Monday, November 15, 2010

'60 in scale. Dealer promo model cars from 1960. Can't buy the real car? Try a promotional model.

1960. Charlton Heston won an Academy Award for Ben Hur. The Flintstones first appeared on TV. And Elvis Presley returns from Germany after a two-year stint in the Army.

In the automotive world, designs were starting to get a little cleaner, a little more understated than the last couple of years. They're still big, chrome-encrusted, and glamorous, but you can see the impetus of the subdued '60s starting to take hold. Think about a '60 Cadillac. It's still very big. It still has big fins and a heavy chrome grill. But compared to a '59 Cadillac, it's a pretty sterile design.

If you like the transitional style of 1960, but can't afford a huge warehouse full of cars, there's a way to collect the year's greatest hits in the palm of your hand.

Dealer promotional models were given out or sold at dealerships as sales tools. For adults, they represented a three-dimensional, tangible reminder of that station wagon that they might have been on the fence about. They illustrated colors, models, and body styles in a way that a brochure never could. For kids, they were just like dad's. Not only were they fun at the time, but those little 1/25th-scale models helped build loyalties that still exist to this day.

Unlike today, dealer promo models were available for nearly every car and every body style built in America. From station wagons to convertibles; from four-door hardtops to two-door sedans; nearly anything you could ever want was rendered in soft, easily warpable plastic.

There is an entire slideshow with models from 1960 below, and a few in the body of this article, and the only car that is even sort of available as a promo model today is the Corvette. We say "sort of," because they don't give them away to kids or sell them for a cheap price in the parts department of the dealerships anymore. For the most part, they are overpriced adult collectables that are easier to find online than they are at most Chevy dealerships.

We've amassed a pretty good representation of models that were available in 1960. Some of them may surprise you, like the Rambler, the Valiant, the Corvair, and maybe the Lark. But maybe even more surprising is the depth they went into. Just look at how many different Chevrolets are shown here--and this wasn't all of them!

Take a look at the slideshow below. Maybe it'll remind you of how cars were in 1960. Maybe you even had some of these little gems when you were a kid. Either way, it's fun to look back on these toys, and think about how much attention to detail actually went into them--especially when you consider that they've been around for 50 years.  Also, if you click on the litttle dialogue box at the bottom left corner of the slideshow, you'll get some captions.

Originally posted on

1 comment:

  1. nice the f150 really did have power
    back then