Tiki News, Tiki Culture & Retro Living - Tiki Chris Pinto's Tiki Lounge Talk Blog
RSS icon Email icon Home icon
  • My Favorite 60’s Toys – The 1918 Model T Ford Bar Car

    Posted on November 9th, 2009 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 27 comments

    retro-fun-stuffThere’s no denying…the heyday of the cocktail reached its peak during the 1950’s to mid-1960’s in the United States, and hasn’t

    Bar Car 1918 Model T Ford Sedan. Top of the line tabletop bar in the 50's, 60's & 70's.
    Bar Car 1918 Model T Ford Sedan. Top of the line tabletop bar in the 50′s, 60′s & 70′s.

    been the

    same since. Oh sure, Sex in the City may have brought back the Cosmopolitan, and Mad Men may have reintroduced us to the Martini and the Old Fashioned, but the

    sophistication…the rituals…of cocktail life iarelong gone, except for us fortunate few.

    For a swingin’ bachelor or hip chick in the rat pack days, no pad was complete without a bar, or at least a decent set-up and a couple of cut-glass decanters of your favorite spirits.

    Bar Car 1918 Model T Ford Sedan with brushed bronze finish, spoked wheels & rubber tires.

    Bar Car 1918 Model T Ford Sedan with brushed bronze finish, spoked wheels & rubber tires.

    Those who had the lettuce and the elbow room to juice a full bar did so with the utmost hipness, from wild, hand-carved Tiki bars to crazy mirrored jobs hidden in a rotating wall, combined with the Hi-Fi, TV set, or even fireplace. Those kats who were livin’ lean, spreading out in a one-room studio flat or just scrapin’ for space took another route…enter the Portable Bar.

    These little babies took on many enigmatic forms, from fake tabletop TV sets to large, floor-stand globes (see upcoming posts). But one of my favorites was one of the simplest…the mini bar in the shape of a car.

    Bar Car Model T Ford Sedan, showing Bourbon medallion and shot glasses.

    Bar Car Model T Ford Sedan, showing Bourbon medallion and shot glasses.

    From what I’ve been able to glean over the last several years (including a many-year stretch on the fringes of the antiques and collectibles biz), these were popularized in the 1950’s, and had a decent run through the 70’s until the coolness ran out. (I blame the hippies, Nixon, and aggressive beer company advertising for the demise of home bar, by the way.)

    Man, were these bar cars nice. I’ve had several over the years, and can tell you they all have a few neato things in common: They all contain shot glasses, they all have at least one decanter for booze, and they are all music boxes. When you pick up the bottle, the music plays…anything from ‘How Dry I Am’ to holiday tunes like ‘Sleigh Ride’ or ‘The Anniversary Waltz’.

    tsedanfrontEvery one I’ve ever seen has been made of nicely detailed pressed metal, either painted steel or brushed aluminum or brass. The decanters are usually cut-glass (or a reasonable facsimile) and the inside is almost always covered in red velvet or something close to it.

    1950's Rolls Royce Bar Car. This was a very expensive model. Unfortunately this one was used as a toy. Were it in better condition and complete, it would be worth hundreds $$$.

    1950's Rolls Royce Bar Car. This was a very expensive model. Unfortunately this one was used as a toy. Were it in better condition and complete, it would be worth hundreds $$$.

    Depending on the original cost, nice details like spoked wheels and rubber tires, convertible top, and working lights adorned the cars. And a little tag denoting the contents…usually Bourbon or Scotch…was included to hang from the neck of the bottle.

    These little beauties were top-shelf items back in the day, and were built to be expensive-looking additions to a well-appointed home’s décor (although they were generally frowned upon in uptight society, and found themselves adorning swingin’ joints like you or I would have dug).

    Bar Car Tin Lizzie Roadster with original box. The headlights are shot glasses, giving it a sort of Mr. Magoo look.

    Bar Car Tin Lizzie Roadster with original box. The headlights are shot glasses, giving it a sort of Mr. Magoo look.

    Of course by the time I was old enough to enjoy them (for the car part, as it would be a couple of decades later when I’d start to imbibe) they were generally known as something you’d find in Grandpa’s house, or on the coffee table in your odd-ball uncle’s apartment uptown, you know, the uncle older than you dad who never got married and had black velvet paintings of naked women over his bed…The uncle who paid more for a record player 10 years before you born than you paid for your first car. HE’s the guy who had the bar car sitting at a place of honor in his bachelor pad, and drank a cocktail nightly from it, J&B on the rocks, or Johnny Black, or Canadian Club & Ginger because he was the hippest cat in the neighborhood and that’s just what he did. Well now your uncle is pushing 70; he’s got a condo in Boca and all his old stuff is in storage somewhere in Philly. Give him a call. That bar car can be yours, along with his original Modern Jazz Quintet records and that 1965 Grundig.

