Tag Archives: promotional model cars

Promo model: 1948 Hudson Hornet

Hudson Hornet, fabulous hudson hornet, hudson motor company, hudson scale models, savageonwheels.comUsually when I get ready to make a new blog post on a promo model I have seen it for sale at some auction site but this time I took a bit of a different run at it. I tried to find the car first. In this case a 1948 Hudson Hornet. Why that? Sure its part of the American Motors family tree but why not? I had never seen one so it was time to hit the trail.

For anybody reading this blog over the age of 60, this will be one of those articles where you might say, Yup, I remember that.”, for those of us who are under that it will be a history lesson and for those who are really under that, like my 14 year old daughter, you saw some of this in Disney’s Cars movie where a Hudson Hornet (a ’51) played a prominent role.

The Hudson was created with the idea to offer improved transportation at a reasonable cost, well duh! Hudson was successful almost from the start in serving the upper middle-class motorists of the day. Up to the start of World War II, it was one of the more successful independent car makers. Unlike most of the pioneer automakers, the Hudson wasn’t named for the man who created the car, but for the man who financed it, Joseph Hudson, owner of a giant department store. The real deal fully restored will go for around $40,000 but good luck finding one or an owner who wants to part with it. Continue reading Promo model: 1948 Hudson Hornet

Promo model: 63 Rambler Classic

English: 1963 Rambler Classic 660 Station Wago...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Even though I was only 9 in 1963…there, I blew the cover on my age, I still remember a lot about that year, the Kennedy assassination for sure. The Beatle’s U.S. TV concert, Route 66, and we had just moved from Madison to Milwaukee when dad got a job at….wait for it…American Motors. And to think he almost took the job at the chicken factory. It was also the year we had traded our 58 Rambler for the 63. It was white with a red interior. I’ve been looking for a promo car like that for a long time.

The 1963 Classic was the first all-new cars developed by AMC since 1956. Keeping the philosophy of the company,  they were more compact – shorter and narrower by one inch, as well as over two inches lower than the preceding models. Even though they were smaller, they lost none of their “family-sized” passenger room or luggage capacity featuring a longer 112-inch wheelbase. Now does that sound familiar today in cars?

Savageonwheels.com, promotional model cars, promo model cars, American Motors, AMC, Paul Daniel creative digital managerFor the 1963 model year, the Rambler Classic line was completely redesigned with subtle body sculpturing. Outgoing design director, Edmund E. Anderson, shaped the Classic that was named Motor Trend magazine’s 1963 “Car of the Year.” These were also the first AMC models that were influenced by Richard A. Teague, the company’s new principal designer.

Throughout its life in the AMC model line-up, the Classic was the high-volume seller for the independent automaker. In 1963 mostly because of that car, many times the company was listed by some as part of the Big 4, outselling other brands such as Buick, Dodge, Mercury Chrysler, and Cadillac.

So here’s my 63 Rambler. Dad might have brought some home but most likely they were victims of car bombs Savageonwheels.com, promotional model cars, promo model cars, American Motors, AMC, Paul Daniel creative digital managerSavageonwheels.com, promotional model cars, promo model cars, American Motors, AMC, Paul Daniel creative digital manager(firecrackers) or car fires, or ???? I bought this one at a car show. Not sure how much I paid for it but it wasn’t a lot. Maybe $50-$70. All the parts are on this one. There is some minor warping on the right front quarter panel and the bumpers could probably need a re-chroming but otherwise in pretty good shape. I’m still looking for the white body, red interior one. If you’re not an AMC geek like me it could be for an entire Car of the Year collection. Good luck on finding the other AMC COTY in a promo model. It was the Renault Alliance.

Promo model: VW Karmann Ghia

VW Karmann Ghia, get smart, don adams, promotional model cars, promo model cars, savageonwheels.com, paulWhat were you doing in 1967? For me, even though I was a kid, I was pumped because the Green Bay Packers become the first team in the modern era to win their third consecutive NFL Championship, 21-17 over the Dallas Cowboys in what became known as “The Ice Bowl”.  It was a great year for cars with lots of new ones coming out.

