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History Of Promo Car Models?


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Hi guys,

Does anyone know the origin of promo car models? I have a few I acquired over the years {and fondly remember some that I had as a child in the 60's - where I got those, I do not remember}.

I'd be curious to know who was the first company that started making/using them, and when, and if they were given away or sold; did you have to "know someone" at a dealership to get one? were they given away to {prospective} customers, that sort of thing. Or any other history about them you may have.

Happy Motoring!

jm smile.gif

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Joe,

Your best bet on promo history is to get in touch with Dennis Doty, who writes for the excellent Collectible Automobile Magazine. He covers scale models for them & is a walking encyclopedia of scale model history. I don't have a phone # for him, but go to C.A.'s website & I'm sure you'll be able to reach him.

Happy collecting,

Tom Gibson,

Anderson, SC

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Hi guys,

Does anyone know the origin of promo car models? I have a few I acquired over the years {and fondly remember some that I had as a child in the 60's - where I got those, I do not remember}.

I'd be curious to know who was the first company that started making/using them, and when, and if they were given away or sold; did you have to "know someone" at a dealership to get one? were they given away to {prospective} customers, that sort of thing. Or any other history about them you may have.

Happy Motoring!

jm smile.gif </div></div>

Promo model cars? While there were a few promo's produced in metal in the 1930's, the idea of promotional toy/model cars really hit in the late 40's, with the '47-48 Ford models by Master Caster and Aluminum Model Toys (AMT).

The real start of promo's, as we model car guys know them, seems to have been 1949, with the end of the "sellers' market" in the industry, and the introduciton of the first true postwar cars by the Big Three. AMT began producing plastic models of Fords and Plymouths, Product Miniatures also Plymouths in a slightly larger, 1:20 scale, and Cruver Plastics in Chicago with their still-awesome-looking '49 Olds 98 4dr sedan. Hudson commissioned someone, perhaps Cruver (?) to produce a series of about 1:12 scale Step-down sedans, in multi-colored plastic, mostly as dealer display pieces--worth their weight in gold today when they come up for sale.

In the early 50's, PMC and AMT were both doing wide varieties of promo's for both Ford and Chevrolet, and in virtually every factory color scheme--dealers could use them to create "color palettes" of body styles and colors, effective in those days before the huge dealerships we know now could even be thought of.

John Hanle, a professional toolmaker (and exquisite scale modeler in his own right--his collection of scratchbuilt model aircraft has been on display at the USAF Museum in Fairborn OH for decades now) started Ideal Models, having to change the name almost immediately at the insistence of Ideal Toy Company over trademark issues--hence JoHan. Slowly, a pattern rather emerged: AMT did Fords, along with Product Miniatures (PMC), shared the Chevrolet line with PMC, and produced promo's of Studebakers, Buicks, and Cadillacs. JoHan did Pontiac's, Cadillacs after 1957, Oldsmobiles. Nash got produced mostly in banks, by Master Caster and Banthrico (BANk TRIft COmpany). Banthrico also produced a fair number of models yearly, for the banking industry ("Save for your new ____ at 1st National!" imprints), mostly of sedans, where the plastic producers trended toward hardtops and convertibles, with the occasional sedan or station wagon. By 1959, however, promo's were beginning to wane quite a bit, and PMC began to go away from the game. Of course, model kits, based on promo tooling, had been introduced in 1958, by AMT Corporation, their famed 3in1 kits, and were being wildly received by kids all over the place.

What did dealers do with promo's? Of course, they did sell them; but more often than not, they used them for promotional efforts ("Come in, take a test drive, receive a beautiful scale model of the new Chevrolet"), or to sweeten a deal by giving the customer's kid a scale model toy car (I got one that way once!). By 1961 or so, interest in promo's by dealerships seems to have faded considerably, and by the late 70's, pretty much ended, although the occasional promo is still produced today, but no more do promo's hit dealerships almost simultaneously with new car introductions, often taking a year or more to hit, and are very, very limited in scope. Both the advent of mega-store dealerships in the 60's, and the rather disinterest on the part of kids for ready-built models (the 60's was the heyday of kids and model car building) pretty much seems to have been the root cause.

