SEMA News—July 2013
By Drew Hardin
Photo Courtesy Petersen Archive
America’s First Driving Shoe
In its December 1965 issue, Car Craft magazine featured an extensive review of the ‘66 Pontiac GTO. But not just any GTO. This particular car was the GeeTO Tiger, a hot hard-top owned by Hurst Performance and used as a test mule for various engine, suspension and tire-and-wheel modifications. Adding to the GTO’s pedigree, it was tuned by Milt Schornack of Royal Pontiac, the Detroit-area dealer that had developed the famous “Royal Bobcat” tune-up packages for GTOs and other performance Pontiacs.
The article went into great detail about the modifications performed on the Tiger, from Air Lift bags in the suspension to Schornack’s careful cylinder-head work. The author, Roger Huntington, also advised Car Craft readers to not buy a GTO “without having a careful look at the list of options. The dealer might sell you one off his back lot for a little less money. But for maybe another $100 or so, you might be able to get a combination that would suit you a lot better.” A combination, in other words, ready to hit the dragstrip.
In 1966, the GTO’s order form included a 360hp V8 with Tri-Power induction, a close-ratio Muncie four-speed transmission and 4.33:1 rearend gears in a Saf-T-Track differential. With its Bobcat tune, the GeeTO Tiger ran consistent 13.04-sec. quarter-mile e.t.’s at more than 106 mph.
In the midst of all this race-ready tech advice, Huntington took time to mention that the new GTO was “the inspiration for a wild new line of shoes from Thom McAn.” Described by the shoemaker as “America’s first driving shoe,” the GTOs featured “such footwear greats as split grill, stacked headlights, fastback styling and an accelerator pedal heel for really ‘putting it to the wood.’ The real gas is a unique sole tread for better brake and clutch action, which means maximum traction for the street.”
The Thom McAns were not only featured prominently in Huntington’s text but also in the photo you see here, using one of the GTO’s M&H Super Stock rear tires mounted on a Hurst forged aluminum wheel as a backdrop.
Blatant plug? Obvious product placement? Of course. A lot of that went on back in the day, and it still does today (though it may be a bit more sophisticated in its approach). It doesn’t say so in the article, but we suspect the guiding hand of Jim Wangers behind the shoe deal. Wangers, a marketing genius, was always looking for new ways to promote his beloved GTO, and he did so through rock ‘n’ roll records, model contests, car giveaways and, apparently, clothing deals.