    Bar Car Tin Lizzie with the top down, showing the bottle.

    Bar Car Tin Lizzie with the top down, showing the bottle.

    Bar Car Tin Lizzie with Mr. Magoo shot-glass headlights. The crank winds the music box.

    Bar Car Tin Lizzie with Mr. Magoo shot-glass headlights. The crank winds the music box.

    Bar Car Tin Lizzie (Model T Ford). Note the steel wheels.

    Bar Car Tin Lizzie (Model T Ford). Note the steel wheels.

    Bar Car Model T Ford Coupe. This is a newer (70's) model with plastic fenders.

    Bar Car Model T Ford Coupe. This is a newer (70's) model with plastic fenders.

    Bar Car Model T Ford Coupe detail.

    Bar Car Model T Ford Coupe detail.

    Bar Car Model T Ford showing three shot glasses on the trunk.

    Bar Car Model T Ford showing three shot glasses on the trunk.

    The Real Model T Ford

    The Real Model T Ford

     

    26 responses to “My Favorite 60’s Toys – The 1918 Model T Ford Bar Car” RSS icon

    • I have a bar car black convertible with red inside on floor and scotch bottle with tag also it holds 6 shot glasses mine has 3 origanl glasses and 1 cracked one the other 2 are gone I know nothing about it and am curious what its worth

      • Hi Stacy, the value of these bar cars varies depending on age, type and condition. Even without the glasses I’ve not recently seen one sell for less than $35. The smaller cars shown in this post usually sell between $40 and $80 in mint condition. If your car is like the 1950′s black and red Rolls Royce, and has the original bottle and all parts are intact except the glasses, it could be worth over $100. Your best bet is to search on eBay and see what cars like yours are selling for.
        -Tiki Chris

      • 1950S ROLLS ROYCE PURCHASE EVERY THING IN TAC 4 SHOT GLASSES PLAYS LARAS THEME I PAID 15 DOLLARS AT ANTIQUE SHOP WHO WOOD BY INTRESTED IN THIS ITEM DID NOT KNOW HOW EXPENSIVE THAY ARE THANK U 4 THE HELPING ME

    • I recently came across a 1915 black model T with gold trim 5 shot glasses and the whisky holder in near perfect condition not sure what it’s worth or what to do with it. Anyone have any ideas?

      • Hi Kaleen, they sell for anywhere from $20 to $300 depending on the style, rarity and demand. Best bet is to check out ebay, see if anyone has the same style and how much it’s going for. Try searching “bar car”, “model T decanter” or “Model T Bar”.

    • Musical Decanter Car Bar sets:
      I have been collecting these since 1987 and although not published anywhere I can let you know that there are 11 different cars known with numerous colour/tune/design variations:

      Cadillac 1907 17 variations.
      Rolls Royce 1937 Phantom II 30 variations.
      Jaguar SS100 4 variations.
      Ford 1918 41 variations.
      Mercedes 300 SEL 4 variations.
      Ford Model T 1915 8 variations.
      T Ford with crest 7 variations.
      T Ford Hurst taxi 6 variations.
      Porsche 617(Le Mans 917? )2 variations.
      T Ford 2 variations.
      Volkswagen 24 variations.

      In addition there are Radiator Grilles for:
      Ford,Jaguar,Mercedes,Rolls Royce.
      A Rolls Royce wall bar set.
      A Front of a Rolls Royce (Very rare).

      So roughly there are a total of 160+ different combinations that can be found, I now have about 36 of them.

      They appear mainly in USA, United Kingdom & Australia for resale.

      All were made in Japan and later in Hong Kong from about 1960 through to 1973.

      Values are not straight forward, a rare variation can command a higher price, a box can add value and the type of car will appeal to multiple ranges of collectors. For example a $20 Rolls Royce will sell for $100 if an unknowing Rolls Royce enthusiast sees one.The best place to check values is on eBAY although they have now become scarce in good condition.

      • Wow, thanks for all that info on the bar cars! I knew there were a lot of different ones, but had no idea there were so many variations.

        Before eBay it was very hard to find these in good condition…I was lucky to get a few!

      • Garrett Sanford

        I have one of these tin lizzie’s In mint Condition. I almost thought it was a fake it is so clean, Missing Box & Glases butt if you want to see it I can send pictures no problem just send me your e-mail.

