The Family Cars

My parents were record keepers. Especially my Dad, who worked for 30 years as an accountant for the State of North Dakota. Every time he filled the car with gas, he would write down the price per gallon, how many gallons purchased and the mileage on the car. In his retirement years, he kept a daily log comparing the temperatures in Bismarck with those in Phoenix, Arizona, where my parents had a winter home. I’ve always thought it was a little much, but I recently came across something that made me glad they kept track of things.

In a box of things I acquired after Dad died in 2008, I found a nondescript black record book. Though I had looked through these things before, the book somehow escaped my notice. With the heading “Family Diary” at the top of the first page, the book contains lists of important dates – birthdays, weddings and deaths – as well as notes about where and when family vacations and weekend road trips were taken. One page details hospital visits. There’s even a list of when every kid in the family got eyeglasses!

But the page that I’d like to highlight here is the page titled “Cars”, which is a list of every car bought, sold or traded by my parents going all the way back to 1948.

I thought it would be fun to try to find photos of as many of these cars as I could, because for me, the inspiration for collecting toy cars goes back to the real cars that I was around when I was young.

I am the youngest of 10 children and my dad loved to travel, so many of the vehicles my parents chose were big enough to haul all of us kids around while pulling a big trailer for us to camp in.

My brothers, Myron (left), and Ramon (right), with my dad, Donald, in front of the 1950 Plymouth Suburban.

Brothers Ramon, Myron and Joel next to the 1960 Ford Falcon station wagon.

My siblings, Brenda, John, Myron, Tim, Joel, Patty and Carla in front of the 1965 International Travelall.

Dad saved the brochure for his Travelall.

The Travelall brochure includes hand-written notes from the salesman.

I was born in 1966. I have a very early memory of standing up between my dad and my mom on the front seat of our big Pontiac station wagon as we cruised down the highway on a road trip somewhere. If I could have any of these cars now, I would choose the Catalina wagon.

The 1965 Pontiac Catalina wagon with the 1971 Chevy Cheyenne Super pick-up, August, 1972, at Lake Tschida, N.D. The pick-up was new and didn’t yet have the camper shell.

This is the camping rig that took me all around mostly the western U.S. when I was young. Myself, Tim, John, Brenda at Sibley Park, North Dakota, in 1974.

Brenda, me, Dad, John and Tim, camping in Hastings, Nebraska, City Park in 1978. A good shot of the Chevy pick-up with the camper shell.

Tim, our niece, Kelly, myself and the N.S.U. Prinz 4 in front of our garage. Dad would park the Prinz sideways at the very back, turning it into a three-car garage!

Dad also saved a brochure for the N.S.U. Prinz.

The 1974 Chevy Vega wagon. Yes, it was white with fake woodgrain panels!

The red 1974 AMC Hornet, about 1978.

1983(?) Chevy Cavalier wagon. Much to my surprise, Dad let me borrow this car to drive myself and a friend and our dates to Senior Prom.

Dad standing by the motorhome somewhere along the highway, about 1984.

The 1985 Chevy Astro Van parked along side my parent’s winter home in Tempe, Arizona. 

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“Curby” Canada Post Mail Truck

The first time I visited my wife’s hometown of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, I decided I wanted to bring back “Curby” as a souvenir. The Canada Post delivery truck is a common sight, as you might imagine, and at the time these diecast models with a pullback motor were available for purchase at the local Post Office. It makes a nice companion to my Matchbox Models of Yesteryear Postes Canada Post Ford Model A Van.

“Curby” Canada Post Mail Truck | white and red with blue Canada Post trim | pullback motor | Made in China

A New Look For the New Year

I decided to start 2018 with a fresh, new look for this site. First, I designed myself a new logo. I tried to create a unique mark that taps into the spirit of those vintage toys that we all love.

Next, I updated to a new WordPress theme. I was long overdue to make my site work better on phones and tablets, and this theme should do the trick.

Finally, I’ve been working behind the scenes to make the site faster. When I first started this blog, I wanted to show large, sharp photos that were color-accurate. After awhile I realized that uploading full resolution photos right off my camera was overkill. So I started sizing my images to 1600×1200 – still large enough to view on a desktop, but a little quicker to load. Then, it was a matter of going back through all of the old posts and resizing those photos. I’m glad to say that process is complete.

