John Sawruk --- November 23, 1946 - November 12, 2008

John "YODA" Sawruk

Times Nominated: 1
Year Inducted: 2018
Nominated Year(s): 2018
Category: Pontiac Ambassador

John M. Sawruk, P.E. retired as a General Motors Engineering Director Program Executive. Just prior to his last assignment, he was Engineering Director for the Pontiac Sunfire.

While working for GM, John took on the task as the Pontiac historian, attending numerous speaking engagements for GM concerning Pontiac history.


John received a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1968 from Newark College of Engineering on a General Motors Scholarship. In 1974 he received a Masters Degree in Business Administration from Wayne State University. He was a licensed Professional Engineer (P.E.). He started with Pontiac as an undergraduate summer student in 1967. He was assigned for years in Product Engineering where he first worked on noise, vibrations and stress in the Special Problems Laboratory. He then worked in the Experimental Engine Test group as Road Test Coordinator and on unleaded fuel engines. Next came a period in the Basic Engine group under Mac McKellar, including work on the 455 Super Duty, followed by work on the Pontiac manufactured GM 2.5 litre four cylinder engine. John was Project Manager for this engine and received the seldom-received GM “Boss Kettering” Award for this work. John also worked in the Induction-Emissions-Exhaust-Fuel System Staff and the Experimental Powertrain Department.

Subsequent to his work in Product Engineering, he was assigned for one year to the Sales Department, where he managed Service Engineering. His next assignment was as Manager of Quality Engineering for one year in the Reliability Department. In September 1980, John was assigned to the foudning of the Value Engineering Department at Pontiac. The specific thrust of this department was quality, which had become Pontiac’s most important business objective.

In August 1981, John was made Manager of Administration and Value Engineering. In this position, besides Value Engineering, he had responsibility for personnel, budgets and building planning. In August 1982 he was made Staff Engineer for Transmission and Axle. Late in 1984, he became Product Engineering Manager for the Pontiac 6000, STE Grand Prix and Trans Sport. After this, he was Manager of Motorsports and Special Products for Pontiac. In this position, he led the development of Pontiac’s Concept Car Philosophy. Pontiac obtained their first IMSA Manufacturer’s Cup in Motorsports during this period also.

John was then assigned to Advanced Vehicle Engineering (AVE) where he managed car programs for several car divisions. At this time he also officially took on the role of preserving the history for Pontiac. In his historical role, John gave speeches, advised consumers through Pontiac’s Customer Relations Department, advised on the care and use of Pontiac’s Historical Car Collection, and acted as goodwill ambassador for Pontiac at historical conventions, shows and meets. John was instrumental in the set-up and restoration of the Pontiac Historical Car Collection (about 30 cars, including a 1909 Oakland, the very first Pontiac, s/n 1 from 1926 and a 1964 GTO among others).

John was the author of several SAE, technical, and career oriented papers, as well as many historical articles on Pontiac. His work has been published in national periodicals such as Pontiac Enthusiast, High Performance Pontiac, Old Cars Weekly, Smoke Signals, The Legend, and Musclecar Enthusiast as well as books. He has also helped write and edit several major toy train books.

In addition to his many work related accomplishments, John had received numerous academic honors including being inducted into Tau Beta PI, the Engineering Honor Society and PI Tau Sigma, the International Mechanical Engineering Society. He was also a member of a social fraternity Theta Chi.

John collected GM and Pontiac literature, Pontiac models and toys and promotional items, as well as Lionel and other electric toy trains. He also owned a rare 1971-1/2 Pontiac GT-37 and other collectible Pontiacs. His GT-37 has won “Best of Show” at the GTOAA nationals and its class at the POCI Nationals.

John and his wife Marge were very interested in history and antiques. Together they owned a Michigan historic site, The Hibbard Tavern, in Milford, MI, near the GM Proving Grounds, which Marge continues to preserve. The Hibbard Tavern was a stagecoach stop in Milford (when transportation consisted of only one or two horse power), it was also the home of Milford’s first industrialist and the home of Milford’s first postmaster.

  • 1967 - Internship at General Motors

  • 1968 - Began GM career as an Entry-level engineer in the Special Problems Laboratory

  • 1969 - Engineer in Experimental Engine Group

  • 1970 - Project manager for unleaded fuel

  • 1974 - Project manager for the 2.5L 4-cyl engine development

  • 1976 - Participated in a Florida test trip of Pontiac drivetrains

  • 1978 - Supervisor of the Experimental Powertrain Group

  • 1979 - "Eighth Level" Manager of Service Engineering in the Sales Department

  • 1980 - Developing a division-wide Value Engineering program

  • 1981 - Led Value Engineering seminar to improve quality

  • 1982 - Moved to Staff Engineer for Transmission and Axle

  • 1983 - Made the official GM Historian for the Pontiac Division

  • 1984 - Participated in the press preview for the '84 Pontiac Trans Am and other models at GM Proving Grounds

  • 1986 - Ran Pontiac Motorsports and Specialty Vehicles

  • 1987 - Moved back to Advanced Vehicle Engineering

  • 1997 - Participated in tech seminars during the 25th Anniversary POCI Convention in Denver, Colorado along with Smokey Yunick and John DeLorean

  • 2002 - Retired as a GM Engineering Director

  • 2004 - Seminar at GTOAA Nats in Pontiac Michigan. The 40th Anniversary of the GTO coincided with the 25th Anniversary of the GTOAA, and release of new 2004 GTO. John's seminar covered the Pontiac GT-37. During the seminar, John also showed some other little-known facts to the GTO enthusiasts, including the build sheet of the very first Pontiac GTO built

Sadly, John passed away way too soon, but his wife and family continue to promote the automotive history of their home area, and especially that of Pontiac, attending numerous shows and events throughout the year.


Our Mission At The PPA

The mission of the Pontiac Preservation Association is to provide a vehicle for all clubs, associations, individual hobbyists, web sites and groups, parts manufacturers, parts businesses, restoration shops, car dealers, event promoters, publishers-everyone associated with the Pontiac automobile to come together for the express purpose of better coordinating all energies and resources to preserve and promote the Pontiac hobby and to improve the Pontiac industry for the betterment of all involved.