Whatever the reasons for their rise, and their ultimate demise, Promotional Model Cars are fascinating, back then, and still today. I still like them, although I've never been much of a promo collector--had dozens of them as a young boy (did what I was supposed to do with them, wore them out playing with them), still have a few of the more modern ones, simply because they represent cars that were never modeled in any other form in 1:25 scale.

Art

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Art, thanks for that history lesson.. cool.gifcool.gif

When I was young, my brothers and I would collect & build dozens of model cars.

We also collected promos in various makes and models. It was very interesting to know where the JoHan name came from.......A few years ago I bought 15 JoHan models from a man who used to own a AMC store. He would give them out to potential customers. The models ranged from Hornets to Ambassadors.

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Art, thanks for that history lesson.. cool.gifcool.gif

When I was young, my brothers and I would collect & build dozens of model cars.

We also collected promos in various makes and models. It was very interesting to know where the JoHan name came from.......A few years ago I bought 15 JoHan models from a man who used to own a AMC store. He would give them out to potential customers. The models ranged from Hornets to Ambassadors. </div></div>

Yes, that would have been a nice find!

Having spent most of my life in the scale model car hobby (I started building models of antique cars in 1952, at the wizened old age of 8!), including a stint with the former Playing Mantis company designing diecast Johnny Lightning cars and assisting with Polar Lights model car kit projects, it never fails to amaze me how those companies managed to have promotional model cars in dealers' showrooms by new car introduction time back in the 50's and 60's.

I do know that AMT (and I would assume MPC, PMC and JoHan as well) worked very closely with the automaker's styling departments, well in advance of new car introductions, to create their products. Just as with several Johnny Lightning diecasts, even the 2004 Pontiac GTO and '05 Ford GT model kits we did, the model companies back then worked with pictures and drawings of the approved styling clays, often having to revise their newly created tooling as trim and grilles were finalized (which often didn't happen until only a few months before production changeovers).

Back in the 1970's, I built probably 75% of AMT Corporation's display models, along with models to be photographed for boxtop artwork and catalog selling sheets. In this, I was in and out of AMT's Troy Michigan headquarters & plant on average about every 6 weeks or so. AMT, back then, had a huge archival display of their history, a full collection of all their products from the very beginning, in glass cases in their huge meeting/conference room. In their display of promo's were countless early test shots, models of cars having trim on them that you see only in pictures taken behind the scenes at GM Styling Division, Ford Styling, or Chrysler's Design Studios back in the day. When Lesney Corporation bought AMT in 1978, and closed the Maple Road facility, an awful lot of those very rare test shot promo's made it into private collections, seldom are ever seen today, trading only in private sales.

By the mid-70's, the handwriting was on the wall for promotional model cars, though. Only a handful of promo's remained in production--notably 73-75 Olds Cutlass 442's, Cadillac Eldorado hardtops through '76, AMC Hornet's through 1974. Of course, there were promo's of Pinto's, Vega's and Monza's, and in 1978-80, the newly downsized Monte Carlo. Then a dry spell in the 80's, until 1989, when a still unidentified company (not AMT/Ertl, and not JoHan!) provided Buick dealers with 1:25 scale promo's of the '88 Buick Regal coupe and Reatta coupe. AMT/Ertl had continued the MPC line of Corvette promo's (which are the longest running promotional model cars of all) when they bought up MPC in 1987, and in 1989, they introduced a promo of the Taurus. Off and on during the 90's, there were promo model cars made, but most were marketed more as souvenirs than anything "promotional", and a new player came into the marketplace, Brookfield Collector's Guild. Brookfield did GMC Suburbans as diecast banks in '92, then Dodge Intrepids and Chrysler LH sedans in '93, also diecast. They produced a beautiful little Dodge Neon series in 1996, along with the Oldsmobile Aurora, in factory colors, as well as the Indianapolis and IRL pace cars, these in both plastic and diecast. Brookfield also produced the 1996 Monte Carlo, both in factory colors and as the Brickyard 400 Pace Car. AMT had also produced the 1994 Chevy C1500 Brickyard 400 Pace Truck, along with 1988-91 Chevy C1500 long bed Fleetsides, the '92 C1500 Sportside, and the SS454 Chevy pickup of that year. In 1996, AMT also produced a C2500 Extended Cab Chevy 4X4, and the new Dodge Ram 4X4, finishing off with the S10 Blazer.