One I remember is the Karmann Ghia made by Voltswagen originally called the Type 14 which combined the chassis and mechanics of the Volkswagen Type 1 (Beetle), styling by Luigi Segre of the Italian carrozzeria Ghia, and hand-built bodywork by German coach-builder Karmann. A guy I worked with at one time had one of these, a green one. Tall guy too. Always wondered how he fit into it. The car was a hit with consumers too. Production doubled in Germany so it was exported to America where it was also popularity especially the convertible.

VW Karmann Ghia, get smart, don adams, promotional model cars, promo model cars, savageonwheels.com, paul daniel creative digital marketingIt was also a hit on TV too. Trivia time here. In this spy spoof the lead spy talked to his boss on a shoe phone. Not ringing a bell? The agency he worked for was trying to bust up KAOS. OK, one more. His partner was agent 99 (Barbara Feldman). Bingo, Get Smart! The 1967 Type 14 Karmann Ghia convertible was driven by CONTROL Agent 86 Maxwell Smart (Don Adams) in the opening credits of the third and fourth seasons of Get Smart. Agent 86 would be seen in the opening credits screeching to a halt outside of his headquarters. Click on the screenshot and watch the open. Fun stuff.

In the 2008 film of the same name, a Karmann Ghia once again made an appearance driven by Smart, along with its two sister cars, though the car in the film was a model from 1970. On the 1970s sitcom Good Times an orange Karmann Ghia convertible is seen briefly during the intro. The Karmann Ghia is also the subject of a secret pass phrase in the 2011 movie Cars 2. Love that movie.

The Karmann Ghia’s last year of production was 1974 and replaced by the Volkswagen Rabbit in the U.S market. But the car’s lengthy production run, reliable underpinnings, and striking styling ensure the Karmann Ghia can be recognized in virtually every town in America. It also means it enjoys strong appreciation amongst collectors. With an original list price of $2,395 restored ones can go from around 8 grand to up to $22K for a convertible.

VW Karmann Ghia, get smart, don adams, promotional model cars, promo model cars, savageonwheels.com, paulVW Karmann Ghia, get smart, don adams, promotional model cars, promo model cars, savageonwheels.com, paulThe promo car can be hard to find, as I can attest but are very affordable. You will have to do some looking beyond eBay to the sites that specialize in selling promo models such as Wheat’s Nostalgia and Bob’s Promotional Cars. This example I did find on eBay and is in pretty good shape. It’s so darn cute. Sorry, can’t say that with guys in the room. Nice detail on the floor pan too. It ended up finding a new home for around $150. Not bad for a good memory from 1967. Pardon me while I get my shoe phone.

Promo model: AMC Hornet

Amc hornet, american motors association, promotional model cars, promo model cars savageonwheels.com, james bond, 007, man with the golden gun
Screen grab from YouTube. Bond jumps an AMC Hornet

Who doesn’t love a good car chase? Show of hands. Yup, that’s everybody. Good car chases are a big part of a movie. Perhaps the first one that comes to mind is the classic chase in Bullitt. Now think Bond, James Bond. Super awesome car chases in those movies but because, as you all know, I have this sick love affair for AMC cars, I remember the 1974 AMC Hornet in The Man with the Golden Gun. The action begins as secret agent 007 commandeers the Hornet from a dealership in Bangkok with a vacationer who was looking at the car. The Hornet performs an “airborne pirouette as it makes a hold-your-breath jump across a broken bridge“. Of course the stunt car is significantly modified with a redesigned chassis to place the steering wheel in the center and a lower stance, as well as larger wheel wells compared to the stock Hornet used in all the other movie shots.

