To Top

The Rare 1945 Christmas Al-Toy: Do you have one?

• CATEGORIES: Features, toys

Credit Colin and Glenn for uncovering this information.

A rare 1945 Christmas Al-Toy that was on eBay recently

Mr. Stub Cole, at the right, and Harold Bell, Sales Manager for Willys, at the left, seated at a table with an unnamed WGN radio announcer. On the table is an Al-Toy Jeep and on the bookcase behind Mr. Bell is another Al-Toy Jeep and a smaller model of a Jeep towing a trailer.

“About one year ago, Glenn Byron and I became involved in correspondence with Mr. and Mrs. David (Sue) Cole, part time residents here in Arizona and Michigan. The conversations revolved around the story that David Cole’s father, “Stub” Cole had gone to work at Willys in the latter part of 1945 for the purpose of getting the farm implement accessories and documentation then being supplied for Jeeps out to the dealer network. He left his
family in Michigan and lived in a couple of hotels in Toledo during the time he worked at Willys.

During this time, he took home a tan Al-Toy Jeep for David’s brother and at Christmas 1945, he brought two more Al-Toy Jeeps home. One was tan, like the first one, but the third Jeep, which he gave to his wife, was done differently than the others. It was silver, with a red interior and the underside was painted green. The wheels were cream colored and it had a spare tire mounted on the right rear fender. The Cole family always called this the Christmas Jeep due to its Christmas colors. As close as the family can remember, Stub left Willys in about April or May of 1946 and returned to Michigan.

Fast forward to 2011. David and Sue are trying to plot some of their family history and realized that David still had his original Al-Toy Jeep from 1945. They contacted the remaining family and learned that David’s brother’s tan Jeep and the “Christmas Jeep” were still in the family. With that, Sue began searching the internet for anything on Al-Toys and came up with Glenn’s name. She contacted him and he replied, copying me on the correspondence. Photos of the three Jeeps were sent to both of us and we realized the “Christmas Jeep” was indeed special and we made arrangements to meet with the Cole’s at their winter home in Cottonwood, AZ. Glenn and his family were on a vacation out west, to coincide with the FC Roundup here in Phoenix and we also got to meet Dave and Ann at the FC Roundup as well. We arranged to meet the Coles in Cottonwood on March 25th and look at the Al-Toys and share their findings on Willys history where their father was involved.

The  photos below show the 1945 Christmas Al-Toy Jeep and a tan one in their original condition in March, 2012. We talked about the condition of all three Jeeps and possible things to do with them. The two tan Jeeps had been played with and had some pencil markings left over from nearly 70 years ago and there were a couple of items that they would like to have repaired, but wanted to leave the Jeeps as close to their original condition as possible.

The “Christmas Jeep” was indeed special. It had been cherished and not played with for most of the 70 years, but after the passing of David’s mother, the Jeep went to one of the family members and it was played with and left outside, until finally put away and forgotten in a garage. Its condition when we first saw it was good with no broken parts, but was missing some paint and the steering wheel was missing from the steering column. On closer inspection, we realized this Jeep had been highly polished originally, in addition to having the interior painted red, the underside green and the wheels painted cream color. We all felt this Jeep needed to be restored to its original condition as much as possible. I volunteered to do the repair work on the other two jeeps and to undertake the restoration of the “Christmas Jeep.” Of note is that all the Al-Toy promos were cast aluminum, done by Toledo Casting, dba Central Casting and Toledo Brass in Toledo, OH.

One of the things we simply weren’t sure of was if this Jeep was done this way specifically for the senior Mr. Cole, or was this one of several that was done as “The Christmas Present for Willys VIP’s for 1945?” We just didn’t know, but Glenn and I were leaning towards this being the Willys Christmas toy. Glenn had seen a former Willys VIP’s full collection of the Al-Toy Christmas presents a few years earlier, but it was missing the Christmas 1945 Jeep. An Oglesby Jeep had been substituted in its place, HMMM!

I determined that the original polishing of this Jeep was done prior to the final assembly of the hood and windshield to the body tub and the spare tire as the original rivets holding the windshield and hood in place were intact. I was able to complete the repairs on the two tan Jeeps and the restoration of the “Christmas Jeep” without taking it apart, and on May 15, 2012, the Coles came to Phoenix and we presented them with the Jeeps. They were very pleased with the results.

This isn’t the end of the story. On the weekend of Sept. 7th, 2012, an Al-Toy Jeep appeared on ebay out of Cleveland, OH., that was identical to the Cole Christmas Jeep. It sold for less than $25.00 !!! Unfortunately, both Glenn and I were not aware of this jeep until the auction was over. Attempts to contact the seller have not been answered. But this Jeep helps to answer the one question we had about the Cole Jeep. It wasn’t a “one off”! Photos that I was able to copy are small thumbnail, but show the same paint scheme, polished aluminum body , green underside and wheel color.

Now our quest to find the buyer of this Jeep is on and we want to explore the possibility that there are others just like these two out there and folks are unaware of the prize they have. To find two identical Jeeps 67 years after they were made in what was probably a small number of units is incredible. If any readers out there have a Jeep like this, please contact me at: colins60vette@cox.net or Glenn Byron at: glenns@tdstelme.net .