AMT/Ertl also produced a few "retro-promo's" in the mid-80's, notably an all-new rendition of the '53-'54 Corvette, the 1962 Corvette Mako Shark I dream car, '64 Ford Galaxie 500XL Hardtop (from original tooling) and a very nice series of 1966 Fairlane GTA's. AMT, in 1997, produced the Oldsmobile Intrigue as a promo, their last true promotional model outside of Corvette.

A newer area of promotional model cars is in 1:64 scale diecast miniatures. Maisto has produced these for Chrysler and GM several times over the past 4-6 years, and at Johnny Lightning, we created, on a crash-program basis, the Chevrolet HHR for GM, which was used as a nationwide giveaway by Chevrolet with the introduction of the HHR at the Los Angeles Auto Show in January 2005 (lotta stories about that project!).

Revell-Monogram is issuing "Easy Build" (snap-together) model kits of the Dodge Magnum SRT8 and the '06 Chrysler 300C, and from all appearances of this series from them, they could easily be produced as promotional models, should Daimler Chrysler decide to bite on a deal.

Art

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Art, do you think AMT, JoHan, etc, still have any of the old dies they used back when, or were they all scraped? </div></div>

Most of AMT's promo tooling, from 1958 onward, was revamped to produce the almost concurrent 3in1 model car customizing kits, don't have any idea about pre-58, but my guess it that most of those went to the scrapper. JoHan tried hanging on to all their tooling, but due to either theft (the long standing legend) or negligence, very little of that survived--although JoHan did reissue something like 30-35 old promo's in non-warping styrene 1978-90, under the brand name X-El Products. MPC never did reissue any promo's in later years (they were bought out by AMT/Ertl in 1987), so who knows? Ditto with PMC, although in the early 1990's, PMC's owners either produced, or leased out tooling to someone else, to reproduce some of the International Harvester pickup truck promotionals.

Art

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Art - thanks for the excellent tour of model car history. I downloaded it all, printed it, and it is stored with my collection of unbuilt plastic models.

Jon. </div></div>

Hey Jon, thanks for the appreciative comments! Even more intriguing is the history of model car kits in general, how some of them came about, and some of the stories surrounding their development! I'm currently converting the old MPC kit (reissued by AMT/Ertl in 2003, BTW) of the Beverly Hillbillies car, which is a well-worn '19 Oldsmobile Touring, cut down sometime in the late 20's or early 30's into a Joad Family-style flat bed truck. This project is to become a 1920 Oldsmobile 1-ton truck, which means an all-new chassis, scratchbuilt rear springs, wooden truck cab and body (out of real wood in miniature, the body to be an ice truck delivery body).

AMT Corporation produced a now fairly rare kit of the Thomas Flyer of New York to Paris fame, and a couple of stories about that kit's development are almost hilarious! Maybe for another post, huh?

Art

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Art - my interest in plastic models surrounds the Pontiac GTO. Any good stories on any of these?

Jon. </div></div>

John,

Only that every significant year of the GTO was made, at least at some time, in a 1:25 scale model kit 1964-72, and then '04-05 (Nobody made the Chevy Nova-based GTO's of the mid-70's in kits though).

Art

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I have been most thankful that Wheat's Nostalgia, one of the leading vendors of original promo cars, has created the "Memory Lane" line of new 1/25-scale promos based on The Modelhaus' 1/25-scale resin cast kits. The Memory Lane promos are not cheap, but they are beautifully finished and they do not warp. One of the things that I've particularly appreciated is that several models or body styles have been offered which were not originally available as 1/25-scale promos or kits. It is also possible to specify any factory original color combination when ordering the models.

