man and explain the options and groups of options that were available on a particular car. The sales man could quickly reference a option, look up the price and compare it to an option group. This little book also has all the sales & UPC codes just like on the PHS so you can look up the code on the PHS and get the full description. It also tells you what options will not be aloud together. These are all reproduced by Inline Tube.

Comparative pricing booklets – are another sales man selling tool. These books compare one make and model to another by options and price. So if you went to by a new 74 Firebird but were also looking at the Camaro the salesman could quickly look up the equal models and give you the advantages and disadvantage of each make. This handy tool has all the wheel bases, engine displacement, horse power, compression ratios and weights of equal cars from all the different manufacture. Many of these are reproduced by Inline Tube.

Glove box manuals give you maintenance schedules and operating procedures which tell you how to operate your new car. They are also filled with specifications and service replacement numbers. Not sure what spark plug number or which type of oil to use – it is all in the manual. It explains the operation of every knob on the dash and how to change a flat tire. Most cars came with additional pamphlets that are long gone. These explained special emissions or if you got a convertible how the top worked.

Dealer prep sheets were used on all gm cars as a final check list to make sure your new car was in perfect working order. There was a customer and dealer copy that was filled out and checked to make sure everything on the car was operational. These are available new from inline tube on the 68-72 models.

This is all the stuff that got thrown away the day you new car arrived home. Usually the dealer window sticker, spare keys envelope, dealer business cards, starting and break in instructions, protect-o-plate and other information cards did not last past the first owner. Most of these items are reproduced today to give your car the dealer fresh look.

Your window sticker can be reproduced – PHS now offers a service that with the vin a new window sticker can be made. This will only be made to how the car was new – so if any options were added or deleted the sticker will not reflect it. Spectators at car shows love to look at the final sticker price since it is hard to believe that these $3500.00 cars are worth so much more.

Odd Ball Stuff – this is the stuff that is specific to one dealership or a famous dealership. It can include membership cards, old magazine articles, and dealer key chains or even speed parts offered by that dealership. These can be found with lots of luck at local swap meets and car show or talking with other car owners that grew up in the area. Lots of people visited the dealers and new car auto shows and surprising still have some of the paperwork in a file cabinet.

Old magazines have the real story – at least the first hand info. There are plenty of old Hot Rod, Super Stock, Motor Trend and many other magazines that reported on the muscle cars when they were new. Just like today there are plenty of features and photos but unlike today all the photos are of the cars when they were brand new and the photos are a great restoration guide.