So whether you’re on a laptop or a phone, have a look around, browse around through the archives and click on a few photos to see them full size. I hope you enjoy the new, improved site – and please comment to let me know what you think. Thanks.

Scale Model Supplies Vintage Plastic Duncan Batmobile

Whenever I travel, I try to seek out any hobby stores that might carry die-cast cars. This usually means dragging my family to some out-of-the-way location and making them wait patiently while I inspect displays of cars. But on our June trip to my family reunion in Minnesota, everyone was impressed with the unique place I took them to.

Scale Model Supplies is located in a former bowling alley in St. Paul. The place is huge and has such an enormous and varied inventory that it kind of boggles the mind. My cousin, Tom, who was along for the trip, was particularly amazed by the population of HO scale figures in the train section. My son spent some time looking in the die-cast section for another James Bond vehicle to go with the one we found him in Phoenix. There is a huge section of plastic models with every kind of vehicle. One aisle has stamp and coin collecting supplies. There is also a large room with three different slot car tracks. Even my wife was impressed.

I did find a few die-cast cars, but my favorite section was a room in the back that looked like a flea market, with bins full of used train and slot car parts and lots of old toys. When my cousin saw me marveling at this old plastic Batmobile, he bought it for me as a Father’s Day present.

The car, which is about 8″ long, is missing the steering wheel, the two front wheel covers, most of the red painted details, and the three yellow and black batman stickers that used to be affixed to the doors and top. But it still has both front and rear clear plastic windshields and the Batman and Robin figures in their seats. The bottom is stamped with the words “COPYRIGHT DC COMICS, INC,” a Duncan logo and “Toronto, Ont., Canada” and “Baraboo, WI, USA”.

The Spammobile

This is another one of those items I found at the consignment store that doesn’t really fit in my collection. But who could resist The Spammobile?

When I got it, it was in a little clear plastic baggie, so the only info I had to go on is what is stamped on the base. A Hormel promo, dated 2002, made in China. After asking around online, I was told this was originally sold on the Spam website. The Spam Shop does have a very interesting selection of items for sale, but I don’t currently see any diecast vehicles. The “Series #1” stamped on the bottom of this bus makes me wonder if there might be more out there.

It’s a model of decent quality (1:64ish scale) and, though the base is plastic, all of that metal makes it nice and heavy. Apparently this is based on a real vehicle and – aside from the wheels being yellow on the real thing – they seemed to have captured most of the details.

img_9454 img_9455img_94022002 The Spammobile | blue and yellow with Spam graphics | made in China

2016 Racing Champions Mint 1960 Chevy Impala

Thomas E. Lowe is a busy man. In additon to owning Auto World and recently resurrecting the Johnny Lightning brand, his company, Round2, has also brought back Racing Champions diecast collectibles. While I understand new castings are in the works, Racing Champions Mint brings back some of our old favorites. I found my red 1960 Chevy Impala at a WalMart, but the cars are also available at Target, ToysRUs and Meijer (according to the very minimal Racing Champions website).

UPDATE: I recently found the blue variation at Target (see below).

IMG_7683IMG_76842016 | Racing Champions Mint R1 | 1960 Chevy Impala (Version B) | red with white top

IMG_7751 IMG_77532016 | Racing Champions Mint R1 | 1960 Chevy Impala (Version A) | blue with white top

2016 Muscle Mania ’64 Chevy Impala

There is a new variation of the Hot Wheels ’64 Chevy Impala in the 2016 Muscle Mania 5-pack. Normally when I get one of these multi-packs, I open it up and take out the car that I’m after. But I like all of the other cars in this pack – a metalflake gold ’69 Ford Mustang, a metalflake sea green ’74 Dodge Charger, a metalflake dark orange ’55 Chevy Nomad, and a metalflake blue ’67 Pontiac Firebird 400 – so much that I decided to keep them together in the box. At least for now.

IMG_7491IMG_7492DJD16 | 2016 Muscle Mania 5-Pack | ’64 Chevy Impala | black with gold and beige trim | chrome PR5 wheels

I have several other Hot Wheels ’64 Impalas, including the 2013 Cool Classics version.