To date, I have purchased the following models in the series, which have been a great addition to my collection of original promos and dime store frictions:

1957 Buick Roadmaster 2-door Riviera

1958 Buick Roadmaster 75 convertible

1958 Buick Limited 2-door Riviera (never available previously in 1/25-scale)

1959 Buick Invicta Estate Wagon (never available previously in 1/25-scale)

1959 Pontiac Bonneville 4-door Vista (never available previously in 1/25-scale)

1961 Buick Invicta 4-door hardtop (never available previously in 1/25-scale)

Okay, I'm a Buick guy, but the selection of other marques, particularly the Chrysler products, is most impressive. Check out the current available promos here: Memory Lane Extras

Art, any comments about the dime store frictions, which were typically offered along with the original dealer promos and the kits?

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">I have been most thankful that Wheat's Nostalgia, one of the leading vendors of original promo cars, has created the "Memory Lane" line of new 1/25-scale promos based on The Modelhaus' 1/25-scale resin cast kits. The Memory Lane promos are not cheap, but they are beautifully finished and they do not warp. One of the things that I've particularly appreciated is that several models or body styles have been offered which were not originally available as 1/25-scale promos or kits. It is also possible to specify any factory original color combination when ordering the models.

To date, I have purchased the following models in the series, which have been a great addition to my collection of original promos and dime store frictions:

1957 Buick Roadmaster 2-door Riviera

1958 Buick Roadmaster 75 convertible

1958 Buick Limited 2-door Riviera (never available previously in 1/25-scale)

1959 Pontiac Bonneville 4-door Vista (never available previously in 1/25-scale)

1961 Buick Invicta 4-door hardtop (never available previously in 1/25-scale)

Okay, I'm a Buick guy, but the selection of other marques, particularly the Chrysler products, is most impressive. Check out the current available promos here: Memory Lane Extras

Art, any comments about the dime store frictions, which were typically offered along with the original dealer promos and the kits? </div></div>

Joe Wheat's Memory Lane cars are very, very nice. For what it's worth, those are done from the excellent resin kits by The Modelhaus.

Art

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 9 months later...

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Greetings promo pals,

Joe, I responded some time ago to your original post, and since then ran across a cool article in the Ford Times from February, 1961. It's just four pages, so I'm going to post 'em one at a time.

Here goes...

Tom Gibson </div></div>

Tom,

Loved the scans of the Ford Times article--including pics of one of my boyhood model car heroes, Budd "The Kat From AMT" Anderson (no relation though). What's really funny is, even though the article states that the dies for those promo's were destroyed after their production run, that's not at all true! AMT (as with JoHan and MPC, the other big players in promotional model cars, and Product Miniatures of Milwaukee WI) saved the tooling, most of which was revised into the famous "3in1" customizing model car kits of the 69's which fascinated millions of American kids, and bring mega-dollars on eBay today in their mint form.

I know of just one promotional model car whose tooling was destroyed, and that was the SMP (SMP, or Scale Model Products, was a sister brand to AMT, and produced in the same facilities) 1911 prototype Chevrolet. Chevrolet commissioned that project, both in promo and model kit form, for distribution exclusively through Chevrolet dealerships, and ordered the tooling destroyed once that production was completed.

Promotionals were cool back then, and still are!

Art Anderson

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Promo model history goes well back into the 19th century when miniatures were carried by a wide variety of traveling salesmen. However, for cars, one of my favorite pieces of history for promos dates to 1921. Marmon had limited display for the auto show in New York. Factory shop apprentices were instructed to build 1/4 scale models, two for each of the eight body styles offered for the 1921 Model 34B, plus at least two 1/4 scale engines. These models were well received by the public. Several still exist in the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History and I have one of the engines.

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Promo model history goes well back into the 19th century when miniatures were carried by a wide variety of traveling salesmen. However, for cars, one of my favorite pieces of history for promos dates to 1921. Marmon had limited display for the auto show in New York. Factory shop apprentices were instructed to build 1/4 scale models, two for each of the eight body styles offered for the 1921 Model 34B, plus at least two 1/4 scale engines. These models were well received by the public. Several still exist in the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History and I have one of the engines. </div></div>

Ron,

True enough, but I believe I would separate "salesman's samples" from the concept of the promotional piece, as the former weren't generally offered for sale, or given away for the purposes of promoting the sales of the actual products.

