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Toy Brands and Manufacturers


1960s -     

The A.C. Gilbert American Flyer Auto-Rama slot car system seems to have appeared some time around ~1962-ish, and was reviewed at least as early as late '62. The system was promoted variously as being made by Gilbert or by American Flyer, "American Flyer" being the model train brand that Gilbert owned.

Distinguishing features

Unusual features included a special track section on the "Which-Lane Chicane" that collapsed two tracks into one (which introduced an element of "playing chicken" when two cars approached the section side-by-side), and where the drivers couldn't tell which lane a car would be on when it emerged, and the extravagant two-lane T-Junction in the "Super Highway" set, which had a small manual switch alongside each of the six possible input slots (six switches in all) to decide which of the two possible routes an incoming car would take.

Another notable feature in the Auto-Rama advertising was the "Fly-over Chicane" - a ramp that actually hurled a car into the air ... possibly over an obstacle or another section of track crossing it at right angles ... to land on the other lane.

The Gilbert system supported two different radius curves – tight "City" curves and larger-radius "Outer Race" curves – which nested to allow the building of a four-lane racetrack.

Advertising text:


American Flyer gives you both.

You're in the thick of a four-car (or two-car) race, fighting for the lead.
You throttle down on the straightaways, ease up for the turns.
Hit the accelerator as you come out of the curve.
You're driving flat out as the road straightens

the scene changes

You're at the throttle of a miniature (5 inch) car, cruising along a superhighway.
You steer left – or right – at intersections.
You stop, back up, turn around.
You go fast or slow. Travel bumper-to-bumper.
Do everything a real car does except get a ticket.
This is fun!
This is road racing – or turnpike driving.
This is Auto-Rama, by American Flyer.

— , A.C. Gilbert, , Boys' Life, , December 1962

Only Gilbert has the Fly-Over Chicane – the most exciting new feature in miniature racing!

You slide through a turn, boom down the straight into the spectacular Jump Chicane ... up and over you go changing lanes in mid-air. Down you slam, in full control of your own car, even though you're in another lane. And that's when you discover these cars can really take it. That's where the name Gilbert pays off. Only Gilbert cars "steer" through a turn, drift through the corners.

There are seven Auto-Rama Sets, and remember, Gilbert has the greatest selection of racing accessories. They add new excitement to any miniature racing outfit.

  • NEW! Authentically styled cars. Straight from Indianapolis, the "Offies" and the Buick V-8 Special. From Daytona, the Corvettes. Plus a 1940 Ford Coupe for "stock" fans, exciting Karts and a new Road Service Truck.
  • NEW! Automatic Lap Counter is adaptable to any track And this one really works. So does Gilbert's exclusive Lap Timer. It's started and stopped by the cars themselves, not by the operator. So the timing is absolutely accurate.
  • NEW! Sulkies for your track. These trotters have a realistic gait and are powered by the same trouble-free worm-gear drive that powers all Gilbert racing vehicles.

— , A.C. Gilbert, , Boys' Life, , November 1963

Race for Real! Win for real in a souped-up Jag with real front-end steering that you control with real racing skills! Only one auto-racing game gives these real racing thrills! Ask anybody! It's A.C.GILBERT AUTO-RAMA!

Like the real thing! You're off and gunning! Big time speedway action is yours from start to finish with GILBERT AUTO-RAMA!

Mastermind your sleek Jaguar XKE with exclusive FRONT-END STEERING! Gives you the feel, the response of souped-up road racing everywhere on AUTORAMA's challenging Figure 8 layout!

Added suspense with SELECT-A-LANE! Your own driving savvy decides if you'll stay put or switch pass the competition into another lane. Each driver regulates his car's speed from an individual control! And, you can drive both cars independently in the same lane! Try a fast game of bumper tag for real racing thrills!

— , A.C. Gilbert, , Boys' Life, , September 1964


We've seen mention of there being seven sets. A 1962 advert lists four:

" Newest road racing hit! Double roadway narrows to single lane chicane; cars emerge in same lane – or different one. You never know; just Chicane. "
" Features "T" intersection. Cars turn left, turn right, stop, back up, turn around, go fast or slow, travel bumper-to-bumper. "
" You're at the controls as your speedy stock car powers along the twisting over-and-under roadway, spinning on the turns, climbing the twisting grades. Two cars, separately controlled. "
" Four cars, neck-and-neck around the turns and along the straightaway, battling the lead. Separate controls for each. "

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