Retro Rockets: 9 Outrageous Roadgoing Spaceships

[ By Steve in Technology & Vehicles & Mods. ]

road-going rockets
As the Space Age rocked, rolled and rocketed into pop culture, fantastic one-off wheeled wonders embarked upon a more prosaic mission: launching new products.

Silvercup Rocket

Silvercup Rocket(images via: MST3K Temple and Solar Guard Academy)

The Silvercup Rocket not only set the bar for future traveling promotional rockets, it was built better than most of them as well. Custom crafted in the truck workshops of Detroit-based Gordon Baking Company, the tubular trailer was packed with electronics to impress visitors – an estimated 100,000 of whom checked out the rocket at the 1954 Michigan State Fair and were given miniature loaves of Silvercup Bread (“The Official Bread of All Spacemen”) as souvenirs.

Silvercup Rocket(images via: Alphadrome, DVD Verdict and Amazon.com)

Besides advertising bread, the Silvercup Rocket acted as a finned billboard for the 1954-56 television sci-fi series Rocky Jones, Space Ranger. While the show soon faded from the TV scene, one of its actors (John Banner, above left) found fame a decade later as bumbling Sgt. Schultz on the POW-camp comedy Hogan’s Heroes.

Silvercup Rocket(images via: Jeff Duntemann and MST3K Temple)

As for the Silvercup Rocket, after spending nearly 20 years decaying outdoors in northern Michigan as the partially repainted Space Ship Mars, it was purchased by Greg Ward, senior curator of Air Zoo in Kalamazoo, MI where it’s undergoing a full restoration.

Citroen T55 TeleAvia Promotional Bus

Citroen T55 Telavia bus(images via: Dark Roasted Blend and Voiture-Miniature-Shop)

Built for a subsidiary of the French SUD Aviation company using Citroen’s versatile U55 truck/bus chassis (more on that later), the custom-bodied T55 bus was designed by Philippe Charbonneaux to showcase the FRIGEAVIA/TELEAVIA home appliances brand. Four special T55 buses displaying fin-tastic coachwork by Leffondré were built and driven to places like the Tour de France where they might receive maximum exposure.

The Luer Meat Rocket

Luer Meat Rocket(image via: That Hartford Guy)

The Luer Quality Meat Rocket was built in 1955 and was to Luer Quality Meats of Los Angeles what the Weinermobile was to Oscar Meyer. Luer spared no small expense to have Standard Carriage Works modify the trailer to resemble the Terra IV spaceship from the 1950-55 TV series Space Patrol. The rocket was designed to be suitably spacey inside and out, featuring nifty options such as a large movie screen up front, seats for 24, a vibrating floor to simulate launches, air conditioning, and a bubble machine that provided “exhaust” during appearances at grocery stores and in parades.

Luer Meat Rocket(images via: Roadside Resort and The Prescott Daily Courier)

The Luer Meat Rocket (quiet there, Beavis and Butthead) changed hands a number of times following a long and successful promotion career, and its survival to the present day is largely due to years of outdoor storage in the arid California desert and in Prescott Valley, Arizona. Owned for nearly 20 years by Steve LaVigne (above) who paid a whole $100 for it, the rocket was sold in 2007 to memorabilia collectors John and Peter Kleeman of Litchfield, Connecticut. That’s where the Luer Meat Rocket resides these days, undergoing a full restoration at the Space Age Museum.

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Article by Steve , filed under Vehicles & Mods in the Technology category. As the Space Age rocked, rolled and rocket ed into pop culture, fantastic one-off wheeled wonders embarked upon a more prosaic mission: launching new products. The Silvercup Rocket not only set the bar for future traveling promotional rockets, it was built better than most of them as well.



