H-O Racing’s Kern Osterstock Remembered
Kern Osterstock (right) was a vestige of Pontiac performance. His last real involvement wi
Hobbyists relatively new to the Pontiac scene may not immediately recognize the name Kern Osterstock, but the partnership he helped create during the ’70s is sure to jog the memory of any nostalgia buff. Kern was the O in the venture with Craig Hendrickson that resulted in H-O Racing -- the company that helped fuel Pontiac passion during the bleakest point in traditional Pontiac V-8 performance.
Craig and Kern met in 1971. At the time Kern drove daily a ’68 GTO that had been upgraded with Ram Air II components and Craig was racing his own ’65 GTO. The two realized they shared fast Pontiacs as a common interest and begun racing together. The H-O Racing partnership began when they decided to jointly take Craig’s GTO to the next performance level. Popular Hot Rodding magazine introduced the pair to the world in October 1973 when it featured an article on H-O Racing’s equipment and accomplishments, causing interest to pour in from every corner of the country. (We’ll reprint that article next month.)
Kern and his father owned Tower Tool and Die (now called Tower Manufacturing), a high-end machine shop specializing in aviation and space equipment. Craig established a separate business, H-O Racing Specialties, in 1974. It was the Pontiac high-performance parts and information business you’re likely most familiar with, and Kern remained a valued asset in the background. Craig and Kern lost touch after Craig sold the business to Ken Crocie in 1980, but the two reunited five years ago at the Pontiac Heaven event in Phoenix. The pair jointly presented a technical discussion at the 2011 event.
Kern passed away July 18, 2013, at the age of 71, after a courageous battle with colon cancer. He leaves behind his wife, Diane, and son, Brent—and, of course, his mark on the Pontiac hobby.
Eaton launches Spring-O-Pedia
After years in the making, Eaton Detroit Spring’s new interactive parts-lookup guide is now free online (www.eatondetroitspring.com). It allows you to research and order the correct OE replacement or aftermarket performance springs, shocks, and installation kits for your classic or late-model Pontiac. Since the guide is a work in progress, if your particular year and model is not yet listed, give Eaton a call at (313) 963-3839.
Recap of the Norwood Assembly Reunion 2013
On a perfect summer weekend of July 12-13, 2013, at the site of the former GM Norwood Assembly plant just northeast of downtown Cincinnati, Ohio, an unprecedented reunion took place. Former plant workers from UAW Local 674 and members of the Norwood Alumni Club gathered with a select group of F-Body owners to share stories and celebrate the cars built at that facility before its closure in 1987. The event was open to any vehicle built at the Norwood plant from 1926 to 1987, though participants had to be approved by selection before being allowed to attend.
Current GM executives were present at this year’s event. They were pleased with the reception they received and intend to return should a 2014 reunion materialize. But will it happen? According to event organizer Philip Borris, “This has been a year-to-year event for the last three years—and this may well be the end [of the event] as people get older and tend to move on.”
For updates, visit www.norwoodassemblyplant.com. —Scott R. McGuire
’57 Pontiac Bonneville Book Exceeds Expectations
With a production of just 630 units, the ’57 Bonneville was a limited-edition, high-performance machine that completely redefined the mission statement of Pontiac Motor Division. Restored examples are highly sought-after prizes and their value is well into six-figure territory.
With so few built, the business case for a commercially available restoration manual on these very special vehicles was looking pretty unlikely. Fortunately Joe Bonaiuto decided to forego the fame of the New York Times best-seller list to write and self-publish The Complete 1957 Pontiac Bonneville Authenticity and Restoration Manual, a restoration guide that sets a new bar for restorers and enthusiasts alike.
Joe spent several years examining original ’57 Bonnevilles, interviewing surviving assembly-plant workers who actually built these cars, poring over factory literature, and picking the brains of both recognized experts on the topic and award-winning restorers who have rebuilt them.
Along the way, Joe was able to uncover some “new” documentation from the factory and find answers to some lingering decades-old questions. He also delves into a discussion of popular rumors surrounding the first Bonneville and provides the first serious confirmed accounting of surviving cars -- that alone was a huge research project. The end result is a 184-page/300-plus-photo tome that puts the collective knowledge base of the ’57 Bonneville into one place.
To order a copy, send check or money order for $31.50 (includes shipping) to: Joe Bonaiuto, 12803 Meadowbrook Lane, Dept. HPP; Waldorf, Maryland, 20601.
This book is so worth the money and we applaud Joe’s effort. He isn’t going to get rich on this book, but we are the richer for his efforts! —Don Keefe