Spellcheck went crazy with this
Lots of red lines below my copy when I wrote this blog entry about the Open Rekord. It kept wanting to change it to “Record”. You know me and odd ball cars. I was actually running through eBay looking at promo models when I came across a Record, oops, Rekord. More about the promo model in a minute but first I needed to find our more about the real deal since I’d never heard of the car. This car was no one-hit wonder as there were approximately ten million sold between 1953 and 1986. It was produced by GM’s Opel brand and was the second best-selling brand in Europe behind the Volkswagen Beetle. Check out the spot but brush up on your German. Read more
Carpeting and paint codes
As a kid my first promo model was a pink ’63 VW Bug. I had my eye on this at the local hobby shop for the longest time lusting over it although I doubt at age five I knew what lust was. Dad said is was mine if I would give up dragging around my blanket, yup just like Linus from Peanuts. Tough but I did it for my first promo model and the rest is history. I bet I’m not alone either touching up promo models or redoing them the exact paint code. Dad brought home lots of them when he went to work for American Motors in 1963. I didn’t have to give anything up when those started rolling in the door and I had boxes of them. Most promo model cars will come in the colors that their big brothers were painted in like this rare red 1970 AMX that I have in my collection. Sure AMC made a red AMX in 1970 but this color is more of an approximate, not exact color match. I must have painted and detailed lots of them but none to the detail I have seen on the auction sites. Read more
Hybrids even before the word was in vogue
I’m not blogging about one of the cars that all the manufactures make, I’m blogging about a promo model made by Marx Toy Company where metal and plastic combine to make an exceptionally detailed collector piece like this tin and plastic 1953 4 door “paper” woody station wagon.
The “Toy King” of the United States
That’s what Time magazine called Louis Marx in an 1955 article. Marx was said to have business savvy with the mind of a child because he could see into the eyes of kids and create models that they wanted. Beyond this car, Marx Toy Company, made tons of other toys such as a Alabama minstrel dancer and the Zippo climbing monkey. In 1922, these two toys accounted for 16 million in sales. A few years later he came back with whistling yo-yos, and they climbed in sales faster than Zippo and sales were not up to 100 million of these whistling and non-whistling toys. But the company is perhaps best know by people in my era when in 1964 they produced and distributed Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots and in the 70’s a large plastic tricycle called Big Wheel which is in the National Toy Hall of Fame. Marx didn’t make the jump with the new electronic toys hitting the market and was purchased by Quaker Oats who shut down the factory. Could you imagine how much fun it was working for this company? The only thing cooler would be working for Mattel at Hot Wheels. Read more
More like a cyber barn
Hey I just coined a new term. I’m always on eBay either selling or buying stuff. If you’re looking for something rare, that’s the place to start. I have a search parameter set up for promotional model cars and just they other day these two finds came up. What makes them unusual is that both of them were being sold by an eBayer located in Japan so they both have some miles on them. Well not literally. Read more
I have never been a fan of French engineering
I have first-hand experience with my mother owning a Renault Alliance and then me owning an Encore. This was the big deal about the partnership with American Motors and Renault. The cars were a hit out of the gate with the Alliance named Motor Trend Car of the Year but it all went down after that. Mom had the 1.4L engine in her car and I thought it sounded like a sewing machine. I opted for the 1.7L in my Encore and the car could still only barley get out of its own way. I did like the manual shift. The cars had a bunch of issues but it basically came down to cheap materials and bad engineering. Did you know that the Read more
My favorite Jeep
A big reason we collect cars is because there is an emotional attachment. Mine for AMC, and Jeeps, coming from my dad working at American Motors. AMC bought Jeep from Kaiser in 1970. My favorite Jeep is the Jeepster originally produced by Willys-Overland from ’48-’50 and then ’66-’73. A vehicle so popular T. Rex wrote a song about it. Read more
Oh, I had one of those…….