 
 

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Retro Rockets: 9 Outrageous Roadgoing Spaceships
Article by Steve , filed under Vehicles & Mods in the Technology category.
As the Space Age rocked, rolled and rocket ed into pop culture, fantastic one-off wheeled wonders embarked upon a more prosaic mission: launching new products.
Silvercup Rocket
(images via: MST3K Temple and Solar Guard Academy )
The Silvercup Rocket not only set the bar for future traveling promotional rockets, it was built better than most of them as well. Custom crafted in the truck workshops of Detroit-based Gordon Baking Company, the tubular trailer was packed with electronics to impress visitors – an estimated 100,000 of whom checked out the rocket at the 1954 Michigan State Fair and were given miniature loaves of Silvercup Bread (“The Official Bread of All Spacemen”) as souvenirs.
(images via: Alphadrome , DVD Verdict and Amazon.com )
Besides advertising bread, the Silvercup Rocket acted as a finned billboard for the 1954-56 television sci-fi series Rocky Jones, Space Ranger . While the show soon faded from the TV scene, one of its actors (John Banner, above left) found fame a decade later as bumbling Sgt. Schultz on the POW-camp comedy Hogan’s Heroes.
(images via: Jeff Duntemann and MST3K Temple )
As for the Silvercup Rocket, after spending nearly 20 years decaying outdoors in northern Michigan as the partially repainted Space Ship Mars , it was purchased by Greg Ward, senior curator of Air Zoo in Kalamazoo, MI where it’s undergoing a full restoration.
Citroen T55 TeleAvia Promotional Bus
(images via: Dark Roasted Blend and Voiture-Miniature-Shop )
Built for a subsidiary of the French SUD Aviation company using Citroen’s versatile U55 truck/bus chassis (more on that later), the custom-bodied T55 bus was designed by Philippe Charbonneaux to showcase the FRIGEAVIA/TELEAVIA home appliances brand. Four special T55 buses displaying fin-tastic coachwork by Leffondré were built and driven to places like the Tour de France where they might receive maximum exposure.
The Luer Meat Rocket
(image via: That Hartford Guy )
The Luer Quality Meat Rocket was built in 1955 and was to Luer Quality Meats of Los Angeles what the Weinermobile was to Oscar Meyer. Luer spared no small expense to have Standard Carriage Works modify the trailer to resemble the Terra IV spaceship from the 1950-55 TV series Space Patrol . The rocket was designed to be suitably spacey inside and out, featuring nifty options such as a large movie screen up front, seats for 24, a vibrating floor to simulate launches, air conditioning, and a bubble machine that provided “exhaust” during appearances at grocery stores and in parades.
(images via: Roadside Resort and The Prescott Daily Courier )
The Luer Meat Rocket (quiet there, Beavis and Butthead) changed hands a number of times following a long and successful promotion career, and its survival to the present day is largely due to years of outdoor storage in the arid California desert and in Prescott Valley, Arizona. Owned for nearly 20 years by Steve LaVigne (above) who paid a whole $100 for it, the rocket was sold in 2007 to memorabilia collectors John and Peter Kleeman of Litchfield, Connecticut. That’s where the Luer Meat Rocket resides these days, undergoing a full restoration at the Space Age Museum. Comment on Facebook
Retro Rockets: 9 Outrageous Roadgoing Spaceships
Article by Steve , filed under Vehicles & Mods in the Technology category.
The Ralston “Space Patrol” Rocket
(images via: Alphadrome , CardCow , John Eaves and Wikipedia )
The popularity of the Space Patrol TV show through the first half of the Fabulous Fifties had a profound influence on those who saw replica rockets as a powerful marketing tool. Such was the case with The Ralston Rocket, actually a pair of similar roadgoing rockets (with different dorsal fins) designed to be towed to and from public events, store openings and other such gatherings.
(images via: Solarguard )
Though the fate of one of the Ralston Rockets is unknown, the other is well documented. As Space Patrol was nearing the end of its televised run, Ralston decided to end their promotional campaign with a bang by giving away the rocket in a contest! The winner of the “Name the Planet” Contest was Ricky Walker, who enjoyed having the 35ft long, five ton rolling rocket delivered to his home. Evidently Walker’s parents were less than thrilled as they sold the rocket for $1,000 to a traveling carnival. The Ralston Rocket was last seen in Gent, NY, in front of a construction company (as shown above)… neglected and rusty, the rocket was broken up for scrap in 1985 several months after the photos above were taken.