 

 

31 Comments on “The Rare 1945 Christmas Al-Toy: Do you have one?

  1. Colin

    Dave-

    Thanks for showcasing these Al-Toys. These two “Christmas Jeeps” are probably the most rare of the Al-Toy CJ2 Jeeps that Toledo Casting did. So far, all the research Glenn and I have done on the overall Al-Toy Christmas gift program has been through former Willys employees or their families.We haven’t found anything in documents indicating Al-Toys at all. We do know that the CJ2 Al-Toy Jeeps were offered to the public through Willys dealers and toy dealers by October 1946 for the 1946 Christmas holiday due to an ad in a toy dealers magazine that I found on ebay a few years ago.

  2. Steve E.

    Cool Toy Jeeps. Thanks for sharing and for the history lesson about the miniatures from over 65 years ago.

    **Steve E.**

  3. Glennstin

    Here is a little more about our thinking regarding the polished aluminum body. Charlie, Cast Iron, Sorenson had recently jumped over from Ford to Willys, finally having enough of the aging tyrant, Henry and not impressed with The Deuce, Henry II. A procedure to polish the aluminum cylinder heads of the Lincoln Continental to a high luster (Extra Cost Option) was established to differ them from regular production Zephyrs just prior to WWII, probably by Edsel Ford and Charlie. This polshing of the Al-Toy body resulted in a very similar appearance. Whether this was done at Toledo Casting or Willys Styling is unknown now. Stay Tuned.

  4. Colin

    For those of you who have perused the factory Jeep photos on the web and through the Lucas County library, you may have noticed that a lot of the CJ and Agri- Jeep testing was done at CESO Farms in New Hudson, MI. CESO Farms was about 50 miles north of Toledo, due west of Detroit and was owned by Charlie E. “Cast Iron Charlie” Sorenson., so it made sense to test the Jeeps at his farm. Many of the Jeep ads showing their various capabilities probably had those photos taken at CESO Farms. We believe that Charlie knew “Stub” Cole through Stub’s work at the University in Ann Arbor and that may have led to Stub Cole going to work at Willys, even temporarily.

  5. Ken Pote

    I enjoyed your story, I just came across one of these Al Toy Jeeps this week end while my son & I were walking thru one of our local flea markets, there it sat down in the bottom of this guy’s plastic tote, at first I thought it was a Structo brand due to the fact that it was wearing a full set of Structo tires, but me being a Structo toy collector I knew that company never made a Jeep this size, so I did a little digging & found out last night what toy brand this Jeep is, now I am in the process of looking for the parts to restore this one back to looking new once again, who ever owned it before repainted it red, they forgot to cover over the tan on the bottom side, so if you know where one might be able to locate the right tires & the windshield I would be one happy person. Once again great story.
    Sincerely,
    Ken P.

  6. Ted Kleinschmidt

    I have 7 of these Al toy jeeps.
    One tan and one red unrestored and complete.
    Two red jeeps, (for parts only) and 4 wheels. 1 parts jeep has two tires attached.
    I have two tan restored/repainted tan jeeps with orange in the center of the wheels also. One has one seat the other two seats.
    I have one tan unrestored with one bumper end broken. It has one seat.
    All but the first two will be going on Ebay soon for auction. I collected these for years but am gradually selling some of my larger toys.

  7. glennstin

    Of the CJ2A Al-Toy models, the single seat version is hardest to find especially with good bumper tips. All the toys used the same wheel marked 6.00-16 and AL-TOY. Some changes to the wheel center axle mounting made the wheels a little better, but any time in child play usually resulted in damage. The single seat cast mold was sold later to a company which labeled the wheels “WEST-CRAFT”. Good examples of these are seldom found. The bumper tips are also frequent victims to breakage, but Colin has effected acceptable repairs to several. These models are much fun to chase, but the collection can become a sickness. Ask Toni.

  8. Lani

    I have one of the beige willys jeeps. Yes the left front bumper is broken and as far as I can see this is all that is wrong with the jeep. Hub caps are painted red, headlights white tail lights are red. paint is not perfect but given it’s age it looks pretty good. I just need to know what it is worth. There is a number 1 on the bottom of the jeep – but no other markings. If someone could contact me with the price I would appreciate it. Thank you.

  9. Roy Hood

    We have through an inherited estate a Western Jeep by Oglesby in Peru, Indiana. It is in what I would call really good condition, paint has little wear. It is not the repro from 2005 as all the indications are otherwise. Raised lettering that states “JEEP”, little hubcabs state “Willy’s”, steering column is not cast into body, Western Picture is GREAT! no wagon. Do you know where the best place is to sell and at what price we should begin?? I appreciate it.

  10. David Eilers

    Hi Roy,

    I would say eBay is your best bet. I’m happy to list it on eWillys and direct folks there if you’d like. As for a starting price, I couldn’t say. Since only a small number of folks will bid on it, the value/sales price will all depend on getting the word out. As you can see from the post, one of these sold for $25. Either it was poorly keyworded or the timing was off and collectors were interested at that time. Feel free to contact me at d@ewillys.com if you have more questions.