Bet I could count on one hand the amount of guys who never played with model cars growing up. We had them because there was a connection. Our parents, relative, or the guy down the street had one. Yup, he was the cool guy. We smashed them, burned them, and blew them up. Boy did I get busted for that one. Of course we did have special ones that never went out of our bed rooms like your first one. Remember it? I remember mine and it wasn’t a Rambler. I was probably about five or six. Dad and I had an HO train layout so we made several trips to the local hobby shop growing up in Madison, WI. to get more stuff. There it was, the shiny bright object before I even knew about shiny bright objects! It was a promo model car and dad knew I wanted it but I would have to do one thing first. OK, I’m giving a deep dark secret here. Like Linus, from Peanuts, I had this blanket that, well I sucked on. Hey I was a kid. So I gave it up. Yup, I wanted it that bad. Now you’re wondering what was the car? You would never guess in a million years! Wait for it…..an early 60’s Volkswagen Beetle, and it was pink. An early view of my softer side:) As I picked up on how this whole deal worked, I was giving up all kinds of promo models for doing stuff my parents wanted me to do and I made them think it was their idea.
Look ma, no hands!
Just the other day I was “just looking” on eBay and came across another early car I had that let me run it around with a remote control. This 1958 Ford Hardtop made by AMT was exactly like it. Took two D batteries and you could run it forward and backwards and turn it left and right. Hey this was the technology of the day. One of my relatives must have given it to me as a gift at one time, this one went for 140 bucks recently on eBay while this red 57′ sold for 99 bucks. But I also had one even cooler than that, a 1958 Skyliner that retracted the top just like the real one back into the decklid. Couldn’t find one but it was exactly the color of the real deal here only nowhere near as complicated.
The Skyliner was the only true hardtop convertible in the world when it was introduced in 1957. The top came down with a touch of a button but that was the simple part. To get the top into the deckle took three roof drive motors driving four lift jacks, four door-lock motors, ten solenoids, and four locking mechanisms for the roof. 610 feet of wiring made sure all that stuff was talking to each other. A good example is hard to find and when one is it will take about $75,000 to take it home. Too rich for me. I’m going to keep looking for the model I once had. Give me a shout if you find one.
There, now I feel better, it’s out there. I’ve gone road hunting in CJ’s that still hurt my back, but it was still fun! I have owned a 1986 four-door Wagoneer (XJ), then a 1996 Grand Cherokee (ZJ), a Liberty (KJ). Designed by Diamler at the time and not my favorite because it was way to top-heavy as you can see here after an Illinois driver on his cell phone clipped me. I walked away.
It’s the only vehicle I have exited through the sun roof. We currently area about to purchase our 2011 Wrangler Unlimited (JK) off our lease and I can’t wait to start making it more our Jeep. First thing I’m going to do is put a cold air intake to give it some zip. I have been to Camp Jeeps at both the Chicago and Milwaukee auto shows. Milwaukee was the better ride. Check out the videos from my rides. Yup, all in.
It was when American Motors, where my dad worked, bought Kaiser’s money-losing Jeep operations in 1970 that I started to dig into the history of the Jeep brand. AMC was hurting at the time and this was a big gamble for them but the Jeep utility vehicles complemented AMC’s passenger car business. Actually it saved the company. AMC was able to share components, achieving volume efficiencies, as well as capitalizing on Jeep’s international and government markets.
It created the Sport Utility market
The four-door Jeep Wagoneer (SJ) set the pace as it was the first luxury 4×4 sold and produced from 1963 to 1991, nearly 30 years before the term SUV was in vogue. Compared to what GM, International Harvester, and Land Rover were offering at the time, it was the Wagoneer’s luxury that set the bar. Adding to success of the Wagoneer, and it’s two-door version Cherokee AMC introduced in 1973 was the Quadra-Trac full-time four-wheel-drive system which attracted even more people to Jeep products who wanted four-wheel-drive traction without the inconvenience of a manual-shift transfer case and manual locking hubs.
The Wagoneer Limited you see in these images which later morphed into the Grand Wagoneer, had the whole deal, deep pile carpeting, advanced overhead cam inline six and then later a monster AMC 401 V8 engine, auto transmission, power windows, a/c, power steering, power brakes, an independent front suspension and yes, real wood outlining the fake vinyl wood as you can see in this example which I think is a 1981. It’s a little on the rough side but there are lots of places that specialize in full restorations like GrandWagoneer.com. The vehicle still has a following even though the last Grand Wagoneer rolled off Chrysler’s Toledo assembly plant on June 21, 1991. Now that Fiat owns Jeep there were images floating around showing a modern version of the Grand Wagoneer which I have heard won’t come on the market for another couple of years.
