John Beltz was Oldsmobile's chief engineer in 1964 and one of the prime movers of the Oldsmobile Toronado and 442 project. Beltz was promoted to Oldsmobile general manager at age 43 in 1969 when Harold N. Metzel retired. Beltz died in May 1972 from cancer at the age of 46. He was revered in the automotive industry as a visionary ahead of his time. Throughout his career, Beltz became known as much for his engineering brilliance as his charisma, his always clever sense of humor and impeccable taste in cars. According to legend, John Beltz and his staff led Oldsmobile through undoubtedly its best years and the Oldsmobiles from 1949 to 72 define Olds as the Rocket division of GM. It is said that during his time at the helm of Oldsmobile, Beltz represented Michigan and the auto industry in its purest form, when cars were king and the auto industry worker, both blue and white-collar, was the lifeblood of the state.
Beltz was featured in the July 1969 issue of Hot Rod magazine posing with some experimental Olds versions that never saw production.
The Car Connection notes that Beltz's best friend and Olds PR man Fritz Bennets recalls that Beltz "was a favorite of the press. Bennets recalls a press conference in the Sixties when an overly eager reporter failed to ask a question but delivered a lengthy opinion. To the delight of other writers, Beltz interrupted and said, 'if you want to make a speech, hire a hall.' Bennets felt that Beltz reacted too strongly and asked him to meet with the writer. He concurred and met with his critic over lunch.
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... Beltz was survived by two daughters, Johnna and Anna, and wife Loentine ... Beltz's eldest daughter, Johnna Beltz-Snyder, succumbed to pancreatic cancer in 2007 ... Johnna is survived by two children, daughter Elizabeth and younger son John ...