Still Addicted to Model Cars – Attending a Model Show in Chicagoland

I have been collecting model cars since I was a little kid. I just never outgrew it. It doesn’t hurt that there are lots and lots of cool models out there, both vintage and new. And so it was a couple weeks ago I drove up to Countryside, Illinois for a particularly good show, held twice a year. My primary goal was finding some Thunderbird dealership promotionals from the ’60s, but with shows like these, you never know what you will find. Or never knew existed and will immediately have to purchase.

One of the nice things about being on Facebook (yes, sometimes there really are benefits!) is that I’ve met some nice folks in greater Chicagoland who share my automotive obsessions-Broughams, model cars, vintage dealership brochures, etc. One of those fine folks is Jim Smith, who just happened to not only have a ’65 Thunderbird promo I’d been looking for, but also had a table full of 1/24 scale promos and built model kits at the show. As I left town just as the sun was coming up, I knew at least one car would be coming home with me.

I had talked to Jim about some of the models he’d have for sale the previous morning. I’d always wanted a ’65 Thunderbird promo, because once upon a time, my grandmother had bought a new 1965 convertible, navy blue with white top and interior. Not to mention the 1964-66 T-Birds were extemely cool and swank in the first place. I’d had good luck finding a couple of 1964 promos back in 2016, but so far, the ’65 had eluded me.

Upon arriving at the venue, I parked in the last row of the parking lot to avoid door dings, and noticed a large group of people out front; I had gotten there about fifteen minutes prior to ten o’clock, when the show opened its doors. I had previously been to this show in October 2015, and made the classic rookie mistake of not bringing enough cash. But this time I was loaded for bear!

My first stop was Jim’s table, where he showed me the T-Bird and of which it took me all of 0.08 seconds to buy. He also had three mint-in-box 1973 Olds Cutlasses. The gold and the cranberry red were nice, but it was the green one I had to have.

As green is my favorite color, I couldn’t resist. The Colonnade GM midsize cars get a lot of hate from some quarters, for some reason, but I’ve always liked them.

Jim’s table had something for everyone, from a ’75 Dart Sport to a ’63 Galaxie to Corvairs and Olds Starfires-even a ’60s VW and ’98 Olds Intrigue.

1955 Lincoln Capri convertible and a long, long trailer, in 1/43 scale.

Resin cast 1/18 scale Chrysler Norseman dream car, the one that went down with the Andrea Doria back in 1956. At $325, one of the pricier models at the show.

More of “Sawbuck Jim’s” lot! I should have bought that green ’70 Thunderbird promo, but I waited too long. Could have gotten it for $35. Such a deal! I have no excuse, I was sitting in front of it for an hour…

Always loved the ’60s Cadillacs, so for $25 I had to grab this 1/43 1966 Fleetwood Brougham, made by Premium X.

1960 Continental Mark V two-door hardtop dealer promo. Anyone who is into the dealer promotional models knows that prior to 1961-63, most promos were made of a plastic that warped in short order. That’s why this one looks like a fat guy was sitting on the roof. But since the late ’50s and early ’60s were a great time for automotive style, I do have some from the ‘warp years’ in my collection, including this one, a ’57 Thunderbird and a ’59 Buick.

The ’65 was not the only T-Bird I picked up. Another friend had a table at the show, Bob Cline, and I bought this Craftsman kit of the 1966 Thunderbird from him. The Craftsman kits were basically promos in kit form, using the same molds. The ’66 T-Bird wasn’t available as a promo in black (dark red and aqua were the promo colors), but I liked it and got it for a good price.

This one wasn’t an antique, but I love Porsche 356s so this Bali Blue 356C was added to my ever-growing purchases that day.

1980s Volvo 480ES hatchback, 1/43 scale by Minichamps. These were never imported to the U.S. They were made until 1993 or so; a convertible was also produced. I got this mini-me version for ten bucks.

