Rusty Writes on Swag Envy.


Today I went on a training mission for the hand that feeds me in the real world, and I came back with a Mercedes-Benz memory stick as a souvenir for my trouble. I now have a couple of free Benz USB sticks, and one from Ssangyong, and that pretty much sums up my entire list of gratis-gotten-gains from the car companies.

There are more out there, to be sure. It’s just a case of finding them, and finding the opportunity for their legitimate procurement. Take the battered grey box above, and click through to the grand unveiling below. It may well be the most exciting event of your evening. It certainly was for me.

This battered grey box, I am reliably informed, was “…given to motoring journalists at the official press launch of the car at the Mas D’Artigny Hotel on the Cote D’Azur in , I think, 1991“. Motoring journalists, eh? It’s just freebie after freebie after freebie. And I’ll bet they didn’t buy their way into the hotel, either. I’ll bet the bottomless pockets of some press organisation or, just as likely, BMW themselves flew the recipients of The Grey Box (unbattered at that stage) to the Mediterranean coast, at great expense, in chartered jets with lavish amounts of legroom and hot towels on demand.

Jeff Glucker, I hear, doesn’t even have to declare his endless dancing girls and complimentary massages on his tax return, you know.


So, the Battered Grey Box. Inside it there resides a 1:43 scale model of the E36 325i Coupe. Manufactured in Germany by Gama, it sits somewhere between toy and collectible, being neither crude nor intricate. Its opening doors reveal a detailed interior, though surfaces are painted rather than trimmed.

It’s colour accurately depicts Hellrot (bright red, colour code 314, fact fans) and there is also a reasonable reproduction of the underside, with its full exhaust system picked out in silver. The 15″ alloy wheels (Style 17s) are also recognisable, though one of the tyres has split with age. Overall, I’m going to say it’s A Nice Thing.

Would have been better if it was free, though. I got it because I bought it. It came from a gentleman on eBay, I was the only bidder and “won” it for 99 pence. Plus four quid postage. So my journalistic freebie has cost me a fiver all in, which kind of makes me a loser. Not like Jeff. He’s a winner in anybody’s eyes.


Not wanting to tread on young Mr Emslie’s feet, but it’s worth me posing a Hooniverse Asks sub-question here; what’s the coolest swag you’ve ever scored from a car firm, and / or is anybody out there actually measurably more sad and tragic than I am?

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35 responses to “Rusty Writes on Swag Envy.”

  1. Alff Avatar

    A wee Alff received a mid-year Corvette pedal car, courtesy of the Chevy dealership that dad worked at. Several years later, I terrorized the neighborhood in a Subaru Brat-bodied Briggs & Stratton go kart, courtesy of a neighbor who owned a Ford/Subie agency.

  2. Sjalabais Avatar

    So how does that "sad and tragic scale" go? I once wrote to VCNA to ask for high mileage shields for my first car, a '77 Volvo 242. Volvo Europe anywhere didn't have that. VCNA were very nice and send them – 100,000 miles and 200,000 miles – to me promptly, for free. So it depends on the eye of the judge: My female companion at that time considered it a sad waste of time, in the Hooniverse though it might be…dare I say it…cool?
    <img src=""&gt;

    1. Alff Avatar

      If your female companion considered it sad, that was a clue that she might not be one who would go the distance.

      1. vwminispeedster Avatar
      2. Sjalabais Avatar

        Well, she did go some distances that were…worth it.

    2. owl Avatar

      Cool indeed sir! Didn't know you could get those – my father in law's 240 clicked up 300,000 miles a while ago…

      1. Sjalabais Avatar

        I saw them on Irv Gordon's P1800 when he filled 2 mio miles (today he's added another million). It's a neat little bonus that doesn't cost VCNA much – and it fortifies a lot of the good things Volvo would want to continue to stand for.

  3. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

    When I was a kid, I got a colouring book of the '95 (or maybe '96?) Ford lineup.
    Yeah, that's pretty much it.

    1. Devin Avatar

      I had the '92 Honda coloring book, it told you the whole history of Honda!

