Unicorn Promo Models

How a $2 investment generates a 2,000% return

One of my favorite episodes of Fast N’ Loud on Discovery channel is when Richard Rawlings and his friend Dennis Collins (who is also a big Jeep guy) go look at a Shelby Mustang they are looking to buy only to find more Mustangs, one of the Dennis describes as a unicorn. It was one of just a handful made with the exact options he explained. A car that could potentially generate a HUGE return on their investment, in the tens of thousands of dollars. The same situation is true of the plastic promotional model cars only the money is not quite as big.

The cars were two bucks or free

We all got them as kids, promo models, or our parents gave them to us when they bought their shiny new car from the dealer. Chances are if your pop bought a car that is rare now, the promo model could be too. Take for example this Rally Red ’67 Corvette which includes the box. This car looks as if it was never even out of the box. Like its big brother, this is a hot year on the Corvette collector scene. A quick check on Hemmings found examples in the $75,000-$90,000 range. If you still have yours, then you probably paid around $4,200. The little guy recently sold on eBay for $2,400. Yup for a piece of plastic. It sold for that much because, one, it’s rare, two, its in mint condition, and three, comes with the box. A unicorn car. If you paid two bucks for the promotional model car and hung onto it and sold it today, your return would be huge from a percentage points view but you still rake in more cash on the real deal.

Here’s another example, another ’67, again with the box and in NM (near mint) condition listed for $1,499 by eBay seller 69stingray3x2

A growing market for car finds like this

You bet there is says eBay seller ctstreasurehaven who recently sold this rare ’69 Dodge Coronet Convertible for $3,200,

as rare as its bigger brother. Only 628 R/T’s were sold and command a decent chunk of change. This 1969 Dodge Hemi Coronet R/T Convertible, the only documented with a 4-speed and Hemi, sold at a Mecum auction in 2016 for $625,000. The money return on this one would be huge considering they listed new at around $3,600 according to NADA (National Automobile Dealers Association).

Photo: Mecum

Ctstreasurehaven isn’t a promo model collector but rather an estate and liquidation company and says, “I have liquidated promo cars in the past and I do believe that there is a healthy market for cars in EX/NM (Excellent/Near Mint) condition.” He added that he has seen models not in as good as shape as this one still selling for around $1,000.

This last Mopar promo model in the four-figure range has some history with it. According to the seller’s description was owned by Joe Sturm who, in the late 1960s, was instrumental in the development and release of the Road Runner and GTX.

This was painted purple metallic and presented to him in appreciation for all his hard work. This is a common practice among the auto makers. I know of similar instances from my dad’s time at American Motors and have one myself. A true unicorn the seller says, especially for some Mopar guy but it will cost them around two grand to have that honor.

How much are these little gems worth? Since there are no companies like Hemmings, Mecum, and NADA that researches pricing and trends, the market pretty much sets pricing. Have some money burning in your pocket? How’s your portfolio performing?









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