I would love to have a Grand Wagoneer to show off to the people I know who drive Cadillac Escalades or Range Rovers. Sure buddy, one on one! I made a trip to one of my favorite sites, Hemmings, and found Grand Wagoneers from the mid-20’s to all the way up to 50 grand like this one. Have you looked at the current prices of the Caddy or Rover?
So what if you don’t have the cash?
Surprisingly with such a long run, you’d thing there would have been a promo model made but it never happened, however this Grand Wagoneer produced by AutoArt is a great alternative. I picked up this 1/18th scale diecast about five years ago for around $100. Even though AutoArt has stopped producing them, they pop up on eBay except for the white one which is nearly impossible to find. Check out the details on this. All the doors open, along with the hood and rear lift gate. The interior has real carpeting and upholstery. Check out the engine bay. I love looking at this. I keep hoping that someday there will be a way to take it and scale it up into the real deal.
More like a closet find
I love American Motors’ products. Part of my sickness comes from my dad working for the company. Sure they had the clunkers but also had some cool cars. Dad brought home tons of stuff and now it’s time to thin things out a bit.
My promo model collects has a little bit of everything. What I’m offering up are a couple of Javelins, AMX’s, and an Ambassador still with the hood ornament on it. Rare. So check out this micro site I put up and then let’s talk.
Songs about the GTO
I love cars! I love music about cars too which might be the reason I like the Pontiac GTO so much. Overall there are over 15 songs about this car mostly in 1964, the first year the GTO was built. Songs range from Little GTO by Ronny and the Daytonas, to Mighty GTO by Jan and Dean, to Here comes the Judge by Shorty Long. I have several on my iPhone.
History of the GTO
Built from ’64-’74 and then again by Holden from ’04-’06, It was a classic muscle car of the ’60’s and ’70’s and considered by some to have started the trend with all the big four automakers offering a variety of competing models. The GTO was the brainchild of engine specialist Russell Gee, Bill Collins, a chassis engineer, and Pontiac chief engineer John DeLorean. GM had a ban on sponsored racing on tracks and events at the time so these guys took it to the street. DeLorean came up with the name idea inspired by the Ferrari 250 GTO. Good luck on trying to find one of those now! GTO is an Italian abbreviation for Gran Turismo Omologato, in english “Grand Tourer Homologated”, which means officially certified for racing in the Grand-Tourer class. The Ferrari guys were not to happy about it. Go figure.
Consumers began calling the GTO ”The Goat,” because the animal is known for eating anything in this case on the street. Acronym for GOAT was turned into “Gas Oil And Tire” burner. Those who had a GTO probably spent time and money purposely burning the three resources, and with gas costing only 32 cents a gallon, who cared.
Huge engines, nice investment
V8’s anywhere between a 389 to a 400! What’s not to like? These were fast street racers and the public knew it and still do. Daily drivers run about $20,000 to $50,000. Not too bad for all that fun. These are a favorite collector car of the Baby Boomers. On the high end, I found this ’71 GTO Judge which was sold for, wait for it, $232,500. What makes this special is that of the 357 GTO Judges that Pontiac sold in ’71, only 17 convertibles were made. You can click on the image to read more about it at Hemmings.
Promo model GTO’s can be a bit pricey too.
While you won’t be dropping the kind of cash I mentioned above, good GTO promo model examples will cost a couple of hundred dollars. I found this hard to find MPC ’71 Quezal Gold Hardtop which sold for $245. While this MPC ’70 Cardinal Red GTO Hardtop sold for $245. Sure you can find lower cost ones for around $20 but there is nothing like having a pristine model of one car that inspired so many songs.
It all depends on how badly you want that car
I’ve done blog entries on the real collector cars with some of them going for millions. If I had the cash, which I don’t, at least until the pull my numbers for the Mega Millions, I’d pop for one or two. Won’t hold my breath on that though. The same is true for the promotional model cars. I think the last one I bought I paid just over 100 bucks for. If you’ve read my past blogs on this topic, you saw many cars going for mid three figures which is not really that bad. I’ve seen ones near or over $1,000 but this 1969 Ford Mustang Promo Dealer Promotional Model Car recently caught my eye when it was up for auction on eBay. Sure it was in super clean shape but what the seller was asking for it, around $1,700 right out of the gate was really what interested me. It eventually sold for $1,876.77!