OK, now lets back up a bit for a history of the Hornet which was a compact automobile made by the American Motors Corporationamc hornet, american motors, 1970 amc hornet. savageonwheels.com(AMC) in one generation beginning with the 1970 model year and continuing through the 1977 model year. The Hornet replaced the compact Rambler American marking the end of the Rambler marque in the American and Canadian markets. Hornets were also marketed in foreign markets, as well as assembled under license agreements with AMC that included Vehículos Automotores Mexicanos (VAM), Australian Motor Industries (AMI), and by Toyota S.A. Ltd. in South Africa.

The Hornet name plate goes back to the mid-1950s. The name originated from the merger of Hudson Motor Company and Nash-Kelvinator Corporation in 1954. Hudson introduced the first Hudson Hornet in 1951. The new Hornet became an important vehicle and platform for AMC. It served the company in one form or another for eighteen years, until the 1988 model year. It would outlast all other compact platforms from the competition that included the Chevrolet Nova, Ford Maverick, and Plymouth Valiant. The Hornet marked the return of AMC to its original role as a “niche” marketer specializing in small cars.  It also became one of AMCs best sellers.

Savageonwheels.com, promotional model cars, amc hornetWe had a 73, like this one, the first year they made the Hornet in a hatchback. It was green so of course we could call it the green Hornet. Our’s had AMC’s 258 4.2 liter in it and that 170 horse power engine moved it around nicely. OK now promise me you won’t tell my dad but it was really easy to lay rubber with. I really liked that car. Now the real deal can be had for around 4 grand. More if you want the 1970 SC with the 360 in it. Now that laid rubber even if you looked at the accelerator.

For the promo models, they are very affordable to plus, they don’t have the usual rust found on AMC cars in the 70’s. I have a couple of Hornets, a 1970 2-door and a 73 fastback. Mine are both in mint Amc hornet, american motors association, promotional model cars, promo model cars savageonwheels.comAmc hornet, american motors association, promotional model cars, promo model cars savageonwheels.comcondition although I’m not sure if I have the boxes for them. My bad. I might have another 73 around somewhere to. Nope, these were not freebies, I actually bought these at one of those car model swap shows since I most likely blew up/burned up/smashed the ones dad brought home for me. Hey, I was a kid. You know, living for the moment. These are pretty inexpensive to too. I think around 30-50 bucks.

Hey look, I got my 73 to do the Bond stunt. Fishing line,what fishing line?

Amc hornet, american motors association, promotional model cars, promo model cars savageonwheels.com
My Hornet doing the jump

Promo model: 1965 Chrysler 300

OK, cue the music! ” got me a car, it’s as big as a whale and we’re headin’ on down to the Love Shack. I got me a Chrysler, it seats about 20 so come on and bring your jukebox money….”. Those lyrics sound familiar? How about a clue? It was the B52’s biggest hit. Right, Love Shack. If you go to the music video you will see a 1965 Chrysler 300 L which was the last year of the traditional letter series. It was as big as a whale with a 124 inch wheelbase.

Chrysler letter series, Chrysler 300L, Chrysler 300, Chrysler 300 convertible, Chrysler 300 promotional model cars, Savageonwheels.comThe Chrysler 300 “letter series” were high-performance luxury cars built in very limited numbers by the Chrysler Corporation in the U.S. from 1955-1965. You could identify a 300 by the special logo placed on the car on the grill and rear quarter. Each year’s model used a new letter of the alphabet as a suffix (skipping “i”), reaching 300L by 1965, after which the traditional letter series was dropped until coming back a couple of years ago. Chrysler said it best “It’s The Most Beautiful Chrysler Ever Built”. The base engine was 315 horsepower. The 390 horsepower 413ci engine was no longer available though any three hundred could be ordered with a floor Chrysler letter series, Chrysler 300L, Chrysler 300, Chrysler 300 convertible, Chrysler 300 promotional model cars, Savageonwheels.comshifting four speed manual gearbox. Fronm what I read from owners, it’s a great cruising car car but makes turn as wide as an aircraft carrier and is tough to parallel park. Well duh! I had a tough enough time learning that with my dad’s 1967 Rebel wagon! But how can you not love a convertible? I can see myself in it. Add a nice loud sound system and I’d be good to go. That would be a blast in the warm weather. BTW, up here in Wisconsin, we consider warm weather 60 and above although I’ve ridden my motorcycle down to 40 degrees. Hey, the season in short.

