Monday, November 28, 2011
1963-1968 Dealer promo model cars are like 1/25th-scale memories
Dealer promotional models, or “promos,” as people like to call them, aren’t typically made for new cars these days. But 30-50 years ago, they were pretty popular. People anticipated the arrival of the newest models, and going to the dealership was considered an event. So while dads drooled over the latest creations from Detroit, his son was often treated to a highly detailed 1/25th-scale version of the actual car.
By the 1960s, companies like AMT and Jo-Han were making some excellent models. From the quality of the plastic to the fine details, promo models from the mid-to-late ‘60s were state-of-the-art. To this day, there are kits sold in hobby stores that are built from the same molds as the annual promos and kits of the 1960s. Add authentic colors, smooth paint jobs, and other painted details, and you’re looking at some of the most popular, as well as some of the most valuable little models ever made.
By the time I came around, the collection had sort of stalled out. All the cars were basically boxed up in various closets and storage places, and no one was really able to appreciate these gems as they hid in the darkness. I knew they were there, though. And even though they were off limits, I’d still sneak them out of their little boxes, study them vigorously; play with them lightly.
Once they were starting to come out, holes in the collection began to emerge. Back then, you couldn’t buy things on the Internet, so you had to find them at swap meets and model shows. Dad and I traveled to all kinds of places, and in addition to the models themselves, we accumulated lots of stories and memories to go with them.
With the Internet, you would think that collecting these would be easier than it was when my dad and I were out chasing them down, but I'm not so sure. Yes, they are more simple to find than ever before. Within a month, I wouldn't be surprised if you could find every car in my slideshow on eBay. But they've also gotten much more expensive. I mean, I guess it's nice that they're valuable if you have them, but they're not worth much if you never want to sell them. There are lots of models I'd like to have that I probably never will get now because I'm not willing to pay the price. Besides, having them readily available sort of kills the thrill of the hunt.