Dead End Dodges: Models and Metal Never-Was Heavy Haulers from Dodge and IMC

Man, I am totally nuts about Chrysler products and their rich history. And it’s not just the Max Wedge, Hemi and Six Pack superstars either. I dig the trucks too. Not only that, but I get a kick out of exploring the history of plastic model kits patterned after actual full size Mopars. That’s because the history of these kits is also the history of the Chrysler Corporation – and visa versa.

Let’s take a look at some interesting Dodge truck model kits and see how their stories are linked to the Dodge truck family.

This plastic kit of the Dodge L700 cab over was offered by IMC in 1969. It and AMT’s replica of a 10-wheel Peterbilt 359 diesel tractor both arrived in March of 1969 and stand as the first 1/25 scale heavy truck model kits ever offered by an American plastic model kit manufacturer (Revell did some heavy truck kits in the fifties but they were in much smaller scales).

While AMT had been a major player in the model car industry since right after WWII, IMC (Industro-Motive Corporation) was originally located at 1291 Rochester Rd. in Troy, MI and was a manufacturer of injection molded plastic items ranging from butter dishes to small automotive sub-components for the Big Three. In 1964 IMC jumped into the plastic model kit business with an array of scale car, cycle, aircraft and ship replicas.

IMC kits generally delivered high levels of detail. The new Dodge L700 kit featured steerable front wheels and opening doors, a tilting cab, real rubber tires, exceptional detailing and realism. By contrast, the AMT Peterbilt kit was just as realistic, but didn’t feature opening doors or steering front wheels. IMC was ahead of the curve here. I love the dramatic box art and I bought my first one from Oscar Kovaleski’s Auto World mail order catalog (Scranton, PA) around 1974.

When the kit arrived in the mail, I remember I was a little disappointed that the illustration on the box cover depicts stamped steel wheels but the parts included in the kit replicated cast steel Kelsey Hayes 5-spokes. Compare the front wheels on the built model with the front wheels shown on the box art and you’ll see what I mean. All the same, the 5-spokes give the little Dodge a tougher look. I’ve since gotten used to them. This excellent model is still available from Lindberg Models – who took over the tooling from Testors in the nineties.