Shuman was a long-time public relations master at Mercedes-Benz during the 1970s and 1980s, and influenced the careers of many people who still represent major car brands today. But his true passion was hot rodding, especially the hot rods of his native New England.
“The Golden State may have been the place to which we all looked,” he wrote in his great book Cool Cars, Square Roll Bars, “but the plain fact is the majority of the hot rodding movement’s adherents lived outside the Promised Land.
“New England cars had their own special look (low), natural enemies (a six-month going season, the conservative establishment) and challenges (distance from the aforementioned center of things, state vehicle inspections). Yet, in its report on New England’s first big drag race, the 1955 NHRA Safety Safari meet in Orange, Massachusetts, Hot Rod observed, ‘…this general area now leads California in the number of on-the-street hot rods — good equipment, too.’”
I was lucky enough to spend time with A.B. Shuman when he and his brother Bernie were telling stories and promoting their book in 1998 at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline, Massachusetts.
He was New England’s hot rodding advocate, along with the likes of Ken Gross. He’ll be missed.