Way Back Playback: Car Craft August 1986


Back in 2014 the guys at Performance Improvements changed my life when they introduced me to Rick Dobbertin’s Pontiac J-2000. Despite being born long after the peak Pro Street era I’m still a really big fan of the niche.

An acute attention to detail, wild stance, loud paint, and ever louder motors? Sign me up. These cars were the height of excess at a time when excess was the rage.

Long running title Car Craft had its finger on the pulse of the Pro Street movement early and has featured a wide variety in their pages.

At Oshawa Ontario’s Autofest in 2014 one of the show goers had a box of magazines marked ‘free’. I walked by it once without looking but on my second pass I had to take a look at what he had available. I mean the price was right…

About a third of a way through, there it was, the pro street holy grail, the cover feature on Dobbertin’s, double boosted and double blown small block Pontiac J-2000.

Having done a WTF Friday post on the car previously I had to own the legit feature. I read the feature magazine cover to cover later that same week then eventually it got shuffled away.

At the top of the year, while cleaning, I found the magazine. This time I decided to take some photos of what was inside.

The magazine itself is a treasure trove of an era gone by. Can you imagine a feature titled “Yellow Fever” flying past an editor’s desk run in 2019? No, me neither.

Seat belts are pretty much worn by all now so the entire Crash Test Dummy campaign almost seems ridiculous in hindsight.

Things have come full circle with the Pioneer TS-X20 speakers. Considered retro today, they are often seen as the perfect accessory for a period correct build. Should you be able to find a working set of course.

Being the 80s, smoking was still considered cool, and Camel was the coolest. And of course no vintage magazine would be complete without some sort of recruitment advertisement.

It was pretty awesome to come across ads for companies that still exist today. Enkei, Recaro and Centerline have all managed to weather the storm, surviving over 30 years.

Hitting Google it seems like Kamei is also still around, to some degree. But, I can’t tell if it is the original company, or if someone just bought the rights to the name.

Either way I had no idea they made a aero package for the Pontiac Fiero. Quite an odd choice for a company I most often associate with European brands.

Flipping back to the (black and white) table of contents, the goods on Dobbertin’s car are revealed to be on page 24. Rick’s feature would be one of a few in the magazine to get both black and white and color photos.

I’ve always thought the concept of getting the “color” centerfold pretty neat. I imagine getting a color feature was a huge, sought after, accomplishment.

Quite a change from today where people are excited to get a small picture and an ‘@’ mention on Instagram.

The text (which there will be a link to at the bottom of this post) outlines how Dobbertin did a staggering amount of the work to the car himself learning as he went. It also mentions that his bar for execution is fairly high, which obviously plays a huge part in the vehicle’s overall look.

I’m told that the car does still exist today, though it’s been in storage for quite some time.

Hopefully at some point this car does make it back out of storage because it is far too much of a monster to just be sitting under a car cover in some random corner.

If you want to read the entire article, I’ve taken the opportunity to scan the article page by page. Click the links below to open up the full link scans:

Please note I don’t claim ownership of the magazine pages. All credits here go to Car Craft Magazine along with the photographers Jeff Smith and Neil Love. The article itself was written by Bruce Hampson.


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