For example, a very good model-building and collecting friend of mine in Northern California has a most historical scale model, made for promoting the company's forthcoming car--it is THE actual 1/8th scale 1948 Tucker model, as seen in the famous portrait of Preston Tucker holding the car in his arms. What is interesting as well, is that the Tucker Archives at the Gilmore Classic Car Museum has one of the hand-made hubcaps from this model, and the model itself is missing exactly that hubcap. Perhaps, one of these days, both model and hubcap will be reunited, as my friend is getting very well up in years.

Perhaps the most famous, and most poignant of all promotional model cars were the cast and polished 1036 Cord 810 sedans, presented to buyers of the first of these cars, to remind them that their car, albeit delayed in release, was indeed coming. Other interesting promotional, but not produced for public sale, model cars include the 2 or 3 1955 Lincoln Futura dream car models, done in 1/10 scale by Ford's styling studios, for showing around the country, in places where the actual car wasn't shown--at least one of these exists today, in private hands. And of course, each February, in Florida, perhaps the most sought after "promo" of all, the crowning part of the Harley Earl Trophy, presented to the winner of the Daytona 500, is a scale rendering of GM's Firebird I turbine dream car.

Of course, in all this discussion, I haven't mentioned, other than the SMP 1911 Chevrolet Prototype, the numerous promotional model car kits that have been produced: Models such as the AMT Ford Levacar, all the various model kits of Indianapolis 500 Pace Cars and such. Additionally, in 1964-66, Ford Motor Company ordered specially boxed model kits from AMT, their '32 Ford Victoria (first released as a Ford promo kit, BTW), the '32 Ford Roadster & Coupe, and the '25 Model T Coupe. These were available only through your local Ford dealer, and then only if you had received the offer by mail, as sent to registered Ford owners (I got one of these for each of my 3 Model A's and my '27 T Coupe!).

More recently, in late 2003, I got the call, while working at Playing Mantis, doing product development for Johnny Lightning 1/64 scale diecast miniatures, to honcho the development of a miniature of the then forthcoming Chevrolet HHR--which we debuted as a run of some 30,000 pcs in time for the announcement of the production car at the 2004 LA International Auto Show in 2004. It was rather exciting to be in on the ground floor on a totally new car, working from GM Styling computer files, while coaching the mockup makers at our factory in China, to get it right, so that GM could sign off on it for production. But, those days are now past, for me.

Art Anderson

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Here Goes Kids,

This attachment comes from my extensive archive and may put an end

to the lengthy repartee about when promos began. Look to the Hudson

article (Automotive News, 9/27/48) and the Chevy piece to give an idea

of the ACTUAL origins of promos. The OK Used Car deal is unatributed.

While I agree completely about scale models built by manufacturers for

publicity purposes (Cord, Tucker, etc.), perhaps this article will answer

the lingering question; When did it all begin?

The Hudson model in question cannot be verified by my long-time friend in

Orlando (the mentor of my meager multi-scale collection), but they most

certainly made the Ford, Buicks and Chevys. Care to venture a guess as to

the value today contained in this attachment?

Best leave that to those with deep pockets and the need to have EVERYTHING.

Be proud of what you have and share it with others; can you take it with you?

Happy collecting,

Tom Gibson

post-43799-143137885447_thumb.jpg

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not exactly promos, but as a kid entering teenage hellion status I remember 4 separate kits put out by Revell in 1955. a ford sunliner, chrysler 300, buick riveria, merc montclair. We used to buy 2 or 3 of these kits and interchange the parts to make custom cars. I'd love to find those sometime.

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Here Goes Kids,

This attachment comes from my extensive archive and may put an end

to the lengthy repartee about when promos began. Look to the Hudson

article (Automotive News, 9/27/48) and the Chevy piece to give an idea

of the ACTUAL origins of promos. The OK Used Car deal is unatributed.

While I agree completely about scale models built by manufacturers for

publicity purposes (Cord, Tucker, etc.), perhaps this article will answer

the lingering question; When did it all begin?

