Many of us model little (or big) icons on our layouts. They can be cultural icons, historical icons or anything that strikes a chord with us and connects us to a larger place, time or feeling. They can be particular freight cars we remember seeing pass by when we were 14, a favorite structure along a sleepy branch line, a commercial sign that awakens memories. Whatever they might be, they help our layouts mean more to us than just a place to “run trains.”
Below is just a quick illustration of what I am talking about.
Dr. Pepper – I remember seeing tall bottles with this logo as a kid. Makes me think of playing golf for $3.00 a round at Gus Wotham Golf Course in Houston.
Tracks to nowhere – I remember seeing a lot of lonely branch lines all over Texas and Arkansas that I wondered if they were still in business. Sure enough, there was eventually a small business that still saw some rail activity. The late-1970-early 1080s still offered a lot of opportunities to explore lonesome, yet still active rail lines.
Houston, TX May 1980-–©photo by C. E. Hunt
The Rock! — I remember seeing a lot of Rock Island action as a kid. I caught the above on a Burlington Northern train near Houston, TX in May of 1980. This is such an icon for me, that like B. Smith, I have adopted a dual era layout–1979 (Rock still active) and 1981 (Post BN-Frisco merger). You’d be surprised how many cars and locomotives must exit or enter the stage based on two years. Been spending a lot of quality time with my Railway Equipment Registers!
National Forests — I love National Parks, National Forests, BLM lands and State Parks. To a kid growing up in Texas, being able to roam for miles on my land without encountering “No Trespassing” signs everywhere is heaven. (Warning — Commercial for protecting our public lands. Make your voice heard and consider joining this great organization or another like it. I like Trout Unlimited too!)
Grocery Store Warehouses — Here is an icon that may appear on B. Smith’s LCN. Grocery store warehouses receiving rail shipments screams out an earlier day in railroading.
Scene on the Rails West layout
Falstaff Beer – This is really an icon for all the former great brewery traditions or brands across our land. I know a lot of great new beer traditions have merged, but I still miss some of the iconic brands like Falstaff and Hamms.
Old pickups and cars — These are some of my favorite icons. Vehicles have the potential to create a time aura like nothing else.
.Scene on the Rails West layout.
What if you really want an icon that is very difficult to achieve? No kits, no available art work, etc. That is when it really gets fun.
And that finally, brings us to the main topic of this post…the 1964 Pontiac GTO! Now that’s an icon!
1964 Pontiac GTO
Considered by many to be the first muscle car, meaning high performance and low-cost, the GTO became available in 1964 as an option to the Tempest LeMans.
The GTO featured distinctive appearance items in place of standard LeMans features.
The famous Gran Turismo Omologata (GTO), better known as ‘The Goat,’ ‘The Tiger,’ and ‘The Great One’ was for the first year offered to the public.
The GTO became a much greater success than Pontiac ever thought possible. Here’s a slick video on this iconic car.
Here’s the colors it came in in 1964–
A little over 30,000 were produced for 1964. I am striving to figure out how a couple can be the denizen of Carrizo Springs or Artesia. (Artesia is a former town near where the IMC mine is. There are a few signs of the old town still in the Rails West world.)
How am I going to do that?
Good question. I have been able to get my hands on a set of Williams Bros GTOs! We will see what happens. Here’s a link
to Williams Brothers kits. They are clear plastic. I don’t know if they are still available. The link was last updated April 17, 2000! It is going to be a challenge for sure.
I have about three or four projects ahead of them, so it is going to be a while.
The Rails West layout NEEDS a couple of these. We’ll see what happens. Stay tuned.