In the final year there were just  2,405 coupes (rare) and 440 convertibles (even rarer) were sold. OK, so I got really excited to see Gilles is currently the President and CEO of the SRT Brand and Senior Vice President of Design at Chrysler Group LLCwhat a good example of the real dear might cost. Thinking they were made in such small numbers, what, $50K? $110K. Not even close. Right now coupes go for around $10K and the convertibles in the $25K range. Convertibles, I found out are a good deal, as the 300 isn’t as sought after as the muscle cars that defined the era. The new on is cool. I have seen some convertibles but they were made by the aftermarket shops. I met the car’s designer, Ralph Gilles, at Road American this summer. Gilles is currently the President and CEO of the SRT Brand and Senior Vice President of Design at Chrysler Group LLC Really nice guy. So much passion for cars and funny too. I could see myself in that too especially in some place warm, with palm trees. Sweet.

OK, now for the promo models. Same deal. The coupes can go for around 100 bucks while like the big guys, the convertibles, about twice as much. I found this super mint ’65 300 L convertible on ebay recently. Now these are the cars I get excited about. Something you might see in a lot of collections. Solid body, good chrome, no scratches and both windshield posts. This is a car if one were to buy would go in a special case, maybe near a sound system where the B52’s could be heard singing, ” got me a car, it’s as big as a whale and we’re headin’ on down to the Love Shack. I got me a Chrysler, it seats about 20 so come on and bring your jukebox money….”.

Chrysler letter series, Chrysler 300L, Chrysler 300, Chrysler 300 convertible, Chrysler 300 promotional model cars, Savageonwheels.com
Photo: ebay
Chrysler letter series, Chrysler 300L, Chrysler 300, Chrysler 300 convertible, Chrysler 300 promotional model cars, Savageonwheels.com
Photo: ebay

Promo model: Studebakers

1957 Studebaker Golden Hawk
1957 Studebaker Golden Hawk (Photo credit: aldenjewell)

Let’s start with a bit of trivia first. What TV show did Studebaker sponsor? I’ll start singing the theme. Ooops, forgot you wouldn’t be able to hear me. By the way, I do know all the words. One clue. Alan Young f was the star, at least the two legged one. Give up? It was one of my favorite old shows, Mr. Ed. You know, a horse is a course of course of course. Ok, I’ll stop now. Do go and check out this commercial I found. I like Studebakers, maybe because like AMC, their cars are now orphans. Again like AMC, they had to compete against the Big 3 with limited assets. Also like AMC, their collectors are total geek about their cars as they should be. Their reputation was one of well-built cars but ran into trouble trying to go up against the Big 3 in a pricing war in the early 50’s. The independents only hope was seen as a merger of Studebaker, PackardHudson, and Nash into a third giant combine. This had been unsuccessfully attempted by George W. Mason. In this scheme, Studebaker had the disadvantage that its South Bend location would make centralization difficult and its labor costs were also the highest in the industry. What eventually happened was a merger with Packard but it made no difference. The last cars rolled out of the South Bend plant in 1964 and two years later at their Canadian operations.

They had one car in the hopper for 1964, this cool looking Spectre prototype was built in metal by Sibona-Bassano of Torino, Italy. It was a 2-door, 5- place coupe and destined to be the pattern for a 4 door family sedan and a 8-passenger station wagon. Brooks Stevens had been hired to do design work for Studebaker in its waning days and even though the company had few resources to devote to product development, Stevens managed to come up with some extremely innovative concepts.  The Sceptre could have been Studebaker’s flagship car had it been introduced in 1966 as Stevens envisioned.  It boasted a bevy of advanced features including full-width lighting in front using a system developed by Sylvania and fully adjustable instrumentation that could be configured almost any way the driver wished.