The Hudson model in question cannot be verified by my long-time friend in

Orlando (the mentor of my meager multi-scale collection), but they most

certainly made the Ford, Buicks and Chevys. Care to venture a guess as to

the value today contained in this attachment?

Best leave that to those with deep pockets and the need to have EVERYTHING.

Be proud of what you have and share it with others; can you take it with you?

Happy collecting,

Tom Gibson </div></div>

Tom,

Those Hudson Commodores were done in plastic, in, I believe, 1/12 scale or thereabouts. Rather than being painted, the body shells were done in two different colors of plastic, the second color replicating the lower body color (below the character line) as painted by Hudson.

They weren't promotional models as such, but rather tended to be showroom display pieces (although I suspect that if someone really wanted one, they could be pried away from dealers for a price). These are pretty scarce--in all my years of hitting up model car shows and swap meets, I've seen but 2 or 3 of these, at the legendary Toledo Collector's Toy Fairs in Maumee OH--saw one of them change hands for something in the neighborhood of $800 back about 1993 or so.

Promotional model cars, as we've come to know them, pretty much got their start when an upstart new venture, Aluminum Model Toys, out of Birmingham, MI began producing a 1947 Ford Tudor Sedan in 1?15 scale, "slush cast" (slush casting was done by pouring molten metal into a steel mold, the machinery "rolling" the mold around, allowing the molten metal to cool against the tool, then the excess poured out into a vat for remelting--resulting in a casting with a very crude, slushy looking inside surface). These were available, at your friendly neighborhood Ford dealers, a display piece being mounted in a printed cardboard display, under Ford's advertising slogan that year "Watch The Fords Go By". Aluminum Model Toys produced this car but one year, moving to Tenite (acetate plastic) for 1949, and shortening the company name to its initials "AMT". The aluminum used was from the melting down of the fast air armada of WW-II. I was given one of these models at the tender age of 4, by a cousin of Dad's, who owned several small town Ford stores in western Indiana & eastern Illinois--sure had fun with it!

A short-lived company, Master Caster, also produced promotional models in this fashion for a few years as well, early postwar Ford and Chevrolet models. About 1950, Bank Thrift Company, who made all manner of supplies for banking, began producing a line of pretty well done scale models of new cars, to be imprinted for banks and other thrift institutions, with the legend "Save for your new ______ at ____ National Bank" imprinted on the roof. Banthrico's were also slush cast, most from the same sourced scrap aluminum alloy as AMT and Master Caster, with stamped steel chassis, a coin slot and a locking plate on the bottom. In addition to Fords and Chevies, Banthrico did Plymouths, Dodges, DeSoto's, Chryslers, Pontiacs, Oldsmobiles, Buicks, Cadillacs, Nash's (including the early Ramblers), even Packards and Studebakers. They are highly collectible today.

It's hard for most anyone under say, 50 years old, to remember that the "mega dealerships" we see today didn't really begin to come about until the late 50's. So, those early promotional models played a huge part in helping to sell the product. I have my own promotional model story to tell:

It was the first Saturday in June, 1954. I'd just finished the 4th grade, coming up on my 10th birthday. I used to be the kid at our house who always got up with the chickens, to have breakfast with our dad, making that hour or so, our special time together. Dad mentioned that morning, over cereal or whatever, that he was going to go shopping for a new car for his business work (Dad was an executive with Lafayette Production Credit Association--so he spent days and days, up and down the county roads, talking with farmer-members, checking on crops and livestock. Would I like to go along? Now, you didn't have to ask me that question twice!

After making the rounds of the Ford, Chevrolet, Studebaker and such dealers, we wound up in the showroom of Charles Snyder Chrysler-Plymouth in Lafayette. On the showroom floor was a shiny new Plymouth Suburban station wagon. After I had checked the car out thoroughly, inside, outside, upside and underneath, we wound up in a deal booth, while the sales manager checked over Dad's '52 Plymouth 4dr sedan. It became apparent that Dad and the salesman were about $50 apart (on the trade), not a lot of money today, but on a deal over a new car at about $2200, the trade being worth perhaps %500, a significant amount of money. You know the routine--sales manager comes in, tries to counter any objections, finance guy comes in to see if payments were going to be a problem (Nope, Dad was prepared to write a check right there), and finally, Mr. Snyder, the dealer slips in. He looked over the papers, talked to Dad a bit, and then, seeing me squirming excitedly on my chair, announced that he'd be right back. Within 5 minutes, he returned, with a small cardboard box in his hand. Getting Dad's permission, he handed me that box--which upon being opened by an excited kid, revealed........a Product Miniatures 1954 Plymouth Suburban promotional model, in red, just like the one out on the polished linoleum.

