Gone Autos Podcast #8: Tim Dye, extreme Pontiac collector

Tim Dye is a self-professed Extreme Collector. It’s on the cover of his book The Extreme Collector #1: Pontiac-Oakland Memorabilia.

Tim i
s a well-known Pontiac automobilia expert, and he earned that title by amassing an incredible collection that spans from the Pontiac Buggy Co. of the early 1900s through the Oakland Motor Car Company years to the end of the Pontiac Division of GM in 2009.

But what’s the difference between collectors like Tim and the hot messes you see on reality TV shows like Hoarders?

I think the major difference is that Tim has done the most important thing with his collection: he’s sharing it. He wrote a gorgeous book featuring dozens of items from his collection. And then he started a museum devoted to it.

Tim is my guest on Gone Autos Podcast #8. You can listen to it here, or download it to your iPod through iTunes.

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My contribution: if you’ve listened to my previous podcasts or read a few of my blog posts, you know that I collect vintage car radio commercials, especially orphan brands. So I threw a few of my own Pontiac collectibles into the audio gumbo.

The first is a 1935 radio spot featuring America’s Ace of Aces, Captain Eddie Rickenbacker. This recording is mega-rare and was
35 Pontiac label-side 1
distributed on a 33 1/3 RPM record at the dawn of radio commercial distribution. It would have been very expensive to distribute commercials this way, especially during The Great Depression. Only large companies like carmakers could have afforded it.

The record itself is notable, because it features two tracks that have X marks scratched throughout. I always wondered why, so I sacrificed a turntable needle to play those tracks. In between jumps, skips, and loud, rude noises caused by the needle dancing over those Xes, I learned that those tracks were mistakes. Captain Eddie would flub a line, and they would stop.

These days, you would simply erase those tracks. But back in the 1930s, the track was recorded live, all at once. The cutting needle was recording onto a master as Captain Eddie spoke into the mic. Since there was no erasing, all they could do was scratch X marks into the botched tracks to give DJs a clue about which tracks to play or avoid. I’ve never seen another recording from that era quite like it.

The second radio spot is really recognizable to 1960s Pontiac fans. The Breakaway jingle by Steve Karmen was a huge hit and was later used as the basis for a dance track in Britain.
69 Pontiac-Side 2

You can see from the label the jingle was recorded in several different styles. They’re all really entertaining to listen to even today. The music is so good that Steve Karmen took the song and recorded a pop version with soul singer Jimmy Radcliffe doing the vocals. Exact same music but with vocals and no Pontiac name check.

(I think Tim Dye would appreciate my geeky analysis of my own collectibles. We’re all alike that way.)
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