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Do you remember your first slot car set?


Marty Johnson
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It was Christmas morning in 1962! 59 Years ago, I awakened in anxious anticipation of what gifts awaited me under the Christmas tree1 For virtually the entire year, I was enthralled with the announcement of the AMT Turnpike set! I wanted one so much!  I read every article I could find about this amazing slot car set. I dreamed about the AMT Turnpike. 

Compared to the 1:32 scale sets from Strombecker and Aurora, the AMT Turnpike was vastly superior!  First, they were larger and matched the size of my model cars. Further, the cars could be steered, jumped, cross lanes, and even drive in reverse! The AMT Turnpike was perfect! The ONLY problem was it was unbelievably expensive! In 1962, $49 for a slot car set with only one car and one controller was a lot of money! The fact that another $9.95 was required for the second car and controller put it way out of financial reach for my family. The purchase of the AMT Turnpike constituted almost 1/3 of my father's weekly wages. He told me all year long that it was too much money and not to count on it.

On Christmas morning, when I came down the stairs and saw the AMT Turnpike sitting under my tree (along with a Monogram 1:8 scale Big T). My older, adult age brother purchased the second car for me. I screamed in gleeful disbelief! I had the AMT Turnpike! I had the AMT Turnpike! I had the AMT Turnpike! It was overwhelming and too good to be true! I had the AMT Turnpike! 😍

I was the ONLY kid in the entire neighborhood who had one too! My best friend Billy (no longer with us), who lived across the street, Jerome (now retired), who lived around the corner, and Richard (lost contact) all had Strombecker and Aurora sets! But I had the AMT Turnpike! I was the envy of all my friends. I so vividly remember my joy, that it seems like it was yesterday! I can remember all of it.

Thanks to eBay, in my adult years, I managed to acquire a few sets.  I keep two for myself but with others, I'd buy them, refurbish them and get them working, and paint the cars for resale on eBay for a nice little profit. 

AMTPettybox 1
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JuniorJohnson2
JuniorJohnson
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NedJarret
Untitled 7copy
This topic was modified 2 weeks ago by Marty Johnson

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Jack Dodds
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Very cool!  I had no idea these were ever done.


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Marty Johnson
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@jack-dodds - The AMT Turnpike had a short lifespan.  I believe they were only produced for a couple of years.  They were unique but didn't sell many.  I believe one reason was unlike the competition, they were restricted to operating ONLY on AMT Turnpike sets. The competition sets enabled cars from other sets to run on their tracks.  That restriction along with the extreme complexity of assembly and the high cost of acquisition made it unviable for most households.  


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Mike DeTorrice
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The AMT Turnpike looks terrific ! What a thrill to get. (at any age !) My Dad briefly had use for our family of a Strombecker set that was destined for one of his clients and it was a blast. But for Christmas (probably about '61 or '62, I think) I got an Aurora Model Motoring set in "O" Gauge. These were a bit larger cars than the more well known Aurora HO Model Motoring. It was great fun and I still have a couple cars and track sections and even a controller somewhere, I think.

 

 

 


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Rich Sufficool
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So cool!!! What would you estimate the scale of these cars are, Marty? 1/32? I was kinda out of the slot car rage by then. I was more into rehabbing a clunker for high school.


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Marty Johnson
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@rich-sufficool - No need to estimate.  These cars are 1:25 which was the standard size of most AMT models.  The cool thing is that the chassis of the turnpike cars came in two sizes.  That made it easy to switch out bodies of most of the assembled and promo models.  All of the models in the photos I painted.  The original set came with unpainted models as I'm showing here.  

Turnpike2

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Jack Dodds
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Posted by: @marty-johnson

@rich-sufficool - No need to estimate.  These cars are 1:25 which was the standard size of most AMT models.  The cool thing is that the chassis of the turnpike cars came in two sizes.  That made it easy to switch out bodies of most of the assembled and promo models.  All of the models in the photos I painted.  The original set came with unpainted models as I'm showing here.  

Turnpike2

Oh really?!  That makes it even more interesting for a hobbyist.  Great job on the paint and decals.  Is the 62 Pontiac a Smokey Yunick special?


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Rich Sufficool
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Posted by: @marty-johnson

@rich-sufficool - No need to estimate.  These cars are 1:25 which was the standard size of most AMT models.  The cool thing is that the chassis of the turnpike cars came in two sizes.  That made it easy to switch out bodies of most of the assembled and promo models.  All of the models in the photos I painted.  The original set came with unpainted models as I'm showing here.  

Turnpike2

WOW!!! They're motorized promos! Far out!

 


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Marty Johnson
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@rich-sufficool - Motorized promos?  Yeah, kinda.  Note the servo to enable steering.  

Motor

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Marty Johnson
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@jack-dodds - I painted and decaled a replica of Smokey's Pontiac Catalina that won the '62 Daytona 500 with Glenn "Fireball" Roberts at the helm.  The '62 Chevy is Ned Jarrett's car and the '63 Chevy Junior Johnson's.  

This post was modified 1 week ago by Marty Johnson

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Jack Dodds
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Posted by: @marty-johnson

@jack-dodds - I painted and decaled a replica of Smokey's Pontiac Catalina that won the '62 Daytona 500 with Glenn "Fireball" Roberts at the helm.  The '62 Chevy is Ned Jarrett's car and the '63 Chevy Junior Johnson's.  

Very cool !!  It would have been even cooler if my personal favorite David Pearson's car was there.


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