The world of promotional vehicles is truly weird and wonderful. Companies from all over the world have created bizarre modes of transportation to serve as marketing tools or to promote their products. Some promotional vehicles like the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile are truly iconic, while others like the GM Futurliner give us a look at a very important part of automotive history. Promotional vehicles are a great way for all types of companies to get their brand out into the world. Would Oscar Mayer be such a recognizable and famous company without the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile?
Companies like Hershey’s, Oscar Mayer, Coca-Cola, Red Bull, and many more have used promotional vehicles over the years. Bands like Kiss have also had their own promotional vehicles. And, of course, automakers have also produced numerous promotional vehicles throughout the decades. Hot Wheels is particularly famous for its promotional vehicles. Mattel has created many full-size, working replicas of iconic Hot Wheels cars. Hot Wheels cars started off as detailed mini-models of actual cars, but soon, the toys evolved to feature bizarre out-of-this-world creations that didn’t exist in real life. So, Mattel has decided to take some of these weird toy cars and turn them into real cars to promote the brand.
20 Red Bull Volvo Sugga - Cool
The Red Bull Volvo Sugga is a mish-mash of a lot of different parts, and the result is a truly badass machine that’s as extreme as the energy drink it’s meant to promote. The Sugga is equally at home on the top of a mountain as it is parked next to a skate park.
The Sugga has a hydraulic lift system that extends the roof to 10 feet.
When the roof is extended, the car reveals three big-screen TVs. It also has an impressive 7,500-watt sound system. The Sugga’s body is a 1957 Volvo Sugga TP21 that’s been fused with the chassis of a Ford F-350.
19 Goldfish Mobile - Strange
The iconic Goldfish Mobile is cute and cool, but it’s certainly not a smooth ride. The 13-foot-high, 22-foot-long car would be a nightmare to drive on the road. The car is built on a GM chassis, but it’s not a car that handles easily at all. Turn a corner too quickly, and this car will topple over. While it may do a good job of promoting tasty little Goldfish crackers, it’s not a car that anyone would want to drive for fun. The poor chap who has to take this car cross country doesn't have an enviable job.
18 Chrysler Zippo truck - Cool
George G. Blaisdell, the inventor of the Zippo lighter, had a huge passion for automobiles. That passion led him to create one of the coolest and strangest promotional cars of all time. The Zippo truck was born when Blaisdell purchased a 47 Chrysler Saratoga on June 16, 1947 and then had the Saratoga modified to look like a giant Zippo lighter. The flame was removable, and the Zippo lighter closed shut when the vehicle was driving. The cost to transform the regular old Saratoga into the Zippo truck was a staggering $25,000, which was a heck of a lot of money in the '40s.
17 GM Futurliner - Cool
The GM Futurliner is not only one of the first concept cars ever made but also one of the first promotional vehicles ever made. This giant red and silver bus was created by General Motors as a way to showcase the company’s automotive ingenuity and forward-thinking attitude.
The Futurliner was displayed during the Parade of Progress, which was a GM event meant to promote cars of the future and innovative automotive technology.
The 33-foot-long bus had a 302-cubic-inch straight-six gas engine and was capable of speeds up to 40 mph when the first version was released in 1940.
16 Oscar Mayer Wienermobile - Strange
The Wienermobile is perhaps the most iconic promotional vehicle of all time. It’s cool and weird, and it put Oscar Mayer wieners on the map. The Oscar Mayer marketing team deserves a raise because this car and the company’s famous jingle are so iconic that even vegetarians know about them.
The 27-foot-long sausage car still travels all across the United States, and there’s even an app that shows you where this iconic promotional vehicle will show up next.
There have been multiple versions of this car over the years, and small redesigns and tweaks have been made. However, the car’s look has remained relatively unchanged since 1936.
15 Hot Rod UPS truck - Cool
Here’s another promotional vehicle that’s on fire. The hot rod flames on this UPS truck imply that it can make deliveries in a quick and speedy manner, but we’re not sure if that’s actually the case. The hot rod paint job on the UPS truck is far more stylish than the plain old brown paint job that other UPS trucks have.
This delivery truck is equipped with a super high-output Ford Racing V8 that dumps 500 horsepower on the rear wheels via a manual gearbox.
That's not only more powerful and speedy than a regular brown UPS truck, but it apparently runs on straight alcohol, which means it's far more environmentally friendly than the typical diesel engine.
14 Hot Wheels Twin Mill - Cool
Who wouldn't want to drive around in a real-life Hot Wheels car? The Twin Mill is perhaps the most iconic Hot Wheels toy car of all time. It looks like a sleek extended version of Corvette Sting Ray with huge exhaust pipes. So, it’s no wonder that Mattel decided to produce a life-size working version of this toy car. The real-life Twin Mill certainly helped the toy company sell a lot more Hot Wheels cars. Too bad they didn’t build a huge loop track to go along with this full-size Hot Wheels car. That would've been really cool.
13 Vox Guitars car - Cool
Electric guitars and fast cars are two of the coolest things in the world, so why not combine them? This guitar-inspired hot rod has a truly impressive pedigree.
None other than George Barris himself designed this iconic promo car. Yes, that George Barris—the same George Barris who designed the 1960s Batmobile for the Adam West TV show.
The car was designed to look like a Vox Phantom electric guitar, and it even had its own working amps. The guitar car had custom chrome steps installed so guitarists could actually perform on the car while it took part in parades and other events.
12 Hot Wheels Darth Vader car - Cool
The Twin Mill isn’t the only Hot Wheels car that went from toy to real-life car. Hot Wheels designer Bryan Benedict, who actually worked for Honda as a car designer before he transitioned to toy cars, designed this impressive car. This real-life Hot Wheels car debuted at the San Diego Comic-Con in 2014, and it pays tribute to the iconic Star Wars villain. It looks like Darth Vader’s iconic helmet. This is a cool concept car and a truly unique promotional vehicle. The Vader car has a V8 engine and custom MHT tires, and the chassis is from a C6 Corvette. The car also has actual props integrated into the car like a lightsaber and Vader’s chest plate.
11 Lightning McQueen from Cars - Strange
Lightning McQueen from the Disney/Pixar Cars films was based on a Chevy Corvette C6 and a Corvette C1, and when you see the real-life Lighting McQueen at Disneyland, you can certainly see the inspiration. Kids love to have their pictures taken with the real lighting McQueen at Disneyland. The car actually drives and talks, but it certainly can't reach the same type of speeds that Lighting McQueen did in the movies. It only goes fast enough to parade around the park at a leisurely pace. Disney’s Cars Land also features life-size versions of Cruz Ramirez, Master, DJ, and Red.
10 Kansas City Burgermobile - Strange
The Burgermobile was designed to promote the Westport Flea Market Bar and Grill in Kansas City.
The owner of the burger joint got the idea for a promo vehicle when he was in New York and spotted a car shaped like a giant veggie.
He stopped the veggie car and asked the owner if he could build him a car like that, except, instead of a boring, healthy veggie, he wanted the car to look like a delicious greasy burger. The Burgermobile has become a staple of the Westport Flea Market Bar and Grill. It’s always parked out front and was once even showcased on the Food Network.
9 Outspan MINI orange car - Strange
Squeeze over MINI Cooper because there’s a new, flashier MINI in town. The Outspan orange car is a modified MINI with a specially fabricated chassis. Brian Waite Enterprises made six of these oranges on wheels for the British food company Outspan between 1972 and 1974. Each Outspan MINI cost about 20,000 British pounds to produce. The MINI has a meager top speed of 30 mph, but it can turn on a dime thanks to the rack and pinion steering. Its turning radius is a mere 17 feet. That’s almost half that of a Fiat 500, a Smart car, a Prius, or a Toyota Yaris.
