In 1964, the youth movement in America was a new and strong force to the automotive industry.
There were many baby-boomers that were not quite old enough to drive or could not afford a GTO, but still wanted to build the car of their dreams … possibly even the one they had seen cruising up and down the main streets of America.
Luckily America's hobby, department, and hardware stores were stocked full of the latest 1:25-scale model-car kits. These kits retailed for $1 to $1.50 each, and the model-car industry exploded as hobbyists flocked to purchase the all-new plastic kits.
Aluminum Model Toys (AMT) released the ’64 GTO hardtop kit after the September 1963 new-ca
Detroit automakers made a special deal with the model-car companies: They would release top-secret photos and scale models of the upcoming designs ahead of time so the model companies had the latest offerings on store shelves for the September new-car introduction. For this top-secret information, the model companies were more than happy to produce preassembled promotional models for the dealerships to have on display and sell.
These promos were pre-assembled with fixed hoods, an engine plate, and special tires and wheels that made them easy to roll. They were available in several models and colors to replicate the real cars on the showroom floor. This made them valuable sales tools for the dealership. Many were given out to children when their parents purchased a new Pontiac, and because of this, these promotional models had a high attrition rate, making some of them very collectible today.
The boxed 1:25-scale, injection-molded plastic model kits that sold in stores were called annuals. These kits, unlike the promos, were produced mostly in white plastic with opening hoods, and fully detailed engines and interiors. The white bodies could be painted to match his or her favorite car. These boxed kits sold year-round; in September when the new vehicles rolled onto the showroom floors, the latest annual kits would show up on retailers' shelves.
Aluminum Model Toys (AMT) of Troy, Michigan, was the major model-car producer from the late '40s through the '50s, and produced Pontiac promos and successful model kits. AMT made the first GTO model. Because the molds are made ahead of time, and the GTO was a secret, only the LeMans promo was made available in '64 and the first kit was a LeMans convertible. It wasn't until after the GTO was available to buyers that a '64 GTO hardtop kit (a reworked LeMans model updated with the special GTO scooped hood and identification) arrived to retailers. This kit also featured a selection of parts from customizer George Barris.
AMT’s ’65 GTO annual kit featured a 3-in-1 build, so a hardtop, convertible, and fastback
For 1965, it was business as usual for AMT. The company produced several colors of the highly successful GTO in promo form as both hardtop and convertible configurations. The '65 GTO came as a 3-in-1 kit that could be built as a hardtop, a convertible, or a custom hardtop that looked a lot like the '66 fastback-roof design. (Maybe it wasn't such a good idea to show early design work to the model companies!)
In 1964, a small group of AMT managers and workers left and formed a new model car company, Model Products Corporation (MPC) of Mt. Clemens, Michigan. It convinced Chevrolet that it could produce a more detailed Corvette model, so the '64 Corvette was the first MPC model available, and the first model to have both AMT and MPC versions at the retailer.
MPC produced a better model kit than AMT. Pontiac noticed and awarded MPC with the '66 Pontiac lineup. The '66 GTO promos and kits set a new standard. Looking forward, MPC manufactured GTO annuals and promos through '72. There would be no '73 and '74 GTO kits manufactured.
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