Jim’s table towards the end of the show. As you can see, the models were disappearing at a slow but sure pace. That is me off to the left, with my bald spot making a cameo appearance!

At this point, Jim was making deals left and right, with below-sticker discounts, which led me to but this 1974 Caprice Classic…

1965 Ford Galaxie 500 XL…

And 1995 Oldsmobile Aurora. Yes, there was an official promo of the Aurora! They were offered in 1995-97 by Brookfield Collectors Guild. I liked the ruby red on this one.

Even if you didn’t buy much, there was lots and lots of cool stuff to check out. All in all a great day! Always nice to meet and chat with fellow enthusiasts, whether talking full size cars of the miniatures!

10 Replies to “Still Addicted to Model Cars – Attending a Model Show in Chicagoland”

  1. Disinterested-Observer

    Maybe a week or two ago I caught “Antiques Roadshow” late one night. A guy had a VW bus with two surfboards hanging out the back window, roughly three times the size of a normal Matchbox. Apparently it was a prototype or mock-up for what would be the casting. It was, according to the experts, worth $130,000. Which is only a little more than a vastly overpriced actual VW Bus is worth. Not sure what my point was, other than that maybe collectors of anything are weird.

  2. Tom Klockau

    $130,000?! You could get about a half dozen restored full-size 1960s VWs for that kind of money. Or a new Hellcat and a Suburban…

  3. Felis Concolor

    In an interesting parallel, 1963 also saw LEGO bricks switching from cellulose acetate (CA) to the more durable acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS).

    Yes, there is a LEGO fan subgroup which is solely interested in collecting pre-ABS kits.

  4. jz78817

    Anyone who is into the dealer promotional models knows that prior to 1961-63, most promos were made of a plastic that warped in short order.

    Acetate. it was used as an intermediate step between expensive die-cast metal and polystyrene.

  5. Athos

    Well, I’m back building them, after many years. First patient being a 68 Mustang GT that will be ~Bullit.

    And boy is any new enterprise in this part of my life painful. I have literally to retool for anything… still have a long way to go to have the same level of tools to fix the car I used to have.

  6. Adam!

    Brougham and other stuff-tastic. The Volvo 480 were very cool and prices are rising. The convertible never made it to production. They were a great repackage of the 440/460 which were pretty awful. That Norseman, what a loss.

    • Tom Klockau

      Interesting, I didn’t realize the 480 Cabriolet was never built. I remember seeing pictures of it in one of my Volvo books.

      • Adam

        They were a real hodge podge. They were build by a joint-venture with the dutch government called Nedcar. I don’t know if the 400 were DAF derived, the 300’s certainly were complete with leather V-Belt CVT where the diff should go. This limited the engine to about 1300cc in 1978 money so they were very slow. My cousin had a 1978 model and I ended up spending hours in it when we got lost whilst he argued with his semi-estranged daughter. DAF, CVT and insane relatives. Only in a Volvo that’s not really a Volvo.

        You are right about the engines. The 1.7 litre was certainly Renault. At the time Peugeot (and Citroen), Renault and Volvo (PRV) jointly produced the V6 PRV Douvrin engine and Renault had huge capacity at the Douvrin and Cleon plants. It was old fashioned and gutless even then. My mum was an antique dealer and had one in her 265 GLE estate which all antique dealers had then. Only thing bigger in the UK was a Citroen DS or CX safari. Or a hearse, which one fella did have. She could only do 120 with a Georgian bureau on the roof. Slow! They were so desperate to get the factory up to capacity they even sold some to a bloke called De Lorean (well actually the British tax payer paid for them) in exchange for some white powdery stuff. (Note to admin: He was convicted and in English law, the dead cannot be libel’d, so your call)

  7. Mark's Painting

    A great article Tom and great pictures as well!! Thank you for great reading! I’ve been to the Countryside, Illinois model shows for years, while I lived in Illinois. A model show is where an adult can be a kid!

    Mark’s Painting


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