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THOMAS E. BONSALL, AUTOMOTIVE HISTORIAN AND JOURNALIST, PASSES AWAY

THOMAS E. BONSALL, AUTOMOTIVE HISTORIAN AND JOURNALIST, PASSES AWAY
Posted August 18 2008 04:59 AM by HPP_EDITOR 
Filed under: Pontiac News, Tom DeMauro

On July 15th at 1:30p.m., Thomas E. Bonsall—writer and publisher of automotive histories—passed away at Saint Joseph's Hospital in Towson, Maryland of complications due to two strokes. He was 61.


Mr. Bonsall was born and raised in Akron, Ohio and graduated from Western Reserve Academy (1965) in nearby Hudson, Ohio. He graduated from American University in Washington, DC in broadcast journalism and speech arts (1969) and briefly pursued his Masters in journalism.

After his experience as an editor and/or publisher of small town weekly newspapers in the early 1970s and as a copy boy for the Washington Post, he founded Baltimore-based Bookman Publishing, a company that specialized in paperback books for old-car enthusiasts. Stony Run Press, founded by Mr. Bonsall in the early 1990s and, briefly, in 1996, Turning Point Press emphasized hardbound automotive histories. During this time, he launched his most prolific contribution to the field of automotive history. Indeed, Automobile! magazine called him "America's Best Automobile Historian." He garnered several awards for his work, most notably the Antique Automobile Club of America's (AACA) Thomas McKean Cup and the Society of Automotive Historians' (SAH) Joseph Cugnot award for his book The Lincoln MotorCar (1981) currently in its third edition. With the publication of Pontiac! They Built Excitement, (1992) he repeated his win of the Joseph Cugnot award.

That year, Mr. Bonsall was presented SAH's Benz Award of Distinction for the article Edsel, the Forgotten Ford. Later, Stanford University Press (SUP) published his complete story of Edsel Ford and the ill-fated automobile in Disaster in Dearborn: The Story of the Edsel (2002). It landed him an unexpected interview on NPR's MarketPlace. It and his book Avanti! (1979) are the definitive books on their subjects.

Others were published through Stanford University Press including More Than They Promised: The Studebaker Story, The Lincoln Story: The Post-War Years and The Cadillac Story: The Post-War Years.

Mr. Bonsall founded Ride&Drive Features (1980-present) a new-car road-test syndication. Reviews can be found on RideDrive.com. (www.ridedrive.com). His numerous articles about automobiles and the auto industry have appeared in Automotive News, Automobile Quarterly, BusinessWeek, Old Cars Weekly and Special Interest Autos amongst others. Notably, he was the former automotive editor for Palm Beach Illustrated and Palm Springs Life. During his 18 years living in Washington, D.C. Tom helped found the Washington Automotive Press Association (WAPA).

Fascinated with other modes of transportation he wrote the wildly successful Titanic, The Story of the Great White Star Line Trio: Olympic, Titanic, and Britannic (1987). Under the pen name Paul North, Mr. Bonsall wrote American Steam Locomotives (1988) and a book on trains and railways.

A prize he held dearly was the Malice Domestic Grant for Unpublished [fiction] Writers (2003) for his unpublished suspense novel, Lilac Time. He has created four series and two coming-of-age novels. It was his hope and dream to become a published fiction author.

Mr. Bonsall amassed a large collection of books on Cold War Russia and the Holocaust. He had one of the largest collections of automobile dealer sales literature and car photographs in the world, which he converted to a digital archive.

Mr. Bonsall was a resident of Baltimore City for more than 23 years. He is survived by his partner and companion of 16 years, Kevin Lowery.
By Don Keefe



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