Author Archives: Roger Klein

Mercury 1939-1979: The Silent Innovator of Promotional Models

Mercury’s first annual, the Parklane 2-Door Hardtop shown in Golden Beige over Marble White.

Mercury’s first annual, the Parklane 2-Door Hardtop shown in Golden Beige over Marble White.

By Justin Houston

Perhaps no automaker has had a more powerful influence on promotional models than Mercury. Yet, the irony is that Mercury was never considered a player in the field of traditional promotional model cars.


Promotional model cars had established a strong foothold in Detroit’s marketing strategies by the late 1950′s. Indeed, the arrival of the 1959 sales year saw the introduction of Rambler and Mercury, the last two US automakers to invoke the popular annual plastic replicas.

Why did Mercury stay out so long? Given the shaky marketing decisions at Ford during the early postwar years, it’s a wonder Mercury even got involved at all.

History does reflect the concept that cars selling well don’t need much in the way of promotional efforts, and Mercury was no stranger to this ideology. Between 1949 and 1954, Mercury had risen from 7th to 3rd in sales, right behind Ford at No. 2 and Chevrolet at No. 1. But, like the anonymous tinkerer whose invention was made popular by somebody else who took the credit, Mercury was the initiator of many of the accepted styles of promotional auto models we take for granted today.

For example: Can you identify the first ‘promo’ used as a color demonstrator? How about the first promo to function as a coin bank? And what manufacturer first tried cereal premiums to create brand loyalty? And who offered the first promo of an Indy 500 Pace Car? If you answered Mercury on all four, you’re right!

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Heatwave Invitational – January 2015

Martha Reeves and the Heatwave Invitational Committee

Martha Reeves and the Heatwave Invitational Committee

The 2015 Heatwave Invitational started with an idea to celebrate the cars and the music from a time when ground-breaking changes were being made in the culture of America. The cars were flexing their muscle with the introduction of the Mustang, GTO, Grand Prix. Chevelle, Cutlass, Barracuda and the Charger. “Full Service” filling stations were selling gasoline at 22-26 cents a gallon. Gone were the Straight Eights, and in their place came the 289, 302, 318, 383, 400, 421, 440 and 455 cubic inch engines. progressive styling, and ever more luxurious accessories, being added yearly by nearly every car manufacturer.
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LCCI Central Arizona Region Holiday Party December 2014

LH1_zps1dc062feOur 2014 Holiday Party was a lovely private affair that featured a plated dinner banquet at the Acacia Café in central Phoenix. Proprietor Michael Soucier and his partner Jeff Pinales served up great hospitality, not to mention a choice of either Chicken Piccata or Salmon with Dill Butter. Both entrees were delightful!
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Fall Folly Road Rally, November 2014

Fall Folly Road Rally
Rally masters Mark and Don set up a wacky, 66-mile driving experience, that promised to test participant’s powers of observation and general automotive knowledge (among other things).

The Fall Folly Road Rally was held on a beautiful Saturday in November, with participants meeting up at the starting point, the Brass Armadillo Antique Mall in northern Phoenix.
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