Tad Burness, automotive historian, author, cartoonist dies at age 79

James Raia

Tad Burness, creator of the iconic syndicated one-panel automotive illustration “Auto Album” has died of pulmonary heart failure at his home in Pacific Grove, California. He was 79.

Burness, whose cartoon panel depicted unique cars and trucks, began his feature in 1966. It was syndicated for many years in newspaper automotive supplements around the country, including the Monterey County Herald and Sacramento Bee.

Tad Burness, automotive historian, author, cartoonist dies at age 79 1

“Auto Album” was also featured in four book collections. Burness was also the author of more than 20 other books on subjects ranging from classic cars to homes built in the 1800s.

The first books Burness published were “Cars of the Early ’20s” in 1968 and “Cars of the Early ’30s” the next year. He also authored Chevy and Ford car spotters guides.

In recent years, as automotive sections shrunk and/or disappeared, the Auto Album syndication also suffered. Burness also endured increasing health problems. As such, the Auto Album feature, like many newspaper syndicated features, was infrequently published for lack of space or because it was viewed as dated by editors.

In August, as part of Monterey Auto Week, Burness was scheduled to appear at the Little Car Show, a display of vintage cars on Lighthouse Ave., in Pacific Grove. But Burness was unable to attend because of ill health.

Burness was recognized by show organizers who had several signed editions of the author’s books available as well as T-shirt featuring a Burness design.

According to the Monterey County Herald, Burness was born July 11, 1933, in Berkeley and Sequoia High School in Redwood City in 1951.

Burness was a member of the Peninsula Baptist Church in Pacific Grove and was the church pianist for 15 years. He volunteered at Pacific Grove Convalescent, playing piano for residents for more than 25 years.

Sandy Burness, who met her eventual husband in May 1967 through computer dating, said the couple moved to Pacific Grove in 1979.

“He was the greatest person and he loved his Lord,” Sandy Burness told the Herald.

Mr. Burness is survived by his wife, his daughter, Tammy, and two grandchildren. A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Sunday at Peninsula Baptist Church in Pacific Grove.

Article Last Updated: February 10, 2024.

3 thoughts on “Tad Burness, automotive historian, author, cartoonist dies at age 79”

  1. I knew Tad for over 20 years and he always supported our efforts in producing the Silver Dome Gazette and the Walter P. Chrysler Club monthly magazine. He was a MOPAR enthusiast and owned several Chrysler Product automobiles when he lived in San Jose.


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