The origin of the Annual 1/25th scale 3 N 1 customizing kit can be traced back to the year 1958 and these 3 individuals. Eric Erickson, Founder of SMP . George Toteff Future founder of MPC and Phil Sheldon AMT Chief designer and Styler. AMT with Revell did issue annual kits in 1955 and 1956. But these were 1/32 scale had multi piece bodies. AMT did issue a 1/25th three car set in 1953 and SMP did issue 1/25th scale Chevys and Pontiacs in 1957. These were unassembled promos in acetate, packaged in bags or promo style box.

While simple by current standards, The first kits were a great boom to the hobby. Both AMT and SMP kits came in the same style boxes. There was one style of box for Convertibles and one for hardtops. The make of car was identified by red printing on the box ends. 1 instruction sheet was used for all the kits. The big news here is the very accurate one piece body. Molded in white styrene. Clear windows were included and some kits had clear headlights. All came with a chrome tree. The interior was a one piece tub with a separate dash and steering wheel. Detail was good for the time. The chassis was minimal with no wheel wells. A very durable metal axle system and held on with screws. It did feature lowering blocks for custom look and very hard to use white wall tires. No kits came with engines.

The first kits

The big trend in 1958 was Hot Rods and customs. Many car shows and magazines featured these modified cars. The kits reflected these styles. The builder had 3 options Stock, Custom and Racing. Racing parts were decals and open rims . That was it .Custom parts were hub caps, Big ugly fender skirts,fins and vents. Remember its 1958 and you couldn’t have enough fins on your car. You could also order an accessory pack to add more parts to your custom.

1958 instructions. Same for all models

6 different makes were offered that first year. Convertibles were out first followed by hardtops. It is most likely the Thunderbird and Lincolns were never made into kits because of the late introduction of the 1to1 cars. Promos were made of these cars.

Introduction Ad Image courtesy of Claes Ericsson
1958 Convertible models Image courtesy of Claes Ericsson

Another interesting note is that the 1958s continued to be sold in 1959.

1959 Ad promoting 1958s as well

1958 Kit List

3FK Ford Fairlane 500 Sunliner Convertible
3FKHT Ford Fairlane 500 2 Door Hardtop
4BK Buick Roadmaster 75 Convertible
4BKHT Buick Roadmaster 75 2 Door Hardtop
5PK Pontiac Bonneville Convertible
5PKHT Pontiac Bonneville 2 Door Hardtop
7CK Chevrolet Impala Convertible (SMP)
7CKHT Chevrolet Impala 2 Door Hardtop (SMP)
8EK Edsel Pacer Convertible
8EKHT Edsel Pacer 2 Door Hardtop
9MK Imperial Crown Convertible (SMP)