Monday, June 27, 2011
The (appropriately) fictional home of the Taylor family on Home Improvement, Royal Oak, Michigan has a special place in muscle car history as well. Located about fifteen miles north of Detroit, Royal Oak is close to the General Motors Tech Center in Warren, and like many Motor City suburbs had close ties with the industry.
It was also the home to Ace Wilson's Royal Pontiac. In the early sixties, Pontiac would send all of the cars slated to be road tested by magazines to Royal, where their engine wizards would make sure everything was running as good as it could. They also did some performance work on the side-they specialized in the big 389 mill-and this caught the attention of Jim Wangers at Pontiac. The company had been floating the idea of having dealers who specialized in performance cars and parts, and used Royal to test the idea. It was a rousing success, and led Royal to develop the now famous "Bobcat" performance packages for various cars, but mostly for the already stout GTO.
Bobcats were fearsomely fast cars, and were often hard to spot during a heads up stoplight race. This subtle badge was often the only telltale.