Sunday, February 13, 2011

Promotional model cars

That's me at age three, Christmas 1956, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida with some of my toy cars. On the right is a 1956 Continental Mark II promotional model, and how she appears today, an improbable survivor (the others in the picture, including one other promo, a 1956 Chevrolet, have long since disappeared). Luckily for me, my parents never had a hard time figuring out what to buy me for Christmas or my birthday. I was always delighted to get a promo model. Pre-assembled in factories in Detroit (AMT and Jo-Han were the two major companies), they were given away at car dealerships as a perk for the kiddies or sold as toys in stores, and as such were usually outfitted with friction fly-wheel motors to make them more play-friendly. They came in a wide range of colors, often two toned and were somewhat sturdier than the plastic kits (though the 1950s plastics were not as stable as they are today and had the tendency to warp). Some of the earlier model years did not have interiors. By the mid-sixties promos began to decline in popularity and became increasingly difficult to find, at least in Louisville, Kentucky. I had to console myself with model kits, but could never hope to attain the skill level of the Jo-Han and AMT professionals in Detroit.



I have a vivid memory of seeing this dazzling red 1956 Cadillac on display in a department store, surrounded by several 1956 Fords. My parents kindly indulged me by buying one of each.


1956 Studebaker Golden Hawk.

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