    2. johnf1979 Avatar

      When I was a kid my dad worked for AMC and at the yearly summer picnic the would hand out coloring books to the children (the same one every year). In the coloring book were scenes featuring the Alliance, Encore, Eagle SX4, Fuego, 1.8i, Jeep J20, and Alliance convertible. I wish I still had one. I do still have a AMC Renault Alliance 1983 Motor Trend car of the year bumper sticker though.

  4. Devin Avatar

    I don't think I've ever received car company swag. I did get a sweet USB pen from SaskEnergy once, at least.

  5. racer139 Avatar

    I once worked at a honda dealership. I once recieved a set of six top flite golf balls and six tees the balls said honda and the tee had the H logo on their heads. I bought a dealer jacket at cost and the service writer threw a hat and one of those honda steering wheel keychains in the pocket. I have never actually recieved any promo items though.

  6. Van_Sarockin Avatar

    An uncle gave me a lovely plastic model of his Rolls-Royce. Late fifties, waterfall back, whatever that's called. I still treasure that. Another uncle gave me a couple of models of full size GM cars from the early sixties. I pretty much turned them to powder while making vrrooomy noises. I still wish I had something tangible from my interchange with the Pet womanning the Maserati booth when I was sixteen… But I only had eyes for the maternal twins, Bora and Merak.

    1. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

      As far as models go, I do have a neat story… when I was a kid, and the New Beetle came out, I loved it. It was a silly adorable thing, unique and a bit over the top. I ended up with a few models of the roundest VW, one of them a sort of light-medium blue that wasn't offered on the real car… yet.
      A couple of years later, for the 2001 model year, VW came out with a limited edition New Beetle in a hue they called Vortex Blue. I didn't know about it at the time, and in fact I didn't see one for a few years after it was introduced. One Sunday morning, my grandfather took me out for breakfast, and we went around afterward, checking out the local car dealerships, as was our habit. There it was at the local Volkswagen dealer – a real New Beetle in the same colour as my beloved one-thirty-somethingth scale pull-back toy. Excited, I told my mother of the car when we got home. She hadn't really been considering a new car, but her Contour (also a fairly unique hue, the '95-only Tobago Green) was approaching 100k miles and starting to undergo noticeable entropy. She loved the colour of this New Beetle, though, and it was just about perfect – a well-maintained 1.8T example (as nearly all Vortex Blue cars were, I'd later find), stick-shift (pretty much mandatory for her) and with low mileage (just over 20k). It reminded her of the Charger Shelby she'd briefly owned in the '80s, albeit rather more refined. Sold.
      Anyway, that little blue New Beetle ended up stuck on the dashboard of the rather larger blue New Beetle – you can sort of see it here. "Entie" and his tiny replica have traveled over 140k miles together, and my mother dreads having to someday find another car. When she does, I'm hoping to inherit this one.
      <img src="; width="600/">

      1. Sjalabais Avatar

        Neat story! When I last tried to convince my parents to buy a Volvo in the mid-90s, they mocked me by coming home with a Kia and a Daewoo. On the other hand, during the same decade, I converted quite a number of teachers, friend's and girl-friend's fathers to Volvo. Enough so that the local dealer used to invite me personally to join the delivery of brand new models.
        I have always wondered how the New Beetle could have the cutest, giggly design, while many of their drivers induce anger wherever they shift lanes carelessly. I have reason to believe that this car is moved more skillfully though – stick shift ftw.

  7. smalleyxb122 Avatar

    I work in the automotive industry, but not in any capacity that ever seems to present me with swag. However, back in what must have been 1998, I was working in electronics manufacturing, and attended a trade show, which scored me this Matchbox C5 from the Racal booth.
    <img src=""&gt;

  8. JayP2112 Avatar

    Every year Autoweek cleans out their swag closets with a contest.
    I managed to win two years- one was a pair of Audi leather gloves, the other a BMW 512MB MP3 watch.

    1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

      That's pretty sweet. And which ten MP3s did you put on that bad boy?

      1. JayP2112 Avatar

        Half an audio book.

        1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

          Good for suspense!

      2. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

        To be fair, my old 244 had a sweet USB-capable stereo (which I sadly failed to remove before leaving the car to the tow yard after she was written off…), and the only flash drive I had, since I couldn't be bothered to buy one, was a 512MB stick, if I recall correctly… you can get a hundred or so songs on there.

