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A.B. Shuman: 1941-2013

Mon, 13 May 2013

Arnold Baer Shuman, better known as “A.B.,” the former Naval Aviator and hot-rodder who was generally considered to be the auto industry's best product public-relations man, died suddenly Friday at his home in Hillsdale, N.J. He was 72. The cause of death was not announced.

Shuman was the leading product spokesman for Mercedes-Benz of North America from the time he joined the company in 1972 until he took early retirement in 1995. A native of Sharon, Mass., Shuman graduated from Tufts University in 1962 and spent the next five years in the Navy, with the majority of his service time spent as the pilot of a submarine-hunting P2V Neptune patrol aircraft. He flew in the Caribbean and Mediterranean theaters and also in the North Atlantic, flying eight- and 10-hour sorties between Iceland and the waters off the Russian port of Murmansk, skimming the ocean at several hundred feet and returning with his windshield covered with salt.

Shuman joined the Petersen Publishing Company in Los Angeles in 1967 and worked in various editorial capacities at Car Craft, Motor Trend and Hot Rod until coming to Mercedes in 1972.

As a teenager Shuman was an early adherent of the 1950's hot-rod movement in New England, which he described in “Cool Cars and Square Rollbars,” a book he and his brother wrote and A.B. self-published in his retirement. He was also part owner and crew chief of a Chevrolet-engined streamliner which ran at the Bonneville Salt Flats, topping 300 miles per hour last fall.

Shuman is survived by his wife, Lois; sons David and Scott; a sister, Nancy Black of Boynton Beach, Fla., and a brother, Bernard, of Foxboro, Mass.

Funeral arrangements were private. A memorial service has been scheduled for May 31. The location will be announced at a later date.

By Leo Levine