The Last Best Car – The 67-X
The Last Best Car – The 67-X looks at the 67-X tells the story of an Oldsmobile Toronado customized by the legendary George Barris, and then given away at Esso gas stations during Centennial Year in 1967. Of the four 67-Xs that were awarded as prizes, only three remain, and only one is still operating.
For Canada’s 100th birthday in 1967, some gas companies were giving away Ford Mustangs, Mercury Cougars and cash prizes. Imperial Oil wanted something bigger, so hired George Barris, fresh from creating the Batmobile for the Batman TV series. Barris built hundreds of custom cars for movies, TV show and Hollywood celebrities. He created the 67-X by cutting and stretching a Toronado, adding a wraparound back seat, swivelling front passenger seat, a cooler and a flip-up games table. Outside, fibreglass panels were added at the front and back, giving the car an exotic, futuristic look.
With each gas purchase, people got contest cards with pull-up tabs. By collecting five different safety tips revealed under the tabs you could enter your name to win a 67-X.
The first 67-X was won by Cliff Hackett of Edmonton, Alberta. It was later bought by Ray Korpus of Regina, Saskatchewan. It’s been passed down to his son, Roman, who took the 67-X down to his home near Houston, Texas, about 10 years ago.
The second 67-X was won by Vernon Scales of Okanagan Landing, B.C., and was later bought by Frank Baker, a Vancouver restaurateur who put it in display in front of his restaurant.
This 67-X later ended up in the U.S.A., and six years ago it showed up in an ad on eBay from a car dealership in St. Louis, Missouri. When Trevor Weflen of Victoria, B.C., saw the ad, he know what it was, and bought it sight unseen. This is the only 67-X that is operating and put on display.
The third 67-X was awarded to Michel Bussières of Quebec City. What happened to this car is a mystery. It was sold to a car dealer in Toronto – there was enough money to buy a new Chrysler convertible and a camper – but what happened next is unknown.
The final 67-X was awarded in August 1967 to Paul Sparrow of Thunder Bay. Sparrow sold it and put a down payment on their first house, and bought a new Chevrolet station wagon. The car was bought by a man in Niagara Falls, Ontario, and after nine years, he sold it to another resident of Niagara Falls, where it remains.
The book is a look at a slice of Canadian history from Centennial Year. It’s partly a car book, but mainly it’s about how the 67-X captured the imagination of the nation and affected the lives of the handful of Canadians who won or later owned one of these rare cars.
What people are saying about The Last Best Car – The 67-X
“Johnson’s inspired research preserves the iconic history of four extraordinary Esso 67-X vehicles designed and manufactured to celebrate Canada’s 100th birthday. Johnson’s smooth writing floats the reader along a road of discovery and memories of the era of hope and innovation which was an impressive part of Canada’s coming of age.” – Campbell
“The attention to detail in each chapter is evident as Dale provides us with rare pictures of the day featured with well written authentic stories of a forgotten time. Interviews with several of the winners and current owners provides us with a unique insiders look of what it is like to own a very special creation. The amazing pictures of the people, the cars of the time and the events of the day give us a vivid snapshot of a period that was so special to many of us.”- James
The Last Best Car – The 67-X was a finalist in the Saskatchewan Book Awards, with the judges saying:Johnson’s enthusiasm for his subject and for car history in general shines through…The energy and confidence of the writing, and the author’s sheer, obvious love for the subject make this book a joyous ride.
Where The Last Best Car – The 67-X is available:
Indigo, Chapters and Coles
McNally Robinson, Saskatoon and Winnipeg
Transport Books, Toronto
Western Development Museum, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan
Western Development Museum, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan