The Hon. Ralph Montagu opening the ProMotion Exhibition

The Hon. Ralph Montagu opening the ProMotion Exhibition

This exhibition has now ended.

For almost as long as there have been motor vehicles on the road, publicity-conscious firms have built special bodywork to advertise their products. the first 'bottle' appeared on the roads in 1906. Other such vehicles were transformed into tubes of toothpaste, wireless sets, batteries, bottles of ink, shoes, barrels of beer and so on.

The heyday of the promotional vehicle was during the 1920s and the 30s when sign writing became something of an artform and there emerged a vogue for creative and flamboyant coachwork on commercial vehicles.

Wartime austerity saw a sharp decline in such colourful creations and it was not until the 1960s and 70s that companies realled looked to the mobile billboard again as a way of effective advertising.

In recent years, we have once again seen a number of 'marketing mobiles' hit the road, notably the Cadburys Creme Eggs, Red Bull Minis and Lindt Bunny Smart cars.

Vehicles that were on display:

Bushy’s Beer Bottle – 1990 

Bushy's Brewery was founded by Martin Brunnschweiler on the Isle of man in January 1986. Following a successful launch, Martin and his brother, Andy looked for ways to promote the beer.

Taking inspiration from a 1920s Daimler bottle van they recalled seeing at the 1967 London to Brighton Veteran Car Run, Andy, a Citroën mechanic, spent 18 months building his version using a 2CV chassis. On to this was fitted an aluminium body riveted to a steel frame with a perspex windscreen. An instant hit at the 1987 TT Races, a second van was commissioned, this time with bodywork made of fibreglass. The moulds enabled a third vehicle, this example. to be completed in 1990.

Today, Bushy's bottle vans are well-known not only in the Isle of man but around Britain, Europe and even at Daytona Bike Week, Florida, USA, turning heads and promoting Bushy's beers as well as the Isle of Man.

Owner: Bushy's Brewery, Douglas, Isle of Man

The Beer Engine – 2006 

The Beer Engine was built in 2006, initially to compete for the Bike of the Year Award run by Discovery Channel's Biker Build Off program.

Unfortunately, it was unable to win as there was no category for a motorcycle and sidecar.

Constructed around a 1,600cc V-Twin Harley-Davidson engine, Hogs Back Brewery commissioned a Bournemouth-based chopper-bike specialist to produce this completely unique and eye-catching machine. Features include on-board bar facilities and a wooden cask sidecar body made byt the cooper at Wadworth Brewery, Devizes. The bike has no handle bar controls as all operation is via foot pedals, although the gear shift is a beer pump handle. Reverse gear is also provided and the leather seat is distinctively branded with the brewery name.

The Beer Engine can accelerate to 70mph/112.65kph with ease but is capable of reaching close to twice that speed. Every August, the machine draws a crowd at the Great British Beer festival, Earls Court.

Owner: Hogs Back Brewery Limited, Tongham, Surrey

Duckham’s Q Car – 1969 

In 1973 Duckhams launched a lubricating oil called New Formula Q. Rally ace, Paddy Hopkirk was contracted to feature in a five-week television campaign and as an advertising gimmick, a giant three metre high oil can was built on Mini underpinnings.

Shortened by nearly 3 feet and fitted with a ford rear axle, the Duckhams Q Car arrived at many shows around the country during the 1970s.

The livery was updated from time to time to match the contemporary packaging the company was promoting.

Owner: British Motor industry Heritage Trust, Gaydon

Worthington Bottle Delivery Truck – 1930s 

When Bass took over Worthington in 1927, they inherited five of the Daimler lorries, built in the early 1920s on 4,962cc 6-cylinder chassis. Generally used for advertising purposes they could carry a small load of crates and bottles in the rear.

The very popular Daimlers were eventually replaced by two large and expensive seddon diesel lorries withe the body facing the other way so that the driver peered through the base of the bottle. They proved unsuccessful and have not survived into preservation.

It is believed that most of the TL30 Worthington bottle lorries are still in existence. Whilst on loan to the Worthing Historic Vehicle Society in 1967, a sister vehicle, XU 177, would later inspire the construction of the Bushy's Beer Bottle 2CV, also displayed here. XU 177 uis currently in the care of the Bass Museum of Brewing, Burton upon Trent whilst a third example was recently sold at auction and is believed to be in the USA.

Owner: Montagu Collection (Donated by Bass Charrington Limited)

Birds Eye Pea – 2005 

The Pea car first appeared in a Birds Eye television advertisement in December 2005. London-based special effects company, Asylum, took six weeks to build the car using a heavily modified chassis from an off-road go-kart fitted with a Honda engine. Weighing just 750kg, it was capable of 50mph/80.47kph even though it had no gears. Whilst bearing a Volkswagen resemblance, only the headlights were sourced from a beetle. The indicators are of lancia origin, wing mirrors from a specialist shop and all other parts were made to order.

The advert showed the car driving straight from the farmer's field but slowly losing its body parts along the road. The car reaches its destination as just a bare chassis. Then from the back of a refrigerated lorry emerges a brand new pea car. A voiceover narrates how vegetables lose vitamins from the moment they are picked whereas Birds Eye peas are immediately frozen thus retaining essential vitamins.

Owner: Birds Eye Limited, London

Outspan Orange – 1972 

Outspan commissioned six of these advertising vehicles between 1972 and 1974 at a total cost of £20,000. The company used them extensively for advertising campaigns in Britain, France and Germany. One example was until recently still in use in South Africa.

The basis of the car employed components from the versatile Mini, though a specially fabricated chassis was used giving a 48 inch wheelbase. Rack and pinion steering provided the Orange with an impressive turning circle of under seventeen feet. At over 30mph, however, there was tendency for these vehicles to roll!

This perticular car has successfully completed a number of London to Brighton Commercial Vehicle Runs.

Owner: The National Motor Museum Trust Limited (Donated by the outspan Organisation)

Cadbury Crème Egg – 1988 

Cadbury Schweppes plc commissioned a number of these Crème Egg cars in the late-1980s. Based at the Cadbury World visitor centre at Bournville in Birmingham, they could also be seen at many events around the country from New Year to the lead up to Easter. Using a Bedford Rascal van chassis, they were each fitted with a fibreglass body and a single gull-wing door for access. The headlights were of Citroën 2CV origin, the windscreen wipers from commercial vehicles, and the wide split screens gave a nice panoramic view. The curvature of the bodywork meant that the driver's foot pedals required realigning, making the cars very difficult to drive.

Such was the popularity of the Cadbury Creme Egg cars, that in 1993, die-cast toy maker, Corgi, produced a miniature version exclusively for Cadbury, and sold at Cadbury World.

Owner: Cadbury UK Limited


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