In the fall of 1991, when Dad was struggling with his final illness (Dad died a week before his 88th birthday), while I was visiting with him, he suddenly blurted out: "You still got that damned $50 toy car????" Yes, Dad couldn't hold out anymore, after Mr. Snyder made my day, that morning--we came home in a shiny new station wagon, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Art Anderson

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Art, I hope you still have that "$50 dollar car". <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

Wayne </div></div>

Uh, what the hey! I did with it as I was supposed to do--played with it, wore it out! But, those early promo tires, with that flywheel motor--talk about black tire streaks on Mom's clean kitchen floor! <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/cool.gif" alt="" />

Art

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  • 2 years later...

I hate to dig up an old thread like this but I have a question to pose to Art and guys like Dennis Doty.

As Art stated earlier in this thread Quote:

"True enough, but I believe I would separate "salesman's samples" from the concept of the promotional piece, as the former weren't generally offered for sale, or given away for the purposes of promoting the sales of the actual products. "

End quote

Why is it that powered promotional cars have been largely ignored by the promotional car community?

They were given away by dealerships for the purposes of promoting the sales of the full size cars. But unlike the 1/25 scale versions that are so well known they were electric or gas powered and would actually carry one or two children or adults. They were used by the dealership much like the smaller scale versions to attract potential customers generally with their kids dragging them in for test drive promotions for the kids, additional promotions and were produced at the same time as the cars they represent with the cooperation of the manufacturers. They also change styling each year to match the full size cars and in most occasions were made in advace of public release so that they could be used in opening day festivities at dealerships.

Some of the companies that produced powered promotional scale model cars are.

The powercar Company of Mystic CT,

Donalson company of Kansas City KS,

Silvestri art studios of Chicago,

Conval industries of Springfield MA,

Robel of Berwick PA and

Barry toycraft of St Paul MN

some samples of the cars I am discussing are.

Thunderbird Juniors made from 1955-66.

56thunderbird3.jpg

Plyouth Fury Juniors 1958-60

58fury5.jpg

Desoto Firemite 1958

s_mite10.jpg

And so many more

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I was the proud owner of a few cast gold plated Tucker scale models that my uncle found several of in the dump after Tucker went belly up.

I tried my best to destroy it (As I was about 10 years old) but it took a terrific beating before the front axel finally fell off.

I have often wondered what they would be worth now.

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On a trip through Indiana and Michigan visiting car museums in 1983 I bought a coin bank that is a 1934 La Salle rumble seat coupe model. It is made out of heavy cast material, off-brown or off-gray in color. It is seven inches long and may weigh close to 2 pounds. On the bottom it has a plain plate with a coin slot. Four small screws hold the plate on. The only marking is the word LA SALLE on the bottom of the driver's side running board. I thought it was a Banthrico model but I could be wrong as I foolishly trashed the box it came in. I assume it was made about the time I bought it. Anybody know if it is a Banthrico model, is it pewter or something else, and how common is it today?

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Not to mention the 1/32 scale 1936 Cord miniatures, given to those who had not received their new Cords, promised for December 1935 delivery, in order to placate them and prevent cancellation of orders. Originals today are so highly coveted and few in number that the bronze model has been reproduced.

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There were some fairly accurate hard rubber promos built in the 1930's and early 40's. I have seen Oldsmobiles, Fords and even International trucks. Someone with more knowledge may be able to list the exact makes and who produced them?

