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The American magazine Playboy is published monthly and dedicates a not insignificant number of pages to professional photographers’ immortalization of talented young women. At the end of each year, the most talented Playmate is selected, and she wins a car covered by a traders motor insurance – sometimes. The first was in 1964; a pink Ford Mustang.

Last week I wrote about Hugh Hefner, and while we did touch briefly on the subject of cars, it was really all about his American dream of a private jet – “Big Bunny”. Today I’ll attempt to put it all right by focusing on the Playmate cars.

In 1964 Donna Michele became the first Playmate of the Year, and won this pink Mustang.

You may have experienced some men claim that Playboy is so much more than merely pictures of naked women. They’re actually right too, as there have always been serious and well-written articles in this famed magazine. Arthur C. Clarke, Vladimir Nabokov and P. G. Wodehouse have all been published in the magazine, and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 was published as serialization in 1954. The magazine has even interviewed the likes of Malcolm X, Jimmy Carter and Martin Luther King. My own personal rendering has always been that this was the case purely so those who bought the magazine could say that they bought it for these articles.

American and pink goes hand in hand.

Regardless, while Hugh Hefner wasn’t precisely a Giovanni Agnelli, he did nonetheless manage to keep his magazine afloat for all those years since it first debuted in 1953. Both the image and the content has remained quite consistent throughout – also when considering the women. Perhaps only with the exception of the very first, Marilyn Monroe, they have all been photographed by professional photographers, and once lighting, make-up and ice cubes had been applied appropriately, the result was always quite pleasing.

1972 could have ended up being severely kitsch, but somehow Liv Lindeland and her pink Pantera instead managed to be nothing short of picture perfect.

But it’s a competitive world, and every year there could be only one winner among the twelve ladies. I’ll confess that I’m not totally sure how it all works, but I imagine deciding on a winner would be a pleasurable job. And I do know that for a long time it was tradition that the winner won a car: the first was in 1964 – and it was pink!

That may not be particularly surprising, and perhaps also not particularly out of place for an early Mustang. But as Playboy continued the tradition, it did lead to a few, shall we say, less coherent combinations – the worst in my opinion probably being the SL from 1974. It would seem that the Mercedes became the last pink Playmate car, so perhaps Mr. Hefner too saw just how wrong the colour was for the purposeful German.

Just not quite as tasteful…

It’s been exhausting research work! Just imagine my shock and horror, as I found that in 1971 Mr. Hefner decided to give that years Playmate a speedboat instead. It got even worse in 1988, where Mr. Hefner must have suffered some sort of brain hemorrhage, when he decided to gift the gorgeous India Allen a horrid replica of a Countach – it wasn’t even pink, nor did it look anything like the real item.

1988 represents the all-time-automotive-low for Playboy – a real shame as India Allen would have been a stunning match for a real Countach.

Seen with ViaRETRO eyes, the year 2002 was rather interesting too, as it would appear this is the only year where Mr. Hefner chose a classic car for the prize. Dalene Kurtis received a Chevrolet from 1950 – albeit a pickup, but then again, they have always been quite popular over there.

Pink simply doesn’t suit a utilitarian vehicle. But then again, a pickup doesn’t suit a Playmate either.

Another fun fact which may or may not be worth analyzing: The most popular Playmate car has been the Porsche 928, as it was the chosen prize in both 1978, 1982 and 1983. What can we deduct from that? I’m not really sure, but feel free to comment if you have any thoughts…

Oh, and one last thing Gentlemen, let’s keep the replies clean and sober. I’ll have none of your filthy “beautiful headlights” comments please.

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About The Author

Claus Ebberfeld

Broad car taste. Prefer them working, though. Coupés, estates, racing cars – and so on. Origin less important, but I love Italy. And Britain. Germany. And so on. By the way, I believe everything was better in the old days. Except the internet.

Claus’ keeper is a 1978 Reliant Scimitar GTE. As a true Scandinavian of course he also has a Volvo – a 445 of the 1956 vintage.

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