1964 Studebaker Gran Turismo prototype, studebaker gt, studebaker avanti, studebaker lark, savageonwheels.com
1964 Studebaker Gran Turismo prototype

Some of the cars which did make it off the line were cool. My favorite is the Avanti, which is still being made by another company, the Gran Turismo Hawk, and the later Hawks which were designed by Brooks Stevens. I’ve seen 1963 Avantis going for $30,000. I found a Grand Turismo Hawk on eBay for $37,000  The sedan Larks are much more affordable, under $20,000, except for the convertibles.

English: Category:Images of automobiles

1962 Studebaker GT Hawk

1963 Studebaker Avanti in a non-standard blue ...

Because of those prices, which are out of reach for a lot of us, there are the promo models. The ones that I found, a couple of Hawks, and a Lark Convertible,  were all very affordable. You will find the later models have little or no warp so it’s going to be difficult finding an older one in perfect shape. These are great little gems from a time gone by. After you buy a promo model, all you need is a Mr. Ed model standing right next to it.

Studebaker Indy Pace Car promo model, Studebaker, studebaker promo models, savageonwheel.com

Studebaker hawk promo model, studebaker hawk, studebaker. savageonwheels.com

Studebaker promo models, studebaker golden hawk, savageonwheels.com

Promo model: The Edsel

The aim was right, well sort of

Edsel Convertible
Edsel Convertible (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ford invested $400,000,000 in its development and those were mid-5o’s numbers. Can you imagine what that would have taken in today’s dollars? Yikes. It would be enough to bankrupt a car maker. The Edsel is most famous for being a marketing disaster and the name “Edsel” became synonymous with commercial failure, and similar ill-fated products. Since the Edsel program was such a debacle, it gave marketers a vivid illustration of how not to market a product.

The public also had difficulty understanding what the Edsel was, primarily because Ford made the mistake of pricing the Edsel within another of its car lines, Mercury and its market price segment. Theoretically, the Edsel was conceived to fit into Ford’s marketing plans as the brand slotted in between Ford and Mercury. However there became issues when it was priced to close to the best-trimmed Ford sedan and $63 less than Mercury’s base model. In its mid-range pricing, Edsel’s Pacer and Corsair models were more expensive than their Mercury counterparts. Edsel’s top-of-the-line Citation four-door hardtop model was the only model priced to correctly compete with Mercury’s mid-range Montclair Turnpike Cruiser model. The Edsel was produced from 1957 to 1959 although some models were manufactured that borrowed heavily on other Fords and most notably the horse collar grill.

Edsel Ranger
Edsel Ranger (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Edsel did however offer several innovative features, among which were its “rolling dome” speedometer, warning lights for such conditions as low oil level, parking brake engaged, and engine overheating, as well as its Push-button Teletouch transmission shifting system in the center of the steering wheel. Other unique features included ergonomically designed controls for the driver and self-adjusting brakes, offered such advanced safety features as seat belts (which were available at extra cost as optional equipment on many other makes) and child-proof rear door locks that could only be opened with the key. I remember my dad taking me down to the dealership when I was a kid and vividly remember the push button transmission shift.

Even though the car bombed, more than a half a century after its spectacular failure, the car has become a highly collectible item among vintage car hobbyists. Fewer than 10,000 Edsels survive and are considered valuable collectors’ items. A mint 1958 Citation convertible or 1960 Ranger convertible may sell for over $100,000.

Plastic scale models of all three Edsel years were produced by AMT, in its usual 1/25 scale. Both promotional and kit versions were sold.  The promo models are also considered valuable collector cars and they command premium prices today, especially the rare 1959 and 1960 models. Because of the way the models were molded, there can be some warping, especially on the earlier models. These images are from Wheat’s Nostalgia and were priced anywhere from $80 to close to $200. Not a lot of money for holding a piece of automotive history in your hand.