So I shot a message to the seller. “The only thing I can tell you is down thru the years these Mustangs haven’t shown up often in original owners collections & therefore deemed “rare”. No one knows how many of any of these promo cars were made as no known production figures have been found. No one knows why fewer cars were made in some models & more in others.” said eBay seller promorog who sells other promo cars on the site.
Compared to the real deal
1969 was the year that Ford unveiled another restyle and three new models: the Mach 1, Boss 302 and Boss 429. Because of the lack of markings and small hood scoop, it’s tough to tell which car this would be modeled after. But the real deals are also not cheap either. On the low-end, in the middle 30’s and on the high-end all the way up to $100,000 plus. But hey, it’s only money, right?
And has virtually no value beyond sentimental
I remember when the Chevy Citation was introduced by General Motors in 1980. This X-body car was Chevy‘s front wheel drive car. Because of the transverse mounted engine, no transmission hump, it had tons of interior space. My experience comes from working at two TV stations where the news department bought entire fleets of Citations. Those entire fleets sometimes spent more time in the shop than gathering the news. I was on a trip from Green Bay to Indianapolis to cover the 500, and on our way back, the clutch gave out just south of Chicago. So it was rush hour, on a Friday, a tow truck comes along, cha-ching, a couple hundred bucks, then tows us to a transmission shop, cha-ching, more hundred bucks. Luckily the shop had a hotel right across from it because we were going to have to stay overnight. So when I get back, this is good, you’ll like this, I hand in my expense account in and the bean counter questions the towing charge, ah, hello, you don’t make deals with tow trucks on the Illinois Tollway at rush hour, and then about the bill for the new clutch. So again, hello, no clutch, no car, so were my photographer and I supposed to push the car from shop to shop? Jeez, these guys. Don’t they know that sometimes you’re in a situation where there is no cheap?
Kind of got off topic there, back to the Citation. It was built to try to fight back the Japanese cars like the Honda Accord, still alive and kicking, and the Volkswagen Dasher, not around anymore. The Citation had through the roof sales its first year and the production lines were unable to keep up with the demand, causing huge delays in delivery to customers, some waiting nine months to receive their vehicle. Can you believe waiting nine months for a car? Well maybe a special one but not this one. First-year sales were more than 800,000, good enough for No. 1 among cars sold in the United States.
The automotive press loved it…but then didn’t
Car and Driver magazine named the Citation their 1980 Car of the Year but there was skullduggery a foot. Turns out that GM provided the writers with specially modified versions of the X-body vehicles in which the often noted torque steer (famous for) had been engineered out. Patrick Bedard of Car and Driver later admitted that they were completely surprised when they later drove a production version. In an article in 2009, the magazine put the Citation on their 10 Most Embarrassing Award Winners in Automotive History list. What a surprise, the 1983 AMC/Renault Alliance was also on the take back list. Go figure.
The reason it made the list was, because like so many other cars of that era (including AMC), were built crappy. Citation owners were having trim bits fall off in their hands, hearing their transmissions groan and seize, and the cars started rusting in a very short time. At times it seemed the suspension in some X-cars wasn’t even bolted in correctly. Because of an on-center dead spot in the steering, the ride motions grew funkier and funkier. GM tried to save the train wreck by introducing the Citation II along with the performance-enhanced Citation X-11. Chevrolet wanted to remind the car buying public that this front wheel drive newcomer was made by the same people as the Corvette and Camaro. It actually won at SCCA events running in the Showroom Stock B class. Bob McConnell drove a 1981 X-11 to SSB National Championships in 1982 and 1984. Of the 1.64 million Citation models built between 1979 and 1985, only 20,574 were in X-11 trim, meaning that surviving examples are a rare sight today.
And we’re done
GM dropped the Citation, and it’s other X-body siblings, after the 1985 model year, ultimately replaced by the L-body Beretta coupe and Corsica sedan in 1987. Better, sort of. This is a familiar car story from the 80’s, a ground-breaking car that never lived up to its billing. You have to wonder had the cars, GM’s or the other manufacturers, displayed both the initial build quality and lasting reliability of the Japanese competition, the automotive world might be very different today.
And they made a promo model
So I found this black one, an ’82, which is pretty good shape for being over 30 years old. Some minor scratches but otherwise everything was good but has little value, around 20 bucks. I suppose somebody might buy it to remind them of their time waiting in the shop. Then I found this Citation, probably a kit, and got a laugh. This guy probably hung around at the junk yards a lot. I know, I know, I’m an AMC guy so shouldn’t be throwing stones.