    – Dave

  11. Lindsay Peterson

    Hi, I came across one of these while helping my father go through a bunch of items in his shed. I almost sold this and some other toys at a garage sale when the first guy that came through told me these were special and I needed to look it up. I kept looking at the Marx toy jeeps but I could never find one that looked like it until I came across this post! This one is now faded to orange but you can tell from under the hood it use to be red, I am trying to find out a little more information on it if anyone could help me?!

  12. TED BERNKLAU

    (tedbernklau@gmail.com), My Al-Toy Jeep collection is one of my most cherished. I have searched for these toys for 50+ years. I am still in search of the illusive 1948 Willys Woody Station Wagon, and NOW the “Christmas Jeep”! Until I read these post’s I was not aware of it. My favorite Al-Toy is a Salesman sample Boyer/Willys Jeep 1948. This is a “Jeep Fire Truck” all decked out with a front pump, hoses, a bell on the hood, a ladder and hand tools. I have a 1947-48 Willys Pickup in beautiful original shape, 2 tan Jeeps, a 1 seater and a bouble seater, along with a Red single seater and a bouble seater.

  13. Glennstin

    Well Now!! Four plus years have gone by and this thread keeps grabbing new interest. Thanks, Dave, for providing a space for us Willys Nuts to play.

  14. Colin Peabody

    Wow, this great! I hadn’t looked back at our posts fro a couple of years, , but I can see I need to mark it for notification when we get new comments!

  15. Colin Peabody

    After going back through this series of comments, I realized that another very important part of this story I had not included! In late 2014, Derek was contacted by a man settling an estate and he had one of the “Christmas” Jeeps that he wanted to sell. Derek referred him to Glenn and me. After conferring with Glenn? We decided this was to important a find to let it out of our hands. I was able to seal the deal and that “Christmas” Jeep now safely resides in my small collection.

  16. Frank

    Excited to read about the AL=Toy Jeep. I have mine given to me by my father in the mid 40’s but reading the various comments, I now understand it was the Christmas toy of 1945. Mine is the single seat, in near perfect condition except for the from left bumper that is broken off. How can I find the value and market place for it? thanks

  17. TED BERNKLAU

    MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL YOU AWESOME AL-TOY JEEP COLLECTORS. HOPE SANTA IS BRINGING THE ONE YOU ARE LOOKING FOR! :).

  18. Jeff Sauer

    I am now in position of my Dads Al-Toy tan Willys jeep. He played with this nearly everyday as a kid and it shows, it was his favorite toy. I am looking for 1 set wheels w/axle, windshield and steering wheel.

    htcscw@aol.com-Jeff

  19. Ted

    Hi Jeff,
    There have been a few Al-Toy jeeps on Ebay that are good parts vehicles. These guys are getting hard to find. Wishing you the best. Merry Christmas and Happy 2017.
    Ted

  20. Colin Peabody

    You can find wheels on some Al-toy Jeeps on eBay and some of them have usable windshields. You can make your own axles from round stock cut to length. You will also need 4 spacers that slide over the axles and keep the wheels in their proper position. The round stock and spacers(1/2 inch long) are hardware store items. The spacers are about a dollar each depending where you get them. Steering column and steering wheels are the most difficult to find. Good luck and stay in touch!

  21. Bill Larson

    I have been collecting al-toy jeeps for a while. Not to long but have been fortunate to get the fire
    pumper new in the box. Another but repro parts. A pick up new in the box. A couple of jeepsters complete and very presentable. One jeep wagon very nice buy windows are starting to deteriorate
    Very pleased with my collection . My jeep J2 collection
    not so impressive but working on it
    Bill

  22. Colin Peabody

    Mr. Larson-
    How interesting that you have been able to acquire the Fire Jeep new in the box and also a pickup new in the box. If you could share the photos of your Al-Toys and the boxes that came with them, that would be great. Since you were able to get these, were you able to gain any history on them as to who owned them first, any connection to Willys Overland, and any other information you think might interest those of us who collect these models.

    Glenn Byron and I have been collecting data on these for some time, with Glenn being the most experienced and having more Al-Toys than anyone I know. We would be happy to stay in touch with you to learn more about your collection.
    I can be reached by email at: colins60vette@cox.net I am in Phoenix.

  23. Ishmael Romero

    Heeeeeyyyy, I have one from my grandad!!!!
    The wheels are tottaly changed since the original ones were destroyed, and it’s missing the windshield, but it’s the same body and I recognize the little metal pieces in the bottom that keep the wheel-axis in place!!!
    I never thought I could know it’s origins.

  24. Colin Peabody

    I’m glad our posts from several years ago are still drawing interest! Thanks Dave for keeping the post current and to all the contributors who have added their comments!

  25. David Eilers

    Ishmael: I’m glad the site helped! You can still find these for sale and broken ones can sometimes have usable parts. Yesterday, a friend bought one with a broken windshield for $40! Usually, they sell for quite a bit more.

    Colin: Agreed!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe without commenting