At the end of World War 2, America was starving for new cars. While trucks had been updated, New cars were re-trimmed 1942 models. But the auto manufactures sold all they could build. It was during this time that AMT released there first promo. A single version of a 1947-48 Ford fordor in die cast aluminum. AMT originally stood for Aluminum Model Toys. The 1949 Ford was credited with saving Ford Motor Company. It was a completely new design. No running boards and smooth sides. To Promote this new car Ford had AMT produce a 1/25th scale Ford fordor but this time in acetate colored plastic. This gave a much more detailed body.
Besides the non motorized coaster style for the Ford dealers, AMT released 3 other versions. All on metal chassis. The others came with a flywheel friction motor, or a clockwork windup motor or with a battery powered remote control motor. They also offered a Plymouth 4 door. The non motorized dealer promos were in factory colors. The others were intended for retail sales and were in non factory colors and many times with the wrong wheel covers. Odd variations were also made, most likely to use up supplies on hand before the yearly model change.
By 1955 AMT Friction ( Also known as flywheels) and non friction promos were the most sold. Windups had gone away and remotes were to be gone soon. Interiors were added and most now had correct wheel covers. More makes were available.
Jo-Han entered the promo market in 1955. Under their original company called Ideal Toys they did make demonstration displays for GM and Chrysler before 1955. But this was there first year of 1/25th promos. They did not come with interiors and had green tinted glass.
Many commercials and sales filmstrips started using promos . Example here is 1956 Dodge Vs Chevy filmstrip.
Promos became very popular both at dealerships and as toys.
They had many uses as new model year introductions , dealer handouts etc.
The bad news is all the 1950’s promos warped. There is however some ways to get some of them unwarped. In the mid 1960,s AMT released AMT and SMP unbuilt promos as Jr. Craftsman and Trophy Jr. kits. These can be painted to look like the original cars.
The big plus comes from X-EL. They remade Jo-Han Promos from the same molds but in styrine plastic in the 1980,s and 1990,s The 1955 Pontiac and 1956 Olds 98 at the top of this page are X-EL reissues.