8 Spam-mobile - Strange
The Oscar Mayer Wienermobile isn’t the only meat-themed promo car that tours all over the United States. There’s another mystery meat that's publicized thanks to a bizarre four-wheel monstrosity. The Spam-mobile looks just like an ordinary can of Spam, and there’s even a giant inflatable can of Spam that adorns the roof of the van. This is actually a food truck because the Spam-mobile travels the country giving out free samples of mouth-watering Spam. If you see the Spam-mobile near you, make sure you get yourself a free taste of salty mystery meat.
7 Butagaz Renault 1,400 kg propane truck - Strange
French energy company Butagaz is no stranger to promotional vehicles. The propane and butane retailer has produced a number of cars to show off its wares.
The famous Butagaz propane truck is based on a Renault 1,400 kg light van, and it’s shaped like two giant propane tanks that have been stuck together.
It's shown up at events like the Tour de France to advertise to customers. Butagaz also made a promo car based on a Renault Floride. The Renault Floride Butagaz looked like a rocket car straight out of a science fiction movie.
6 Peter Bros. Shoe Repair Car - Strange
This promo car might just be the first of its kind. The Peter Bros. Shoe Repair Car was built on a Chevy Series Four-Ninety truck chassis all the way back in the early '20s. It's since become an important part of San Francisco history. The car did wonders for business, and Albert and Henry Peters soon became very rich. The brothers were raking in $10,000 in sales in 1913, which was their first year in business. But thanks to their marketing acumen, they were making $500,000 in sales by 1920. That’s over $6.5 million in today’s money.
5 Corvette Summer promo car - Cool
Everyone remembers the famous Mark Hamill film about a young teenager who sets off on an adventure and faces challenges of insurmountable odds. No, we’re not talking about Star Wars. We’re talking about the film Corvette Summer. The promo Corvette Summer car was almost identical to the ones from the movie, and it looked absolutely wild. The modified 1972 Stingray had a wild red paint job and huge flames across the body of the car. The promo car was left-hand drive, so that’s one of the ways it was different from the actual cars in the movie. Those ones were right-hand drive.
4 Hershey’s Kissmobile - Strange
What better place to showcase the Hershey’s Kissmobile than at the AACA museum in Hershey Pennsylvania? This massive car, which was built in 1997, is shaped like three large Hershey’s Kisses chocolates. The bite-size candy has been blown up to an enormous size on this promo vehicle.
The car is a staggering 12 feet tall and 26 feet long.
The Kissmobile stills tours across the USA, and it travels about 30,000 miles every year. The car can hold a lot of Kisses. In fact, it can hold over 230,000 Kisses, which is almost one ton of candy.
3 Planters Nutmobile - Strange
The Planters Nutmobile is a giant peanut on wheels. Mr. Peanut and his crew travel all over the United States promoting this tasty snack. The car makes over 250 stops every summer and travels all the way from Oregon to Florida. This is one of the most environmentally friendly promo cars out there. The Nutmobile actually runs on bio-diesel. However, it’s not just any bio-diesel that’s used in the Nutmobile; it’s bio-diesel that can be made from peanut oil. The massive Nutmobile is built off of a 2011 Isuzu NPR box truck.
2 Mr. Peanut's Hot Rod - Strange
Planters has had many different versions of the Nutmobile over the years. While the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile has stayed relatively the same over its long tenure, the Nutmobile has undergone some drastic changes since the first one was built all the way back in 1935. One of the most bizarre promo vehicles used by Planters was the Mr. Peanuts hot rod. This version of the Nutmobile had a giant Mr. Peanut on top, which made the mascot look like he was driving a fast and powerful rubber-burning hot rod.
1 Big Banana car - Strange
The Orange MINI isn’t the only giant piece of fruit on wheels. This incredibly weird car was built off of a 1993 Ford F-150 4X4 pickup, and even though it’s shaped like a big piece of fruit, it’s still capable of going off-road. This is the only motorized banana in the entire world, and it was designed to promote Steve Braithwaite’s autobody shop in Kalamazoo. You can often see the Big Banana Car touring around Michigan, and the owners even take it to other parts of the USA. It took two and a half years to build. It has a top speed of 85 mph.
Sources: cardesignnews.com; nytimes.com; autoblog.com