    • We picked up this little “bar Car” at a sale today, no shot glasses with this one but the decanter and reversible tag ( scotch/ Whiskey)all in tact. It plays “How Dry I am”, but unlike any pictures I am seen our car is white with gold colored emblem on door and black top. Interior is also red velvet… Wondering if anyone has one like this?

      • I’ve been checking around trying to find a bar car like the one you described and haven’t seen any. Maybe it was a specially made style, for a particular retailer. Sounds nice, white with gold trim.

      • I have one that was my dads that is just like yours identical plus all 4 shot glasses it still has factory sticker on bottom with name of song
        I also have the ford t coupe w/ 3 shot glasses on back but mine also has gold color decanter in it that matches the glasses

    • NM< I just saw that ;) lol

    • Those are nice, I have one that is tan and white t model bar car which also has a music box in the front end…..
      Do any of yours have the music box?
      Thank’s for sharing those they are really neat.

    • Have a rolls royce bar car complete with scotch bottle and 6 shot glasses, “how dry I am” plays when bottle is lifted out of car. Would like to know approximate estimation of worth. Thank you.

    • Of all the years I’ve been collecting stuff, I’ve never met another who has even one of these cars on display.

      Rowan, your father is a lucky man to have such a collection!

      Alexandre, I couldn’t really give you a market price on your Rolls Royce bar car, but I’ve seen them go on ebay from $35 to $250 US, depending on condition and the economy.

      • Rebecca Labonte

        Hey there “Tiki Chris” – I know I am sending a reply to an older posting, but I have had no luck anywhere else. I have a 50′s model Bar Car, I believe it’s brass, and it holds 6 shot glasses. This one though plays “Lara’s Song” – where others play “How Dry Am I”. It was purchased well over 30 years ago and the sale was for $200. Have you seen or heard of these bar cars with that song before? Any suggestions on where I can find more information or do research? I appreciate any advice you can shoot our way!
        CHEERS
        Rebecca

        • Rebecca Labonte

          Sorry – I guess it might help to say its the same Rolls Royce you mentioned was used as a toy, a more expensive model I guess at the time. Your photo looks like the car is dark in color and again, this one looks of Brass, has red velvet lining, car moves up and down thanks to shocks, holds 6 shots (still all intact) and has a lead crystal decanter with a silver scotch tag on chain.
          Rebecca

          • Hi Rebecca…nope, never heard of any of the bar cars playing Laura’s Theme, so I think you have a rare and unusual model there! The Rolls was (and still is) a much more expensive and hard to find piece than the model T’s.

            As for research, I haven’t seen much on these on the web. You might try looking in the collectibles section of bookstores to see if it is cataloged with any of the antiques, but your best bet is probably to keep searching eBay and see what they are going for. I would imagine that one like yours, with the original glasses and all, and the song dating it to around 1965…you should easily get much more than you paid for it!

            • Rebecca Labonte

              Hey, thank you for the fast and informative response. We have actually tried to give the car BACK to its owner and she said it was ours to sell, auction, keep or whatever. She’s a family friend & she donated it to our “Bridal Party” Court Yard Sale. I knew when I first looked at it that it was something special. We keep finding little details, such as the “Scotch” tag being reversable and it has “Bourbon” on the back. We have no intention now of selling it, but will continue to search its history. I am sure she will be surprised when she opens her Christmas gift this year, only to find the car, along with whatever documentation we can find. Thanks again,
              CHEERS
              Rebecca

    • My father is a collector of these bar cars. He has over 60 different ones, no he didn’t think there were so many either when he started.
      If you know of any collectors, please let me know as there are so few people who have them nowdays.
      Rowan

    • HELLO OF FRANCE? I POSSESS A CAR BAR Rolls Royce of 1950s, completed state with packaging and completes. As nine.
      I would like to have an estimation of are price(prize,prices,prizes) and can be to sell her(it). I leave you my email racheletbertrand@hotmail.fr

    • I have a bar car tin lizzie model T Ford in good condition {steel Wheels}.If intrested in buying item please Email at polshark01@scbglobal.net

    • if anyone interested e-mail me. cairnes608@comcast.net

    • I do believe that I have the old rolls royce bar car. Still has decantor in middle when lifted out plays music and then has the glasses on the side. If interested please reply back. also have i believe a t-model also.

    • Somewhere I have one that’s a horse-drawn carriage too. Gotta dig that one out.


    1 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

    Leave a reply