Kraft Aerojet Training Space Ship
(images via: Universal Monster Army )
Chagrined kids who envied Ricky Walker’s luck back in 1953 would have another shot at spaceship-owning nirvana just 6 years later when Kraft Foods began running ads on the backs of comic books. Send in an entry to Kraft’s “Name The Spaceship” contest along with an empty bag of Kraft Jet-Puffed Marshmallows and you’d be eligible to win the grand prize: the Kraft Aerojet Training Space Ship, built by Aerojet General with seats for 4! The winner was a girl from St. Louis, MO, who later donated it to a local school. From there it found its way to the front lawn of an area rehab center where sometime in 1975 or 1976, the center’s administrator paid a contractor to crush and bury the ship.
Santa’s Rocket Ship
(images via: Roadside America , Jalopnik and Travis S )
Santa’s Rocket Ship was the brainstorm of Lloyd Laster, a Tyler, TX promoter who operated a five-vehicle fleet of Christmas-themed bus conversions from the mid-1950s to his retirement in 1974. After Laster liquidated his fleet, the quintet of sleek red & white “Christmissles” met a variety of fates… some continued to ply the promotional circuit for a time but at least two ended up in a Wisconsin scrapyard.
(images via: Neatorama and Jalopnik )
The single remaining Santa’s Rocket Ship traveled the furthest, all the way to Alaska as it happens! Credit that old holiday magic if you like but save some praise for the operators of Mukluk Land, a former junkyard reborn as a roadside attraction/arcade in Tok, Alaska. Considering the location, Rudolph and the boys should petition Santa to ban the restored rocketship from joining in any reindeer games.
Retro Rockets: 9 Outrageous Roadgoing Spaceships
Article by Steve , filed under Vehicles & Mods in the Technology category.
Space Shuttle Cafe
(images via: Trendhunter )
Originally built in 1944 as a World War II cargo aircraft, the Space Shuttle Cafe lost its wings but gained a kitchen when GMC performed a radical conversion job in 1976. This elaborate food truck now boasts a microwave oven, a stainless steel sink, a hot water heater, an onboard freezer and a set of cooling/exhaust fans. It was recently sold on eBay for the sky-high sum of $150,000 and one would hope the food it serves rates better than that offered by today’s airlines.
Citroen U55 Cityrama Currus
(image via: Dark Roasted Blend )
Featured in the 1960 Louis Malle film Zazie dans le métro , the Citroen U55 Cityrama Currus still looks futuristic over a half century after it began shuttling tourists around the sights of Paris, France. A tip of the hat to Dark Roasted Blend for featuring copious info and images of these spectacular vehicles.
(images via: Canadian Public Transit Discussion Board )
Like the aforementioned T55 TeleAvia, the Cityrama Currus (or should that be “Cirri” – there were more than a few made) appeared spacier than actual spaceships of the day and while it traveled at far less than light speed, it did make scoping out the City of Light a decidedly luxurious proposition.
The Proud American
(images via: Autoblog )
Think promotional road-going rocketships were all creatures of the Nifty Fifties? Most were but the concept lingered on into more ground-focused times. Take “The Proud American” , for example. Built to break the land speed record in America’s bicentennial year of 1976, this red white & blue aircraft/automobile was built by Tony Fox and Ky Michaelson, and was moved from place to place via its matching, Dean Moon-designed, 10-wheeled “Bonneville Boss” transporter.
(images via: Autoblog )
The reason for transporting the car in such style was to aid in fundraising for the land speed record attempt. Evidently not enough funds were raised and the record run never took place. Fast-forward 30 years and The Proud American is back, courtesy of new owners Tom Shaughnessy and Terry Healy who bought it, dusted it off and put it back on the promotional circuit. It may never break the sound barrier but if you stare at it long enough, you might just break into song… The Star-Spangled Banner, of course.