        1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

          I found an 8mb SD card the other day. I must get round to using it in my DSLR shooting in RAW.

        2. JayP2112 Avatar

          The Shaker 500 in the Mustang will play MP3s off the CDs in native MP3.
          I can get several albums, sorted in folders on each CD. With the 6x changer, I can get from Tx to Va without hearing the same song twice. But I also turn the radio off to listen to the banjos as I drive thru Arkansas.

  9. Dean Bigglesworth Avatar
    Dean Bigglesworth

    Kamil sent me a Nissan USB-stick when I won the Forza thingie here some time ago, that was pretty cool.
    The coolest thing I've got directly from a manufacturer might be the 2012 Mercedes-Benz Classic calendar I got last year. It's huge and full of pretty pictures of SL's.

    1. Jeff Glucker Avatar
      Jeff Glucker

      Oh man, I recently went to the classic center in Irvine… for a Benz fanboy it was heaven. I did anger the center director when he found out what I was planning with the W123 though.

  10. owl Avatar

    I have a suiter which I have had for 20+ years and use frequently when I am away on business as its better than a suitcase. Can't remember where of how or why I was given it…all I know is that its not branded, is a quality item and it came from Citroen…
    Talking of which, back in the days of Murray and Whittaker Citroen Dealer in Swindon they gave me a bottle of reasonably decent whisky at Christmas – but then I had steered a number of colleagues to buy cars from them that year – 87 at a guess. Maybe they gave me the suiter too?
    And I do have a nice (no wait, wonderful) Maserati umbrella. Fine cloth, leather, polished wood and aluminium. I even use it sometimes but never when its raining. I did have to buy a Maserati to get it though so I guess that doesn't count…

    1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

      Free 4200GT with every umbrella!

  11. scroggzilla Avatar

    I don't have any car swag, but I do have this excellent insurance swag.
    <img src=""&gt;

  12. Tim Odell Avatar
    Tim Odell

    My free carbon fiber AMG pen cost me about the over $450 when the ticket I got on the test drive came through.
    You can read all about it…on a site…somewhere..

  13. Jeff Glucker Avatar
    Jeff Glucker

    Ugh, the top drawer of my desk is filled with USB drives. I need to clean that out once a year. Although I did throw in a bunch of extra "prizes" in the boxes of the winners of that Father's Day contest. Notebooks and stickers and stuff. I think I gave someone my USB drive shaped like a F1 car too.
    One of my favorite swag bits though is the 1/18 scale Equus I got ahead of a Hyundai drive. It arrived with a broken door handle…

    1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

      Isn't the Hyundai warranty pretty bulletproof?

  14. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    I have a Scion keychain somewhere…

  15. XRSevin Avatar

    I entered a Marlboro contest back when I read actual magazines and won a genuine™ Penske Racing Jacket, which enabled me to go to the Laguna Seca race and wander anywhere I pleased. I found myself on pit lane. I saw Paul Newman talking to Mario Andretti. I flagged down a course worker in a golf cart to get me up the hill to the Corkscrew. And I could eat in the Marlboro/Penske hospitality tent without being hassled. The jacket was an All-Access pass and it led to a great day.

  16. NothingHappens Avatar

    Years ago, back in the proper days of the Saab 900 (OG, not NG bitches), right around 1990ish my grandpa bought a new 900 (engineer's car, he appreciated every detail put it into it) and I got a powder blue model: plastic but just as detailed and as well finished as the BMW above. It even had the mid flaps on it!

  17. monkey_tennis Avatar

    When I was a small child my uncle worked as a salesman for a British Leyland dealership. The only swag I remember was a small matchbox bus with a 'Kennings' advert on the side and a series of stickers which extolled the ground-breaking virtues of the new Allegro range;
    "The allegro's got vroom for more!",
    "The allegro's got vroom for five!",
    "The allegro's got vroom inside!" and so on.
    Some of those stickers went onto a chair in my bedroom and were still there (faded but intact) twenty years later: Ironically showing better longevity than most of the cars they had advertised.

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