59 EDSEL CORSAIR HT, 58 EDSEL PACER CONV, edsel promo model, automotive marketing disasters, ford motor company, edsel
59 EDSEL CORSAIR HT,
58 EDSEL PACER CONV, edsel promo model, automotive marketing disasters, ford motor company, edsel
58 EDSEL PACER HT
58 EDSEL PACER CONV, edsel promo model, automotive marketing disasters, ford motor company, edsel
58 EDSEL PACER CONV
60 EDSEL RANGER CONV, 58 EDSEL PACER CONV, edsel promo model, automotive marketing disasters, ford motor company, edsel
60 EDSEL RANGER CONV.

Promo model: Nash Metropolitan

Title: Nash car dealership Creator: Adolph B. ...
Nash car dealership Creator: Adolph B. Rice Studio  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the early 50’s most of the car manufacturers were going the “bigger is better” route.  Nash Motor Company executives were examining the market to offer American buyers an economical transportation alternative. In came the Nash Metropolitan. Wait a minute, isn’t the all coming around again with cars like the Fiat 500 and Smart Car? Same concept, small car, good gas milage and fun to drive. The “Met” as it is called sometimes was first introduced in 1953 and was a partnership between Nash, here in the US, and Austin Motor Company, and Fisher and Ludlow in England to become the first American-designed car, that was to be exclusively marketed in North America, had been entirely built in Europe. It was also the first American car that was marketed specifically to women.

English: Metropolitan automobile car club meet...
Metropolitan automobile car club meet, Kenosha, WI (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What’s not to love about this car? It’s wheelbase was just 85 inches, smaller than a VW, got great gas mileage, 40-47 mpg, and it was fun to drive. By the time of the end of the production run, there were 94,986 sold in the US and Canada with 1959 being the best sales year where 22,209 were sold. Today this car has a cult-like following with several car clubs.

For those of you who don’t have the cash or garage space there are the Met promo models. These were made mostly by Hubley Manufacturing both as promo model and a kit. The one way to tell them apart is that the promo was friction and the kit was not. When the Met came out, a dealer could order a box of them for 18 bucks. These are actually pretty easy to find.

I believe the one I have here was my dad’s. The detail on this is pretty good and they only thing keeping this one from being a Nash Metropolitan dealer promo model, nash, metropolitan, savageonwheels.comNash Metropolitan promo model, nash, nash metropolitanperfect 10 would be the missing post on the passenger side. It has very little warp in it. I do not have the box with it which also would knock it down some. I have seen ones with boxes going in the neighborhood of around $200. I almost had the real deal but for some reason couldn’t hook up with the buyer and it was the same color as this one.

Own a Vette without taking out a second mortgage.

1963 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray
1963 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Even though I have this, what some of my friends call a sickness in my love for AMC cars, I love others too like Corvettes. If I were to win the PowerBall, a big one, a Corvette would be on my list of collector cars to buy. This car defines the word “cool”. Heck it was so cool in the 70’s that astronauts were given these. At the Johnson Space Center, the lot was filled with them. Which one do I like best? Well I like them all but if I had to choose just one, bummer, I would go for a 63. I love the split rear window of the coupe but also love the convertible. Again, like promo cars, the price of the real deal will depend on its conditions and options. Entry level for a drivable one can be around $30-$40 grand but if you would want a showroom quality one, just like it came off the factory line in St. Louis where it was first built, be ready to spend into six figures! Well I not sure about you but I have several mouths to feed, a mortgage and a car loan on my 2008 Chrysler Pacifica. Boy I wish they still made that. Sorry, editorial comment. Continue reading Own a Vette without taking out a second mortgage.

Promo models: AMC Marlin

Tarpon concept car, amc concept cars, american motorsHave you ever wondered why a certain car didn’t meet expectations and became just a footnote? Such is the case for American Motors’s Marlin. This “Man Size Fastback” as AMC called it in ads was not the original concept.  Designed by AMC’s famous designer Dick Teague chose the Rambler American chassis (106 inches) and created the Tarpon in 1964 hoping to fend off the soon to come Ford Mustang. Remember, Ford made the Mustang off the Falcon chassis. Continue reading Promo models: AMC Marlin