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In this photo is a tan rubber Chrysler Airflow "promo"tional toy car. The detail is astounding, but the scale and proportions are off somewhat. O.K....it DOES have front fender skirts. After all...it IS a toy. The green one is metal with rubber tires. Sorry the photo is blurry...it's a pain to get into my toy display case.

post-37352-143138121741_thumb.jpg

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The first promo I had was a yellow '54 Ford Convertible. My uncle sold Chevies in NH and used to give me a promo for Christmas every year - I remember having a '55 Corvette, '56 Cameo P/U, '57 Bel Air convertible, '58 Nomad wagon, '59 Impala sport sedan, etc. Unfortunately, I only still have the last one he gave me, a '66 Impala radio. The others are long gone as I played with them. Basically, though, I started collecting in 1957 - promos and model kits - right into the 70's. I've often said that if I had every promo or model kit that I had, I would have 2,000 or more of them. Through the years, I've built and sold my collection several times - depending on family need. A few years ago, I started collecting the 1/18 die casts and Danbury and Franklin Mint models. My heart is still with promos - I have about 85 now and buy a few each year. Right now, I am working on getting one of each color '63 Ford Galaxie's - convertible and hardtop. I also keep looking for ones I had as a kid. I bought two at Hershey this year, a red '63 Galaxie convertible and the orange/brown '73 Caprice hardtop. I've bought several from Joe Wheat, including 2 Memory Lane models which he no longer sells. Also, have bought a dozen or so from William Landis at Hershey. Only problem with most promos is the price. I kind of have a self-imposed limit of not spending more than $200 on any one of them. Always on the look out, though.

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Last night going through my book collection I can across a book done by Steve Butler a couple years ago. It is the full history of promotional models, it is wonderfully complete and does not miss anything. It was $19.95 in soft binding. I would watch the swap meets for it. Well worth the effort on this great subject.

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  • 7 years later...

I came across this thread when searching for the toy car that some original mold patterns produced that I came across in an antique story years ago.

 

After MUCH searching and asking questions anywhere I could find, finally with the help of the internet world the question has been solved!  Have a look at the original mold patterns, amazing amount of work and skill making those molds.

 

These molds made the PMC 1952 Chevy two door coupe promo bank! 

 

I now believe that this car below was indeed made in the molds I have.  To my eye, every detail seems to match.  Right down the to lower three faint horizontal lines on the rear fender under the main offset line. Hood and trunk emblem are perfect match, as are the door handles.

 

The round injection holes match perfectly on the bottom, and notice the interior fender swells from the bottom.  The front is rather round, but the rear is swept back quite a bit.  The openings for the axle, and the surface steps toward the ends. Same as the mold:

 

The front/rear bumper were separate pieces were added later:

d1.jpg

d4.jpg

d6.jpg

d7.jpg

Edited by Black Frog (see edit history)
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19 minutes ago, Black Frog said:

I came across this thread when searching for the toy car that some original mold patterns produced that I came across in an antique story years ago.

 

After MUCH searching and asking questions anywhere I could find, finally with the help of the internet world the question has been solved!  Have a look at the original mold patterns, amazing amount of work and skill making those molds.

 

These molds made the PMC 1952 Chevy two door coupe promo bank! 

 

I now believe that this car below was indeed made in the molds I have.  To my eye, every detail seems to match.  Right down the to lower three faint horizontal lines on the rear fender under the main offset line. Hood and trunk emblem are perfect match, as are the door handles.

 

The round injection holes match perfectly on the bottom, and notice the interior fender swells from the bottom.  The front is rather round, but the rear is swept back quite a bit.  The openings for the axle, and the surface steps toward the ends. Same as the mold:

 

The front/rear bumper were separate pieces were added later:

d1.jpg

d4.jpg

d6.jpg

d7.jpg

 

Now that is really cool!!! :)

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Thanks!  I've had these quite a while, I thought they were too unique and cool to pass up!  But I need to start downsizing, and time for someone else to enjoy these.  I was motivated to do some investigation into finding the actual product of these molds before putting them up on Ebay.  It took a whole lot of searching and looking at thousands of photos, but glad it was finally solved to put my mind at rest.  Originally I was thinking die cast, but someone mentioned promo car banks...  I started looking at those and realized the bottom rectangular plate on the mold matched that same coin slot on the promo car banks.  :-)

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