The U.S. isn’t the only country which likes making promo models
Say what? So I’m perusing the model car auction sites, as I almost always do to see what’s up for auction and what cars in my collection are worth, when I come across a couple of Volvo’s, yup Volvo’s. Not from one of the plastic model makers here but actually made in Finland. By the way did you know that besides saunas the country is also famous for inventing ice skates, and virtual air-guitar. Bet you didn’t. But it’s most famous claim to fame is that it is the homeland of Santa Claus. That has to be pretty busy right now.
A perennial money-loser in a country with strong labor unions
The company started in Sweden which by the way claims on its web site “Discover a country where the moose is king, Pippi Longstocking is a hero and innovation rules”. OK, I guess that works for them. The car company was then sold in the early 30’s to, SKF, a huge company that makes tons of other stuff. Famous for safety innovations it was then sold to Ford Motor Company for $6.45 billion in 2000. Everything was hunky-dori until Ford decided that it wasn’t such a great idea to own the company and sold the Volvo Car Corporation in 2010 to Geely Automobile of China for $1.8 billion. The saga continues. I mean they make some really cool cars. Forbes magazine judged the 2013 Volvo S60 R-Design one of its top picks for “Fast Cars under $50,000”. It will go 0-60 in just over five seconds. That’s pretty quick.
Own a part of Volvo history
The cream-colored one looks like a 240 GL, Volvo’s best-selling car from 1975 until 1982. The promo model has some nice details to it like the wheels and recently sold for around 30 bucks. The red one, maybe a two-door version went for much more, around $140. Note the stamping on the bottom. I had to contact the seller eBay seller, edgedeepgreensea, to see how they got a hold of these cars who replied, “Yes interesting estate purchase the collector was in foreign services and lived in Italy for I think 9 years. He purchased lots of cars from all over the world. The collection was massive and I was only a buyer of a fraction of what he had. He seemed to love all cars”. He finished (no pun intended) by telling me that he has more cars on the way, this time from Russia. Can’t wait to see those.
Let’s end this blog entry with a language lesson
In the 60’s the space race was hot
Because of that the auto manufactures took cues from the space race whether it was in the design or the name. Ford is a good example, specifically their Galaxie. Yes the word is spelled Galaxy but maybe Ford didn’t want to just rip off the word. The Galaxie was a full-size car built in the United States by the Ford Motor Company for model years 1959 through 1974. It was the high volume counterpart to the Chevrolet Impala. Some Galaxies were high-performance, racing specification machines, hello muscle car era while others were plain family sedans.
Sales of the Galaxie convertible
I couldn’t find 1967 sales numbers (because the car I will be blogging about is a 1967) but in 1966 the Galaxie 500 was the #3-selling convertible in the U.S. with 27,454 sold; it was beaten by the Mustang (at 72,119, by more than 2:1) and by the Impala at 38,000. The cars are moderately priced on the collector market in the 20 thousand dollar range. However one of the rarest is one with the 427cid/425hp 2x4bbl high performance package goes for just under $100,000 according to Hagerty and the market is trending up.
It was a top down day at the beach
I had ridden my bike down to a local beach near my house to get my hair cut and what do I see but a red 67. Of course I grabbed the owner and here is his story.
No garage, no problem
So let’s say you don’t have around 30 grand to have something like this. The next best thing is a promotional model car. I wasn’t able to find a 1967 like this but I came pretty close with the 1965’s you see below. This car is in pretty good shape with the usual issues like the posts and was reasonably priced on eBay going for just over $42. So there you have it. The big one or the little one? If money were no object, which it very much is right now, I’d take the big one since I love convertibles! To see another of my blog entries on a model Galaxie, click here.
Looking for classic cars
That’s my modus operandi whenever I’m out on my bike. Heck I’ve even been known to see an oncoming classic car and turn around to catch up with it and see if I can talk with the owner. Well one day I saw this 50th Anniversary Corvette, did the turn around thing, looked at the car for a bit, and then knocked on the door. The owner was more than happy to talk about it. If you have to have one good luck with that. The next best thing would be you would be to buy two promo models like these and do some kitbashing. Click on the photo on the left to see my interview with the owner.