vintage, nostalgia and memories


March 23, 2017

MISSING: 1977 Star Wars Toyota Celica GT – The First Officially-Sanctioned Star Wars Custom Car

Way back in 1977 a little film called Star Wars was released to box office smashing success. Somewhere in the background, 20th Century Fox joined forces with Toyota to customize and give away a ‘77 Star Wars Celica.

This sweet ride was the Grand Prize in a STAR WARS Space Fantasy Sweepstakes run by the “Star Wars Corp.”, Twentieth Century Fox, and Wonder Bread, and administered by Marden-Kane. The car was described as “A Toyota Celica Liftback. Standard featured include MacPherson front strut suspension, power front disc brakes, AM-FM stereo radio and modifications include a moon roof, special upholstery, custom wheels and tires, and a super STAR WARS paint job.”

Weirdly, no one knows the origins of the sweepstakes, other than it came about after the movie was a big hit in the early summer of 1977. We do know that four companies were involved: 20th Century Fox, Molly Designs, Delphi Auto Designs, and Mardan-Kane Inc. Delphi had hired two people from Molly to paint the car, and 20th Century Fox studio subcontracted Mardan-Kane to actually run the sweepstakes out of its offices in Garden City, NJ.

After the sweepstakes began, the car was delivered to 20th Century Fox and was delivered to the contest’s winner, whose name was never made public, by January 1978, allegedly.

Why allegedly? There was a lot of crime going on at Delphi, the auto design company. The owner was smuggling hash oil, one employee was kidnapped, and another, Steve Bovan, was murdered. The company went out of business shortly thereafter. It’s entirely possible, one theory goes, that this Celica got caught up in one of those imbroglios, and the car was never delivered to any sweepstakes winner.

It’s also possible that the companies involved in the contest thought, retrospectively, that it would be best to not associate with drugs, kidnapping, and murder at Delphi, and put the contest and any publicizing for it on the back-burner.

The car disappeared for between 10 and 20 years, until a LucasFilm employee saw it in a magazine. The employee was Steve Sansweet, who now runs a museum with the biggest collection of Star Wars memorabilia on Earth. Here’s Sansweet on his discovery:
[S]ometime around the late 1980’s or early 1990’s I was reading my Monthly issue of Antique Toy World when my eye was drawn to a small black and white ad at the bottom of a page. There it was—the Star Wars Toyota—being offered up for sale by the original owner, who said it was in great shape. Here’s the killer: the asking price was just $1,000. I remember being transfixed and started thinking how I could possibly buy this primo piece of promo history.
But for whatever reason, even for that “killer” price, Sansweet didn’t buy the Celica. And that was the end of the trail—until today.











(via Fusion)

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